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  • AIBA Goes Pro; FIBA Addresses Lockout; FINA Champs Finish Strong


    AIBA Goes Pro

    International Boxing Association president C.K. Wu tells Around the Rings AIBA’s move into the professional arena is about protection, financial independence and long-term career clarity for athletes.
    President C.K. Wu addresses his executive committee in Astana. (AIBA)

    “Joining the professional ranks, the protection and also the prospects are very unpredictable,” Wu told ATR from the Kazakh capital of Astana, where AIBA unanimously approved the creation of its own professional boxing brand at a Monday meeting of its executive committee.

    “With AIBA Professional Boxing, the boxer from the very beginning knows what is going to happen to them and what is going to be their long-term career.”

    APB action will kick off in early 2013 with an individual ranking competition driven by personal glory as well as a worldwide competition split into three divisions: one for the top 20 boxers in each weight category, another for those ranked 21-50 in each category and a third for the rest.

    Bouts will be governed by the current AIBA scoring system debuted during the inaugural World Series of Boxing season completed earlier this year.

    As with WSB, athletes retain the right to compete in the Olympics beginning with Rio 2016 so long as they remain registered with their national federations.

    “It is planned to identify and select the best [AIBA registered boxers] for APB within a one-year time period until the Olympic Games,” Wu wrote in a Monday letter to AIBA member federations.

    Also over the weekend, the 2013 men’s world championships were awarded to Astana, workers broke ground on a $33 million international boxing academy in nearby Almaty, WSB staged a draw for its second season and EC members said goodbye to communications director Paul O’Neil, who leaves AIBA for a watch magazine in Lausanne.

    USA Finishes Strong at FINA Champs

    USA is the country to beat at the London 2012 Olympics.
    Ryan Lochte beat out Michael Phelps in the 200 IM, setting a world record in the process. (Getty Images)

    Winning 29 total medals, Team USA dominated the swimming portion of the 14th FINA world championships in Shanghai.

    The team wrapped up the last day of the championships with four golds, a silver and a bronze, winning the FINA trophy for top team.

    Ryan Lochte won the 400m IM on Sunday and earned his fifth gold medal of the meet.

    “Getting five gold medals is definitely great, but the times that I went, I know I could go a lot faster,” he said in a statement distributed by USA Swimming. “There are a lot of places in my races that I messed up on that I could have changed and gone faster, but I guess I have a whole year to make sure I have those perfect swims.

    Also Sunday, Americans Jessica Hardy and Elizabeth Beisel won the 50m breaststroke and the 400m IM while Sun Yang of China broke Grant Hackett’s 10-year-old world record in the 1,500m freestyle.

    Meanwhile, Greece defeated the host country on Friday for its first gold medal in women’s water polo, and Italy beat Serbia on Saturday for men’s gold.

    In synchronized swimming, Russia won all seven events with China earning six silvers and a bronze.

    The Chinese team swept the diving competition for a record-breaking total of 10 gold medals.

    The diving events ended earlier in the 8-day competition with Qiu Bo winning the last medal in the 10m platform.

    Play Where You Want, Says FIBA

    NBA players now have FIBA clearance to play abroad during the ongoing lockout.
    Deron Williams is the biggest star so far to sign an overseas contract during the lockout. (Getty Images)

    "As the world governing body for basketball, we strongly hope that the labor dispute will be resolved as soon as possible, and that the NBA season is able to begin as scheduled," FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann said in a statement.

    "In view of our role to promote basketball worldwide, we support any player wishing to play the game, wherever and whenever. We do so while obviously taking the interests, rights and obligations of all parties into account.”

    The arrangement provides that players under contract with an NBA team return to the league as soon as the work stoppage ends.

    NBA action is scheduled to kick off Nov. 1 – assuming owners and players can reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the meantime.

    New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams has already signed with Turkish club Besiktas, and other players are expressing interest in overseas competition, including Kobe Bryant and Amare Stoudemire.

    Elsewhere in basketball, Afghanistan’s national team will stay home from the London Olympics after Uzbekistan refused to grant the players the visas necessary to travel to a prequalifying tournament over the weekend.

    2014 World Cup Draw Takes Shape

    One of the most interesting groups in the newly unveiled draw sees world champions Spain pitted against France in qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Group I also features Belarus and Georgia.
    A total of 203 teams were involved in Saturday’s draw in Rio de Janeiro. (Getty Images)

    The Netherlands, who lost 1-0 to Spain in the South Africa 2010 final, will take on Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia and Andorra for a spot in Brazil.

    England are favorites to top Group H, but tough competition will be provided by Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland and Ukraine. They also play Montenegro, Moldova and San Marino.

    A total of 203 teams will be competing in the preliminary competition for Brazil 2014 to decide the 31 countries who will join the hosts for the 20th FIFA World Cup finals. The month-long tournament kicks off June 12, 2014.

    Check out World Football INSIDER for complete coverage of Saturday's draw.

    Written by Matthew Grayson and Ann Cantrell.

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