LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 09:  Anthony Joshua of England knocks Charles Martin of the United States to the canvas during the IBF World Heavyweight title fight at The O2 Arena on April 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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IBF will punish boxers who compete in Rio Olympics

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LOS ANGELES — The International Boxing Federation will punish fighters who compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics by removing them from the sanctioning body’s rankings or vacating their titles.

The IBF announced its decision Monday, joining the WBC in an aggressive campaign by sanctioning bodies to keep prominent pros out of the Olympics.

Citing safety concerns that amount to violations of its principles of sportsmanlike competition, the IBF said it will remove any professional Olympic fighters from its rankings for a year. The body would also take its title belt away from a champion fighting in the Olympics.

“Making this decision was not difficult for us,” IBF President Daryl Peoples said. “We felt it was important for the IBF to get involved and take a stance against professional boxers competing against amateurs due to safety concerns, as part of our commitment to this sport is to promote the health and well-being of the boxers.”

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) recently decided to allow professional boxers to attempt to qualify for Rio, but the organization’s hopes for a tournament featuring big names have been unrealized to date. No prominent boxers have accepted the invitation, with just one Olympic qualifying event remaining in Venezuela next month.

The IBF’s champions include heavyweight Anthony Joshua, light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev, middleweight Gennady Golovkin and welterweight Kell Brook. None of the fighters is considering an Olympic run, and Joshua has called the plan “dangerous.”

While some fighters from both the pro and amateur ranks have spoken up in favor of the change, many more boxers and trainers have strongly condemned the plan, seeing danger in pitting seasoned pros against amateurs.

The WBC already announced its intention to impose a two-year ban on Olympic fighters within its upper rankings.

Although Olympic qualifying continues next month, the likelihood of any prominent pros fighting in Rio appears to be slim. Most major boxers have already decided not to attempt it, including Manny Pacquiao, Wladimir Klitschko, Kovalev, Golovkin, Andre Ward, Amir Khan and two-time gold medalists Vasyl Lomachenko and Zou Shiming.

Lomachenko believes the field will look much different at the Tokyo Games in 2020 when professionals have more time to adapt to the short rounds, frequent fights and daily weigh-ins of the Olympic-style sport.

Pacquiao plans to return to the ring Nov. 5

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Manny Pacquiao isn’t ready to give up his night job just yet.

Pacquiao, who said before his last fight in April that he would retire, now plans to return to the ring in November against an opponent who has yet to be selected.

Promoter Bob Arum said Tuesday that Pacquiao got permission to take a break from his new duties as a senator in the Philippines to take another fight. It will be held Nov. 5, likely in Las Vegas.

“He likes to fight and he likes the attention,” Arum said of Pacquiao’s return.

Pacquiao looked impressive in his last fight in April, returning from a layoff to knock down Timothy Bradley on his way to a unanimous decision. After the fight he wavered on his previous plans to retire.

“If you ask me to come back I don’t know,” Pacquiao said. “I may be enjoying retired life. I’m not there yet so I just don’t know.”

Pacquiao, who was formerly a congressman in his native country, was elected to the Senate in May and there were fears that increased duties would prevent him from fighting again.

But Arum said the head of the Senate told Pacquiao he was free to fight after the country’s budget is settled on Oct. 15.

“He would train in the Philippines and leave on the 16th to come to the U.S., train for two weeks and then come to Vegas,” Arum said. “The only issue is getting an arena for the fight.”

Arum said he is talking with MGM Resorts about an arena to host the fight. He had reserved the Mandalay Bay arena for Oct. 15, but Pacquaio can’t leave his Senate duties that early.

The fight also could be at the UNLV campus arena, he said, though UNLV would have to move a scheduled basketball exhibition from the date.

There were reports that Pacquiao might fight Adrien Broner, but Arum said he wanted the same money as Pacquiao, which was a non-starter. Another possible opponent would be Jesse Vargas, who fights for Top Rank, and holds a piece of the welterweight title.

Pacquiao was off for nearly a year after losing in May 2015 to Floyd Mayweather Jr., healing from a shoulder injury. But he seemed reinvigorated after beating Bradley in April in a performance that got good reviews from most, including trainer Freddie Roach.

“When I see Manny Pacquiao like that, this is the best Manny Pacquiao,” Roach said after the fight. “He hasn’t missed a beat. I would like to see him fight again.”

Laila Ali, Jaime Foxx pay tribute to Muhammad Ali

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Laila Ali paid tribute to her late father, sports icon Muhammad Ali, during the BET Awards on Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Ali, a retired boxer herself, started to choke up as she spoke about her father’s legacy and the outpouring of support since his death at the age of 74 on June 3 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“My father, Muhammad Ali, lived his life with conviction and purpose,” Ali said. “He is known as the greatest athlete of all time, a man who fearlessly faced opposition both in and outside the ring.”

Actor Jamie Foxx, who starred in the 2001 biopic about the icon’s life, “Ali,” as Ali’s cornerman Drew Bundini Brown, also spoke about the legend, noting that he stood up when no one else was doing so.

After getting a standing ovation, Ali stood in front of a photo of her father holding her as an infant and talked about her father’s evolution in his heart, mind and spirit over the course of his lifetime.

“These past few weeks my father’s generosity and love has been matched by a worldwide outpouring of love and reverence for him and our entire family,” Ali said.

“If he was here today, he would humbly ask you to pray not just for our family, but for all of mankind.”