World Boxing's Boris van der Vorst, centre, and Matthew Holt, right, met with Irish Sports Minister Thomas Byrne, left ©Thomas Byrne/Boris van der Vorst

Boris van der Vorst and Matthew Holt have led a World Boxing delegation on a visit to Ireland, where the country's Sports Minister Thomas Byrne affirmed his commitment to preserving the sport's place on the Olympic programme.

Only USA Boxing has officially so far left the International Boxing Association (IBA) to join the breakaway governing body, although the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) is among the National Federations subject to a complaint by the IBA to its Boxing Independent Integrity Unit (BIIU) for participation in what it describes as a "rogue" organisation.

The IBA has been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 2019 due to continuing governance concerns, and boxing remains off the initial Olympics programme for Los Angeles 2028. 

World Boxing was formed in April with a stated goal of keeping "boxing at the heart of the Olympic Movement", led by an Interim Executive Board comprised of representatives from Germany, Britain, The Netherlands, the Philippines, Sweden, and the United States.

Van der Vorst challenged Umar Kremlev for the IBA Presidency last year, but the Russian was controversially re-elected after his opponent was wrongly deemed ineligible to stand by the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit (BIIU) in Istanbul before delegates voted against staging a re-run in Yerevan.

He is expected to stand down from his role as Dutch Boxing Association President to devote his attention to World Boxing, and joined GB Boxing chief executive Matthew Holt on a visit to Ireland.

The IABA was a member of the Common Cause Alliance which backed van der Vorst's election campaign last year, and took part in a boycott of the IBA's World Championship events this year, partly due to the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian boxers to compete under their own flag despite the war in Ukraine.

Although it did not feature in World Boxing's launch and remains a member of the IBA, leading figures have expressed support for the rival governing body.

Van der Vorst and Holt met with Byrne, Olympic Federation of Ireland chief executive Peter Sherrard and IABA interim chief executive John Nangle.

"These meetings have been both an honour and a pleasure, as we shared insights and perspectives on fostering the sustainable growth of boxing not only in Ireland, Great Britain and The Netherlands but also on a global scale," van der Vorst said.

Byrne revealed that discussions centred on World Boxing's efforts to preserve the sport's Olympic berth.

He praised the IABA for its boycott of IBA events, and underlined the importance of preserving boxing's place at the Olympics.

"My meeting with representatives of World Boxing this week was constructive and I was glad to hear how they are progressing their plans to set up a new international boxing federation," the Minister said.

"As our most successful Olympic sport, I believe it is imperative that we get boxing back on the Olympic programme for Los Angeles in 2028.

"I fully support efforts to keep boxing within the Olympic Movement and will continue to monitor developments in this area and offer whatever assistance I can to the IABA, along with Sport Ireland, in this regard."

Ireland has a rich boxing history, and legendary former Olympic champion Katie Taylor took part in her first professional fight on home soil in Dublin last night ©Getty Images
Ireland has a rich boxing history, and legendary former Olympic champion Katie Taylor took part in her first professional fight on home soil in Dublin last night ©Getty Images

The IBA, rebranded from AIBA in December 2021 following Kremlev's election the previous year, had no involvement at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and has also been stripped of its right to organise boxing at Paris 2024.

Relations between the IOC and IBA have further slumped since Kremlev's disputed re-election last year.

Earlier this month, the IBA delivered a 400-page report to the IOC aiming to address its governance concerns, and Kremlev - who has previously hinted at a future for boxing outside of the Olympics - has acknowledged a "collaborative approach" is needed to secure the sport's place at the Games.

Yesterday, the IBA claimed it had offered a "goodwill gesture" to the IOC by allowing National Federations to "freely participate" at the Kraków-Małopolska 2023 European Games, where it has no involvement.

Boxing is Ireland's most successful Olympic sport by medals, winning a total of 18 dating back to Helsinki 1952.

London 2012 women's lightweight Olympic champion Katie Taylor last night lost to Britain's Chantelle Cameron in her first professional fight on home soil at the 3Arena in Dublin.

Taylor is the undisputed lightweight world champion, and her first defeat since turning professional in 2016 denied her the opportunity to claim the same tag from Cameron in the super-lightweight category.