Top Rank chief and promoter Bob Arum welcomes the AIBA's efforts to ensure professional boxers will be able to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but Manny Pacquiao's participation would be “unrealistic.”
Arum spoke to Josef T. Ramos of the Manila Times, saying he doesn't believe the veteran would be eligible to begin with:
It’s good for so many young Filipino professional boxers if ever it happens. It boosts the chance of the Philippines to end the [Olympic gold medal] drought. But if you’re going to ask me about Manny’s participation, it’s unrealistic.
As far as I know, the plan of AIBA is to allow professional boxers who have only less than 15 paid fights to compete in the Olympics. In Manny’s case, he fought many times or more than 15 in the professional rank, same goes with Nonito [Donaire Jr.]. I have no any idea if they changed the rule.
He also said a lack of “time and preparation” would make it impossible for Pacquiao to compete in the Olympics. Pac-Man is currently training for a third bout with Timothy Bradley, while he's also in the middle of a senatorial election campaign in the Philippines.
AIBA president Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu extended an invitation to fight in the Olympics to the 37-year-old last year, per ABAP executive director Ed Picson, but as of right now, it's unclear whether the new rules surrounding Olympic eligibility would allow him to qualify for the tournament.
Wu's attempts to get professional fighters into the Olympics is highly controversial, and it marks yet another step away from the amateur ranks for AIBA. Since Wu became president of the organisation in 2006, AIBA has begun organising professional events, has officially dropped the word 'amateur' and no longer requires vests or headguards in sanctioned events, according to the Press Association (h/t ESPN).
Removing the amateur status from Olympic boxing would be AIBA's biggest statement yet, and the Daily Star's Chris McKenna is anything but happy:
Horrendous move by AIBA if they allow professionals into the Olympics.— Chris McKenna (@cmckennasport) February 24, 2016
Boxing is one of the few Olympic sports that is yet to drop its amateur status, with the Olympic tournament providing young, up-and-coming talent a chance to prove themselves on an international stage before they turn professional.
Some fighters, like Roy Jones Jr., believe it's unfair to ask youngsters with limited experience to go head-to-head with seasoned veterans who have honed their craft for decade and could do real damage in the ring. He told Yuri Tarantin of Boxing Scene the Olympic tradition in boxing also plays a role:
I don't think this is a good idea. After all, the road to the Olympics is for the young. As a teenager, I wanted to represent my country at the Olympics. When I moved to professional boxing, it became my job. Everything comes in good time. Imagine your 19-year-old son gets sent to the Olympic games, and now he has to fight Wladimir Klitschko. My honest opinion, no [it shouldn't happen].
Others would love the opportunity to fight for a gold medal once again, and Amir Khan has already expressed his desire to represent his country, per Statesman (h/t Edward Chaykovsky of Boxing Scene).
It doesn't sound as if Pacquiao will join the professionals in Rio this summer, but it never seemed likely to begin with. The former pound-for-pound king is nearing the end of his career and has other priorities at this point in time, including the end of his trilogy with Bradley and his political career.