By Eric Armit
Most sports fans are lucky because in most sports they know the best are going to meet the best. Whether it is the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the Olympic Games the World Series, Wimbledon or The Masters at some stage the best will be pitted against the best when the contestants are at their peak. Pity we poor boxing fans who can only watch in envy as our “best” rarely meet the “best” or when they do too often they are past their best or at least one of them is. An example is that when Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao eventually fought both of them were past their peak. Still great fighters but a couple of years past their best. British examples would be Ricky Hatton vs. Junior Witter and Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook big fights at the time that never happened. There is usually more than one factor that frustrates these fights. Different TV commitments, different promotional ties, ego and of course money.
The mandated IBF middleweight title defence for Saul Alvarez against Sergey Derevyanchenko hardly compares to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao but it was interesting match and for me Derevyanchenko was capable of giving Alvarez a very tough fight. Since Alvarez did not want to give Gennady Golovkin a third match-at this time-it was as good a middleweight title fight as we could expect. But of course it is not going to happen because the respective teams could not come to a commercial agreement and the IBF stripped Alvarez of their title. So was it down to different TV commitments, promotional issues or ego. No this was purely about money. With the $300+ million contract deal Alvarez has with DAZN whoever he fights there is going to be very big money involved. If the promotion of the bout is decided on a bidding process then Derevyanchenko would be entitle to 35% of the winning bid. Golden Boy did not want the fight to go to purse offers because they would face competition from Derevyanchenko’s promoter and would therefore be forced to put in a high bid to ensure they won. Not surprisingly they chose to negotiate with Derevyanchenko’s team aiming to get Derevyanchenko’s team to accept a figure which would fall far short of the 35% in a purse bid. The IBF gave extension after extension to the date by which there needed to be an agreement as the two side played brinkmanship. You had Golden Boy’s position being we are not going to get anything like 35% but we will offer a lot more money than you have ever made for a fight and Derevyanchenko’s team saying the gap between the 35% and what you are offering is too wide we are worth more. Nobody blinked so there was no deal and with Golden Boy not interested in a purse bidding the IBF had no alternative but to strip Alvarez because his team walked away from the table making no commitment to defend the title. Oscar De La Hoya branded the IBF decision “an insult to boxing” which is a strange way to say Derevyanchenko wanted more money than we were willing to give him so we effectively gave up the title by walking away.
The two boxers are the real losers in this. Alvarez has lost a title and has no ready opponent. With the WBC “elevating” him to Franchise champion and now replacing him with Jermall Charlo as their champion he no longer has the WBC title. There would be zero interest in fighting Ryota Murata and the WBA No 1 is-Golovkin! The talk is of a fight with Demetrius Andrade to unify the WBA and WBO titles which seems logical but a very hard sell. Derevyanchenko can’t be happy at losing the chance to fight for a huge purse and might be wishing his team had blinked but it now looks like he will get a fight with Golovkin for the vacant IBF title. As the mandatory challenger he will have a strong bargaining position and for me has a good chance of beating Golovkin Money makes the world go around, world go around, world go around-the boxing cabaret but in this case the wheels came off.
Anybody want a lovely belt? The WBC had one specially made for Alvarez’s proposed fight on September 14-15 to celebrate Mexican Independence. Now there is no Alvarez fight on that date. I was going to call for bids for it but perhaps we could negotiate!
You can’t keep the heavyweights out of the news. Disgracefully Jarrell Miller says he expects to fight again in October which makes a complete mockery of all the testing. I am surprised that VADA don’t walk away or at least have a say in whether or not a boxer should be banned and for how long. That’s what the French Agency did over Tony Yoka.
So Tyson Fury is going to fight Otto Wallin and Hughie Fury is going to fight Alex Povetkin-shouldn’t that be the other way around. Wallin is better than Tom Schwarz but probably his best result was outpointing fellow Swede Adrian Granat-who was knocked out inside a round by Alex Dimitrenko. It strikes me that Tyson Fury is now having the fights he should have had before fighting Deontay Wilder but the important thing is that he does not lose between now and the return with Wilder.
Looks like it will be Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz in Cardiff on 14 December. Ruiz is saying he will choose the venue but that depends on what the small print in the original contract said.
The transition from top level amateur to pro success has not always worked out for Cuban boxers. The latest to switch over is 25-year-old Robeisy Ramirez who has his first pro fight in Philadelphia on Saturday. As an amateur Ramirez was Cuban champion five times, won gold medals at the Youth Olympics, the World Youth Championships, the Pan American Games and both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics beating Andrew Selby, Michael Conlan and Shakur Stevenson. Surely he can’t fail-can he?
Stevenson will get a world title shot some time this year. He and Joet Gonzalez have been paired to fight for the WBO feather title recently vacated by Oscar Valdez. There is talk of Jose Carols Ramirez defending the WBC super lightweight title against Jack Catterall on the same show.
Other title fights lined up in date order are John Riel Casimero defending the interim WBO bantam title against Cesar Ramirez in Manila on 24 August with the winner to meet champion Zolani Tete and on the same night in Nagoya Kosei Tanaka puts the WBO flyweight title on the line against Puerto Rican Jonathan Gonzalez whilst in Puerto Rico Vic Saludar defends the IBF minimumweight title against Wilfredo Mendez, Josh Warrington is defending the IBF feather title on 12 October in Leeds. Takoucht is No 5 with the IBF but with the first two slots vacant he is effectively No 3 and owes that high ranking to winning the IBF International title and not the quality of his opposition. He is No 17 with the EBU. There is talk of Jerwin Ancajas facing Carlos Cuadras in October with the Filipino’s IBF super fly title on the line. Now that could be a great fight. Jamel Herring is defending the WBO super feather title against Lamont Roach on 9 November and there will be a return between Julian Williams and Jarrett Hurd on 14 December as Hurd gets a change to regain the IBF, WBA and IBO super welter titles he lost to Williams in May.
It seems to have been just one blow after another for our sport. We had the tragic deaths of Maxim Dadashev and Hugo Santillan then French boxer/actor Jean Claude Bouttier died on 3 August at the age of 74. Bouttier was one of the most popular boxers of his era. He was European champion but had the misfortune of being around at the same time as Carlos Monzon and lost twice to Monzon in world title fights. After he retired he worked as a commentator and then moved in to films and had a very successful career there. One day later former WBC flyweight champion Colombian Prudencio Cardona died on 4 August at the age of 67. He was the fourth Colombian boxer to win a world title –his brother Ricardo was the third. Prudencio had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. There was another death with Polish fighter Dawid Kostecki committing suicide by hanging himself in his prison cell and then the former WBC welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir jailed for sexual abuse of his daughter who was only eight. His crime had nothing to do with boxing but his world title was a convenient hook to make the story bigger.
On a personal level I lost a close friend in Beau Williford who died on 31 July. Beau boxed pro as a heavyweight and then trained and managed fighters but for me the defining aspect of Beau’s life was the work he did with the youth of his home town of Lafayette. He took in many problem kids and turned their lives around. He did not just teach them boxing he taught them discipline. He also insisted on responsible behaviour and that they maintained acceptable school grades. He was teaching boxing but he was also building citizens. That work is done in so many gyms around the world. I dropped into a gym in Dundee run by Greg Menzies a couple of times and saw the same commitment to the youths working there. Last weekend boxers Eric Walker and John Harding Jr had important bouts. Walker won but Harding lost-and yet they are both winners. When younger they both spent long terms in jail. Boxing changed their lives gave them a fresh start that’s a route that many other young men have followed. Yes boxing is a dangerous sport and naturally the tragedies and the bad publicity taint it but in almost every city in the world there are guys like Beau and Greg who give their time to help the local youth but good news is no news so that contribution by boxing to the citizens of the future goes unreported and largely unrecognised.
Last crime report. A mugger in Mexico City mugged a guy and stole his watch. The guy he mugged was Julio Cesar Chavez. Not sure if that counts as bravado or brainless.
By Eric Armit
What a week it has been for boxing. Two tragedies, a farce, yet another reported positive test for a leading heavyweight and finally a triumph.
The tragedies concerned Russian Maxim Dadashev and Argentinian Hugo Santillan. With hindsight there were danger signs in Dadashev’s case. He was very tired and had taken a great deal of punishment but had still been throwing punches up to the bell at the end of the eleventh round of his fight with Subriel Matias. He stumbled on his way back to his corner and it was not until he was on the point of collapse after leaving the ring that he was put on a stretcher so it is a case of asking whether the signs should have been spotted earlier. The ESPN team covering the fight thought everything had been done correctly although Tim Bradley felt there should have been some earlier involvement of the doctor.
There is no such grey area with regard to the death of Santillan. From before until after there was just so much wrong about this fight.
The Argentinian took the fight at very short notice but much more serious he took the fight whilst under a medical suspension. Santillan had fought Artem Harutyunyan in Germany on 15 June and lost on points. He took such a beating that the Bund Deutscher Berufsboxer slapped Santillan with a 45 day suspension for “many blows to the head” which appeared on Santillan’s record on BoxRec. Box Rec took steps to try to get this drawn to the attention of the local authorities prior to the fight. Despite this the fight went ahead and ended in a draw. Initially there were no signs of distress from Santillan as he actually climbed on the ropes in a corner to show he thought he had won. He then collapsed. The result had not been announced so Santillan's seconds half carried half dragged him to the centre of the ring and held him up. He was totally unresponsive with his head sagging on his shoulders. The result was a draw so the referee grasped Santillan’s hand and pulled it as high as he could then the referee and Santillan’s seconds dragged him back to his corner and tried to sit him on his stool;. He was unconscious and slid off the stool and onto the canvas. It was only when lying there prone did a doctor finally enter the ring. He was taken to hospital but had to be resuscitated twice and was then operated on for a serious brain injury. He never recovered consciousness and died early Thursday morning. He was just 23 and was failed by those whose duty it was to protect him.
R.I.P Maxim and Hugo.
