Professional Boxers In The Olympics

Pro in Olympics

Danny Wilson discusses the eligibility of professional boxers to compete in the Olympic Games, how they would have to adapt and why they may not have the upper hand returning to compete in the amateur format.

The amateur international boxing association (AIBA) have made the shock announcement that professional boxers will be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games for the first time.

This has had a lot of mixed opinions, with the majority of the boxing community being against the decision as it may have negative affects on the amateur game.

The Olympics have traditionally unearthed future stars of the pro game, such as Floyd Mayweather, Lennox Lewis, Amir Khan and most recently Anthony Joshua. Would the professionals make this something of the past?


However, It may not be that straight forward for the pro’s, with a totally different competition format, different fight strategies and a random/short-term goal with different motivations.

In this 3 part article, we delve into the different ways a professional boxer would have to adapt if entering the Olympics.

Shorter, Faster and More Intense Competition

Although professionals are allowed to compete at the Olympics, the competition remains an amateur format, meaning contests will be 3 x 3 minute rounds.

Most National/International level pro boxers will compete for 10-12 rounds, making 3 rounds sound like a walk in the park. Well, it may not be that easy.

Due to the bouts being judged in such a short time, amateur boxers will look to land more punches to get the win. When comparing winning amateurs (16 bouts) and world level professionals (5 bouts), amateur boxers landed more punches than professionals (46.1 vs 41.9 punches per round).

However, there were only small differences between shots thrown. This resulted in amateur boxers having a much higher percentage of punches landed. This would mean that a professional would either have to land more percentage of punches or increase the amount of punches thrown. Either way, this could become fatiguing for professional boxers.


Amateurs vs Pros

But what about the punching force of a professional boxer?

This could be the better tactic to adopt for professional boxers as it will be difficult to change physiological profiles and pacing strategies for a single competition. However, the glove size will be 10’oz for < 64 kg and 12 oz for the heavier weights, much bigger than the pros gloves of 8 oz and 10 oz.

Furthermore, KO’s and TKO’s are more likely to happen in the second half of the fight due to the fatigue of an opponent, this is much harder to do in just 3 rounds.

So although stopping their opponents could be the best tactic for professional boxers, a combination of shorter bouts and bigger gloves could make knockouts and hurtful shots less likely in the amateur format.

Click here for Part 2: Making Weight

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Danny Wilson co-founded Boxing Science in 2014 following building the successful Boxing program at Sheffield Hallam University where he has coached over 100 amateur and professional boxers as a strength and conditioning coach. He has also helped prepare Kell Brook for his mega-fight with Gennady Golovkin, and his Ingle Gym stablemates including Kid Galahad, Jordan Gill and Kyle Yousaf.

Away from Boxing, Danny is currently the Yorkshire regional strength and conditioning coach for England Golf and has experiences in youth and professional standards across a range of sports.

Danny is a United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association accredited strength and conditioning coach and has a Master of Science degree in Sport Science at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. For his final research project Danny profiled the physiological characteristics of amateur boxers and will share some of the novel findings on Boxing Science. Danny will be contributing to the Strength and Conditioning section by writing about the science behind the punch, training methods, working with junior athletes and case studies.