By Tom Degun

AIBA and_WSB_logosSeptember 25 - The prospect of a Great Britain franchise finally appearing in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) looks to have dramatically increased after it was included in the provisional draw for season three of the competition.

The WSB, which is owned by the International Boxing Association (AIBA), is currently the only professional boxing competition in the world that allows fighters to retain their Olympic eligibility.

AIBA has long been hopeful of getting Britain involved in the competition and that prospect now appears to be close after the British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA) allowed a franchise to be provisionally included in the draw for WSB season three when it was made in Lausanne.

insidethegames reported exclusively in May that a British franchise was being lined up.

"We have always been supportive of the ideals that underpin WSB," said BABA chairman Derek Mapp.

"We recognise its potential to deliver alternative career options for young boxers and are keen to pursue this opportunity."

The draw saw Britain provisionally placed into Group B alongside defending champions Milano Thunder, Germany Eagles, Ukraine, Kazakhstan Astana Arlans and the United States.

Meanwhile, Group A consists of Dynamo Moscow, India Fighters, Azerbaijan Baku Fires, Argentina Condors, Mexico Guerreros and Hussars Poland.

The WSB_is_the_only_professional_boxing_competition_in_the_world_that_allows_fighters_to_retain_their_Olympic_eligibilityThe WSB is the only professional boxing competition in the world that allows fighters to retain their Olympic eligibility

The latest move marks a major turnaround after London were originally set to be one of the key WSB franchises for the inaugural season before they pulled the plug on the idea due to financial concerns.

The move started a bitter row between the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) and AIBA, which culminated in former ABAE chief executive Paul King unsuccessfully attempting to dethrone the powerful C K Wu as AIBA President.

King's campaign ended in complete disaster and he was eventually forced to resign from his position at the ABAE.

King was replaced by Mark Abberley, who has managed to help mend the fractured relationship between his organisation and AIBA, which in turn has led to a potential British franchise run by the English, Scottish and Welsh boxing associations.

The move is also clearly beneficial to AIBA.

Wu, who is also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board member, was hugely impressed with how Britain staged the London 2012 Olympic Games boxing competition and he is aware that a UK-based franchise would open up many more marketing and television opportunities for the WSB.

Britain also topped the boxing medal table at London 2012 with three gold medals, a silver and a bronze and AIBA are keen to have the world's top Olympic boxing nation involved in one of their premier competitions.

An additional boost of a British franchise is that Anthony Joshua, who won super heavyweight gold at the London 2012 Olympics, could headline it.

Anthony Joshua_25-09-12After jumping from 46th place to fourth when he stormed the international scene last year, London 2012 Olympic champion Anthony Joshua now leads the +91kg category

The 22-year-old from Watford has revealed his desire to stay amateur despite several lucrative offers to turn professional.

However, if he joins the WSB, he would almost certainly become the highest paid boxer in the event as its star attraction.

A British franchise would also help AIBA in their ultimate goal to stop top boxers turning professional after the Olympics and should they secure the services of Joshua, it is likely to start worrying top professional promoters who rely heavily on signing Olympic stars.

For their part, the BABA and UK Sport are giving the WSB serious consideration, as the competition will offer 10 quota places for the boxing competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

In addition, the WSB will link to the brand new tournament AIBA Pro Boxing (APB), which will launch at the end of 2013 and offer 56 spots for Rio 2016.

It means that by the time Rio 2016 comes around, 66 of the fighters would have qualified for the event via the WSB and APB.

Competing in the two professional-style events is also likely to increase fighters' medal chances in Brazil as AIBA are currently in the process of professionalising the amateur sport so that come Rio 2016, male boxers will be fighting at the Olympics without head guards and scored by judges rather than a computer system.

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