While not a qualifier, the tournament could be considered the first in a succession of championships for Irish boxers that will lead to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
However, the sport’s place at those Games, and all future Games, is in doubt and Olympic bronze medallist Mick Conlan fears for the future of amateur boxing.
There are major concerns that the sport, which has been in the Olympics since 1904 and is always Ireland’s best chance of medal success, may be expelled from the next Games after alleged Uzbek heroin trafficker Gafur Rakhimov was elected AIBA President.
Although he is hopeful the issues may be solved, Conlan, whose father John is heavily involved with the Irish amateur set-up, suggests the sport’s Olympic status is on course to end as per the International Olympic Committee’s numerous threats ahead of the AIBA elections this week.
Now a pro but still an avid follower of the amateur game, Conlan lamented that “boxing is en-route to being kicked out of the Olympics which is very, very unfortunate and something I would not like to see.”
If boxing is taken off the Olympic menu then a host of amateur talent would likely flood into the pro ranks claims the current featherweight prospect – who was, of course involved in one of Olympic boxing’s biggest ever controversies at the 2016 Rio Games.
“I think Olympic boxing is the main reason so many boxers stay amateur. The only reason I stayed amateur for so long is because I wanted to be an Olympic champion,” explained Conlan.
“If boxing gets kicked out it will be really unfortunate and you will see a lot of young amateurs turn professional.
“The only people I am sorry for is the boxers who are going to miss out on a chance to become an Olympic champion and experience that.
“I feel bad for them because they have the Olympic dream and want to be successful.
“If they can’t get a chance of going to the Olympics there is no point in staying amateur in my opinion.”
Boxing has taken place at every Olympics since its addition to the roster in 1904, apart from Stockholm eight years later because boxing was banned in Sweden.
Conlan is still clinging to feint hope, adding that “I know it doesn’t look like there will be Olympic boxing, but for some reason I think it will stay.”
Whether it will, or not, remains to be seen.
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