By Tom Degun in Baku

World_Boxing_Championships_Opening_Ceremony_Baku_September_25_2011September 25 - The 2011 International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Boxing Championships began here tonight with the Opening Ceremony at the Heydar Aliyev Sports and Exhibition Complex but major corruption allegations continue to hang like a dark cloud over the event in the Azerbaijan capital.

Earlier this week, BBC Newsnight alleged that Azerbaijan had paid millions of dollars to AIBA with Ivan Khodabakhsh, the chief operating officer of the World Series Boxing (WSB), facilitating the payment for $9 million (£6 million/€7.5 million) in exchange for two gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics.

An AIBA Special Investigation Committee has been set up to investigate the claims and in his speech at the Opening Ceremony, AIBA President CK Wu appeared to have the issue firmly on his mind.

"AIBA would like to welcome you all to the stunning city of Baku to showcase the highest level of talent in boxing," Wu told the sold out 7,800 capacity stadium.

"As the qualifying event for the London 2012 Olympic Games, there will be many Olympic medal dreamers displaying an outstanding level of boxing to secure a place in London in clean and fair competition.

"AIBA sets the highest standards and has demonstrated over the last four years that we are an organisation committed to stamping out corruption and having competition in the ring that is decided only by the quality of the boxers.

"There are no shortcuts to victory, the only way is hard work and dedication.

"I look forward to two weeks of world-class boxing and I wish all the boxers they best of luck in the quest for victory."

AIBA will be hoping that the corruption allegations will fade well into the background when the first bouts get underway tomorrow with the competition due to run until October 10.

Around 680 boxers coming from over 120 countries will be in action in Baku which is a record number of participants for the event.

As the main qualifier for the London 2012 Olympics, a total of 92 boxers in Baku are set to qualify to compete at the Games in the English capital.

The event is particularly important for Baku as the city is bidding to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and will want use the event to show the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they can successfully host a world class international sporting competition.

From the round of 16 and until the finals, boxing fans will be able to enjoy watch all matches live on and on YouTube at

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