Farce: The farce came in France-and naturally involved the WBA. Frenchman Michel Soro was to fight Russian Magomed Kurbanov for the vacant secondary WBA super welter title. There was a whole story behind that from which no one involved any credit. Kurbanov had his visa on the morning of the fight-but was in Russia. He had a private plane supplied to fly him to France but his trainer did not have his visa so Kurbanov refused to travel. Panic ensued as this was to be a world title fight and TV cameras were there to cover the event. French middleweight champion Anderson Prestot had weighed in at 161lbs for a six round fight in the show. He was told that if he could get down to 154lbs on the day of the fight he could then fight for this vacant version of the WBA title. It was stated that Prestot had got down to 154lbs by 10.30am on the day of the fight so the title fight went on. However in view of the circumstances with Prestot not being in their ratings the WBA rapidly had a contract drawn up which said that the fight would be a defence by Soro of the Gold title he already held. Soro won and the French TV and newspapers were delighted that they had another world champion- because no one had told them that the fight had been downgraded. Cue rage the next day from French TV and newspapers and Soro was not particularly happy either. The WBA have already approved a contest between Erislandy Lara and Roberto Alvarez for the vacant interim title so the mess goes on.
Naturally the report that Dillian Whyte’s A sample had tested positive for a banned substance was big news. One of the problems associated with test results from an A sample on its own is that a fighter has a right to insist his B sample is tested. Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (ADA) covers this in its Results and Management Policy as follows
“Sufficient proof of a doping violation is established by either of the following: presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in the Athlete’s A Sample where the Athlete waives analysis of the B Sample and the B Sample is not analyzed; or, where the Athlete’s B Sample is analyzed and the analysis of the Athlete’s B Sample confirms the presence of the prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers found in the athlete’s A Sample.”
That means that where the athlete insists the B sample is tested he is not technically guilty until the results of the B Sample test is known. On that basis there were no grounds for suspending Whyte prior to the Oscar Rivas fight and there would have been some very costly legal actions flying around if Whyte had been prevented from fighting only for his B sample to be clean. Already Rivas and his team are calling for the result of the fight to be changed and Andy Ruiz is citing this case as a reason for not fighting Anthony Joshua in the UK but until the results of the B sample are known it is all just speculation.
Triumph: There is no other word than triumph to describe the victory for Manny Pacquiao over Keith Thurman and over Old Father Time. It was good to see Pacquiao still had much of his old hand speed and he fought a brilliant tactical battle. His eight-division champion feat consist of being recognised as champion in six divisions by one or other of the sanctioning bodies and in two other divisions by Ring Magazine. Truly amazing achievements. The only down side is that before he has even had his gloves removed he is exchanging jibes with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Please no Manny. You have introduced a bill in the Philippines to set up a Philippines Boxing Commission-currently control of boxing falls under the Philippines Games and Amusements Board-focus on the day job. It would be great for you to get a big win next year but please not Mayweather again.
The purses for the Pacquiao show were Manny $10 million, Thurman $2.5 million, Caleb Plant $750k, Mike Lee $250k,Yordenis Ugas $300k, Omar Figueroa $300k, Sergey Lipinets $250k, Jayar Inson $10k, Luis Nery $150k, Juan Carlos Payano $25k,Efe Ajagba $15k, Ali Eren Demirezen $10k so Manny took home more than the rest of the bill put together and there will have been other ancillary money for Manny.
One source has stated that Thurman suffered a rib injury prior to the fight with Pacquiao. If so I am surprised it wasn’t until the tenth round before a punch from Pacquiao to the body visibly hurt Thurman.
I can remember in the days under Chairman Mao when any sniff of capitalism would lead to banishment- if you were lucky. How the old man must be twitching in his mausoleum. The Chinese Boxing Federation has engaged the services of Mayweather Jr to help them improve on the three medals they won in the Rio Olympics. It is difficult to think of anyone who so personifies everything Chairmen Mao was against than Mr Money. How the world has changed!
Great to see Joe Frazier being honoured again in Philadelphia. The Mural Arts Philadelphia has completed an impressive mural which is sited near the Boxer’s Trail gym in Fairmont Park where Frazier trained. I am sure it is partially nostalgia but it seems to me that the best did fight the best in those days and Frazier’s use of positive substance refereed to his left hook.
The WBO have ordered purse bids for Oscar Valdez’s defence of his featherweight title against Shakur Stevenson. The closing date for bids is August 2 with the minimal acceptable bid at $150,000. Both fighters are promoted by Top Rank but are under different management.
Still on purse offers the EBU have set a deadline of September 3 for bids for Agit Kabayel’s defence of the heavyweight title against Joe Joyce and July 31 for bids for Yves Ngabu’s defence of the cruiser title against Lawrence Okolie. Other European title fights lined up include Stefan Haertel defending the super middleweight title against Juergen Brahmer in October, Dominic Boesel putting his light heavy title on the line against Igor Mikhalkin with this one under negotiation and a tasty defence by Sergio Garcia against Cedric Vitu at super welter.
Amir Khan has another fight lined up in Saudi Arabia for November. No opponent named yet but it won’t be Manny Pacquiao that’s for sure.
Farce time again with Anthony Mundine un-retiring to fight 43-year-oldMuay Thai exponent John Wayne Park in November.
Mexican-based American Dewayne Beamon is getting an undeserved shot at Juan Francisco Estrada’s WBC super fly title on August 24. Losing and winning last year against Martin Tecuapetla and not fighting for eight month hardly constitutes grounds for elevating him from 27 to 15.
Discussing his options WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz has said he is looking for a unification fights against Josh Warrington or Gary Russell and if that does not happen then perhaps a third fight with Carl Frampton. Hey Leo why don’t you unify the WBA title by facing Can Xu-sorry now I am just being silly.
By Eric Armit
There seems to be no end to the greed and stupidity of the major sanctioning bodies. It does not matter how many or how contrived the existing titles are there is always room for more titles and for more sanctioning fees. When at cruiserweight the WBA found they had four champions but only three “world” titles–super, secondary and interim-they invented a Gold title. This from the guys who proudly trumpeted their intention to have only one champion in every division. Hypocrisy rules OK! Of course if the WBA have a new title then the WBO have to have one as well. We have already had Gold, Silver and Diamond titles foisted on us so the WBO to top those have introduced a Global title. According to my dictionary Global means “worldwide”. Which raises the question of what a World title covers? I pity any boxing enthusiast who finds himself trying to explain to someone who does not follow boxing just what the difference is between being a World champion and a Global champion.
The latest effort from the WBC just beggars belief. They have now designated Saul Alvarez as their “Franchise Champion”. According to the WBC missive their Franchise Champion (and of course there will be yet more Franchise Champions to follow) will:
“Proudly represent the WBC in every single fight as a reigning WBC champion, regardless of any specific conditions or titles being associated with all future fights. WBC rules and regulations will govern under the traditional conditions of boxing in the Franchise champion’s fights. WBC will approve through the Franchise champion’s promoter every opponent scheduled to fight.”
What that means is that even if Saul Alvarez were to challenge Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light heavyweight title then as it involves their Franchise champion, that fight will be under the rules and regulations of the WBC-even though Alvarez is the challenger and fighting out of his division-and the WBC will have to approve of Kovalev or any other fighter/champion who intends to fight Alvarez. No mention there of who gets the sanctioning fee! I can’t imagine the IBF, WBA or WBO accepting such a thing and neither can I envisage Alvarez walking away from a big fight for an IBF, WBA or WBO title just because the WBC have invented a title aimed at associating themselves with every title Alvarez fights for. As if that is not bad enough the WBC reserves the right to also recognise a (another) champion in a division or divisions in which Alvarez (or any other Franchise champion they may appoint) competes and that effectively could mean the WBC having a world champion and a Franchise champion in as many divisions as they like and so devaluing the title even further.
Alvarez next fight is scheduled for 14 September and there all types of hats being thrown in the ring. Golden Boy have stated their interest in an Alvarez vs. Kovalev fight for the WBO light heavy title but the barrier there is that Kovalev is mandated to defend the WBO title against Anthony Yarde and negotiations for that fight are said to be well advanced. Obviously Alvarez vs. Kovalev would be a huge fight much bigger than Kovalev vs. Yarde as the British challenger is still relatively unknown. Kovalev could choose to go ahead with the Yarde fight and face Alvarez at a later date, but that would be a risky choice. Alternatively Kovalev could relinquish the WBO title or Yarde could be offered a sum of money to stand aside and let the Alvarez vs. Kovalev fight take place with a guarantee he could fight the winner but that too would be risky for Yarde as guarantees can sometimes turn out to be pie in the sky. ESPN want Alvarez for Demetrius Andrade. Even as a two-division champion Andrade’s profile is not mega high yet but obviously a win over Alvarez would change that. His fight with Brandon Adams last week was not one to set the pulses racing but in the end whether he lands the Alvarez fight will come down to money. Brits Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders would love the chance as would a certain Mr Golovkin. Everyone wants a piece of Canelo.
For any fight involving Alvarez you are talking serious money but not all fights are multi-million dollar affairs. For his title defence against Ray Beltran IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey’s purse was $350K and it was boosted by a further $20K from Beltran’s original purse of $160K due to Beltran failing to make the weight. Other purses were £50K for Patrick Day, $30K for his opponent Carlos Adames, $30K for Saul Rodriguez, which will not really soften the blow of his suffering his first pro defeat, just $5K for his conqueror Miguel Angel Gonzalez and $15K each for heavyweights Junior Fa and Dominic Guinn.
The build up to Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman continues with Thurman constituting a much bigger danger to Pacquiao than Adrien Broner. Whilst the focus is on Pacquiao the boxer he is also still an active force in Philippines politics and this week Pacquiao introduced a bill in the legislator to reintroduce capital punishment for major drug trafficking convictions. In the next session of Congress reportedly Pacquiao also intends to introduce bills banning smoking in public places and one to set up in the Philippines an equivalent to the US Department of Homeland Security.
