Mike Tyson

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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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Mike Tyson calls pro boxers in Olympics ‘foolish’ for different reason

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Critics of professional boxers potentially being allowed in the Olympics (more likely in full for 2020 than 2016 at this point) have mostly cited a disadvantage for inexperienced, less talented amateur fighters at the Games.

Mike Tyson also reportedly called the idea to integrate pro boxers into the Games “foolish” and “ridiculous” on Wednesday, but for a very different reason.

“Some of the pro fighters are gonna get beat by the amateurs,” Tyson said while in China, 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.”

Tyson never boxed in the Olympics but attempted to make the 1984 Olympic team at age 17.

He lost to eventual gold medalist Henry Tillman at the Olympic Trials after reportedly meeting Evander Holyfield for the first time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Both Russia and Cuba boycotted the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics.

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Tyson Fury and the Olympics

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Tyson Fury defeated Wladimir Klitschko by unanimous decision Saturday to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

The two boxers had much different experiences with the Olympics.

Fury, a 6-foot-9 fighter named after Mike Tyson, hoped to compete at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. But countries are limited to one boxer per weight class, and David Price was chosen to represent Great Britain.

Fury had lost to Price in 2006 as an amateur.

“I knocked him down in the fight, but lost it on points,” Fury told The Sunday Telegraph in 2008. “It seemed nailed down that Price would be the super heavyweight fighting for Britain. I wasn’t selected because of politics.”

Price went on to claim the super heavyweight bronze medal at the 2008 Games.

Fury, a proud Irish Traveller who calls himself the “Gypsy Warrior,” also tried unsuccessfully to qualify to represent Ireland.

Shortly after the 2008 Olympics, Price turned professional, and Fury seemed destined to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics. But Fury decided to turn professional himself.

“It would have been great to try for the Olympic team and box in London in 2012, but I could see from the start that boxing politics was going to get in the way,” Fury said, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

Klitschko won the Atlanta 1996 Olympic super heavyweight gold medal.

He has said it would be “a dream” to compete at the 2016 Games, 20 years after his lone Olympic appearance. He will be 40 years old.

But Klitschko’s Olympic eligibility remains unclear.

In February, boxing’s international governing body (AIBA) stated that Klitschko “is not eligible for any of the qualifying paths” for the Rio Olympics. Then in October, AIBA’s communications department wrote in an email, “We have no comment at this stage concerning particular boxer presence at Rio 2016. The eligibility will be determined by December 4th 2015 and will be communicated accordingly by each National Olympic Committee.”

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