By Eric Armit-
Well Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez is history. We got the fight we wanted on paper but for me we did not get it on the canvas. It was an interesting fight at most. No blame associated with Golovkin. He was just a little more cautious than usual but made the fight. Alvarez seemed to want to steal the fight not win it. If Golovkin had not forced the action there would not have been much action. For a known big puncher Alvarez spent more time avoiding trading punches than throwing them. I don’t know what his overall games plan was. At times I thought it was to let the eight years older Golovkin punch himself out and indeed he did mop-up the last three rounds on the cards of all three judges but that just goes to show how little he had done over the first nine rounds. For me Golovkin won the fight clearly but if others saw it differently-even Ms Byrd-that’s OK it is inherent in the way fights are scored. Golovkin came away with his reputation intact. Alvarez is still a great fighter and for sure a future Hall of Fame inductee and he will be in more big fights but for me he turned in a mediocre performance. Hopefully they will fight again and sooner rather than later. We saw how delaying the Floyd Mayweather Jr vs. Manny Pacquiao fight for too long a time took some of the edge of it and neither fighter was at his peak when they did clash.
If you needed an indication of how different boxing is today then you just need to see how easy it was to make fights 60-70 years ago. The then unbeaten Sugar Ray Robinson outpointed Jake LaMotta in October 1942. LaMotta got his revenge with a points win over Robinson in February 1943. They fought again three weeks later when Robinson won. Two of the biggest names in boxing in that era and they fought each other twice in three weeks! So sad to see that the “Ragin Bull has passed. He fought everyone who was anyone in his era. Typically for an incident filled career he won the title in September 1950 when with the fifteenth round starting he was behind on all three cards against Frenchman Laurent Dauthuille but he knocked Dauthuille out just 13 seconds before the final bell in what was the Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. Who did he lose the title to? Well Robison of course. That put Robinson 5-1 up in their series and was the last time they fought each other. LaMotta was an ever present at the Hall of Fame inauguration days and even in his nineties a lively spirited man as befits one of the great fighters of his era. RIP Jake.
I was surprised and sorry to read that Andre Ward has decided to retire. He goes out at the top and unbeaten. He scored victories over Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Carl Froch, Chad Dawson and Sergey Kovalev twice, in fact all of the big names around in his two spells of competing at the top. Kovalev and Carl Froch were the only ones to get close to victory over the “Son Of God” with three scores of 114-113 giving him a controversial win over Kovalev in their first fight and two of the judges scored for Ward 115-113 when he beat Froch. If he has lost his passion for the sport then he has made the right decision but it is a pity that he took almost two years out when at his peak and I just feel he could have achieved even more but for that break. Good luck Andre-and please stay retired.
Ward’s most recent adversary Sergey Kovalev will return to the ring in November in New York with Ukrainian Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in the other corner. Not a bad fight but with Shabranskyy having been down three times and knocked out by Sullivan Barrera in December that takes a bit of the shine off it.
We have Joseph Parker vs. Hughie Fury on Saturday night which kicks off a series of heavyweight title fights that will see all four versions of the heavyweight title on the line. Naturally right now an Anthony Joshua fight is the biggest news in the heavyweights and he puts his IBF and WBA titles on the line against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in Cardiff on 28 October. Neither fighting in the United Kingdom or facing a British opponent will be new for Pulev as he won a European gold medal in Liverpool and is 3-0 against British fighters but Joshua is naturally the favourite and it will be interesting to see whether he can get Pulev out of there quicker than the five rounds it took Wlad Klitschko to do it. The third in the series is Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz in New York on 4 November. The Cuban is 38-years-old and the only names on his record are Bryant Jennings and Tony Thompson-neither really stellar quality but it says everything about how Wilder has hand-picked his opponents that this is seen as his sternest test so far. By December it could be all change or as you were but at least the heavyweight division is interesting again.