The undercard for the Pacquiao vs. Thurman WBA title fight also features another world title fight with Caleb Plant defending the IBF super middle title against unbeaten Mike Lee. Also on the card are fights between Yordenis Ugas and Omar Figueroa Jr at welter, Luis Nery and Juan Carlos Payano at bantam, Sergey Lipinets vs. John Molina Jr at welter and unbeaten heavy Efe Ajagba vs. Ali Eren Demirezen.
Negotiations for the Denis Lebedev vs. Arsen Goulamirian fight have broken down. Lebedev was recently reinstated as Super champion at cruiser by the WBA and Goulamirian was promoted from Gold champion to secondary champion. It looks likely now that the WBA will put the fight out to purse offers
One purse bidding process that was completed saw World of Boxing win the right to stage Danny Romero’s WBA super bantam title defence against Uzbek Murodjon Akhmadaliev with a bid of $145,000. There was only one bidder and with Akhmadaliev having had just six fights and being virtually unknown it was not too surprising the bid was relatively low and there was only one bid receive.
Whilst much of the interest in the bantamweight division is cantered on the fight between Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire WBC champion Nordine Oubaali will defend his title on Saturday against Filipino Arthur Villanueva on a big show in Kazakhstan. There are some excellent local prospects on the undercard. MTK Global, Top Rank and ESPN are all touting Kazakhstan as the next big growth area in boxing. Oubaali will be making the first defence of the title he won with unanimous points decision over Rau’shee Warren in January. He is managed by his brother Ali Oubaali who fought for the European super featherweight title back in 2004 and ended with a 26-3 record. Filipino Villanueva has lost in previous title shots for the IBF super fly and interim WBO bantam titles.
Frenchman Michel Soro will get another chance to win a version of the WBA super welter title when he faces Russian Magomed Kurbanov in Marseilles on 20 July for the secondary title. The Ivory Coast-born Soro lost a split decision against Argentinian Brian Castano for the interim title in 2017 his only loss in his last 17 fights. Russian Kurbanov, 23, has won all of his 17 fights.
Still on the France scene heavyweight prospect Tony Yoka is scheduled to return to the ring on 13 July in Antibes against Alex Dimitrenko but there could be a problem with the big Russian. He retired after five rounds in his fight in Carson, California with Andy Ruiz on 20 April. Due to a suspected shoulder fracture the Californian Commission gave Dimitrenko a 180 day suspension. However if Dimitrenko can pass a medical the suspension will be lifted so he could still be Yoka’s opponent. The Antibes show will also feature former European super welter champion Cedric Vitu and unbeaten prospects Elie Konki, Souleymane Cissokho and Michel Tavares,
As far as injured boxers goes it is a good news-bad news scenario. Former WBC light heavy champion Adonis Stevenson is back with his family and making a very good recovery from the brain operation he had following his loss to Olek Gvozdyk in December. Stevenson is already talking about going back to the gym but as a trainer.
The news about heavyweight Denis Boytsov is not good at all. His injuries are not boxing related but he is in dire straits. Four years after being found on a Berlin subway track with serious head and leg injuries Boytsov in still unable to stand upright , has great difficulty speaking and very little mobility. In the space of just a few hours Boytsov went from being a promising heavyweight with a 36-1 record to an invalid with no real future. Life can be very cruel at times.
By Eric Armit
The next four weeks will see the three best heavyweights in the world in action. Obviously it is too much to hope for in this day and age for any of them to be fighting each other The good news is that none of them face an opponent who should really threaten their unbeaten record or in the casers of Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder their titles. I can’t see any of the top three going from these fight to a match with one of the others they will all want one more fight with the plan being for a meeting either Joshua vs. Wilder, or Joshua vs. Fury or Wilder vs. Fury. A return between Wilder and Fury would be big but Joshua vs. Wilder or Fury would be the biggest money-wise. Those plans rely on the sanction bodies keeping their heads down as they have done so far. They all want to be part of one of those big fights. Dillian White has been No 1 with the WBC for 18 months without any effort being made to force Wilder to defend against him. Both WBA interim champion Trevor Bryan and IBF No 1 Kubrat Pulev have been on top for shorter times and if Joshua was looking to make another defence this year neither would pose a big risk. In the end it will came down to money, egos and promoters agreeing money and swallowing egos. I was feeling quite upbeat until I got to that last bit.
On heavyweights Kubrat Pulev is still trying to extricate himself from the troubles he brought upon himself with the forced kiss on a lady journalist. He is being sued by the lady in question but equally as problematical is that before California will re-licence him he will have to go on a training course dealing with sexual harassment. If he does not do so then California will not re-licence him and that could mean he would not be able to fight in the USA.
There is another hat in the heavyweight ring now. Still waiting for his first pro fight Cuban Lienier Pero (t) comes with some strong amateur credentials. He was World Youth, World Youth Olympics and Pan American Youth champion. He took a gold medal at both the 2011and 2015 Pan American Games but lost in the quarter-final of the Rio Olympics to Filip Hrgovic. At 26 and 6’2” he has time to adjust to the pro ranks. In other heavyweight moves in his first fight since beating Alex Ustinov in November Mike Hunter meets Brazilian Fabio Maldonado on 25 May. Maldonado is coming off points losses to Oscar Rivas and Olek Teslenko. In addition former IBF and WBA cruiser champion Marat Gassiev will have his first fight at heavyweight on 27 July but no venue or opponent named yet.
Interesting show set for Schwern, Germany 15 June with three former champions scheduled to fight. Tyron Zeuge, the ex-holder of the WBA secondary super middleweight belt will reportedly face Spanish champion Adam Silvera for the vacant European Union title which seems a very sub-standard EU title fight, Jack Culcay the former secondary WBA super welter champion tackles experienced Italian Stefano Castellucci and Juergen Brahmer the former WBO and secondary WBA champion at light heavyweight meets unbeaten fellow German Nils Schmidt. Three not very competitive matches. Schmidt is 17-0 but of his last nine opponents eight of them only had 19 wins between them and the other victim had lost 6 of his last 7 fights. With the current state of German boxing they are taking no chances of their guys losing. Only two German fighters hold EBU titles, Agit Kabayel the heavyweight and Dominic Boesel the light-heavyweight and they have no world champions. Sorry I am wrong there Manuel Charr holds the secondary version of the WBA heavyweight title. That really is a case of chickens coming home to roost. As a result of their machinations the WBA are left with a champion who has not defended the tile he won eighteen months ago and he is supposed to fight at some time Fres Oquendo who has not fight since July 2014. It’s more like a fifth division title than a secondary. No one wants it and if the WBA ordered Anthony Joshua to defend against Charr they would be a laughing stock.
One German former world champion is busy and that is Marco Huck. He has a fight against Nick Guivas at the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut on Friday night 17th then he has to fly back to Germany to oversee his promotion on 25 May in Salzgitter. I guess one more world title fight is Huck’s aim.
I was saddened to read of the death of Harold Lederman. He was one of the good guys a real gentleman who lived for and was passionate about boxing. He earned his living as a pharmacist but earned people’s love and respect as a boxing judge and as the man who scored fights for HBO. I first met Harold in the early 1970’s at a WBC Convention in Mexico City. His first words to me “what’s a stone?” That threw me until I realised he was talking about the term used in Britain for body weight. A couple of nights later he, Mickey Duff and I went to the world famous Arena Coliseo to watch the fights and Harold and I forged a friendship that lasted right up until his death. My life is less rich with the passing with Harold RIP.
It was sad to hear of the death of Bert “Smokin” Cooper from Pancreatic cancer at the age of 53. For most of his career Bert was a name on an index card that I updated by pencil after his fights. When you physically write those details about a fighter you are almost living his career as it starts, progresses and ends. Bert kept me busy .He dodged no one and fought eight world champions. His only chance at a world title came in November 1991. When both Mike Tyson and his replacement both injured themselves Bert stepped in at one week’s notice to challenge Evander Holyfield for the IBF and WBA titles. In the third round Bert nearly sprang what would have been the biggest upset in heavyweight boxing. A heavy puncher, 31 of Bert’s 38 wins came by KO/TKO; he nailed Holyfield with a right that had Holyfield sagging into the ropes badly hurt. The ropes stopped Holyfield from going down so he was given a count. Copper rocked Holyfield a few more times but with such short notice he was not in condition and Holyfield stopped him in the seventh round. He fought them all but loss his battle with cancer RIP Bert.
Female boxers are showing up their male counterparts. Where sometime it seems too many egos/promotion rivalry gets in the way of big male unification fights there seem to be no such problems in the female ranks. Last month Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer met with the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO middleweight titles on the line and now Katie Taylor and Belgian Delfine Persoon fight at Madison Square Garden on 1 June with the same four lightweight titles on the line. That will mean two divisions totally unified. Male score on that=Zero.
What do Olek Usyk, Manny Pacquiao, Terrence Crawford, Errol Spence and Vasyl Lomachenko have in common? Yes they all hold versions of a world title and they are all on most people’s list of the best pound for pound fighters around today. Let me also add Denis Lebedev, Adonis Stevenson, Gilberto Ramirez, Demetrius Andrade, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Tevin Farmer, Gary Russell Jr, Gervonta Davis, Regis Prograis, Billy Joe Saunders, Josh Taylor, Marcus Browne, Erislandy Lara, Luis Ortiz, Zolani Tete, Srisaket, Jerwin Ancajas, TJ Doheny and Terry Flanagan not all of whom are champions or on typical pound for pound lists. The answer is that they are all southpaws. Oh how things have changed back in the 1950’s southpaws were treated as pariah. One famous boxer-it may have been the great Sugar Ray Robinson- said that all southpaw should be strangled at birth! In the 1950’s southpaws were a very rare breed. You had Jimmy Carruthers, Gustav Schulz, Flash Elorde, Kenny Lane , Dave Charnley Horacio Accavallo and a few others but you could count on two hands without including your thumbs the number of southpaw boxers active throughout the 1950’s who were world champions or leading fighters. Yet here we are today where it is almost a case that the best fighters are southpaws and there are plenty of them so somehow the southpaw have crept up on us and taken over boxing-how? The heavyweight seems to be one division that has withstood the plague of southpaws. Right now of what I would call the “A” list only Luis Ortiz, Charles Martin and Artur Szpilka are southpaws and as an example there are only 74 active southpaws in the heavyweight division whereas there are 182 super lightweights and 165 lightweights. I am right-handed so I am watching this spreading curse of the left-handers with trepidation.
