What a mess the heavyweight division is in. Just a few months ago it looked as though had been revived as the division to watch but recently it is falling apart. Tyson Fury is fighting allegations of the use of a banned substance, Deontay Wilder is not going to be able to fight again this year as he recovers from separate surgeries to repair the torn right biceps and broken right hand he suffered in his fight with Chris Arreola and the WBA eliminators to find a single heavyweight champion (believe that if you like-or are stupid) is falling apart on them. They have stripped Ruslan Chagaev for not complying with their order to fight a return match with Fres Oquendo and Chagaev has retired citing problems with his left eye that will require surgery. They have called for purse offers for the fight between interim champion Luis Ortiz and Alexander Ustinov by 15 August. That fight was being talked about as a support to the Saul Alvarez vs. Liam Smith fight but will be put back if it happens at all. Russian promoter Vlad Hyrunov was saying last week that the fight might not happen. I am not going to cry if it does not go ahead as it’s a drugs cheat against a fighter who is big and slow and has somehow gone from being unrated at the start of 2015 to No 3 in the wonderful WBA ratings. He fought his way to this lofty position in 2015 by beating Travis Walker who had lost his last 7 fights (actually Ustinov suddenly appeared at No 7 in the WBA ratings before he even fought Walker), 40-year-old Maurice Harris who in his fight before facing Ustinov had fought a draw with Grover Young who had a 12-16-1 record (no promotion for Ustinov for this momentous feat) and in December last year he beat Konstantin Airich to go to No 5. Now without fighting for 7 months he is No 3. Blatant manipulation! Oquendo’s rating is even sillier but the WBA are in a bind since he won a court case arising from his loss to Chagaev in July 2014 so he is WBA No 4 despite not having fought for over two years. Put Anthony Joshua in cotton wool-he is the last man standing.
I am glad that the Miguel Cotto vs. Juan Manuel Marquez fight has fallen through. The two parties were nearly there on money but could not agree on the weight at which it would take place with Cotto wanting 150lbs and Marquez 147lbs. Cotto will look at options now that his knee injury has healed and I can understand that he does not want his 15 year career to end on the loss to Saul Alvarez but Marquez will be 43 this month and has nothing to prove.
It will be interesting to see whether the respective parties in the WBO ordered title fight between light champion Terry Flanagan and mandatory challenger Felix Verdejo can come to an agreement over terms by the 21 August deadline set by the WBO. If not then it goes to purse offers with the minimum purse set at $150,000. Top Rank have sent Jose Zepeda and Diego Magdaleno over to Britain to face Flanagan and they both lost so they will want that streak broken and getting Verdejo home advantage could be a big factor in that.
In theory Roy Jones should have nothing to prove but still he goes on proving he is an idiot. On 13 August in Pensacola he fights “Rocking” Rodney Moore a 40-year-old who has lost his last 9 fights. I could understand Jones hanging around for a meaningful fight but this is rubbish which just tarnishes the legacy of a once great boxer.
Donnie Nietes has said he will relinquish his WBO light fly title and move up to flyweight. He is scheduled to fight former WBC flyweight champion Edgar Sosa in Carson on 24 September with the intention being to challenge Juan Francisco Estrada for the WBA/WBO fly titles next year. That may just be a bridge too far for the Filipino great.
With the possibility that Ramon Gonzalez might relinquish his WBC fly title if he beats Carlos Cuadras for the WBC super fly title there is talk of trying to get Pakistani boxer Muhammad Waseem a title shot. That really would be ridiculous. He was one of the best amateur ever produced by Pakistan and had plenty of success but never managed to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth, World or Olympic tournaments. As a pro he has had four fights. Last month he won the vacant WBC Silver title by beating Jether Oliva and that will probably get him a top ten rating even though neither he or Oliva were rated in the WBC top 40 prior to the fight. That just goes to show how these spurious titles skew ratings making a nonsense of them. Waseem was a top amateur but he is not Vasyl Lomachenko or Zhou Shiming.
Amateur achievements are no guarantee of professional success and an indifferent amateur record does not mean the fighter will not shine as a pro. On 4 September in Zama, Japan, Naoya Inoue will defend his WBO super fly title against Thai Karoon Jarupianlerd (Petchbarngborn to me). The Japanese “Monster” is generally recognised as one of the best small fighters in the world but as an amateur he failed to win a medal at either the World Youth Games or the World Championships so there are no guarantees.
There is one fighter who is anxious to fight Guillermo Rigondeaux and that is his WBA mandatory challenger Moises “Chucky” Flores who holds the IBO belt. He won the IBO belt and the interim WBA title with a unanimous decision over Namibian Paulus Ambunda in Windhoek in June and is 25-0. The challenger’s team claims that negotiations are ongoing over the fight with Rigondeaux.
Good match this weekend will see Aussie-based Filipino Jack Asis defend his IBO super feather title against Malcolm Klassen in South Africa. The fight was delayed as Asis’s team insisted on neutral officials. A wise precaution but an even wiser one is to make sure he gets paid as there are still fighters who have not received a single Rand from their fights last year.
