By Eric Armit
Between Tyson Fury, Tony Bellew, David Haye and all of the challenges thrown out by Joseph Parker and Deontay Wilder they have kept the heavyweights in the news. It seems certain that subject to a hearing next month and to assurances that Fury’s past medical problems have been resolved Fury will return to the ring next year. Fury will need a couple of fights before he is ready for Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder-although Fury’s team may disagree, but a Joshua vs. Fury fight would be huge if Fury can get a couple of wins. A recent poll indicated that the fight some fans want to see when Fury returns to the ring is Fury vs. Shannon Briggs. That’s a 45-year-old who has twice been suspended for positive tests and since losing to Vitali Klitschko in 2010 has not fought anyone who would qualify for a place in the top 50 heavyweights. I guess there is no accounting for taste. David Price may be vulnerable but he seems a better choice.
I may not be in the majority but I feel sorry for both David Haye and Tony Bellew. Haye must despair of these injuries. He needed that return fight with Bellew to get into the running for one last chance at another world title shot and Bellew has lost another good payday. Time is not on Haye’s side. He needs to be in 100% condition but how hard can he push himself in training knowing that he is injury prone.
Heavyweight action will see Alex Dimitrenko return to the ring in Hamburg on 22 December. No opponent named yet. The 6’7” (201cm) Ukrainian has a 40-3 record with the losses to Eddie Chambers, Kubrat Pulev and Joseph Parker. Winning the IBF International title in his kayo of Adrian Granat has landed him a No 8 position in the IBF ratings so he is in the picture but very much in the background. Swedish hope Granat will also be on the bill against Georgian Iraqi Gvenetadze as he rebuilds after the loss to Dimitrenko. Unbeaten German super welter Sebastian Formella (16-0) will also be on the show.
Here’s one heavyweight fight to miss. Alex Ustinov and Manuel Charr meet for the vacant secondary WBA heavyweight title on Saturday in Oberhausen. That’s a 40-year-old Ustinov who has had only one fight in almost two years and that against a guy ranked No 247 in the world and Charr who was knocked out by cruiser Mairis Breidis then had eight months out after being shot four times and has not had a fight for 14 months. Secondary just does not fit the bill. How about farcical, or ludicrous? The WBA farcical title that seems to fit the bill.
Heavyweights Andy Ruiz, Robert Helenius and Tony Yoka have also been in the news. Ruiz will return to the ring on February 3 next year. No opponent named for him. The main event will see Gilberto Ramirez making the third defence of his WBO super middle title against Ghanaian Habib Ahmed. What a pity Ramirez is not in the WBSS tournament. His is the only big name that was missing from the super middles section. Ruiz has been out of the ring since losing a majority decision to Joseph Parker for the vacant WBO heavy title in December. Things have passed him by in that time and he is now down at No 15 with the WBO. A poor reward for taking Parker to a majority decision in Parker’s back yard. He deserves a return. He is No 4 with the WBC. Helenius is not retiring despite his loss to Dillian Whyte in October. The Finn has said that his performance against Whyte was badly affected by a bout of flu during his preparation and is determined to fight on. Anything Yoka does is big news in France. The Rio gold medal winner fights again on 12 December against Belgian champion Ali Baghouz. A very strange choice as Baghouz was knocked out in one round by Martin Bakole Ilunga in Edinburgh on 11 November. As late as yesterday Baghouz was still the name in the frame even though it will be just five weeks since that crushing loss. It makes you wonder how much confidence Yoka’ s team have in him and why a major French TV channel should agree to show such a poor match. Yoka is the draw but also on the bill will be Rio bronze medallist Souleymane Cissokho who captained the French boxing team in Rio, unbeaten Nordine Oubaali and unbeaten Cape Verde-born southpaw Michel Tavares.
Well we now have the date and venue for the George Groves vs. Chris Eubank Jr WBSS semi-final. On 17 February in Manchester these two will meet in a clash that might not have happened if it was not for the incentives in the WBSS rewards cupboard and it is one where it is hard to pick a winner. No date or venue yet for Callum Smith vs. Juergen Brahmer but let’s hope it is not held in Germany. No dates or venue yet for the Murat Gassiev vs. Yunier Dorticos and Olek Usyk vs. Mairis Breidis fights. Usyk is the favourite for the tournament but Briedis has shown in wins over Olan Durodola, Manuel Charr, Marco Huck and Mike Perez that he is a very live outsider.
