By Eric Armit
Saul Alvarez had his tactics just right against Sergey Kovalev. He threatened enough to keep Kovalev fighting at a pace that eventually simply tired the older fighter out and then he stepped up his pace and provided a devastating finish. Greatness is his already but that brings its own pressure as with each achievement it becomes more difficult to take a step back or sideways. He stepped sideways to fight Rocky Fielding but his public and his paymaster will want him going onwards and upwards (not in weight) and fights that would fulfil that requirement are pretty scarce.
With Manny Pacquiao not quite the draw he was Alvarez is the current version of the “cash cow” role that Floyd Mayweather Jr once played. A fight with Alvarez is the biggest pay day available now so naturally they are queuing up to fight him. Dmitry Bivol would be the best fight if Alvarez stays at light heavyweight and Callum Smith would be the obvious choice at super middleweight as he is the real WBA champion! If he returns to middleweight then it has to be Gennady Golovkin as no other fight in that division would generate the sort of money that interests Alvarez. Billy Joe Saunders is still unbeaten but his style might not make for a good fight and he does not have the profile level of Golovkin. Can’t ever see Alvarez going back down to welterweight but if he did both Errol Spence and Terrence Crawford would be big fights. We have to wait and see where Canelo goes from here.
I hate to rain on Alvarez’s parade but labelling him a four-division champion just does not work for me. When he beat Rocky Fielding at super middle that fight was for the secondary WBA title as Callum Smith was the real champion so an incentive there for Alvarez to fight Smith and become a real four-division champion. If you feel he did qualify by winning that secondary WBA title then you are accepting Manuel Charr as a bona-fide heavyweight champion. You can’t have it both ways. Mexico has had three four-division champions in Juan Manuel Marquez (feather, super feather, lightweight and super lightweight), Jorge Arceb(light flyweight, super fly weight, bantamweight and super bantamweight) and Erik Morales (super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight and super lightweight) and they were all full titles not secondary, interim, gold, diamond, franchise or other.
The information released on the purses for the Alvarez vs. Kovalev fight show Alvarez being paid $35 million and Kovalev $3 million but ancillary monies will have pushed both of those figures much higher.
The WBC continues to threaten that any pro fighter who takes part in the qualifying for the 2020 Olympics will be dropped from their ratings. So far both Alvarez and Andy Ruiz have said they have no interest in the Olympics (not sure they were even asked) but world rated cruiserweight Mateusz Masternak has said he will enter the qualifiers. Whilst I am not happy about pros fighting at the Olympics let not be stupid-the Olympics are to all intent and purposes a competition for professionals. There are very few real amateur involved in any Olympic sport these days. Competing at Olympic level means full time preparation and financial backing. I can’t see the decision to allow professionals to box at the Olympics being dropped so the alternative is to try to work with the Olympic Committee in the same way football and to set limits on those who can compete. There could be age and experience qualifications such as under-23 and with less than 15 or 20 professional fights and not rated in the sanctioning bodies top 10 or similar. It is going to happen and it is important for professional boxing to have some input and threatening sanctions is a negative approach.
The WBSS bantamweight tournament has finally ended. With Zolani Tete having to drop out through injury and Ryan Burnett suffering a fight-and career-stopping injury against Nonito Donaire Inoue was always going to be the winner
Whilst Pacquiao stands like a colossus over Filipino boxing despite losing Donaire has proven himself one of the all-time greats in Pinoy boxing. In almost 19 years of campaigning “The Flash” has won eight different titles over four different divisions and they, as with the three Mexican’s above, have all been full titles. A great career if he can be rightly proud if he decides to hang up his gloves.
In unifying the IBF and WBA titles and winning the Ali Trophy Inoue has to be one of the most exciting fighters around. He is still only 26 and has managed to become a three-division champion after less than 20 fights and in under six years. He has not cleaned up the bantamweights yet. Zolani Tete puts his WBO title on the line against John Riel Casimero in Birmingham on 30 November which is a great match and Nordine Oubaali showed in beating Inoue’s younger brother Takuma that he can’t be overlooked. Plenty to come from this division.
The WBO may have thrown a spanner in the works of the WSSB cruiser tournament by ordering an immediate rematch between Mairis Breidis and Krzys Glowacki. Breidis stopped Glowacki in three rounds in June to win the WBO title and advance to the WBSS cruiser final against Yunier Dorticos. Glowacki’s team lodged a protest over what they saw as poor refereeing in the second round in the shape of a too lenient approach to a blatant elbow in the face from Breidis which floored Glowacki and the round going over the three minutes. A tight schedule has been set with an agreement in fifteen days or if that does not happen then a purse closing date in November. Although no date has been set for Breidis vs. Dorticos it makes sense for Breidis to vacate the WBO title for the more lucrative and higher profile WBSS fight. If he does vacate the WBO will be left with loser Glowacki vs. No 1 rated 49-year-old Firat Arslan. You reap as you sow.
Veterans Jean Pascal and Badou Jack will clash on December 28 in Atlanta with Pascal’s secondary WBA light heavyweight title up for grabs. With Pascal, 37, having been written off a couple of times and Jack at 36 suffering a horrifying cut when losing against Marcus Browne in January retirement must loom for the loser.
Roy Jones continues his love affair with Russia. He has set up Roy Jones Jr Boxing Russia and stages his first show in Yekaterinburg on 7 December. It will be shown on the UFC Fight Pass streaming service with WBA gold champion Alexey Egorov as the star turn.
Retirement did not last long for Denis Lebedev. The former undefeated WBA cruiser champion will return on 21 December in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, against former WBO title challenger Thabiso Mchunu with Dmitry Kudryashov also on the card.
Murat Gassiev is another Russian former world champion returning to the ring. Gassiev has been out of action with a shoulder injury since losing to Olek Usyk in July last year. He is looking to fight in January with Joey Dawejko a suggested opponent.
Jeff Horn will get his chance at revenge when he faces fellow-Australian in Brisbane on 18 December. Zerafa scored a career best win when he stopped Horn in nine rounds in August. Another loss could strike a fatal blow to Horn’s career.
Good looking show on tap in Paris on 15 November with Arsen Goulamirian defending the full WBA cruiserweight title against Australian Kane Watts and in what promises to be the best fight of the night an all-French match at super welter between Michel Soro (34-2-1) and Cedric Vitu (47-3) for the WBA gold title. Typical of the WBA to set rules for how a fighter become a “super champion” and then ignore them completely by upgrading Goulamirian straight from interim champion to super champion.
Former middleweight and super middleweight champion Felix Sturm has been back in court. He faces charges of tax evasion, assault and violation of anti-doping laws. He is alleged to have evaded 5.8 million Euro ($9.4 million) in taxes between 2009 and 2017. This was a short hearing and the full case starts next month meanwhile he will remain in custody where has been held since being arrested in April.
British heavyweight Daniel Dubois will be in action again on 21 December when he will face Japanese heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto with both Dubois WBC International title and the vacant WBC Silver title up for grabs. The 33-year-old Fujimoto is 21-1 and has won his last 16 fights but will be giving away 5” in height and has been carefully steered away from any threatening opposition.
Canadian Yves Ulysse will defend his WBA super light gold title against Ismael Barroso a former holder of the interim WBA light title in Costa Mesa California on 5 December and on the same card unbeaten super middle D’Mitrius Ballard 20-0 tackles 16-1 Brazilian Yamaguchi Falcao.
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