Tevin Farmer’s win over Ivan Redkach last weekend drew remarks on how he had turned his career around. Farmer was 7-4-1 in his first 12 fights but has won 15 in a row since then. Jack Asis has also done a good turnaround. When he lost to Ryan Langham in 2011 he had gone 0-5-1 in his last 6 fights and was 21-18-4 in his career to that point. Since then Asis is 14-0-1in 15 fights. My Favourite is Mexican Quirino Garcia. He lost his first 18 fights and then went 32-3-1 in his next 36. Usually these things are down to a new manager or promoter who is willing to invest in the fight so that he does not have to take last minute jobs on the road, together with a new trainer and perhaps a new environment.
One of the benefits that pro boxing gets from the amateurs is the high class fighters who don’t make to the Olympics and decided not to wait another four years but go into the paid ranks. The latest French star to move over is Adriani Vastine who will have his first pro fight on 30 September in Monaco. He was French national champion in 2005, 2006 and 2008 at 64gk, champion in 2009 and 2011 at 69kg and in 2013 at 75kg and was a bronze medallist at the European championships. He is the elder brother of Alexis an Olympic bronze medal winner who died in a helicopter crash in March 2015 whilst filming for a French reality show. Adriani is 32 so may have moved over too late.
The Olympics are just about to kick-off as I write. All of the focus is on what the AIBA is doing in Rio but I warn again this is just the start of an invasion of professional boxing by the AIBA and its affiliates. The European Boxing Confederation makes no bones about it. On their web site they state quite clearly “The mission of the EUBC is to govern the sport of boxing in all its forms in Europe under the control and direction of the AIBA. You have been warned!
On the other hand I noted that there was to be a WBC Australian Amateur Championships Tournament in Australia on 11-13 August. The Boxing Board of Australia, the body that governs amateur boxing in Australia, has made it clear that they have not sanctioned this tournament and any boxers, coaches or officials who participate will face disciplinary action. I have been unable to get any comment on this from my contacts at the WBC or ANBF.
Canadian boxer Kevin Bizier has announced his retirement. He stated that he had hidden an injury to his left eye before his fight with Kell Brook in March and had surgery last week on the eye. Kevin, 31, was Canadian amateur champion in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008 and competed at the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games but turned pro after failing to qualify for the 2008 Olympics. He had ended up with a 25-3 record losing twice on split decisions to Ionut Dan Ion and was stopped in five rounds by Brook for the IBF title.
It looks as though the career of former South African and WBU champion Phillip Ndou could be over. Ndou, 39, had been hoping to appear on a show in South Africa last week. However on the advice of two physicians the Boxing South Africa (BSA) revoked his licence. Ndou turned up at the weigh-in for a show and allegedly attacked BSA officials blaming them for ruining his career. He appeared in court and was released on bail with the hearing set for 15 September. Even when the legal proceedings are over he will almost certainly face action by BSA. He had collapsed after a fight in 2004 and was than inactive for almost five years. He was 32-1 in his first 33 fights but then lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the WBC light title in 2003. After returning to the ring in 2009 he lost to Lovemore Ndou for the vacant IBO welter title.
Ndou allegedly used a knobkerrie to attack the officials, that is a type of club with a large knob at one end. Those BSA guys are lucky Olek Usyk said he would be taking along a Kalashnikov for his fight with Krzys Glowacki for the WBO cruiser title in Poland on 17 September. Only joking –I hope.
On better news from Africa Joseph Agbeko is scheduled to return to the ring on 27 August in Accra against Tanzanian Hajji Juma. It will be “King Kong’s” first fight for almost 15 months but as Hajji normally fights at flyweight this should not be a problem for the former IBF and IBO bantamweight champion.
One day before, also in Accra, Isaac Dogboe faces Neil John Tabano for the vacant WBC Youth title. Dogboe, 21, is 14-0. Filipino Tabano, 22, looks a good test as he is 13-1 and his only loss was on a split decision against useful Randy Braga for the Philippines title last year.
German hope Tyron Zeuge has been promised that Sauerland Promotions will do all they can to get him a return match with Giovanni De Carolis. The young German fought a draw with De Carolis last month allowing the Italian to retain his secondary WBA and GBU super middle titles. Zeuge suffered an injury to his left arm in the sixth round of the fight and his trainer Juergen Braehmer is confident Zeuge can win next time.
Two other Sauerland fighters have fights arranged. Cruiser Noel Gevor (21-0) puts his WBO International title on the line against tough Italian Mario Larghetti (24-2) in Hamburg on 14 October. This will be the first real test for Gevor, the step-son of former IBF, WBA and WBO title challenger Khoren Gevor. Larghetti’s two losses have come on points against Marco Huck for the WBO title and unbeaten Micki Nielsen.
Boxing is very much a family business but it is not always the case that children of boxers become boxers. Judging at ringside for the Tony Harrison vs. Sergey Rabchenko and Paul Malignaggi vs. Gabriel Bracero fights were Carlos Ortiz Jr. and Julie Lederman. Julie also worked the Mickey Garcia vs. Elio Rojas. She is the daughter of Hall of Fame’s Harold who judged his first fight back in 1967 and is one of my oldest friends in boxing. Perhaps I should rephrase that to a friend of very long standing.
Sometime they do follow dad’s footsteps (or mum’s these days). In Santa Rosa, Venezuela Ernesto Espana Jr retained the national super light title with a sixth round stoppage of Ciro Moreno. The 35-year-old Espana is the son of Ernesto Snr who was WBA light champion back in 1979/80. Espana Jr. is 19-0 and this was the third defence of his title.