In addition to these fights for next year it looks like 5 May in Las Vegas for Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez II The first one did not live up to expectations so let’s hope this time they get it right and make it a fight to remember unlike the last which was a fight to forget.
Obviously the winner of the 16 December Billy Joe Saunders vs. David Lemieux fight will be hoping for a shot at the winner of Golovkin vs. Alvarez but with that fight not happening until May and with Daniel Jacobs, Jermall Charlo, Ryota Murata and Sergiy Derevyanchenko (IBF No 1) all queuing up nothing is certain in this division The WBC have already paired Charlo against Hugo Centeno for their interim title. If Alvarez wins don’t expect him to accept the WBC title.
The WBC seem to have recaptured their appetite for interim titles-you remember that was the title that Jose Sulaiman said was causing too much confusion and they replaced it with the Silver title-and then more silver titles and more silver titles-and kept the interim titles. The interim super feather title will go to either Omar Salido or Miguel Roman who clash of 9 December in Las Vegas. A good fight. It would be nice to see “Mikey” Roman win a title at the third attempt but Salido is a tough nut.
Of course we have real biggie on the same night in New York in Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux . This will be the first time that two fighters who have both won two Olympic gold medals will fight each other. Both fighters are talented and technically brilliant so I hope we don’t get a tactical chess match. Lomachenko’s WBO super feather title will be the only title on the line and not Rigondeaux’s WBA super bantam title. Rigondeaux has not weighed more than 122lbs for a fight since back in 2009 and he won all of his amateur titles at bantamweight. Lomachenko won both his 2011 World Championships gold medal and his 2012 Olympic gold at lightweight so is naturally the bigger man. I go for Lomachenko but just hope it is a classic.
Ghanaian Isaac Dogboe gets his chance at a title at the Bukom Boxing Arena in Accra on 6 January when he faces Cesar Juarez for the interim WBO super bantam title. Dogboe won the English ABA title and represented Ghana at the 2012 Olympics. With home advantage he has a good chance against Juarez who lost on points for this title to Nonito Donaire in 2015 but put himself in line for a shot at champion Jesse Magdaleno with a kayo of unbeaten 26-0 Albert Pagara in July last year. Magdaleno is injured so hence an interim title.
The news is not as good for another Ghanaian fighter as Richard Commey’s IBF eliminator against Roman Andreev has fallen through. The respective parties had reportedly come to an agreement that prevented them going to purse bids. However as part of the agreement Andree’s promoter was to deposit $55,000 in an Escrow agreement. That did not happen so now Commey’s team are waiting for the IBF to nominate another fighter to face Commey.
When a sanctioning body orders an immediate return for a title fight just remember that they probably have their fingers crossed behind their backs. After Milan Melindo retained the IBF light fly title with a controversial decision over Hekkie Budler the IBF ordered an “Immediate return”. In Scotland we have the double positive really being a negative so if a Scotsman says “Aye that’ll be right” what he is saying is I don’t believe a word you say. So what about Budler’s immediate return. Well Melindo will defend his IBF title in a unification match with WBA champion Ryoichi Taguchi in Japan on 31 December. Budler will get first shot at the winner-provided it is Melindo. If Taguchi wins then the WBA and Taguchi might have other ideas but you can trust the IBF to fight hard to get Budler his promised fight for their title. Aye that’ll be right.
The Prizefighter formula is still alive and well. The next Prizefighter style tournament will be in Dublin for middleweights and will be staged in March. Applicants are already coming forward but no official announcement yet.
How time flies. On 5 January in Denmark a show is being held to celebrate Mogens Palle’s sixty years of promoting boxing. The main fight is to be Lolenga Mock vs. Dmitri Chudinov. Demark has never had a deep well of boxing talent to draw from but Mogens has continued to find and build Danish and other Scandinavian boxers able to compete at the top level over the whole of those sixty years. I still remember the days of Palle vs. Mickey Duff when there were some classic Danish vs. British clashes. He took fighters such as Ayub Kalule, Tom Bogs, Johnny Bredahl, Jorgen Hansen, Mikkel Kessler and so many others to the tope and brought fighters such as Carlos Monzon, Emile Griffith, and Ken Buchanan to Denmark. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008. He will be 84 in March but no sign of him leaving the sport.
