Snips and Snipes 26 February 2015
So finally it is on. I am calling for a quick prayer session. You can get on you knees, chant from a book, slaughter some poor animal or dance naked at midnight but please just join me in praying for three things : 1) Neither Pacquiao nor Mayweather get injured between now and 2 May: 2) The fight turns out to be a great contest worth the wait and worth the money (the last is unlikely): 3) We get a clear undisputable winner because the thought of going through all this again for a return match is more than I can bear.
Yes it is the richest fight in boxing history with tickets at the 16,800 capacity MGM Grand $1,000 to $5,000 in the “cheap” seats (Provide your own binoculars) to $22,000 for what is described as the “floor” (hell for that much I would expect at least a plastic chair). The estimated MGM gate is $40 million. Don’t look for any favours as the MGM Grand is only giving complementary tickets to those gamblers with a $250,000 credit line and Bob ”Scrooge” Arum has said no complementaries from his side. Estimate is that the fighters will split $200 million with a 60/40 split in favour of Mayweather. HBO and Showtime are covering it together with a price of about $95 to pay to view.
If you talk to people not involved in boxing they see these payments to Mayweather and Pacquiao as obscene and it is hard not to disagree. If Mayweather gets his 60% that will be about $120 million or $10 million per round. Madness
Forbes Magazine already had Mayweather as the highest paid sportsmen in the world at $105 million with Cristiano Ronaldo at $80 million and Lebron James at $72 million. Both Ronaldo and James have large sponsorship deals which boost their earnings but Mayweather’s out of ring antics mean he has very little sponsorship.
So how did Gennady Golovkin vs. Martin Murray do viewer-wise? It was certainly great for UK boxing fans to see the fight live and also to see Lee Haskins win the European title. Figures from HBO say that the daytime live showing in the States drew 862,000 buys. To put that in context Carl Froch vs. George Groves II had 700,000 and Klitschko vs. Pulev 620,000 so it compared very favourably. If it can be made the Golovkin vs. Miguel Cotto would obviously draw a lot more buys but I have my doubts over whether Cotto would want a Golovkin fight.
Lennox Lewis may have had his tongue in his cheek when he said that a fight between him and Wlad Klitschko in their primes would have been a bigger draw then Mayweather vs. Pacquiao because of the excitement surrounding heavyweight fights. Since it never happened we can only guess and the fall in the attraction of the heavyweight division (apart from the Klitschko version of the barmy army) over the past few years also clouds the picture but I am sure that it would have been a lot easier to get on then the circus we have gone through for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.
You would think that boxers would jump at the chance of fighting for a world title but after the IBF having had a couple of turn downs for their middle title we now have both Yuri Kalenga, the No 1 challenger and No 5 Mateusz Masternak turning down invitations to fight Denis Lebedev for his WBA cruiser title. With only one fight in the past 22 months the tough Russian must be desperate to get back into action. Any takers?
Still on the cruisers, former WBC champion Krzys Wlodarczyk has recovered from a shoulder injury and is penciled in to get a return match with Grigory Drozd in Moscow on 22 May. Wlodarczyk lost the title on a wide unanimous decision to Drozd in September.
The WBO cruiser champion is Marco Huck and it is ridiculous to hear talk of a defence against Roy Jones in the autumn. The 46-year-old Jones fights Willie Williams on 6 March in that great boxing city of……….Concord, North Carolina! Williams is 2-6-1 in his last 9 fights which should be enough to have the WBO move WBU (German Version) champion Jones into their top 15 and approve the fight. Jones is a sure fire Hall of Fame fighter I just wish he would stop this nonsense so that he could get voted in.
There seems to be something in the air resembling and elixir of life that is dragging the oldies out of their armchairs as this weekend Virgil Hill returns to the ring in Bismarck against Britisher Jimmy Campbell. First fight for the 51-year-old Hill since losing to Firat Arslan for the WBA cruiser title in 2007. He went out on a sour note having allegedly tested positive for a banned substance after the fight. London-born 37-year-old Campbell should not be an obstacle as he has had only one fight in the last three years and has lost 7 of his last eight fights. All seven losses by KO/TKO. In order to qualify for a place on the Hall of Fame ballot a fighter has to have been inactive for five years. Hill qualified under that rule in 2013 and was elected. Anyone want to volunteer to go and ask for his Hall of Fame ring to be returned.