It is not unusual for a boxer to retire after a heavy defeat but in the case of the Dogboe family it is the trainer who is retiring. After his loss to Emanuel Navarrete Isaac has said the he will continue to box but move up to featherweight father Paul has said he will stop his work as a trainer. It must have been painful for him to see his son losing so heavily. The father/son bond adds another dimension to watching your fighter lose so I can understand his pain and it has to be said he has done a magnificent job by taking Isaac to a world title. I am not too sure how wise Isaac’s decision to move up to feather is. He is 5’2” and the 5’7” Navarette was just too big for him if he could get down to bantam that would seem a more sensible option.
Forthcoming fights: The big one of course is Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman on 20 July in Las Vegas with Thurman’s WBA welter title up for grabs. Many is 40 and Thurman is unbeaten and strong so a very risky fight for Pacquiao. The “championship of the Garcia’s” looks set for 13 August with Danny fighting Mikey. Obvious Mikey is sure he can do better at welter against Danny than he did against Errol Spence. Anthony Yarde gets his world title chance against WBO light heavy champion Sergey Kovalev in Russia on 29 June. Kovalev will constitute a huge step up in the quality of opposition for Yarde. Kovalev is a few levels above Yarde victims Dariusz Sek, Walter Sequeira and Travis Reeves. Yarde’s power has been enough to compensate for his defensive deficiencies but that’s unlikely to be the case against Kovalev. On 12 July in Osaka Ken Shiro defends the WBC light fly title against Filipino Jonathan Taconing. On 13 July in Carson, California Rey Vargas will make the fifth defence of his WBC super bantam title up against former WBO bantam champion Tomoki Kameda. On 20 July Caleb Plant will make the first defence of his IBF super middle title against 21-0 Mike Lee and 27 July in Baltimore Gervonta Davis will defend his WBA super feather title. Yuriorkis Gamboa was originally to be the guy in the other corner but there is now a question over that. It is a long way down the line but it is reported that Ryad Merhy will take on Imre Szello for the WBA cruiserweight gold belt in Charleroi on 19 October. Merhy is 28-1 with his only loss coming against Arsen Goulamirian for the WBA interim title and Hungarian “Imo” Szello is 23-0.
Boy they are tough with their titles in France. From now on every French national champion must defend his title against his No 1 challenger every four months. No Exceptions or exemptions and if the challenger refuses then he can’t fight for the title for a year-and Dillian Whyte has been wait 18 months for a shot at the WBC title and Fres Oquendo has been waiting almost five years for a court decreed shot at the WBA title. Vive la France I say!
By Eric Armit
Last week’s big fights were a mixed bag. We had two very good fights in California with Daniel Ramon vs. JT Doheny an exciting scrap all the way which unified two titles and also a brilliant exhibition of quality boxing from Juan Francisco Estrada against Srisaket. In addition when we thought it was dead in the water the WBSS Tournament came back to life with semi-finals in the super lightweight and bantamweight categories. It was predictable that Regis Prograis and Nonito Donaire would win but it was important how they did it and they both showed power and class. Let’s just pass over Robert Easter vs. Rances Barthelemy as it showed that two good fighters could put up a bad fight. I seem to have a talent for being in the wrong time at the wrong place. The WBSS card was held in Lafayette. I worked in the oil industry and Lafayette was the first town I visited in the USA. I returned there just a few years back to visit with my long time and close friend Beau Williford who has his Ragin’ Cajun gym there and met up with Kerry Daigle who subsequently did all of the media and publicity work for the WBSS show. So how come I was slogging away at a computer on the East Coast of Scotland instead of sitting at ringside in Lafayette-wrong time wrong place.
Of course tomorrow night in Las Vegas we have Saul Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs with a good supporting cast including John Ryder vs. unbeaten Bilal Akkawy and in Stockton Jerwin Ancajas and Artur Beterbiev defend their titles. I think Jacobs is going to be a much tougher test for Alvarez than many anticipate and I would not be surprised to see Jacobs pull off an upset victory.
Congratulations to Andy Ruiz he is going to get the fight that will pay him more than he has ever been paid for a fight by a factor of ten or fifteen more than he has ever received or probably ever will receive. Life and boxing are unpredictable so those that turned down the chance to fight Anthony Joshua may well live to regret it. There are only three fighters in the heavyweight division against whom seriously big money can be made-Joshua, Deontay Wilder and to a lesser extent Tyson Fury. In the Wilder vs. Fury fight Wilder reported got $14 million and Fury $10 million and neither Wilder nor Fury will earn nearly as much against their next opponents. Ruiz will reportedly get $7 million but that was an exceptional case due to the need to offer a big enough incentive to get someone to take the fight at such short notice.
Of course Ruiz is not an opponent to get the juices flowing but he will be close to fighting condition having won recently. He has lost only once and for my money was very unlucky not to get at least a draw against Joseph Parker. No it is not a great fight but let’s not get hysterical it is no worse than Wilder vs. Dominic Breazeale and better than Fury against untested Tom Schwarz.
I find it incredible that the WBA should have given Miller a derisory six month ban. He failed three test, lied about it until it was obvious that the evidence that he had cheated was confirmed and some even praised him for confessing. What else could he do? Lie again!
The WBA ban is just posturing. They have no jurisdiction over Miller. All they can do is ban him from fighting for the WBA title. The New York Board withdrew his licence but cannot ban him and since there is no central authority governing boxing the USA in theory he could box next week if he could find a State to give him a licence. We could learn something from the German approach which has Felix Sturm in its sights.
Even in Germany the wheels of justice sometimes grind slowly but it can be satisfying when they do get there in the end. Last month former middleweight and super middleweight champion Felix Sturm decided that it was safe for him to return to Germany having moved out of the country a few years back to avoid some growing legal problems. He was wrong. The authorities in Cologne quickly arrested Sturm to face tax evasion charges. Sturm appealed to a local court to be allowed bail and the court agreed. However a higher court overturned that ruling deciding that due to the amount of money involved in the charges Sturm was a flight risk and the bail application was denied. Then came the action that will interest boxing as new indictments have been raised under the German Anti-Doping in Sports Act relating to Sturm’s fight with Fedor Chudinov in 2016. The irony of that will strike Sam Soliman who beat Sturm for the IBF and WBA super middleweight titles in 2012 only to be denied the titles due to a positive test which after years of going through the courts finally proved Soliman was innocent. It is interesting that through this law in Germany it is a crime to use performance enhancing drugs in sport. In most countries it is a breach of the rules dealt with by the sporting organisation involved and is not a criminal offence. Under the German law brought into force in 2017 athletes who test positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs)or are found in possession of PEDs can face a prison term of up to three years. Those who provide them with the substances can face sentences of up to ten years. Whilst criminalising the use of performance enhancing drugs would be very strong deterrent I can’t see many countries following the lead of Germany and boxing’s approach will continue to be flawed, fractured and weak. It is hard to think of a single boxer who has been given a suspension of more than a year and there are plenty such as Luis Ortiz, Tony Yoka, Alex Povetkin and yes even Saul Alvarez of the tainted Mexican meat who have been allowed to slip though the net.
Plenty to look forward to on May 11 with two return matches. In Tucson Miguel Berchelt defends his WBO super feather title in a return match against Francisco Vargas the man he won the title from in 2017 and Emanuel Navarette is offering Isaac Dogboe the chance to win back the WBO super bantamweight title he took from the Ghanaian in December.
On the same night in Fairfax Jarrett Hurd puts the IBF and WBA titles on the line against Julian Williams
It seems a case of one out-one in as far as Argentinian former world champions are concerned. Marcos Maidana has abandoned his plans for a return blaming parts of the contract for his return as opposed to any boxing reason for changing his mind. On the other hand Sergio Martinez is training with a view to a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in September or October. Now 44 “Maravilla” has not fought since losing to Miguel Cotta in June 2014. It is a pity he has taken that decision as in June this year he will have been inactive for five years which would have made him eligible to go on the list of candidates for the Boxing Hall of Fame
Zab Judah continues his stuttering return with a contest against Cletus Seldin at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona on 7 June. Seldin is 23-1 so there is some risk in the venture for the 41-year-old former light welterweight and welterweight champion.
So now the WBO have a Global title. When it comes to inventing another sanctioning fee it is a basic rule not to let commonsense get in the way. According to my dictionary global means “world-wide” so we have a world-wide title that is not a world title and to think they actually debated about what to name this new title!
It angers me they way that the sanctioning bodies hand out a place in the rating to fighters who win their minor titles irrespective of the quality of the fighter they are or the stature of the opponent they beat for the title. Apart from skewing the whole principle behind ratings they then put themselves in the position of what to do if the fighter then relinquishes that minor title. The only reason he was rated has disappeared so does he do the same?
Badou jack has scotched any rumours of retiring. The former holder of the WBC super middleweight and secondary WBA light heavyweight titles has said he intends to fight again once the horrific cut he suffered in his loss to Marcus Browne in January heals. A return with Browne is one aim but he has also hinted he might try fighting at cruiserweight to become a three-division.
Any thief who is dumb enough to steal a motor bike from Roberto Duran’s son must be really dumb. Duran quickly went on social media asking for help and in response units of the National Police Force and the Public Ministry were quickly mobilised and the thief abandoned his prize realising he has kicked over a hornets’ nest and the bike was very quickly back with the Duran family. Never steal from a local hero.
By Eric Armit
The news that Jarrell Miller failed a routine tests administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency on March 20 is a blow for all concerned. Miller is adamant that he is clean and referenced a test he had been given a week before that was clean but that really is irrelevant. For Anthony Joshua it puts a black cloud over his US debut. Miller was a viable opponent. Let’s face it once you cross out Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, Dillian Whyte and perhaps Luis Ortiz (who has twice failed tests) who is there? Although criticised as a choice at least Miller was big, unbeaten and known to the American market and is a far more threatening than Dominic Breazeale (Wilder) and Tom Schwarz (Fury). I don’t envy Eddie Hearn his task because the heavyweight division is not exactly teeming with talent right now. After the series of problem tests you could excuse someone from wondering why the heavyweight division continues to shoot itself in the foot.