Under the Sergey Kovalev vs. Vyacheslav Shabranskyy fight on Saturday Cuban Sullivan Barrera takes on the awkward Felix Varela. At stake for Barrera here is a proposed fight for the WBA light heavy title against Dmitri Bivol pencilled in for February/March in New York so no slip ups if Barrera is to get his first shot at a world title. His only loss was a points defeat by Andre Ward in March last year.
With Kerman Lejarraga’s fight with Jose Del Rio for the Spanish welter title in Bilbao drawing over 11,000 spectators the Basque country is suddenly very interested in boxing. The aim now is to get the 24-0 Lejarraga a fight for the European title against champion Mohamed Mimoune. The date they are looking at for a fight in Bilbao in late March. That March date may not be achievable as Mimoune’s team are already in negotiation with the team of Ahmed El Mousaoui for a title defence. The last time there was a European title fight in Bilbao was 1981 when Tony Sibson outpointed Andoni Amana.
Former IBF light champion Eduard Troyanovsky takes the second step on his way back to a title shot when he fights 21-0 Carlos Portillo in Moscow on 17 November. His 40 second blow out by Julius Indongo in December was one of the biggest upsets of 2016. Troyanovsky made a good start in July with a fourth round kayo of former European champion and WBA title challenger Michele Di Rocco. Also on this show Russian heavyweight Sergey Kuzmin faces his first real test against Amir Mansour.
By Eric Armit
The heavyweights have been hogging the news a bit lately. We have had the big event on Cardiff where over 70,000 turned out to watch Anthony Joshua beat Carlos Takam and we had the show in New York at the weekend which did boxing no good at all. Both heavyweight fights-Joshua vs. Takam and Deontay Wilder vs. Bermane Stiverne –featured substitutes coming in to challenge champions but there the resemblance ends. Takam put up a good fight and to some extent showed that Joshua is still a work in progress and will have given Joshua some indication of areas in which he can and will need to improve. Stiverne was pathetic but then why should anyone be surprised. He had his 39th birthday on the first of this month, had not had a fight since November 2015 and when he fought Wilder in January 2015 he lost by 9, 11 and 13 points and all he has done since then is get older. In fairness he had been training for a fight with Dominic Breazeale but finished up fighting Wilder with insufficient time to prepare and all of that showed as CompuBox did not register Stiverne landing a single punch in the 2:59 the fight lasted.
It was a WBC title fight and Mauricio Sulaiman was in the ring fitting a WBC T-shirt over Wilder’s head to publicise the fact it was WBC when he should have been hiding after such a farce in one of their title fights. It was certainly nothing to take pride in. In their defence they could point to the substitute factor as a reason for such an abysmal title fight but that does not excuse them having Stiverne No 1 in their ratings when he not had a fight for two years.
Wilder showed his contempt for Stiverne as an opponent. I don’t like to see a fighter show that degree of contempt but there was a lot of rage in there over the way his career just seems to stumble along from one frustration to the next. Wilder has been a pro for nine years and a champion for almost three years and has yet to have a fight that has created even 10% of the interest, entertainment and drama that the Joshua vs. Wlad Klitschko generated. No wonder he is angry and frustrated.
There is talk now of Joshua vs. Joseph Parker but at the same time there is also ongoing negotiations for Parker to defend his WBO title against Lucas Browne although Browne is not currently in the WBO ratings. The Alex Povetkin vs. Christian Hammer is a WBO eliminator so plenty of options there for Parker. In addition with the WBC stating that Povetkin can return to their ratings in January a resurrection of the Wilder vs. Povetkin fight is not impossible.
Whilst the WBC have resolved the situation of the positive test for Povetkin the subject of alleged positive tests is still stalking the heavyweights. Tyson Fury is adamant that he is going to return to the ring but it is not clear whether he will be able to do so without that situation being resolved and I am still not clear where the matter rests with regard to Luis Ortiz.
