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