Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao
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Star pro boxers’ thoughts on competing in Olympics

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While boxing’s international governing body voted to allow professionals in the Olympics, few, if any, well-known professionals are expected to compete in Rio.

Many active and retired world champions have chimed in on the possibility of Olympic eligibility for pros.

Floyd Mayweather, who went 49-0 as a pro but lost as an amateur at the 1996 Olympics en route to bronze, said in February that he had no interest in unretiring.

“Absolutely not,” Mayweather reportedly said when asked if he missed the spotlight. “For my body to recover from all my fights will be for the rest of my life.”

Manny Pacquiao, whose only Olympic experience was as the Philippines’ flag bearer at the Beijing Opening Ceremony, said last week that he would not pursue the Rio Games.

“I have decided to prioritise my legislative duty as I owe it to the people who voted for me,” Pacquiao said in a text message last week, according to Agence France-Presse. “So I believe I don’t have enough time to prepare [for the Olympics].”

Wladimir Klitschko, a 1996 Olympic super heavyweight champion and former world heavyweight champion for Ukraine, has advocated for professionals to be allowed in the Olympics.

“Any other sport, they can play professionally [and play in the Olympics],” Klitschko said last year. “It’s a shame for boxing that professional boxers cannot perform in the Olympics.”

Klitschko would look into competing at the Rio Olympics, if it’s feasible, after his July 9 fight with Tyson Fury, one of his representatives said in March.

Given the final Olympic qualifier is July 3-8 in Venezuela, the 40-year-old Klitschko and Fury will have no chance of competing in Rio.

Amir Khan won 2004 Olympic silver for Great Britain but said Wednesday he would like to compete for Pakistan at an Olympics, according to AFP. Khan’s parents were born in Pakistan.

“It’s a decision which I welcome,” Khan said of pros in the Olympics in Pakistan on Wednesday, according to AFP. “It will help boxers, and if I am permitted as per rules and from my promoter, then I would love to compete for Pakistan.”

Khan was knocked out by Canelo Alvarez on May 6.

The long-retired Mike Tyson doesn’t believe pros should be allowed in the Olympics.

“Some of the pro fighters are gonna get beat by the amateurs,” Tyson said last week, according to Sky Sports. “If they are like the amateur fighters that I was fighting in the ’80s, like [three-time Cuban Olympic heavyweight champion Teófilo] Stevenson [who Tyson never fought] and those guys, and all those guys were fighting with the Russians and the Cubans, they are gonna beat some of the champions.”

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Watch Danell Leyva splash out of American Ninja Warrior

Danell Leyva
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Triple Olympic medalist Danell Leyva became the latest gymnast to appear on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” splashing out of the “Leaps of Faith” in the latter portion of the course in the Los Angeles City Finals that aired Monday.

Leyva’s full run can be seen at the 44-minute mark here.

Leyva, a 27-year-old who took all-around bronze at the 2012 London Games and then retired with parallel bars and high bar silver in Rio, was cheered on by 2012 Olympic teammates Jonathan Horton and John Orozco. He previously completed the course at the Los Angeles City qualifier.

Horton has tackled ANW five times, according to the broadcast. Other gymnasts to appear on the show included Olympic all-around champions Nastia Liukin and Paul Hamm and, perhaps the show’s most famous competitor, former Towson University athlete Kacy Catanzaro.

Leyva could still make the Las Vegas finals, according to the broadcast.

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Chinese 13-year-olds go 1-2 at diving worlds; U.S. medal drought ends

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Reminiscent of one of its legendary divers, Chinese 13-year-olds took gold and silver in the women’s platform at the world diving championships on Wednesday. Delaney Schnell rallied for bronze, ending a 14-year U.S. medal drought.

Chen Yuxi and Lu Wei, both born in 2005, tallied 439 and 377.8 points, respectively, in Gwangju, South Korea. China is nine for nine in gold medals with four finals left this week. Schnell, who was in fifth place and 1.2 points back of third going into the last dive, ended up with 364.2.

No U.S. woman had earned an individual world platform medal since Laura Wilkinson‘s gold in 2005. Schnell, 20, was sixth at the 2016 Olympic trials and second at the 2017 World trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

Back in 1991, Chinese 12-year-old Fu Mingxia captured the world title on the platform. A year later, Fu took platform gold in Barcelona and remains the youngest Summer Olympic champion since 1960. Fu went on to win a Chinese record four individual Olympic diving titles.

Lu and Chen represent the next generation of Chinese female divers following the post-Rio retirements of their role model, Chen Ruolin, and Wu Minxia.

China is such a diving factory that it took gold and silver without the Rio Olympic platform champion, Ren Qian, who is not on this year’s world team. Ren, then 15 in Rio, became the youngest Olympic diving gold medalist since Fu.

China, two years after its least successful diving worlds since 2005, is moving closer to sweeping every gold medal at these worlds. They last accomplished the feat in 2011.

Earlier Wednesday, Chinese Xie Siyi (reigning world champion) and Cao Yuan (reigning Olympic champion) qualified first and second into Thursday’s men’s springboard final.

David Boudia, the 2012 U.S. Olympic platform champion, was a strong fourth in his first major international meet since Rio and switching to the springboard. Rio Olympian Michael Hixon also advanced in the 12th and last spot.

NBC Olympic Researcher Alex Azzi contributed to this report from Gwangju.

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