British Amateur Boxing Association welcomes Rio 2016 proposal

The British Amateur Boxing Association has given a cautious welcome to the news that professional boxers will be free to compete in this summer's Rio Olympics.

AIBA president Dr Ching-Kuo Wu confirmed that proposals will be pushed through to break down the last boundary between professional and amateur codes.

It means it will be left up to each individual national federation to decide whether to select established professionals for the Games, or keep faith in talent they have nurtured via full-time programmes since London 2012.

A BABA spokesperson said: "The proposals have the potential to broaden the talent pool from which we are able to select boxers and we look forward to hearing more about them in due course.

"In the meantime, we have a squad of talented boxers that are all training hard to qualify for Rio 2016 and all of our efforts are focused on helping them to achieve this."

Wu said it was "absolutely possible" to ratify the proposal before the end of the qualification process for Rio, adding: "It is AIBA's 70th birthday, and we want something to change -- not after four years, but now."

While in theory the move means the likes of Wladimir Klitschko and Floyd Mayweather could compete in Rio, the reality -- at least in the short term -- is a little less exciting.

Few big-name professionals would be willing or able to commit themselves to the qualification process at such short notice, while British fighters would have the added complication of being required to relinquish their professional licences by the British Boxing Board of Control.

It is the latest move by AIBA to make the sport more professional. Since Wu's election as president in 2006, he has overseen the introduction of APB and World Series of Boxing programmes, and removed vests and headguards for men from all AIBA-sanctioned events.

Under a separate proposal, AIBA will lobby the International Olympic Committee to accept a rule change which also removes vests and headguards for Olympic tournaments, starting in Rio.

Wu added: "I think any international federation must start to think about what the future of the sport will be, and if we know what we would like to happen then we must propel our vision."