Indonesian Muhammad Rachmann is another old stager getting ready to return to the ring. Now 44, the former IBF minimumweight champion last fought in February 2014. A year without a fight. No problem for the WBA ratings elevator as he suddenly appears back in the ratings at No 9 just before they approve him as a challenger for their interim champion Knockout CP Freshmart on 5 March.
Age again. Former WBA super feather champion Yong-Soo Choi is returning to the ring. Choi won the WBA title (there was only one in those good old days) beating Victor Hugo Paz in 1995. He made eight defences of the title before losing the crown in 1998 to unbeaten Japanese challenger Takanori Hatakeyama and retired in 1999. He returned to the ring in 2002 and retired again after an unsuccessful challenge for the WBC title against Sirimogkol in 2003 with a 29-4-1 record. He then dabbled in MMA but gave even that up in 2007. He is now 42 and has passed all of the medical tests so is cleared to box. Times have changed. In Choi’s time boxing was hugely popular in Korea now it is almost moribund. The last time they had a world champion was in 2007 and the quality there now is so low that Choi could become a national champion at 42. [Ed's note-We have a story on this one lined up!]
Seems like I have fixation on age but I feel it is my duty to issue a warning to any techno dinosaurs in the world of boxing judges. The Nevada State Athletic Commission has approved the use of tablet computers for scoring in bouts. Initially it will be for small events and supporting bouts but you can be sure that once they start down that road the application will only increase. The system has also been tested in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and Arkansas. There has been a tendency that when a referee reaches the stage where age makes him that much less sprightly he then takes up the more sedentary role of a judge. I know from my own experience that age and technology do not go well together. In the past it has been the experienced veterans who have giving seminars on scoring a bout but if they are going to use tablets it could be that my 8-year-old grandson will be giving them in future-starting tomorrow I am his agent.
Former IBF welter champion Jan Zaveck is going to defend his WBO European super welter title on 11 April with Belgian-based Armenian Sasha Yengoyan the challenger. It is an interesting fight if it comes off in fact a surprisingly good quality fight for the WBO European title which tend to be terrible one-sided bouts with the home promoter getting to choose opponent as the WBO don’t seem to consider the title important enough to need ratings. Their web site covers the NABO, WBO Latino and WBO Asia Pacific with ratings but although they have 12 “European” champions in their ratings there is no control over who you have to fight to win the title. A promoter/ manager has a duty to further the career of his boxers but the WBO has a responsibility to ensure they have valid ratings based on some quality criteria. Instead they have ditched any quality control in their desperation to establish a European presence but no matter what they do they will always be a very distant 2nd to the EBU.