The IBF have ordered negotiations between Tevin Farmer and Kenichi Ogawa for their super feather title. It became vacant when Gervonta Davis failed to make the weight for his defence against Francisco Fonseca last month. Ogawa is No 4 and Farmer No 5. The first two places are vacant because no fighter has beaten a rated fighter so no one can go into those spots. Australian Billy Dib is No 3 but seems to be sidelined but there might be a stipulation for the winner of Ogawa vs. Farmer to defend against Dib.
The WBO have refused Zou Shiming’s request for an immediate rematch with Japanese fighter Sho Kimura who lifted the Chinese fighter’s flyweight title with an eleventh round stoppage in July. Instead the WBO have ordered Kimura to defend against Toshiyuki Igarashi. There is some justice there as Igarashi has been their No 1 since March and he was by-passed and the No 6 Kimura was given the title shot. [Ed's note - Igarashi did suffer a notable fracture to his eye earlier this year, delaying his shot at the title]
As I write this the second quarter-final in the cruiser ranks of the World Boxing Super Series between Yunier Dorticos and Dmitry Kudryashov will take place in San Antonio tomorrow night. The initial fight between Oleg Usyk and Marco Huck was disappointingly one-sided but this one should be more competitive. Dorticos secondary WBA title will be on the line but with the possible rewards from winning this tournament the WBA trinket is an irrelevance.
The Callum Smith vs. Erik Skoglund fight was a good showpiece for the tournament. Although Skoglund fought way beyond my expectations I saw Smith as a clear winner. Not unnaturally Skoglund saw it differently and has claimed that if the fight had been anywhere except Liverpool he would have won. Well he is entitled to his opinion just as Adelaide Byrd is. The Chris Eubank Jr vs. Avni Yildirim figures to be a good fight. Despite his high WBC No 3 rating (IBO champion Eubank is No 4) Yildirim is yet to be in a high profile fight and Eubank is a big step in level of opposition. However the Turkish fighter is a very tough proposition. He is a pressure fighter who will be in Eubank’s face for three minutes of every round so it should be a real war. If either fighter falls out for any reason the first reserve is unbeaten German Stefan Haertel but either Eubank or Yildirim would be a he step up for Haertel
Going back to San Antonio Nonito Donaire has his first fight since his loss to Jesse Magdaleno for the WBO title and he takes on Mexican Ruben Garcia for the vacant WBC Silver title at featherweight. It is ten years since Donaire won his first world title and of course he has gone on to be a four division champion. It seems that at 34 there is still plenty of ambition there. Garcia has impressive looking statistics at 22-2-1 but his record has some heavy padding with his last seven victims having combined records of 17-69-2. Curiously for a title which the WBC put so much emphasis on neither Donaire nor Garcia is in their top 40.
After giving it some thought Roman Gonzalez has decided to fight on. His crushing loss to Srisaket had him seriously considering retirement but he has said he wants to bring another title back home to Nicaragua.
A show is being staged in Paris by the Asloum group as a tribute to young French boxer Angelique Duchemin. The 26-year-old “Princess of the Ring” died during a training session in the gym possibly due to a pulmonary embolism. She won the French and European super feather titles and in May added the WBFederation title. Such a tragedy. The main event will see Karim Guerfi defending his European bantamweight title against Belgian Stephane Jamoye with French lightweight Elhem Mekhaled facing Cindy Bonhiver in a lightweight fight between two French female fighters. There are some other French fighters turning out for this tribute show.
Puerto Rico lost one of its finest boxing journalists and public relations experts with the death of Mario Rivera Martino at the age of 94. I grew up reading Mario’s reports in Ring Magazine so he is part of my memories from those days so long ago. He also did a great job as PR consultant to the WBO and wrote for Sports Illustrated but for me he will always be an important part of that era when my interest in boxing started to flourish. Thank you Mario. And RIP.
Forty-year-old former cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek is going to fight on and is in training for a fight later this year but no opponent named.
