posted on Dec, 30 2004 @ 06:50 AM
Promoter Frank Warren believes Thursday's historic deal between boxing's professional and amateur bodies heralds a new golden era for the sport in
Britain. Warren claims there are incalculable benefits for both sides from the agreement which will allow the nation's top amateur fighters to appear
on professional shows in the new year.
Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan looks likely to be the chief beneficiary as he is slated to appear on a bill headed by WBO super-middleweight
champion Joe Calzaghe in March. Warren has made no secret of his desire to sign 18-year-old Khan to professional terms ever since he starred in Athens
in the summer.
But in allowing him to appear in a series of planned high-profile international match-ups interspersed within paid bills, Warren has put himself in
pole position to cash in on the Bolton star's talent.
Warren said: "It's a compromise - I want Amir to sign but I want him to have more time in the amateurs.
"I don't believe Amir will box in the Olympics but he will certainly stay amateur for now.
"We will be able to educate the public about the stars of the future and that can only be good for amateur and professional boxing."
Warren has struck an exclusive three-year deal with the Amateur Boxing Association which will ultimately be worth a six-figure sum to the amateur
governing body. It is Warren's intention to highlight a select band of amateurs on specific professional shows next year as England internationals
against the world's best opposition.
The benefits are clear for both sides with Warren boosted by Khan's potent allure and the amateurs receiving a ready-made and televised platform upon
which to inspire future generations of fighters. The ABA's director and chairman of England selectors Keith Waters said: "It is something we have been
looking at for some time and hopefully it will enable our talented boxers to stay with us a bit longer.
"Our elite squad is really looking forward to the prospect of bringing top international opposition over to fight on big occasions."
The ABA have been hampered by their top stars electing to turn professional rather than pursue amateur ambitions. And they privately admit they failed
to make the most of the publicity four years ago when Audley Harrison won Olympic gold in Sydney.
They are determined not to miss out on Khan's publicity and to that end Waters admitted the ABA forced through the change despite opposition from the
organisation's traditionalists. Waters added: "We've come a long way and we've been building up to this announcement for a number of years.
"We believe that this is the way forward for the amateur game. You get a few people who don't want to live with the times but the majority agree that
this is the way to move forward."
Warren confirmed he would not sign any contracts or options with any of the amateurs who will appear on his shows.
The promoter intends to stage as many as six shows next year mixing traditional professional and amateur rules. And the move has been welcomed by the
British Boxing Board of Control, whose steward John Handelaar said: "This is the first step and it is a significant one as the first all-integrated
show in the United Kingdom."