Joe Ward is better off away from the corruption that has soured amateur boxing of late according to Lou DiBella.
The Moate BC graduate officially turned over last week and there were those who lamented the move.
The 25-year-old was seen as a genuine Tokyo 2020 gold hope and some questioned why one of Ireland’s greatest ever amateurs ditched the vest so close to an Olympic Games.
The fighter himself revealed going pro was always a goal and equated the timing to the fact he found the perfect team rather than any disillusion with all things amateur.
However, co-promoter Lou DiBella – the veteran promoter will promote the Times Square Boxing managed fighter alongside Ken Casey – argues the current state of amateur boxing and reputation of AIBA meant it was too risky for Ward to chase any Olympic dream.
He points out, when Ward was considering pro options it was unsure if the boxing would retain it’s status as an Olympic sport.
The IOC have taken the reigns and the sweet science will play apart in the next Olympiad, but even then DiBella suggests there is always a chance of suffering a Michael Conlan style exit.
“Amateur boxing has been a mafia, basically; it’s been corrupt. That’s the truth. We didn’t even know six months ago that there would be boxing in the Olympics — literally. And who’s running amateur boxing right now? And if you go and if you lose — unfairly — you’ve given up two years of your life,” DiBella told Irish press in Dublin last week.
“Look what happened to Conlan in the Olympic Games. And the pro style which [Ward] clearly has — it’s not exactly rewarded in the Olympics.”
With all that in mind the Hall of Fame promoter doesn’t understand why there have been questions raised with regard to Ward deciding he didn’t want to wait around before turning over.
“If you look at amateur boxing, you look at the scoring, you look at who the people are that have run Olympic boxing in recent years… I’m a little bit surprised with the level of criticism that some people have [regarding Ward’s decision], because it appears to me that those people aren’t really taking a good look at the way the Olympics — in boxing — has been run over the last decade or so, because there’s a long and storied history of unfairness.”
When speaking on Off The Brawl, DiBella did point out Ward was handed the kind of deal an Olympic medal winner would receive.
Having proved his worth with three European golds and multiple World Championship medals – medals some argue are harder to win than Olympic ones- the decorated amateur has proved his elite capabilities.
He got a contract that reflects his potential and an Olympic medal wouldn’t have made much of a difference suggests the New Yorker.
“I didn’t pressure him at all. I didn’t have one conversation with Joe encouraging him to turn pro, even though I think that he should have. And, frankly, I believe that any amateur boxer right now with a pro style, who aspires to be a professional, shouldn’t count on the Olympics as a stepping stone to a future,” he adds before playing it safe with his ‘mafia’ comment.
“I want to clarify with you real quickly. When I said the term ‘mafia’, I didn’t mean it literally. I meant it figuratively — as in a corrupt enterprise. Not literally as the mafia.
“I gotta be careful — my name is DiBella!”