Boxing is a universal sport embraced by all peoples. However there have been very few Native Americans who have made headlines. There have been a number competing over the years in the US National Championships and the National Golden Gloves but very few in the pros. For that reason it is always good to see a young Native American dipping his toe in the pro ranks. On 16 September on a small show in Oregon State fairgrounds Salem super feather Blaiwas Eaglepipe took a six round decision in his first pro fight. He ended up with a few cuts here are and there due to some headwork from his opponent-welcome to the pro game Eagelpipe! He is a descendant of “Captain Jack” a leader of the Modoc tribe which resisted the US Army for many months in the lava beds of Oregon before being forced to surrender. I will leave young Eaglepipe alone now as he is just starting out and he needs time to develop his career under experienced trainer Fred Ryan away from any undue publicity. I wish him well.
A couple of interesting fights coming up in Africa. On 6 October South African Mzuvukile “Old Bones” Magwaca 19-0-3 puts his IBF Inter-Continental bantamweight title on the line against Namibian Immanuel Naidjala 23-3-1in Kimberley South Africa. Magwaca already holds the WBFederation title. In Accra Ghana aging Braimah Kamoko faces young pretender Bastie Samir on 21 October. The 37-year-old Kamoko has never lost a fight but due to serious questions raised over his eye-sight has never fought outside Ghana. This will be his first fight since December 2015. Samir, 26, turned pro in the USA and had his first 11 fights there going 10-0-.1 He then built his record to 15-0-1 but was inactive in 2014 and 2015 and had just one fight in 2016. In world terms this is a non-event but when it was first announced the fans broke down the doors for tickets. There has been plenty of publicity for the fight but Kamoko styling himself the “African Mayweather” is taking things too far.
I have left any comments on the scoring at the Golovkin vs. Alvarez fight until the end as it just served to divert some attention away from the fight and I don’t want to do the same. I am not going to pillory Adelaide Byrd. I had it 117-112 for Golovkin so I also disagreed greatly with Byrd’s score but also to a lesser degree with hose tuned in by the other two judges but the social media also shows there are plenty out there who had Alvarez the winner. Byrd has worked as a judge for 443 fights including 107 world title fights across the whole span on the sanctioning bodies. I looked at every one of those 107 fights and struggled to find more than one or two instances where she differed to any significant degree with the other two judges. Just eight days before she officiated at the Golovkin vs. Alvarez fight she worked the fight between David Benavidez and Ronald Gavril for the vacant WBC super middle title. Byrd and Dave Morrell scored it 116-111 and 117-111 respectively for Benavidez. Glen Trowbridge scored it 116-111 for Gavril. There is a huge gap between how Morrell and Trowbridge saw the fight-but no big hullabaloo-hey that’s boxing. On the same night in Cebu City one judge had Milan Melindo winning 117-110 and another had Hekkie Budler winning 115-113 and even on the same Golovkin vs. Alvarez show one judge had Ryan Martin winning 96-93 and another had Francisco Rojo winning 99-91.
When you look at Byrd’s score in that context it is just another example of the ridiculous way of scoring boxing matches we are stuck with. Her scorecard was no worse than many others we see every week. She gets pilloried because the event was such a big one and the scoring in the Melindo vs. Budler and Benavidez vs. Gavril hardly merit anything other than a side note.
I have said before that if boxing was invented tomorrow there would some form of computerised scoring used. Even that is not perfect for as the saying goes “rubbish in rubbish out” so the accuracy depends on the competence of the operator. CompuBox is already effectively doing that type of computer approach showing punches thrown, punches landed, jabs thrown/landed, power punches thrown/landed but I find myself wonder how many light jabs equal one power punch? One, ten, twenty. Is that written down somewhere and if so who devised the system? So even registering the punches landed is not the end of the complex calculations. I have seen it suggested that punch counting might work but then you need to decided if you are going to add all the punches at the end and see who has landed more in the whole fight or allocate on a round by round basis i.e. 10 points to the guy who landed more in that round . Sounds OK but what if a guy scores one more punch per round for nine rounds and his opponent sores 20 more punches in the last, and does a knockdown just count as one punch? We are stuck with what we have and you can be sure there will be some controversy over scoring in fights this weekend-and for ever more. That’s the bad news on scoring boxing matches-there is no good news.
