boxing set to evolve

EXCITED: AIBA president Ching-Kuo Wu. © Unknown.
EXCITED: AIBA president Ching-Kuo Wu. © Unknown.

MILAN - Amateur boxing is attempting to steal a march on the professional ranks by launching a world series from late next year that will pit franchise teams against each other in a league format.

MILAN - Amateur boxing is attempting to steal a march on the professional ranks by launching a world series from late next year that will pit franchise teams against each other in a league format.

Officials want to spice up boxing and find new audiences and funding by making it look more like a team sport.

With professional boxing splintered because of the array of different governing bodies and weight classifications, the amateur version hopes the new World Series of Boxing (WSB) can strike a chord with disaffected fans.

In Milan last week, the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) signed a world series agreement with sports marketing agency IMG.

"There has already been a lot of work put into the World Series of Boxing and this illustrates the confidence both AIBA and IMG have in the WSB and with each other in making the project a great success," AIBA president Ching-Kuo Wu told executive committee members.

"Now we look forward to an exciting two years ahead building up to the launch."

The proposal has not been finalised but the idea is to have 12 franchise teams, each made up of 12 fighters, who will contest matches consisting of a set number of bouts.

Teams from across the world will be grouped into American-style conferences, which may be split up by continent.

Franchises will face the other teams in their conference before a grand final between the best sides overall.

Much like baseball or soccer, boxers will be able to be transferred between teams, meaning a Cuban could fight for an Asian team and a Thai could box for a European side.

Most fighters though will come from a team's locality.

The franchises are likely to be based and named after certain cities with media reports saying Delhi is keen to have a World Series club after middleweight boxer Vijender Kumar won a bronze for India at last year's Beijing Games - India's first in Olympic boxing.

Officials now say the country is ripe for boxing.

China also caught the boxing bug during the Games with light flyweight Zou Shiming and light heavyweight Zhang Xiaoping grabbing the country's first two fight gold medals.

In other moves, AIBA is to introduce official world rankings for the first time after this year's world championships. The governing body has also asked the International Olympic Committee to allow women's boxing at the London Games. - Reuters

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