In the new Olympic qualification system, boxers from different traditional weight classes could compete against each other


THE Paris Olympic Boxing Tournament will be like no other in the history of the Games after the International Olympic Committee approved a new controversial qualification system for the sport, allowing boxers from two different traditional weight classes to compete.

The plan was drawn up by the International Boxing Association – formerly known as AIBA – which has been suspended by the IOC since 2019.

The details of the qualification system have just been released. Although there are some changes from the original document produced by the IBA, the “two weights” issue remains.

Essentially, it is proposed that in the lower men’s weight divisions, for example, a bantamweight (54 kg) boxer may qualify for the featherweight (57 kg) bout.

The iconic middleweight division (75 kg) was abolished at the Olympic level.

However, a middleweight boxer can still secure a place at the Paris Games but must fight in a new 80kg category – which is just one kg lighter than the traditional light heavyweight division.

To balance the number of male and female fighters at the Games – there will be 124 each – the 12 lightest IBA men’s weights have been grouped into six Olympic categories. The men’s super heavyweight division will be the seventh Olympic category.

Twelve IBA women’s classes have been combined into six Olympic categories. The two heaviest weight classes in women’s boxing – over and under 81 kg – are excluded.

However, while there is only a 27 kg difference between the heaviest and lightest weight division for female boxers, the difference in weight between the two for men is 44 kg.

As already mentioned, the qualification process is also radically different from previous games. The qualifying period runs from January 1st next year to May 31st, 2024.

In particular, there is one major change from the original proposal.

The two finalists in each IBA men’s and women’s division at next year’s men’s and women’s world championships will automatically qualify for Paris – meaning there are four places up for grabs in each Olympic weight at the championships.

Each country may only enter one competitor per weight class – if two qualify, the national federation must nominate one of them.

In phase two of the qualifying process, the top six ranked athletes in each of the men’s and women’s Olympic divisions, according to the December 23 Olympic rankings, will qualify for Paris.

Ranking points can be earned at global boxing tournaments organized by the IBA in 2023. Russia was supposed to host one of these tournaments, but after the Russian ban, an alternative venue must now be found.

The full list of tournaments won’t be released until next January, when details on how ranking points can be earned will also be announced.

In the third phase, 42 quota places will be allocated to men and 56 to women. The five continental regions of the IBA are each assured one representative of each weight based on the rankings as of March 31, 2024. The host country France is also guaranteed seven quota places.

In the final phase of the process, 14 places will be allocated to men and 12 to women. It is proposed that a global qualifier be held in May 2024, with the two finalists in each division securing a place at the Paris Games.

As previously reported, the good news for Ireland’s current Olympic champion, Kellie Harrington, is that her lightweight division remains unchanged. In the new Olympic qualification system, boxers from different traditional weight classes could compete against each other

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