Well it’s over. The elephant in the room that distracted boxing fans for a few weeks and earned a fortune for two millionaires is over and done with. It was a huge event but not a great or even good fight and if you paid to see it then once you boast “I was there” it’s difficult to think of anything else you can say about it. Conor McGregor fought better than most forecast but not much better than could be expected from a man competing in a sport for which he was ill-prepared against one of the great exponents of the that sport. McGregor’s inexperienced showed in the way he flapped and pawed with some of his punches and in how quickly he tired in fighting three minute rounds. Floyd Mayweather fought a smart fight. There is no way McGregor could have anticipated that Mayweather would steal the patented high guard, walk forward and work inside tactics of Arthur Abraham. When the punch stats showed that one fighter had thrown only 20 jabs in the ten rounds- and that it was Mayweather- that was a real shocker. A bit like a foil fencer using a broad axe, but it worked. The hope now is that it is the last of these cross-discipline circuses.
The Nevada Commission was obviously worried that the fight might start before the first bell. They actually had one official standing with his arm outstretched in front of each fighter ready to restrain them as the referee gave his final instructions. Even the commission believed the hype.
With that out of the way we can now focus on the real business at hand. The Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez fight. It’s a true fans fight a real grudge match promising explosive action with Golovkin having an 89% KO/TKO ratio with 23 wins by KO/TKO in his last 24 fights and Alvarez a respectable 69% with youth and a great chin in a fight where who can take it rather than who can dish it out could be the decider. The ingredients are there for a middleweight version of “Joshua vs. Klitschko” with three of the four versions of the middleweight title on the line. This fight is everything that Mayweather vs. McGregor was not.
With WBO champion Joseph Parker defending against Hughie Fury on 23 of September, Anthony Joshua defending his IBF and WBA titles against Kubrat Pulev on 28 October and Deontay Wilder putting his WBC title on the line against Luis Ortiz in New York on 4 November the heavyweight division is heating up. Parker is very much the poor relation in this with his WBO title having lesser value but as with the Wilder vs. Ortiz fight the big prize is a fight with Anthony Joshua if Joshua gets past Pulev-and he should. For the Wilder vs. Ortiz fight to take place stand aside money will have to be paid to the WBC no 1 Bermane Stiverne. The situation with the former champion is ridiculous. He is No 1 with the WBC but has not fight since November 2015. OK it was not his fault that the fight with Alex Povetkin fell through when the Russian tested positive for a banned substance. There is talk of Stiverne vs. Dominic Breazeale but if Stiverne decides not to risk that fight and opts to take the stand aside money and then wait to fight the winner it will be more than two years since he had a fight. That’s almost a silly as the WBA who due to a court ruling still have an obligation to include their No 3 Fres Oquendo in their ratings and in a title fight even though Oquendo has not fought since July 2014.
Despite positive sounds from both sides a fight between WBC light heavy champion Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack, the new holder of the secondary WBA title, is probably dead in the water. Firstly the WBC No 1 Eleider Alvarez has wasted no time in insisting Stevenson has to fight him and the WBC would have to back Alvarez in that. Even if the Stevenson vs. Jack fight did come off it would not be e unification fight as Jack only holds the secondary WBA title and if Stevenson won it would be ludicrous for the holder of the WBC title to be shown only as holder of the secondary WBA title. The WBA have order Jack to defend against their interim champion Dmitry Bivol. By ordering this is it possible the WBA are working towards one “universally recognised “champion in each division. Dream on! They still have nine secondary champions and four interim champions.
