Luke welcomes Olympic plans

Lennox Lewis arrives for the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards, at Central Hall Westminster, Storey's Gate, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 6, 2012. See PA story SPORT Laureus. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Lennox Lewis arrives for the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards, at Central Hall Westminster, Storey's Gate, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 6, 2012. See PA story SPORT Laureus. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
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Boxer Luke Blackledge says he welcomes proposals to allow professional fighters to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

International Boxing Association president Cing-Kuo Wu’s recent suggestion was slammed by British duo Lennox Lewis and David Haye with the latter saying: “You get these young kids who are training their whole life to go to the Olympics.

“To go there and not fight someone else like them but fight someone who has might won an Olympics before, been a world champion and is just coming back to fight some kids, I think is insane.”

Meanwhile former undisputed world heavyweight champion Lewis, who won gold when representing Canada at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, said: “It’s preposterous. The amateur system is for amateurs. They have a lack of experience and they are not that primed as a professional.

“Now, all of a sudden, you get a world champion or somebody in the top 10 as a professional going against an amateur, somebody with a lack of experience. I don’t look at that as being fair. It’s a different type of boxing altogether. So for them to marry the two, I don’t think they marry well.”

He went on: “Anthony Joshua went to the Olympics,” Lewis continued. “If he had boxed Wladimir Klitschko at the Olympics, it wouldn’t have been fair for him because Wadimir has seventy fights as a professional. I don’t really understand it.”

However, super-middleweight Commonwealth king Blackledge sees the process as an opportunity for athletes like himself who don’t have an amateur background.

“If it helps the sport of boxing then great,” he said. “The IBA will be seeing it as an opportunity to bring more money in to the sport and to raise its exposure in other parts of the world.

“I don’t see a problem with it. Imagine me going to the Olympics! It would be a great opportunity for people like me who didn’t have one licensed amateur contest.”

Blackledge, though, does relate to concerns over the health and welfare of teenage amateurs who could potentially face bigger, stronger and more experienced opposition.

The 25-year-old feels that can be remedied with common sense by restricting champions from the process.

“I wouldn’t know what the transition is like from being an amateur to stepping up in to the pro ranks because I didn’t have that development,” said Blackledge.

“But some amateur fighters would have the style to suit. Many would be able to adapt to it because if they’re qualifying for the Olympics you’d imagine that they are quite advanced and developed. Just look at Anthony Joshua for example.”

He added: “I’ve sparred with some top amateurs with a good pedigree and they’ve held their own in the ring. Obviously the quality of the professional comes in to question - you couldn’t have them fighting an experienced champion.

“But they’re getting good, professional coaching and they train well. My stablemate Jack Flatley is a novice pro. He was fighting in the amateur ranks not so long ago and sparring with Martin Murray.”

The plans will go before Aiba’s extraordinary congress in May.