Again the WBO. It’s their turn this time. Donnie Nietes was told to by the WBO to defend his light flyweight title against Luis Ceja in Pasay City, Metro Manila on the 28 March show that also features Nonito Donaire returning to the ring against Brazilian William Prado. Anxious to do as ordered Nietes people contacted Ceja’s team only to find that Ceja was not ready to challenge him. Now Nietes will defend against another Mexican Gilberto Parra who to no ones great surprise suddenly leapt into the WBO December ratings even though he has not fought since August. In facet after losing a wide unanimous decision to Mexican Martin Tecuapetia (10-5-2) in November 2013 he had one eight round fight and three six round fights and leapt on the WBO ratings elevator. Looks as though Nietes should have no trouble in extending his reign. He is already the longest reigning world champion in Filipino history having recently passed the record set by the Gabriel “Flash” Elorde. [Ed's note-It was Francisco Rodriguez Jr, not Luis Ceja that the WBO ordered Nietes to fight]
Sad to note the death of Harold Johnson. A great fighter, a master technician who fought the best of his day and had the misfortune to be around at the same time as Archie Moore. Things were so different then. Despite his massive talent it took Johnson 15 years and 74 fights before he won a world title. He was 1-4 in a 5 fight series with Moore and had to fights heavyweight to get fights but he beat so many of the best fighters. Their names may not mean much to younger fans but he went in with Arturo Godoy, Jimmy Bivins, Jersey Joe Walcott, Clarence Henry, Bob Satterfield, Nino Valdes, Jimmy Slade, Ezzard Charles, Marty Marshall, Clarence Hinnant, Jesse Bowdry, Eddie Machen, Doug Jones-for the vacant light heavy title (less than a year later Jones would floor young Cassius Clay and only lose the decision by 5-4 on two cards. They did not score points in New York then but just awarded rounds), Gustav “Bubi” Schulz in Germany at a time when Schulz had lost only one of his 92 fights. There was hardly a top fighter of his day that the classy Pennsylvania missed. He finished with a 76-11 record but he was so much better than even that indicates. A truly great fighter whose career I was privileged to follow. RIP Harold.
Australian Billy Dib has been handed a chance to win back the IBF super feather title. With Rances Barthelemy relinquishing the title Dib will meet young Puerto Rican star Jose Pedraza for the vacant title. No details of date or venue yet.
The WBC have been spreading the good word and they are now working to get Pakistan in to the fold as their 116th member. They will be helping Pakistan to get the sport up to standard there. It is a big market and hopefully it will take off as it will also help the Commonwealth Boxing Council (CBC). Next I would like to see India become active in professional boxing. They have been very strong in amateur boxing for many years and have some outstanding fighters. From a potential market that have to be every bit as big as China if they can be encouraged to embrace professional boxing.
On the CBC their heavyweight champion Lucas Browne has been handed a big chance. The WBA has given the parties representing their secondary champion Ruslan Chagaev and Browne 30 days to reach an agreement before going to purse offers. The 35-year-old “Big Daddy” Browne rated No 4 (the No 1 spot is vacant), is 22-0 with 19 wins by KO/TKO and Chagaev is very beatable.
Another Commonwealth boxer soon to be in action is cruiserweight Ola Afolabi. He meets former WBO champion Victor Ramirez on 11 April for the interim IBF title. The Nos 1 and 2 spots are vacant in the IBF ratings and Afolabi is No 3 and Ramirez No 4 so the winner will be assured of a shot at Yoan Pablo Hernandez. Afolabi, the IBO champion, has twice been WBO interim champion and twice failed to win the full WBO title so now he is trying his luck with the IBF.
German Jack Culcay has relinquished his European super welterweight title to focus on getting a world title fight. The vacant title will be contested between the mandatory challenger Cedric Vitu of France and No 1 Orlando Fiordigiglio from Italy with the parties given until 23 March to reach agreement before the call for purse offers. Vitu is 41-2 and Fiordigiglio 20-0. Now that’s what I call a European title fight.
With Felix Sturm fighting Fedor Chudinov for the interim WBA super middle title there is no real alternative for Arthur Abraham except to defend his WBO title against Robert Stieglitz. With Abraham 2-1 up in their series and their last fight ending on a split decision the hope has to be for a knockout win for Abraham so that things can move ahead in that division. If Stieglitz wins, or again losses on a split decision it could be heading for Abraham vs. Stieglitz 5.
Good to see one of the fighters who do not get the headlines get some recognition. Silverio “Chamaco” Ortiz was designated “Fighter of the Year” by the Yucatan Commission. Silverio is known as “Chamaco III” for the obvious reason that he is the third member of the old Merida boxing clan to be a professional boxer. The original “Chamaco” fought from 1956 to 1976. He had 119 fights and finished with a record of 81-31-7 and met most of the top Mexican fighters of his day. It was so different then. Ortiz had 119 fights and never once fought for a title. When he stepped into the ring to face the legendary Baby Vasquez it was fight No 75 for Ortiz and No 163 for Vasquez. A total of 238 fights between them. Theses days that’s probably more fights than the top 15 rated in any division have between them these days. Chamaco II had only a couple of fights but “Chamaco III” has had 48 fights is 34-14, has won 14 of his last 15 and scored four good wins in 2014.
