Professional boxers humbled by ‘Amateurs’ in Venezuela

Bernard O’Neill

Professional boxers found out the hard way in South America that three by three minute rounds is an entirely different ball game.

‘Amateur’ boxers won 16 of their 21 fights versus pros at the final Olympic qualifiers in Vargas, Venezuela last week.

Just three pros Hassan N’Jikam, Amnat Ruenroeng and Carmine Tommasone, qualified for next month’s Olympics after finishing in the top three in their respective weights.

But Cameroonian N’Jikam, who beat Limerick southpaw and former WBO champion Andy Lee on a countback at the 2004 Olympics, lost his light heavy final to Columbia’s Juan Carrillo, who is ranked outside the top ten in the International Boxing Association (AIBA) 81kg rankings.

Thai fighter Ruenroeng, a recent IBF flyweight champion, was TKO’d in the second round of his 60kg final by Mexico’s Lindolfo Delgado, following a highly dubious semi final win where he was lucky not to be disqualified for holding in the third round. Delgado himself was beaten by Belfast’s Sean McComb in the 2015 World Championships.

Italian lightweight Tommasone edged a third place box off on a split decision.

21 of the 79 boxers competing in Vargas held pro licences.

Another factor in Venezuela was that most of top ‘amateur’ boxers had already booked Rio tickets and weren’t at the tournament, yet most pros couldn’t exploit the seemingly weakened field.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) changes its rules at a Congress meeting in June to allow pros fight at, should they qualify, the Olympics.

National Federations voted overwhelming to bin Rule 13 (J) which barred pros from registering with their National Federations.

281 of the 286 boxers – 250 males and 36 females – that compete at each Olympics earned Rio berths following the completion of the WSB/APB qualifier.

The final five places (for males) were distributed via Tripartite Commission on Tuesday. These invitations places were distributed to amateur boxers, now officially known as AIBA Open Boxers, from Fiji, Jordan, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Zambia.

Boxing begins on August 6th in Rio.

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