I was away on a tour of the Cities of Eastern Europe and missed the Terrence Crawford vs. Julius Indongo fight but caught the replay. Indongo had looked very useful in destroying Eduard Troyanovsky and outclassing Ricky Burns but Crawford was another couple of levels above at least. There are some tasty morsels out there if the fights can be put together such as Crawford vs. Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia or Mikey Garcia. His time as unified champion was short as he had no interest in fighting Sergei Lipinets so he relinquished the IBF title. Lipinets is the IBF No 1 beacuse he has beaten someone who was rated in the IBF top 15 at the time they fought. That was Lenny Zappavigna. A little bit of adjustment was undertaken. Zappavigna was No 7 and Lipinets was No 8 and although neither had had another fight before they met by Zappavigna was No 3 and Lipinets No 4.To again show the questionable positioning of fighters in their ratings behind Lipinets the No 2 spot is vacant and Japanese fighter Akihiro Kondo is No 3. Why is Kondo not No 2? That’s because he can’t be No 2 as he has never fought anyone in the IBF top 15 but somehow qualifies to be No 3! The reason they can’t put him to No 2 is that when Bobby Lee Snr was arrested by the IBF for allegedly selling spots in the IBF ratings one of the rule changes they had to adopt was not to put someone in the mandatory or No 2 position unless they had beaten someone in the top 15. Perhaps we should get the FBI instead of the IBF to do the ratings. I am still proud of the letter that Lee sent to Boxing News complaining strongly about my criticisms of what I saw as blatant manipulation of their ratings by the IBF. He finished the letter by saying “we are watching you”. He should have been watching his Ratings Chairman Doug Beavers who was wearing an FBI wire. Happy days.
The WBC are sending out some very mixed signals. They are donating Diamond Belts to the winner of the Super Series at cruiser and super middle so effectively endorsing and supporting the tournament. However despite Callum Smith being their No 1 super middle he has been well and truly shafted. They had ordered a fight between Smith and Anthony Dirrell in September for their vacant title but Dirrell refused to accept the date or the terms effectively ruling himself out. In the meantime Smith had signed to fight Erik Skoglund on 16 September in the quarter-finals of the Super Series. The WBC then tried to set up a Dirrell vs. David Benavidez fight for their title but injury ruled Dirrell out of that. Instead they have agreed that Benavidez fights Ron Gavril for the vacant title. Gavril rose in the WBC ratings from No 27 to No 16 for beating 11-1 Chris Booker and from 16 to No 6 for beating unrated 16-5-1 Decarlo Perez so a very questionable elevation. Now Smith finds himself out of the title picture because he is fighting in the very Super Series that the WBA have endorsed. You can’t endorse a tournament and then penalise people for participating in it that is the worst kind of double speak.
Shane Mosley has finally hung up his gloves. He had a great career and as a three division champion who fought in 23 world title fights (excluding a couple of interim title fights) and beat Oscar De La Hoya twice, Fernando Vargas, Antonio Margarito and many others will eventually be a candidate for the Hall of Fame. His legacy will always have a blemish in my eyes after he admitted taking steroids but claimed he did not know what they were. His claim for $12 million against the head man at BALCO the company that supplied him with the substances who alleged on numerous occasions that Mosley knowingly took them was dropped. Richard Schaefer, then with Golden Boy, actually asked if the Nevada Commission could investigate allegations that Mosley was using the BACO supplied steroids at the time of his 2003 win over Oscar De La Hoya and continued to use them until 2005 whether Mosley’s win over De la Hoya could be overturned but was told it could not. There is no way of knowing in which of Mosley’s fights he was using the banned substances.
On the subject of the De La Hoya clan cousin Oscar faces a tough test on 16 September when he fights former undefeated IBF champion Randy Caballero. The 23-year-old Diego is 19-0. Caballero seemed poised to become a big name after he beat Stuart Hall for the IBF title in October 2014 but nothing has gone right for him since. He was inactive in 2015 which resulted in the IBF stripping him of the title and had only one fight in 2016. He had a win over WBC title challenger Jesus Ruiz in March so hopefully he is back on track.
So sad to read of the death of Frank Quill. The Australian was a huge influence in the Australian National Boxing Federation and a long-time member of the WBC. He was also a good friend and a true gentleman and any time spent with him was a pleasure. I will miss him greatly.
Crime report: Some muggers in Argentina picked the wrong victim. Former WBA lightweight champion Raul Balbi was out with his daughters when a couple of villains tried to rob them. Balbi flattened one and chased and caught the other. Less palatable is the news that Argentinian middleweight Amilcar Funes has been arrested for alleged involvement in a botched robbery that led to murder.
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.