Boxing in South Africa continues to suffer as the South African Broadcasting Company is not covering any boxing. This situation arose out of the ridiculous action by the governing body in South African boxing the BSA to take to itself the negotiation of and allocation of broadcasting rights for fights in South Africa cutting across contracts between SABC and promoters. This decision was challenged by Branco Milenkovic one of the two leading promoters in South Africa. Because the court case is still pending over that inevitable and understandable challenge to protect his business and the rights of other promoters in South Africa the SABC has not been covering boxing. The situation also turned nasty when the CEO of BSA made comments regarding Milenkovic which when awarding Milenkovic record damages to be paid by the CEO and BSA a judge described as defamatory and “inspired by malice”. That court case brought to light the fact that the CEO of BSA had been suspended for failing to disclose a criminal record when applying for his job and subsequently the acting CEO was also suspended after a preliminary investigation linking him to corruption and maladministration. After being suspended with pay the former acting CEO finally resigned this week. It has not helped that senior executives at broadcaster SABC have also been under investigation on other matters. The action by BSA in deciding to take control of broadcasting rights would make it impossible for a promoter to conduct his business. He can’t put a show of any size together unless he has the assurance that he will have the finance to pay for the show and the suggestion that some sort of gender equality should be applied in allocating broadcasting rights is ridiculous. Boxing is not a fair opportunity business. What makes it an even higher risk strategy is that BSA, a government appointed body, has a very poor record for managing and accounting for the income it already receives so is hardly the body take even more financial responsibility. Unfortunately the good people at BSA have been hampered by continually poorly judged appointments of its CEO by the government ministers responsible, but not apparently answerable. Not one of BSA’s CEO’s has managed to serve a full term. BSA needs to give up thoughts of interfering in the business of broadcasting rights and leave that to the promoters who have been doing it for years and focus on getting an honest and committed CEO to steady the ship and let those who have the experience in financing boxing shows do what they are good at.
It is not unusual to come across a story where boxing has changed a life that was either on a downward spiral or never even got of the ground. IBF flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng is one of those who was truly saved by the sport. Ruenroeng was jailed three times, twice for drug offences and once for robbery. With no parental care to guide him he slept on the streets and did whatever he could to eke out a living. He built quite a criminal record so that when he was put in front of a judge for a relatively minor crime of bag-snatching he found himself sentenced to 15 years. He could not pay compensation money to the victim so had to stay in prison. He entered the prison boxing program and when he was released in 2006 went straight into amateur boxing. In 2007 he won a silver medal at the King’s Cup Tournament, a bronze medal at the World Championships and a gold medal at the South East Asian Games. In 2008 he won gold at the King’s Cup and was a quarter finalist at the Olympic Games. On 7 March he will be at the luxurious Venetian Resort in Macao as a world champion and it boxing and his own spirit that got him there.
What’s in a name? This week Thai Palangopol beat Filipino “Bimbo” Nacionales (real first name Noriel) I bet that had the political correctness crowd up in arms until they found it was a man. The nickname of a fighter in action this week is Larry “Slow Motion” Smith. Come on guys these nicknames are supposed to be inspirational!
Going back to the ladies it has long been accepted that there are no valid reasons why woman should not be boxers and equality is the thing. In that case I find it curious that there is still the anomaly that female title bouts are restricted to 10 x 2 minute rounds. If we accept it is ok for women to take a punch on the nose why do we take the attitude that 12 rounds would be too much for the “poor little dears”? They have marathon for women now so why not 12 rounds? Is boxing being sexist?"
AsianBoxing.info- The Site for Asian Boxing News, Results and Profiles
The brilliant Eric Armit has again shared his brilliant Snips and Snipes column with us, well worth a read! Thank you Eric!
