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.

Tyson, 54, to return for exhibition match against Jones Jr.

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CARSON, Calif. — Mike Tyson is coming back to boxing at age 54.

The former heavyweight champion will meet four-division champion Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition match on Sept. 12 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history when he won the title in 1986 at age 20 and for a time was the most feared fighter in boxing. But his career became littered with distractions and he hasn’t boxed since 2005 after losing his second straight fight.

He has occasionally teased a return with workout videos and it’s finally scheduled to happen.

Jones, 51, won titles in the middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight before moving up to win the heavyweight title in 2003, becoming the first former middleweight champion to do so in 106 years.

The event will air on pay-per-view and the social media music platform Triller. Further matches on the card and musical entertainment will be announced in the coming weeks.

Boxer Errol Spence in ICU after Ferrari crash in Dallas

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DALLAS — Welterweight boxing champion Errol Spence crashed a speeding Ferrari in Dallas early Thursday and was badly injured but is expected to survive, police said.

The crash happened just before 3 a.m., when Spence’s Ferrari crossed a median into oncoming traffic and flipped over several times, police said.

Spence was taken to a hospital, where he was placed in the intensive care unit. Police said they’re still investigating the cause of the crash, but they noted that the Ferrari was speeding at the time.

Last month, the former U.S. Olympian added the WBC welterweight title to his IBF strap with a thrilling split-decision victory over Shawn Porter in Los Angeles.

With his rangy athleticism and virtuosic skill, Spence (26-0) has captured fans with a series of crisp victories in recent years. He won the IBF title in 2017 by stopping Kell Brook in England, and he defended it three times, culminating in a one-sided thrashing of undersized Mikey Garcia in March.

His bout with the veteran brawler Porter (30-3-1) was Spence’s biggest test yet, and he emerged victorious from a fight that featured several wild exchanges of punches and had the Staples Center crowd of 16,702 on its feet throughout the 12th round, roaring for both fighters when they embraced after the final bell.