The aftermath of problem tests were a feature of the past week. Tied into the Joshua fight undercard was the outcome of a recent investigation in Belgium. The WBC female lightweight champion Delfine Persoon is the premier boxer in Belgium. Back in October a doctor attended Persoon’s home to test her but she had just peed and could not give a sample. Persoon is in the police force so he then went to a course he though she was going to be on but she was not there and when he then went to the police station she was out on an assignment so the test never took place. Persoon’s case was heard last week by the Flemish Anti-Doping court and they exonerated her completely so if the Madison Square Garden show comes off she will be facing Katie Taylor in another battle of top strata females.
It was a totally different outcome for French heavyweight Tony Yoka. As I previously reported he had been slapped with a one year ban by the French Anti-Doping Agency for missing three tests. He appealed his case to the State Council last week but they upheld the ban so he cannot fight until June. His home Federation gave him a suspended sentence so they obviously did not accept his excuses for missing three tests, the French Anti-Doping Agency gave him a one year ban and the State Council upheld it. Yota is signed up to the VADA testing and even for missing just two tests a boxer can be removed from the VAD registration but the WBC have taken no action in Yoka’s case.
When I prefaced my piece in my last Snips and Snipes on the mirage of one universally recognised heavyweight champion I mentioned that Mike Tyson was the last to be able to have that distinction when he won the IBF, WBA and WBC titles. With that I brought down upon myself the scorn of fans of Lennox Lewis. The argument went that when Lewis beat Evander Holyfield he unified the same three titles and therefore he and not Tyson had that distinction. The reason I had named Tyson was that by the time Lewis beat Holyfield in November 1999 the WBO was in existence and therefore Lewis only held three of the four belts. The counter argument was that the WBO was not generally recognised at that time. The problem I had with that was that the WBO title was then held by Vitali Klitschko which is a fact and that the statement that the WBO was not generally recognised is opinion. If you feel I am wrong then please provide me the date by which you consider the WBO was “generally” recognised? Before Lewis beat Holyfield Vitali Klitschko, Thomas Hearns, Chris Eubank, Joe Calzaghe, Nigel Benn, Gerald McClellan, Winky Wright, Hector Camacho, Oscar De La Hoya, Acelino Frietas, Naseem Hamed, Marco Antonio Barrera, Johnny Tapia, Michael Carbajal, Jorge Arce and Ricardo Lopez had already been WBO champions. You might get an argument from the supporters of those fighters if you suggest they were not really world champions then.
I am an admirer of Gennady Golovkin. He is a great, talented and entertaining fighter who never bad-mouths or denigrates an opponent so a credit to the sport. You get what you see but there are things you don’t see because Golovkin tends to be a very private person and the Golovkin story has not always been a happy one. Gennady and his twin brother Max were both encouraged to take up boxing by their elder brothers Sergey and Vadim. Both of the elder brothers joined the Russian Army and both died in combat, Vadim in 1990 and Sergey in 1994 so the Gennady family has known deep sadness. Gennady and Max continued with their boxing. When it came time for boxers to qualify for the 2004 Olympics there was only one spot available in Athens and the Golovkin twins were both in line for the available slot. The Golovkin family decided that as Gennady was oldest-by 15 minutes- he should go to Athens. Gennady went on to win the silver medal and Max-who according to Gennady was the better boxer never boxed again but remains very much a part of the Golovkin team. There is a song “What a Difference a Day Makes” but for the Golovkin brothers and boxing what a difference 15 minutes made.
Figures released say that Vasyl Lomachenko’s purse for the Anthony Crolla title defence was $1.3 million and Crolla’s $300,000. It was amusing to hear Lomachenko saying he would fight Gervonta Davis for free. I couldn’t help but envisage Loma’s manager, trainer, sparring partner’s etc. getting out their calculators to figure out what their percentage of nothing might add up to!
I thought the absconding by top Cuban boxers had ceased but it is not so. Former World Amateur Champion Joahnys Argilagos is preparing to have his first pro fight. It took a long while to get him a visa but he is now being mentored by Erislandy Lara. Apart for the World Championships gold competing at 49kgs he was Cuban champion, World Youth gold medallist, took silver at the Pan American games and won a bronze medal in Rio.
There is another Pacquiao in the ring. Last week Jimuel Pacquiao, Manny’s son, had his first amateur fight and won on a second round kayo. It is not going to be easy for Jimuel to live with the Pacquiao name.
Sometimes I really do wonder about the people who are supposed to administer our sport. On 12 April the New Hampshire Boxing and Wrestling Commission approved a fight between Vincenzo Carita and Claudio Morroni Porto which local fighter Carita won on a first round kayo. Carita 34 had a 19-1-1 record before the fight with 18 of his 19 wins by KO/TKO nine in the first round. Brazilian Porto had an 8-4-1 record he is 47 years old and the first round knockout he suffered against Carita was his fifth first round kayo loss in a row. Disgraceful!
Two boxers who you might thought had or were going to retire made it clear it was not over for them. Despite a shock points loss to 11-5-1 Oscar Mojica and a broken nose Paddy Barnes is adamant that he will be back in action soon. The move to bantamweight did not work but there is still plenty of fight in “The Leprechaun”. Former WBO light welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov says that although he has not fought since losing to John Molina in November 2016 he is only taking a break having been sickened by boxing politics and will return
How things change. I am old enough to remember the days when the Eastern Bloc countries used to hog the medals at the Olympics and the European Championships. We consoled ourselves by saying they would never survive in the professional ranks now three Russian an a Ukrainian hold the four belts in the light heavyweight division and nine other former “amateur only” countries have nine other belts.
Two statues, two boxers, two very different outcomes. In Argentina yet another statue was raised to honour the memory of Oscar Bonavena. Heavyweight “Ringo” was idolised in Argentina but never quite made it to the pinnacle. With a 58-9-1 record including 44 wins by KO/TKO the nearest he came was a fifteen round points loss to Joe Frazier in 1968 with Frazier’s New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) version of the title on the line. Back in 1967 Oscar had entered the WBA heavyweight Elimination Tournament to find a new WBA champion when Muhammad Ali was stripped off the title by WBA and the NYSAC after he was convicted of draft evasion. In the Tournament Oscar beat Karl Mildenberger but lost to Jimmy Ellis. He fought just about every top heavyweight around before being shot and killed in May 1976 and three statues shows how revered he was in Argentina.
Carlos Monzon for me was the greatest Argentinian fighter ever. When he retired in 1977 he had an 87-3-9,1ND record, had ruled the middleweights for seven years, made 14 title defences and was unbeaten in his last 80 fights. Naturally he was elected to the Hall of Fame, naturally there was a statue dedicated to him after he died in a car accident in 1995. The statue was removed for refurbishment and when the task was finished it was ready to be re-erected. That’s when the darker side of Monzon caused problems. When Monzon died he was out on furlough from prison. He had been convicted in 1988 for killing his common-law wife and sentenced to eleven years. Members of a feminist group protested strongly over the statue being re-erected so it has not been replaced. Unfortunately great fighters are not necessarily great men and times have changed since 1995.
Still on Argentina Marcos Maidana having signed a contract for three fights this year says the first will be in June but no opponent named. Maidana at the time of talking said he had come down from 215lbs to 170lbs so he is obviously serious. Less pleasant news had former WBO welter and super welter title challenger Sebastien Lujan arrested on robbery charges. If convict he won’t want for company as his former manager is doing time for drug trafficking.
By Eric Armit
I felt instinctively that the four major sanctioning bodies were very successful companies when it came to growth. They are “companies”. Income and expenditure has to be controlled, employees have to be paid, business is conducted on an international basis and there is competition from the other sanctioning bodies. They are companies with just one major source of income and that is sanctioning fees for their title fights. When I was a lad there were only eight divisions (no I don’t remember bare knuckles and knee britches so don’t ask) and generally one universally recognised champion in each division with Ring Magazine the accepted gospel on who those champions were. The first big change came when a world-wide coalition of boxing movers and shakers became so angered at the machinations of the WBA that they met and supported the set up the WBC. After that with no improvement in the way the WBA conducted its affairs a break-away group set up the IBF and later another group of people and organisations dissatisfied with the WBA set up the WBO. Now we had four bodies who in order to survive had to take money out of the pockets of promoters and boxers so effectively out of boxing. These bodies quickly realised that sanctioning fees from world title fights alone was not enough for them to sustain or grow their organisations. Even increasing the number of weight divisions from eight eventually to seventeen was not enough so like any business that sees its single product (world titles) is not bringing in enough money you have to diversify (create more title). At one time you might have described the proliferation of titles as a cottage industry but it seemed to me it has developed from there into a production line with new titles manufactured with a frequency that Ford Motors might envy. But was my instinct right or my perception false? I decided to do a check as to whether the proliferation activities were as rampant as I thought they were.
At the high end of the market there are still world titles but they have not been spared proliferation. We now have Super titles, plain old World titles, Regular titles (and that is a misnomer if ever there was one) and Interim titles and some champions have been labelled Champion in Recess, Champion Emeritus. Whilst I can make some kind of weird sense about those Super etc. I have no idea what the WBC Diamond title is and the WBA have switched Arsen Goulamirian from interim champion to Gold champion whatever that means.
The IBF so far have stuck with one world champion and are to be congratulated for that so they have 17 titles, The WBA list Super, regular and Interim so if we ignore their Gold then they have 51 tiles, the WBC have World and Interim and if we ignore their Diamond they have 34 and the WBO also has World and Interim so another 34. We have gone from 8 world titles to 136 world titles. That’s proliferation.
