AIBA Professional Boxing (APB) chiefs fear losing out on five top Irish boxers — after they failed to sign up John Joe Nevin.
Tournament bosses have set their sights on Joe Ward, Jason Quigley, Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Tommy McCarthy, but fear inaction on the part of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) will cost them vital signatures.
After two false starts, the APB is now scheduled to begin in June, and the final list of participants is expected to be finalised by the end of this month.
Recruits will effectively turn pro but will remain eligible for Olympic participation and will box in different grades of the APB tournament, minus headguards and vests.
The aim is to create a rival for the fractious world of pro boxing which Nevin has signed up to.
AIBA director of communications Sebastian Gillot said: “We are targeting Irish boxers. Unfortunately none of them have signed.
“We were very close to signing one — John Joe Nevin. Basically, we had the contracts signed from his part and everything was ready from our part.
“Basically the problem we had with Nevin is the IABA took a little time to review the contract, a little bit too much time I would say, and in the end, by the time we were receiving the feedback from the Irish federation, he had signed pro already. So that was a bit of a disappointment. We would sometimes like to have a little bit more support from the IABA.
“We have a list of targets — we are really interested in Joe Ward, Conlan, Quigley, Barnes and McCarthy.
“And, as I explained, we have to go through the federation but unfortunately it hasn’t always been easy with the IABA.”
All five Irish targets have been linked with following Nevin to the pro game, with Quigley, Barnes, Conlan and McCarthy strongly tipped to move before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
The APB was meant to be rolled out following the London Olympics and was to complement AIBA’s semi-pro concept, the World Series of Boxing.
Gillot added that APB executives visited Ireland in 2012 to brief IABA officials on the new format, but have since been disappointed by a lack of cooperation in Dublin.
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