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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Persoon seeks Olympic dream

Pay-per-view rematch with Taylor is now under threat

Anthony Joshua & Andy Ruiz Jr Weigh-In...Boxing - Anthony Joshua & Andy Ruiz Jr Weigh-In - Madison Square Garden, New York, United States - May 31, 2019 Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon pose as promoter Eddie Hearn looks on during the weigh in Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge...S
Anthony Joshua & Andy Ruiz Jr Weigh-In...Boxing - Anthony Joshua & Andy Ruiz Jr Weigh-In - Madison Square Garden, New York, United States - May 31, 2019 Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon pose as promoter Eddie Hearn looks on during the weigh in Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge...S

The much-anticipated rematch between two-weight world champion Katie Taylor and her arch rival Delfine Persoon is in jeopardy following the Belgian's shock decision to return to amateur status in order to challenge for a gold medal at next year's Olympics in Tokyo.

Persoon - who was unlucky to lose to Taylor when they clashed in a memorable unification clash in Madison Square Garden in June - will officially reclassify herself as an amateur on January 1 according to reports from Belgium.

However, she doesn't necessarily have to revert to amateur status in order to compete at the Olympic Games as, under new rules, professional boxers can compete in the Games. However, if she does compete it will have implications for her professional status.

The World Boxing Council has indicated that any professional boxer who competes in the Olympic Games will be withdrawn from their ranking list for two years. Persoon was the long-time WBC lightweight champion until she surrendered the belt to Taylor in New York.

There are a myriad of issues to be resolved before Persoon actually makes it to Tokyo.

She has missed the September 30 deadline set by the Royal Belgian Boxing Association for fighters to declare their availability for Olympic selection.

Given her status, however, it is likely that this largely technical issue can be resolved. Secondly, she has to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

The first European qualifying tournament for the Games is scheduled for next March in London.

It is anticipated that she will compete in the lightweight category, which will have implications for Ireland's former world champion Katie Harrington.

Harrington missed the recent Irish Elite championship following surgery on a long-standing thumb injury. But it is anticipated that she will be back in the ring shortly and is the favourite to be included in the Irish squad for the qualifier, even though Amy Broadhurst won the elite title via a walkover.

While a Taylor v Persoon rematch was expected to be the first pay-per-view women's championship fight, the Belgian has always said that the financial rewards of the sport don't interest her. She donated most of the proceeds of the first fight against Taylor to her local boxing club in West Belgian.

She is a full-time inspector in the Belgian police force and in an interview earlier this year she said one of her biggest regrets was that she never got the opportunity to box at the Olympics. She said her primary motivation for wanting to fight Taylor was not to become an undisputed world champion but to have the opportunity to defeat a boxer who had won an Olympic gold medal.

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