Since their first title fight in 1983 there have been 1,312 fights with the IBF title involved. For the WBA, since the split off by the WBC in 1962 there have been 2049 fights involving a WBA world title. Since 1962 there have been 2003 fights involving the WBC title and since their birth in 1988 1,134 fights involving the WBO title although many of the fights above involved unification of the titles.
The real growth industry has been in the area of the various Regional titles such as Inter-Continental, Latino, Asia Pacific, WBO European (I differentiate from the EBU as their titles are nothing to do with the WBC), International, North American etc. The IBF has 14 titles of this nature, The WBA has 11, the WBC has 26 and the WBO has 15. With 17 divisions involved that means there are now 1,132 titles which did not exist until the sanctioning bodies set the production line going at full throttle and don’t even let me get started on the IBO, WBFederation, WBFoundation, Global Boxing Council, Global Boxing Union, Universal Boxing Federation etc. and for all of the above in theory you also have female titles!
If the above has done nothing for you then for me it tells me that my perception and reality are in agreement and if I am dumb enough to write another piece like this in a year’s time there will even more titles and title fights-it’s what growth industries do.
It’s a relief to see that the WBSS is still alive. The 27 April show featuring Regis Prograis vs. Kiryl Relikh in the super light semi-final and Nonito Donaire vs. Zolani Tete bantam semi-final has no venue yet but having a date is good news after all of the uncertainty. In the other semi-finals in Glasgow on 18 May both the Josh Taylor vs. Ivan Baranchyk IBF title fight and the Emmanuel Rodriguez vs. Naoya Inoue bantam match (it can’t be a unification fight as Inoue only holds the secondary WBA title) are the sort of clashes that made the first WBSS such a success.
French heavyweight Tony Yoka is coming to the end of a one year suspension for dodging four tests. There are already names being put forward for him with former WBC title challenger Johann Duhaupas on the list but it looks as though that will not happen until later in the year.
Artur Beterbiev will defend his IBF light heavy title against Swede Sven Fornling in Stockton on 4 May. There had been talk of Beterbiev fighting on a show in Moscow in April sharing the top billing with Murat Gassiev who will by then have fully recovered from the shoulder injury that has kept him out of the ring since losing to Oleg Usyk in July.
Great show being put together for Inglewood on 26 April. WBC super fly champion Srisaket and Juan Francisco Estrada will clash again as Estrada seeks to get revenge for his loss to Srisaket in February 2018 and WBA super bantam champion Daniel Roman and IBF champion JT Doheny face each other in a unification match with Scott Quigg and Jesse Vargas also on the show.
According to some sources by beating Bermane Stiverne Joy Joyce won a WBA eliminator and could fight Manuel Charr for the secondary WBA title later this year. As Stiverne is a former world champion there was some interest in how Joyce would handle him but that the WBA saw a 40-year-old fat and out of condition Stiverne who had not fought for 15 months and seen less than three minute ring time in over three years as a suitable guy to fight in a world title eliminator is up to their usual standards. It seems that the mandated fight for Charr to defend against Fres Oquendo- who has not fought since July 2014-is no longer mandated. That’s good news for Joyce as he would start as favourite against Charr who last fought in November 2017. Charr was given a derisory six month ban after testing positive for two banned substances. Compare that to Tony Yoka who was banned for a year for avoiding tests so never tested positive with Charr who tested positive for two banned substances only banned for six months.
Filipino Donnie Nietes has his sights set on some attractive matches and obviously feels that he does not want anything to stand in the way of those hopes so has withdrawn from the purse bidding for a defence of his WBO flyweight title against Aston Palicte and has relinquished the title. It would be interesting to see Nietes fight IBF champion and fellow Filipino Jerwin Ancajas but Ancajas has agreed to defend his title against his mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai.
Badou jack is staying in the boxing business. The former WBC super middle champion and holder of the secondary WBA light heavy title is setting up his own promoting company out in Dubai with 3 May the projected date for his first show.
Recent purses saw Leo Santa Cruz reportedly getting $1 million for fighting Rafael Rivera, Gervonta Davis collecting $1 million for his defence against Hugo Ruiz with Ruiz picking up $100,000. On the Santa Cruz undercard Omar Figueroa was paid $225, 000 and John Molina $200,000 for their fight and on the undercard to Davis vs. Ruiz Mario Barrios , Sharif Bogere and Ishe Smith received $75,000 each with Erickson Lubin paid $41,400 and Javier Fortuna $40,000. Good money but if it was doable Santa Cruz and Davis would be looking to more than double their payments.
By Eric Armit
It looks as though Anthony Joshua’s first fight in the USA will be against Jarrell Miller in New York on 1 June and confirmation of that is imminent. Reportedly Joshua’s purse will be his highest yet at $32 million. The WBC pushed the date for the purse bids for Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury back to 12 February with the parties said to be near to reaching an agreement. If the purse bidding does go ahead it will be interesting to see whether, as has been claimed, Wilder vs. Fury is a bigger fight. It is to the credit of the fighters and the Wilder/Fury people if they can come to an agreement in such a relatively short time.
With the possibility of Derek Chisora vs. Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte vs. Dominic Breazeale on the cards, Joe Joyce vs. Bermane Stiverne on 23 February and Daniel Dubois and Nathan Gorman all scheduled to fight in the next two months I can’t remember the last time there was so much happening for British heavyweights. Definitely not the “horizontal heavyweights” of the past.
It is not just British heavyweights keeping busy with Agit Kabayel 18-0 defending the European title against Andriy Rudenko 32-3 on 2 March in Magdeburg and fellow SES heavyweight unbeaten Tom Schwarz 23-0 facing 17-1 Croatian Kristijan Krstacic on the same show. With Alex Povetkin likely to return to action in April and Kubrat Pulev facing Robert Helenius in the USA on 23 March (but that may fall through as the main event was to be Miguel Berchelt defending the WBC super feather title against Francisco Vargas and that fight has had to be put back to May due to Berchelt injuring his left hand) Romanian heavyweight Christian Hammer going where others fear to tread by taking on Luis Ortiz on 2 March it is a busy time for the heavyweights.
The WBSS is still limping along. It is a bit like a wounded animal-is it going to be able to limp safely to the end of the current rounds involving the cruiserweights, super lightweights and bantamweights or is it fatally wounded and destined to die out? It has been announced that the cruiserweight semi-final between Krzys Glowacki and Mairis Breidis will take place in Riga, Latvia, on 15 June but no date or venue yet for Yunier Dorticos vs. Andrew Tabiti. At super light Josh Taylor vs. Ivan Baranchyk has an 18 May date in Glasgow but no information yet available for Regis Prograis vs. Kiryl Relikh. At bantamweight nothing advised for Zolani Tete vs. Nonito Donaire or Naoya Inoue vs. Emmanuel Rodriguez. The quarter finals were held in October so you are looking at a gap of seven and eight months between even those fights already scheduled. It is encouraging that a couple of the six semi-finals have a date but the longer it is before the other four are schedules the more it looks like the wound is fatal.
Gilbert Ramirez has thrown his hat into the light-heavyweight mix indicating he is targeting Sergey Kovalev and it is a sensible move as there is very little for him in staying at super middle as the WBO ratings offer very little for Ramirez in the way of a challenge. In another move he is reported to have changed his manager and his trainer.
Rob Brant is set to make the first defence of the secondary WBA middleweight title on 15 February in Hinckley against unbeaten 17-0 Russian Khasan Baysangurov. Brant will be back in his home State of Minnesota where he turned pro and had most of his early fights.
Originally set for 6 February the WBA have reset the date for purse offers for three of their titles. Bids were due for Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Anthony Crolla at lightweight, Beibut Shumenov vs. Arsen Goulamirian at cruiser and Daniel Roman vs. Murodjon Akhmadaliev at bantam but they have delayed the purse opening to 13 February. You can be sure Top Rank will decide who Lomachenko fights in April and not the WBA. Shumenov vs. Goulamirian will be between their secondary champion and their gold champion as they continue to try to sort out the mess they made by having more champions than titles. They solved the Denis Lebedev problem by just making him disappear. As he is not in their ratings he is probably back in the recess they put him in before. You can be sure that the gold title they invented for Goulamirian will not disappear because there are sanctioning fees to be made from it. There was a faint hope that Roman might be allowed to fight IBF champion TJ Doheny in a unification fight but that looks unlikely.
Roman vs. Murodjon Akhmadaliev? If you have never heard of Murodjon Akhmadaliev let me say that he was a top level amateur but has only been a professional for less than a year. How did he become the WBA No 1 super bantamweight? Well this is another case where paying the sanctioning fee for one of their obscure minor titles can reap such rich rewards. After three six round fights in August last year Akhmadaliev beat world No 266 Ramon Contreras from Chile for the WBA Inter-Continental title and was parachuted into the WBA ratings at No 6. In November be beat Isaac Zarate rated No 66 or 70, depending on which independent ratings you go by, and beating the No 66/70 was enough for Akhmadaliev to rise to the No 1 spot in the WBA ratings. That abomination makes a complete mockery of the very principles that should underpin ratings. In the WBA ratings a sanctioning fee trumps a win over a rated opponent every time.
Olek Gvozdyk will put his WBC light heavyweight title on the line against Doudou Ngumbu in Philadelphia on March 30. It seems that Adonis Stevenson who had to be put in an induced come after losing the WBC title to Gvozdyk is making slow progress but it is progress. At the start of the year he was able to speak for the first time since being hospitalised and at the end of last month he took his first unaided steps. He has a long journey and I am sure he will tackle it with the same dedication and courage he showed as a fighter. That is one journey he won’t have to make unaided as his family his team at Group Yvon Michel and his fans will all be supporting him. If Gvozdyk gets past Ngumbu there will be pressure for him to fight Marcus Browne who beat Badou Jack in a final eliminator.
Miguel Cotto is going to be busy this year. On March his fighter Alberto Machado defends his WBA super featherweight title against Andrew Cancio and he has said that he plans to have ten shows in Puerto Rico to develop more talent.
