Three years to Rio 2016: AIBA gets ready

Today marks exactly three years until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. With the successful London Games still fresh in our memories, work is well underway to turn Rio de Janeiro into one of the most exciting Olympic host cities to date.

The Rio 2016 Games will take place with venues in clusters across four Olympic zones; Barra, Deodoro, Copacabana and Maracanã. Uniquely, the 2016 Games will include two Olympic Parks, with the Barra Olympic Park hosting nine Olympic sports and the Deodoro OIympic Park staging eight. Boxing fans will be concentrated around one of the pavilions of the Riocentro in the Barra Olympic Park, where all the action will get underway in the three years’ time.

Boxing of course was considered one of the major success stories of the London Olympic Games with women’s boxing introduced for the first time. Thirty six women athletes competed across three weight categories and a momentous new chapter of Olympic history was born.

Boxing is hoping to be one of the star attractions of the next Games too and with just three years to go, AIBA is now focused on delivering a new pro-style competition AIBA Pro Boxing (APB), in a move which will reunite pro boxing with the grassroots of the sport. APB will offer a highly competitive, clean, structured and ethical competition aligned with the principles of the Olympic Movement.

As a result, the next summer Olympiad will be the first Olympic Games in history to allow pro boxers to compete.

We will get a chance to have an early taste of APB thanks to a symbolic exhibition match which will be held in Rio de Janeiro on September 13th. Rio is promised an electric night with APB exhibition bouts featuring some of the biggest names in the boxing world. Local fans will be treated to a real sporting celebration as two of the most recognisable faces in Brazil (London 2012 Olympic silver medallist) Esquiva Florentino Falcao and his brother, (London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist) Yamaguchi Florentino Falcao face off against EUBC silver medallist, Romanian Bogdan Juratoni and French World Series of Boxing (WSB) sensation Michel Tavares.

This development opens up a number of interesting options for elite level boxers seeking to qualify for the Games, as in addition to being able to qualify via APB, boxers will also be able to qualify via the World Series of Boxing (WSB) as in London 2012 and of course via the traditional AIBA Open Boxing (AOB) route.

Much excitement has been brewing in recent weeks over the arrival of Cuba onto the pro-style boxing scene via the WSB for the first time since the pro-sport was banned by Fidel Castro following the Cuban Revolution in 1962. The Cuban team, the “Domadores”, will be taking on the Mexico Guerreros in a WSB exhibition match on the 29th and 30th of August 2013 in Mexico City. It will be a historic occasion for the sport.