The interim Champion
The Philippines have several other notable fighters in this division including WBA interim champion Randy Petalcorin who is a much touted southpaw with venomous power and an exciting style. “Razor” is exciting fighter though one who hasn't yet scored a major win with his best scalp to date being against Walter Tello. Hopefully this year we will find out a lot more about the 23 year old southpaw and find out if he has the ability to claim a “real” world title.
Milan Melindo will be the next Asian fighter to fight for a Light Flyweight title when he steps up to take on IBF champion Javier Mendoza on April 25th. Melindo is a fabously talented fighter but one who seems to struggle when he steps up a level and he has struggled with both Jean Piero Perez and Martin Tecuapetla in recent bouts. He's talented but lacks the power and consistency to be genuinely world class.
The notable none Asian (I)
Having just mentioned the IBF champion it makes sense to talk about him a little bit. The heavy handed Javier Mendoza is a wonderfully fun fighter to watch with serious power, aggression and pressure. He's not the most technically capable nor the fastest but it may well take a very good fighter to beat him. Melindo, in our eyes, lacks the style to get the job done in Mexico but it will be fun when the two collide.
The notable non Asian (II)
Mexico's Pedro Guevara may well be the best fighter in the division and yet the 25 year old is generally over-looked by many in the division. Part of the reason he is over-looked is that he lost his first step up bout, coming up short against John Riel Casimero, however since then he has scored 4 straight wins including notable victories over Raul Garcia, Mario Rodriguez and most recently Akira Yaegashi. This kid is extremely talented and appears to have all the tools to be a star.
Images courtesy of:
WBO Boxing (Nietes)
Essam Sanbani (Raymi)
As well as the trio mentioned above the division also includes several other interesting fighters, such as-
"The Wonderfully Named"
The best name in the division, by a long way, is Knockout CP Freshmart (9-0, 5) who is the current WBA interim champion and a 24 year old who is tipped to become something a bit special by those in the know in Thailand. We've yet to be convinced but her certainly the perfect name for a boxing star and his style is certainly not a bad one to watch. He's expected back in the ring in early March to defend his title against Indonesian veteran Muahmmad Rachman (65-11-5, 35)
"The Notable Non-Asian"
The most notable non-Asian fighter in the division is, without a doubt, WBA and IBO champion Hekkie Budler (27-1, 9). Budler, a highly skilled South African fighter, is said to be a target for both Takayama and Knockout and has already scored wins over Asian fighters Pigmy Kokietgym (KO8) and Xiong Zhao Zhong (UD12). Our next chance to see Budler is this coming weekend when he battles against Mexican Jesus Silvestre (20-5, 22) in a very good looking WBA Mandatory title fight.
A huge thanks to Eric Armit for sending us another of his amazing "Snips and Snipes" columns.
On-off-on-off-on-off the story of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight has for the past few years been-as an old Glaswegian pal of mine might have said–like a tarts knickers ( “tart” is a euphemism for a lady of loose virtue, and elastic, of which I have no personal experience). Every day seems to bring another hopeful sounding revelation that this party or these parties have agreed it is on only for a note of caution to creep in when there is no formal announcement. Time is rapidly running out for the 2 May date as each boxer will want the maximum time to prepare for the biggest fight of their lives and if it is not settled well before the end of this month that will leave insufficient time. Come on guys get it sorted. It has to happen for the sake of Mayweather’s legacy. “Mayweather? Yeah a great fighter but he dodged Pacquiao”. There are also other big fights in suspended animation awaiting this decision.
Over the last few years we've seen the Thai boxing scene hit the bottom of the barrel. At one point they had no world champions and very few fighters than any but the most hardcore of fans would recognise. Today however they find themselves mid-way through the rebuilding process. They have a couple of world champions, in the form of Amnat Ruenroeng (IBF 112) and Wanheng Menayothin (WBC 105) as well an interim champion, Knockout CP Freshmart (WBA interim 105). They also have a host of prospects and number of highly ranked contenders. In fact I'd go as far as to say Thailand is set for a Golden Age.