With Saul Alvarez set to fight Daniel Jacobs in a unification match on 4 May in Las Vegas it is obvious that the secondary WBA super middle title will fall vacant. British fighter John Ryder is rated No 1 by the WBA with Fedor Chudinov No 2 and Chris Eubank Jr No 3 Chudinov would seem the most likely opponent although there has been a suggestion that David Lemieux could be in the other corner against Ryder.
The AIBA are fighting it but it seems that the IOC’s decision to cut the number of divisions to be competed for at the Olympics is going to stand. It is a blow to the lower divisions. The weight divisions will be: 52kg, 57kg, 63kg, 69kg, 75kg, 81kg, 91kg and +91kg. That means that instead of the four lighter divisions 49kg, 52kg, 56kg and 60kg there will now only be two divisions in that range. That will be blow to the little guys as they will all have to compete at a higher weight than in the past. That will mean a natural 49kg fighter having to compete in his national qualifiers at 52kg. It also means that there will be fewer medals available and often national funding is based on medals won previously or potential returns. It is yet another blow to boxing at the Olympics.
The Oubaali’s are another of boxing’s fighting families. Not surprising in their case. Nordine who won the WBC bantamweight title last month is the 13th of the 18 children in the family. Elder brother Ali lost only three of his 29 fights but unfortunately they were all in title fights. Now younger brother Messaoud is turning pro with his first bout scheduled for April. Ali and Nordine founded and run a gym in Deauviller with Olympic champion Estelle Mossely being one of their discoveries.
There are still rumours of a return to action by Marcos Maidana. A few weeks back he seemed to indicate he was about to return but then he indicated he was only joking. Now he says there have been people talking about fights for him and he is training. What is certain is that Omar Narvaez will return to the ring. Now 43 he is targeting March for his first fight.
By Eric Armit-
Manny Pacquiao once again illustrated his drawing power with his fight against Adrien Broner reportedly drawing 400,000 + PPV hits. Not the sort of figures he was drawing at his peak but still a very high return. He was guaranteed $10 million for this fight but will obviously earn a great deal more when the final figures for the gate etc. are taken into account. It is incredible to think that the wonder fighter from the Philippines won his first world title more than 20 years ago. He is 18-4-2 in world title fights and at 40 is still performing at the highest level. Surely one of the most remarkable fighters in the history of boxing. It’s a pity that this was for the secondary WBA title not the real title. The real champion Keith Thurman returns with a title defence this weekend. As for Broner he showed just how delusional he is as he was convinced he had won a fight where he threw less punches, landed less punches and rarely took a step forward. He has entertained in the past but it may be that his days as deserving of PPV status are over.
Of course the talk immediately turned to another fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr but it was stated that Mayweather was retired and was not interested in another fight with Pacquiao-but don’t rule it out.
Why should Mayweather take on Pacquiao when he can earn $10 million for blowing away a 20-year-old Japanese kick boxer/MMA fighter Tenshin Nasukawa in less than three minutes. The most amazing thing is that people actually paid to see this farce. It brought to mind something that happened a good few years ago. I went with my wife to see the irreverent and slightly mad comic genius Spike Milligan in a play. It was still the tradition then that the national anthem was played after every cinema and stage performance and you stood throughout the anthem. As the play finished there seemed to be no sign of the national anthem being played so we hesitantly got to our feet ready to leave. At that point Milligan emerged from behind the curtain in a scruffy overcoat and flat cap carrying a tin whistle. He proceeded to give a reedy wavering version of the anthem on the tin whistle. We were undecided. Ok it was the national anthem but being played on a tin whistle. However tradition ruled and we stood until Milligan finished. He looked at us, shook his head and said “If you’ll stand for that you’ll stand for anything”! That’s how I feel about those who paid for Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor and Tenshin Nasukawa.
Whilst the heavyweight division is currently focused on who Anthony Joshua will fight in April and the return match between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury the shadow of Oleg Usyk hangs over the division. The unbeaten Ukrainian will have his next outing in the USA on either the 18th or 25th of May but no opponent nominated yet. Surely Usyk will fight for the heavyweight title later this year.
From the sublime to the ridiculous. The WBA have ordered Manuel Charr to defend their secondary heavyweight title against Fres Oquendo. They were to have fought in September last year but Charr tested positive for a banned substance and the fright was cancelled. Initially Charr was suspended but not stripped off his title. There was no indication Charr intended to have a representative present for the testing of his B sample but he challenged that fact that he did not have someone there for the B test. The WBA backed off and as Charr was clean in subsequent tests-and he would have to have been stupid not to be-the WBA decided that his suspension had expired and he could return provided he defended against Oquendo within 60 days and the winner of that fight must fight the winner of a fight between their interim champion Trevor Bryan and Jarrell Miller even though there is no indication that a fight between Bryan and Miller will take place. Oquendo of course has not fought since July 2014. The Charr vs. Oquendo fight is now set for 23 March in Cologne. Thought I would give you date and place so that you could ensure you were somewhere else doing something else that night.
German heavyweight Michael Wallisch also gave a positive test after his losing effort against Christian Hammer in December and no news yet over his B sample. That fight was a farce. In the fourth round their heads collided and Wallisch went down and the referee counted him out. A 30 or 45 days suspension from fighting for the knockout? No instead they decided Wallisch should not have been counted out so they pretended the original fourth round never happened and restarted the fight with another fourth round and Wallisch was counted out again in the fifth! Hammer’s reward is a date with Luis Ortiz in New York on 2 March.
The Saul Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs fights looks a really attractive one. Jacobs is a totally different fighter style-wise to Gennady Golovkin and it is a fight Jacobs could win. It looks as though David Lemieux may also appear on the 4 May show. The Canadian will be fighting for the first time since he fainted from dehydration which led to his fight with Tureano Johnson being cancelled
Jose Ramirez’s defence of his WBC super lightweight title against Jose Zepeda also looks a good one. Ramirez is 23-0 and making the second defence of his title. Zepeda is 30-1 with the loss coming when he dislocated his shoulder in a fight against Terry Flanagan for the vacant WBO lightweight title in 2015. On the same show Ray Beltran will be having his first fight since losing his WBO lightweight title to Jose Pedraza in August. He meets the 19-0 Hiroki Okada and in a featherweight ten Genisis Servania 32-1 faces 21-0 Carlos Castro. Ramirez will be auctioning some items of his boxing equipment to raise funds for a Community Cancer Institute which is a great gesture.
I said that Broner was delusional but Don King seems to be going the same way. He is warning what Bermane Stiverne will do to English heavyweight hope Joe Joyce when they meet in London on the undercard to the exciting James DeGale vs. Chris Eubank Jr fight on 23 February. Let’s be clear this is a 40-year-old vastly overweight fighter who is having his first fight since being floored three times and stopped inside a round by Deontay Wilder in November 2017. King can talk a fight up but can Stiverne still walk the talk?
Interested in money? Of course. Lou DiBella won the bidding for the Jack Culcay vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko final eliminator for the IBF title. DiBella ‘s bid was $425,515 and as Culcay is the higher of the two in the IBF ratings he gets 65% $276,000 and Derevyanchenko 35% $148,930. I can’t see Culcay winning this one.
Two fights had to be scrubbed from the undercard of the Pacquiao vs. Broner show when Filipino Jhack Tepora and Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago came in ridiculously over the contract weights. Tepora was 5.5lbs over and Buitrago 6lbs over. It must have been obvious well in advance of the day of the weigh in that they would never make the weight but somehow no one spotted this so one fight was cancelled and the other saw a last minute substitute step in. Surely some check weights would have revealed this earlier. The WBC recently announced a number of initiatives to combat this very thing by laying out a complete weight check schedule to be followed. As it stated that for this to work they needed the collaboration of the promoters, manager, trainers etc. and without that it is just a very good idea with little hope of it being taken on board which is a great pity but at least the WBC are trying to tackle the problem which no one else appears to be doing.
With his victory over Badou Jack Marcus Browne became the fourth member of the US Team at the 2012 Olympics to win a version of a world title alongside Errol Spence, Jose Ramirez and Rau’shee Warren. Not bad for a team that failed to win a single medal and with Spence being the only one to get as far as the quarter-finals. In addition from the team Dominic Breazeale, Mike Hunter, Terrell Gausha and Joseph Diaz have challenged for world titles leaving Jamal Herring as the sole member not to win or challenge for a title and he is 19-2 with three good wins in 2018 so it is still possible that he will join the others in fight for or winning a title. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Class of 2016 where Shakur Stevenson’s silver was the only medal in male boxing the USA won in Rio. From the above it appears that the USA does not know how to produce medal winners in Olympic boxing but can turn under-achieving amateurs into professional champions.
Somehow it just doesn’t seem fair. A few years back in the AIBA World Series of Boxing the British Lionhearts found themselves facing the Ukrainian Otamans. The Ukrainian team won 4-1 but then it was fairly strong it contained Vasyl Lomachenko, Oleg Usyk and Olek Gvozdyk!
By Eric Armit
Difficult decision this week on who to vote for as my favourite man/people. The candidates are UFC President Dana White and the Board of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Difficult choice. White has to be a strong candidate for saying that if the Floyd Mayweather Jr vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov fight does come off it should be a UFC fight and not a boxing match. He is a candidate for making that statement and will do boxing a big favour if he sticks to that. Of course he can’t force it to be a UFC fight but hopefully his resistance to another boxing match will prove enough to end the speculation that this fight could take place. Mayweather is a genius inside the ring but hopefully, whilst no genius out of the ring still mart enough to realise he could be seriously injured in the cage and we will have dodged another farce. Go for it Dana.
The CAS has given Olympic boxing a lifeline by ordering the AIBA to allow Serik Konakbayev to be a candidate in this week’s presidential election. If interim president Gafur Rahimov had been the sole candidate there is every chance that the Olympic Committee would banish boxing from the Olympics. It is ridiculous that without this court action Rahimov, who is on the US Department of the Treasury’s sanctions list “for providing material support “ to a criminal organisation would have lead such a high profile sports body. You only have to look at the list of current world champions to see the important part Olympic competition has played. Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, Oleg Usyk, Artur Beterbiev, Demetrius Andrade, Gary Russell, Errol Spence, Vasyl Lomachenko, Isaac Dogboe, Khalid Yafai and Jose Pedraza were all Olympians. Of course there will still be amateur boxing even if the sport is not an Olympic sport but there must be a huge question over government support to boxing where the return in Olympic medals is a big factor in the support and sponsorship money given to the sport. My fear is that having been pig-headed enough to try to push Rahimov through as a sole candidate many AIBA delegates will react badly to having their plan foiled and vote Rahimov in just to thumb their noses at the CAS and the US Department of Treasury.