It probably goes with out saying that Amnat isn't the best Flyweight and neither Wanheng or Knockout is the most proven fighter at Minimumweight but all 3 are solid fighters in their own way. Amnat is a true boxer and although we assume he's going to lost his title in March to Zou Shiming he has proven himself to be a very capable boxer. Wanheng has proven to be a world class pressure fighter and appears to be getting better whilst Knockout looks like a raw but promising fighter with a lot of potential.
As for contenders the country has the destructive Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the indomitable Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, the brilliant Jomthong Chuwatana, former champions Oleydong Sithsamerchai and Pungluang Sor Singyu and contenders such as Nawaphon Por Chokchai and Paipharob Kokietgym.
I'm going to ignore those contenders and champions for now and focus on the emerging talent. The men at the beginning of their careers, the men who make up the next generation of champions and contenders.
For me the most naturally gifted Thai coming through the ranks is the baby faced Kongputorn CPFreshmart (7-0, 5). Kongputorn is the current WBC Youth Flyweight champion and a man who makes everything in the ring look natural. He combines blurring hand speed, good defence and vicious power with a really impressive ring IQ. I'm unsure on his age but with the youth title and his baby-ish looks it's clear that he's a youngster and with his potential it's clear he has the ability to go incredibly far. In regards to his competition he has been up against poor opposition but he has made his performances look so natural and destructively easy that it's impossible not to be impressed by the potential of youngster, who recently destroyed Zhang Fang Yon.
A similarly promising fighter, who also takes the CP Freshmart name, of Kongfah CP Freshmart (11-0, 6) who is the WBC Youth Light Flyweight champion. Kongfah has been battled hardened a bit more than Kongputorn, and his bout with Cris Alfante last year was a real struggle, however I can't help but be impressed by his power, especially in his uppercuts which have been potent so far as seen memorably in his bout against Sangthong Cho Pakdee. I suspect Kongfah will be a long way from a world title bout but aged just 19 I don't see any reason for his team to rush him, instead he needs to face more southpaws, like Alfante, and go up against more varying fighters to try and develop his overall experience. If he does that then he really could go a very long way.
Whilst Kongfah and Kongputorn are both aggressive and heavy handed fighters there is also a room for some lesser punchers to be involved in the conversation as Thailand develops it's newest wave of fighters. One of the most promising lighter punches is the talented and savvy Nop Kratingdaenggym (12-0, 1). Nop is fast, skilfull and unlike many Thai's he's defensively cute and capable of fighting either on the front foot or the back foot. His lack of power may become an issue but at the moment he's shown himself good enough at winning rounds to not worry too much about the stoppages.
Going back to heavier handed fighters Super Flyweight prospect Eaktawan Mor Krungthepthonburi (7-0, 6) has really caught our eye. He's not the most defensively aware but here seems to have belief in toughness, his hand speed and his power and has shown a willingness to take one to land one at the lower levels. What has really impressed about Eaktawan is his explosiveness in combinations, similar to Kongputorn, and it was this that excited me when I saw him destroy Chamuakpetch Kor Kamolwa on his debut.
One final man that I'm excited about is the very young Stamp Kiatniwat (12-0, 5) who has shown glimpses of brilliance and is already being given tough tests on a regular basis. The first of those tests saw him beating former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng last year, in a very testing 12 round affair, whilst already this year he has been in with Espinos Sabu, in what was a risky bit of match making against an Indonesian who really does test good opponents. At the moment Stamp does look like a boy in a man's world, albeit a very talented boy, though it's clear that this kid will develop into a very good fighter and may well be competing on the world stage before he turns 20.
Whilst it might seem silly to predict that Thailand is on the verge of a golden generation I'm pretty confident that the country is set to become a major force on the world stage in the next 5 or 6 years, especially if the fighters mentioned here can stay out of trouble and continue to develop their skills which are already very advanced for fighters at this stage in their careers.
(Image courtesy of Kongputorn CPFreshmart's facebook account)
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features