It is the next round of the WBSS super lights and bantams this weekend. The competition is already producing some great action and the Josh Taylor vs. Ryan Martin and Ryan Burnett vs. Nonito Donaire fights have the potential to be every bit as entertaining. The WBSS really is making a big impact and they are proving that the fights are more important than any title. With the WBSS in control of the various matches it is taking much of the decision making on who fights for what title and against whom out of the control of the sanctioning bodies but they all want to be associated with it so are playing along and basking in whatever glory comes out. All our own work? No none of your work Mr Sanctioning Body.
The next round of the WBSS cruiser tournament takes place in Chicago on 10 November. It will see the tournament favourite Mairis Breidis face Noel Gevor, or Noel Mikaeljin as he now seems to prefer to be known, and Krzys Glowacki against Maksim Vlasov. They are both very good fights between highly rated fighters. Breidis is No 1 with the WBC, and Vlasov No 2, the WBO have Glowacki No 2 and Vlasov No 5 the WBA have Vlasov No 2 and Glowacki No 3. The No 1 spot with the IBF is vacant with Andrew Tabiti who is already through to the semi-finals at No 3 and Glowacki No 7. Gevor’s only rating is No 14 with the WBC but then he is promoted by Sauerland promotions which explains his inclusion. Of course Yuniel Dorticos is also through to the semi-finals.
The elephant in the room is that on the same night in Manchester Oleg Usyk defends all four titles against Tony Bellew. Whoever wins that fight it is likely that all four titles will become vacant during the life of this WBSS tournament but until after the Usyk vs. Bellew and thee 10 November quarter-finals are over it won’t be clear who will be fighting for three of the four titles. It is impossible to know what is happening with the WBA. In their September ratings they showed Usyk as super champion, Beibut Shumenov as their secondary champion, and Arsen Goulamirian as their interim champion and Denis Lebedev as “champion in recess”. Their October ratings do not show Goulamirian at all and show Dorticos at No 1. I am not sure why Goulamirian has disappeared totally and I am also not sure how Lebedev can be “in recess” as he had a fight in September. It seems likely he will be reinstated and his fight with Mike Wilson on 24 November on a show in Monaco will be a title defence-of some title. Leave it to the WBA to screw things up at least in that they are reliable.
Apart from their headaches in the cruisers the WBA are still struggling to sort out the position on their secondary heavyweight title. Manuel Charr was to have defended the title against Fres Oquendo on 29 September but of course Charr tested positive for a banned substance. That ruled out Charr and as Oquendo rightly turned down a $500,000 offer to fight Jarrell Miller the WBA are still on the hook from the court case where they were ordered to give Oquendo a title fight. Oquendo has not fought for four years and the way it is going I can see him fighting for the title against Anthony Joshua’s grandson. That would be more like Super 88 than Super 8. No WBA title fight for Miller Instead he will fight Romanian Bogdan Dinu in Mulvane, Kansas on 17 November.
It is only natural that Daniel Jacobs should be calling out Saul Alvarez but the IBF may put a spoke in that wheel. Before the Serhiy Derevyanchenko fight Jacobs was rated behind Jack Culcay at No 3 so they may insist he fight Culcay before anyone else.
The Jeff Horn vs. Anthony Mundine fight in Brisbane on 30 November will be a huge fight for Australia. I am amazed by Mundine. At 43 he is still a force but what amazes me is that he started out as a super middle, moved up to middle, went down to super welter, fought Danny Green at cruiser and is now going to fight welterweight Jeff Horn at catchweight. He is a very controversial figure in Australia due to his strong stance on racial matters and he has said that he will not stand during the national anthem in Brisbane.
Juan Francisco will have a keep busy fight as he waits for a return shot at Srisaket. Estrada will face former WBC flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro. The Filipino scored a major upset when he beat Pongsaklek for the WBC title in 2012 but then lost three fights in a row including dropping the WBC title. He has won 10 of his 11 fights since then but at 36 and past his best he should pose no threat to Estrada.
The planned fight for the secondary WBA super welter title between the champion Brian Castano and former champion Erislandy Lara has been postponed until sometime early next year.
Two of Poland’s leading heavyweights, Artur Szpilka and Mariusz Wach will battle it out in Gliwice on 10 November. I don’t like the term “Crossroads” but the loser will find it hard to stay relevant if he loses here. At 29 it is not quite so critical for Szpilka but at 38 time is running out for Wach.
There will an IBF eliminator in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 5 January to find a challenger for Errol Spence. The IBF No 1 spot vacant, No 2 Yordenis Ugas is lined up to challenge Shawn Porter for the WBC title in February and No 3 Jesse Vargas declined to fight an eliminator. The outcome is that Kuala Lumpur-based Uzbek Kudratillo Abdukakhorov the No 4 and Japan’s Keita Obara No 6 will fight each other to fill the No 1 spot. It seems that the Porter vs. Ugas fight will be on the same show as Spence vs. Mikey Garcia.
With Zolani Tete tied up in the WBSS bantam tournament the WBO are already looking to crown an interim champion. Ghanaian Duke Micah is rated No 1 by the WBO with Mexican Ricardo Espinoza No 2. Micah is a certainty but as yet it is not clear if Espinoza will accept the opportunity. If Isaac Dogboe retains his WBO super bantam title against Emanuel Navarrete in New York on 8 December, then with Micha’s title fight and Richard Commey now to meet Russian Isa Chaniev for the IBF light title relinquished by Mikey Garcia Ghana could have three world champion in the first half of 2019.
Plenty of good fights to come for the EBU tiles. From the lighter to the heavier a date is awaited for Andrew Selby’s challenge to Vicente Legrand for the flyweight title. Jeremy Parodi and Luca Rigoldi contest the vacant super bantam title on 17 November, on 14 November Samir Ziani and Juli Giner fight for the vacant super feather title, Francesco Patera, fresh from his upset victory over Lewis Ritson, will defend the lightweight title against Marvin Petit with purse bids due 19 November The super light title is vacant and Joe Hughes and Andrea Scarpa will fight for that on 30 November in Italy, Kerman Lejarraga defends the welterweight title against Frankie Gavin in Bilbao on 17 November, at super welter Sergio Garcia will be allowed a voluntary defence and then has to fight Zakaria Attou, negotiations are ongoing for Kamil Szeremeta to defend his title against Martin Murray, Robin Krasniqi has a voluntary defence of his light heavyweight title against Stefan Haertel on 17 November and if he wins he then has to defend against Juergen Brahmer. Cruiserweight champion Yves Ngabu is defending against Micki Nielsen no date yet for that one and finally if no agreement is reached purse bids are due 13 November for Agit Kabayel’s defence of the heavyweight title against Otto Wallin. Quite a schedule and some high quality fights.
Marcos Maidana is still scoring victories but in the courts not in the ring. The former WBA super light and welter champion sued his former manager claiming that he had defrauded Maidana of over $600,000. The court ruled that his manager had adulterated contracts, forged Maidana’s signature and collected money in the name of Maidana including a $175,000 signing on fee that Maidana should have received as signing on bonus from Universum Media. Whether Maidana will be able to recover the money is a different matter.
On the South African scene it was good to learn that Gideon Buthelezi was finally paid in full for his IBO title defence against Lucas Fernandez. However there is a lesson there that when you bend the rules even with the best of intentions it can rebound on you. This time not insisting on the promoter having the money instead of a promise from a sponsor for the money has ended happily but that has not always been the case in the past.
There was some controversy over Tommy Oosthuizen’s win over Thabiso Mchunu in September so they will fight each other again on a Rodney Berman show on 6 December. On the same show unbeaten Thulani Mbenge will be defending his IBO welterweight title against experienced former IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez.
The Italian Boxing Hall of Fame was formally opened late last month. Nino Benvenuti, Patricio Oliva, Mauricio Stecca and the late Giovanni Parisi were the first inductees. They are unique in that they are the only Italian boxers to win both an Olympic gold medal and a world title. Parisi tragically died in an automobile accident in 2009 at the age of just 41. There have been so many great Italian boxers and boxers of Italian heritage it will interesting to see who else joins this famous four in the Hall.
Not such good news for Italians was the death last month of Piero Del Papa at the age of 80. Del Papa was Italian light heavyweight champion and twice held the European title. In his twelve year 62 fight career he fought Eddie Cotton, Mauro Mina, Carl Bobo Olsen, Giulio Rinaldi, Chic Calderwood, Tom Bogs, Gregorio Peralta, Rudi Lubbers and so many more. His only shot at a world title came in his 55th fight when he was knocked out in one round by Vicente Rondon for the WBA light heavy title. RIP Piero.
Last month also saw the death of one of Kenya’s outstanding boxers in Richard Murunga. He put Kenya on the map when he came out of nowhere to win a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich where Kenya also won a silver and another bronze. He turned pro in 1974 and had a few fights in Europe for Mogen Palle. After he retired despite a spinal injury making him a paraplegic he played a big part in boxing in Kenyan as a trainer and later as a manager and founded the Kenyan Boxing Federation. RIP Richard.
Former world light heavy and cruiser champion Dariusz Michalczewski is entering the ranks of promoters. His first show will be a co-promotion with Erol Celan in Gdansk on 8 December. Michalczewski was 48-2 in his pro career winning his first 48 fights including 25 consecutive victories in WBO WBA and IBF title fights over two divisions.
Always expect the unexpected in boxing. After suffering his seventh loss in his last eight fights Georgian boxer Levan Shonia went back to his corner leaned over the ropes and punched his trainer. That was more than he had managed in six rounds against Spas Genov.
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