Fury is adamant that his test result was due to his unknowingly eating a food that caused the results. Ortiz is claiming it was due to some medication. Luis Nery has also quoted a food was at the root of his test results and the only punishment I can see doled out to Nery is for him to give Shinsuke Yamanaka a return which will result in another big payday for the Mexican. It is difficult to see that as a punishment. All of this undermines the fight against illegal substances. The food explanation has been used before and since it seems to have been accepted in the Nery case will be used more. The WBA have rightly suspended Ortiz and removed him from his their rankings and said he cannot fight for their title until September 2018. To me that is not enough. The minimum suspension for a confirmed positive test should be two years and for a second positive test five years. You will never make any inroads to the use of banned substances unless the chance of being caught is high and the level of punishment is severe. The suspensions by sanctioning bodies are limited in that they don’t administrate boxing in any country and suspension by them does not stop the fighter from boxing only from boxing for a sanctioning body title. A case in point is Erkan Teper who is banned from fighting for the EBU title but is able to box in Germany. It is pointless having a great testing process if you are going to accept these types of explanations. The solution is already out there and is simple. The athlete is 100% responsible for what goes into his system. That’s it. Whatever the athlete drinks eats or sniffs it his responsibility to ensure it is not contaminated. Rant over.
There is a phrase being bandied about known as the “The Anthony Joshua Effect”. That Anthony Joshua effect was clearly seen in some recent purses. Whereas Joshua took down somewhere around $20 million and Carlos Takam around $6 ½ million for their fight Wilder’s purse for the Stiverne fight was around $1 ½ million and Stiverne’s around $500,000. In fact when you look at the purses for the undercard in New York which were Shawn Porter $500,000, Adrian Granados $200,000, Dominic Breazeale $250,000 Eric Molina $90, 000, Sergey Lipinets $90,000 and Akihiro Kondo$15,000 Takam received more for fighting Joshua than all of the combined purses for the fighters on the New York show. Joshua gets $20 million for fighting Takam and Wilder $1.5 million for fighting Stiverne-no wonder Wilder wants to fight Joshua.
Even if the Wilder vs. Stiverne fight was a farce there is plenty to look forward to. In no particular order there is already a mention of 5 May next year for Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez II, we have Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux on 9 December we have Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares sorting out dates and purses for their return match next year, there is Srisaket vs. Juan Francisco Estrada and Carlos Cuadras vs. Brian Viloria on 24 February in Carson, Anthony Dirrell defending his interim IBF super middle title against Jose Uzcategui 27 January , we have two interesting middleweight fights with Daniel Jacobs taking on unbeaten Luis Arias this weekend and Billy Joe Saunders putting his WBO middle title on the line against Canadian puncher David Lemieux on 16 December, there’s Sergey Kovalev vs. Vyacheslav Shabranskyy for the vacant WBO light heavy title on 25 November, possible a fight in the New Year between Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares, Jerwin Ancajas going onto the lion’s den in Belfast to defend his IBF super fly title against unbeaten Jamie Conlan on 18 November, on 16 December it is Karo Murat and Dominic Boesel fighting a return of their contest in July when Murat came from behind to stop Boesel in the eleventh round to snap Boesel 24 bout winning record and take the vacant European light heavy title and if that’s not enough we have the WBSS semi-finals at cruiser and super middle early next year. What a wonderful sport.
Adonis Stevenson has a defence pencilled in for 17 January in Quebec City. The talk is of a defence against Badou Jack. It looks a very interesting fight but it should not be happening. Jack vacated the secondary WBA light heavy title after beating Nathan Cleverly. Apparently as part of the contract he signed to get the Cleverly fight Jack had to agree to relinquish the title if he won. He did so on the understanding that Mayweather Promotions were lining up a big fight for him. So far so good and that fight with Stevenson will be a bigger fight than Cleverly. Why should it not happen? Well because it screws Eleider Alvarez. He is the WBC No 1 and, in his last two fights, both for the WBC Silver title; he has beaten Lucien Bute and Jean Pascal. How long has he been waiting for his title shot-six months, a year, eighteen months? Well in fact he has been No 1 with the WBC since December 2015 so almost two years. Let’s get out the canapés and champagne to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Stevenson last mandatory defence –yes it was in November 2013. It’s about time Alvarez got what he is owed-a shot at the WBC title.
Some interesting fights under the Alex Povetkin vs. Christian Hammer scrap in Ekaterinburg on 15 December will see former IBF feather champion Evgeny Gradovich taking on unbeaten Australian-based Irish southpaw TJ Doheny at super bantam: Doheny is No 3 with the IBF and Gradovich is No 6 so with positions 1 and 2 vacant the winner would be qualify to go top and become the mandatory challenger to Ryosuke Iwasa. Also on the show unbeaten super welter Magomed Kurbanov, the WBA No 6 faces OPBF No 3 Akinori Watanabe.
The Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn fight seems to have brought Australia to the attention of Top Rank. They have Gilberto Ramirez putting his WBO super middle title on the line on 3 February with the name of Ghanaian Habib Ahmed in the frame as a possible challenger and there was a suggestion that on 12 May it could be Australian Rohan Murdoch against Ramirez. There are plenty of good young fighters down there such as the Moloney twins and Jai Opetaia so there may be some long term benefits from Pacquiao vs. Horn particularly as it seems that if Horn gets past Gary Corcoran on 13 December then Top Rank’s Terrence Crawford will be his next challenger. As for Ramirez somewhere in his schedule will have to be the return with Jesse Hart as the WBA put Hart at No 1 at their recent Convention.
It was good to see that Antonio Cervantes was honoured at that WBA Convention. The talented Colombian known as “Kid Pambele” had two spells as WBA light welterweight champion. He first won the title in 1972 by beating Alfonso Frazer in Panama and made ten defences losing the title to Wilfredo Benitez in 1976. He regained the title by beating Carlos Gimenez in 1977 and lost the title to Aaron Pryor in his seventh defence in 1980. When he retired in 1983 with a 91-12-3 record he had beaten some of the big names of that time such as Rodolfo Gonzalez, Nicolino Locche, Esteban De Jesus, Hector Thompson, Saoul Mamby and so many more. He was 18-3 in 21 title fights and only four of those fights were held in Colombia. A true ring great who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998.
Zolani Tete is another fighter getting some well deserved recognition. The former IBF super fly and current WBA interim bantam champion is on the list of candidates for the title Sports Star of the Year at the South African Sports Awards on 12 November. There is no guarantee that “Last Born” (a hint from his mum to his dad) will win but he is the first boxer to ever be on the list which is in itself and indication of the regard the talented little South African enjoys in his own country.
It is not just a South African boxer getting a sign of his emergent status. Trainer Colin Nathan’s excellent work was acknowledged by the WBC’s request that he conduct a five-day seminar for trainers in Shanghai. Recognition of the success hard work has brought for Nathan who has trained seven world champions and six South African champions and more to come.
A bit of self indulgence here. I campaigned long and fairly successfully to have the so called WBA “regular” title referred to as their “secondary” title. I see lots of people using that term now. My other beef was over the use of No Contest which to me was totally wrong since what actually transpired was a No Decision. I thought I was that voice crying in the wilderness (Ok a bit over dramatic there) but BoxRec showed the result for the Jamie McDonnell vs. Liborio Solis fight as a No Decision and for me BoxRec is the arbitrator for such things. I just hope it was not a slip of the index finger, C is just above D on the keyboard, and others will follow suit. Next beef-about this glove wrapping tape that even came adrift in the Joshua vs. Takam fight when is someone going to solve that problem. Ah yet again a voice crying in the wilderness!
Every fight for Hong Kong’s star fighter super fly Rex Tso has been a battle of attrition with Tso willing to take to give. That seems to have caught up with him as Tso has been advised by doctors to take a six month break although the likelihood is that he will sit things out for longer than that. He is No 2 with the WBO but a battle of attrition with “Monster” Naoya Inoue is the last thing he needs so the rest is probably a good idea.
The death of any boxer involved in boxing activity is a tragedy but particularly when they are only 20-years-old. Philippines boxer Jeffrey Claro fell into a coma and died after a sparring session. In Claro’s case there are worrying elements. Claro was one of around 150 Filipino boxers who were banned in August after falsifying the results of brain scans. It seems that the boxers could not afford to have the tests done so they submitted false CT scan results. The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) who administer boxing in the Philippines are a well organised efficient outfit and they detected the false results and banned the boxers involved. Claro had genuine tests carried out and submitted the results and the GAB reviewed them and found them acceptable with no trace of any injury. After his death examination revealed that Claro had a fresh injury probably caused during the sparring session and an older injury almost certainly caused in another sparring session that occurred after he had submitted his new scans. It is a sorry state that the boxers put their lives at risk because they could not afford the cost of the scans and seemingly nor was there any financial help available to cover those costs. It’s a fact that administrative bodies have a hard enough time monitoring fights and can’t monitor all of what goes on in gyms Such a tragedy.
So you fancy promoting a show in a nice small town in Louisiana. A picnic. Three days to fight time all going well-and then. One fighter calls off because he sliced a cut on his hand. Another calls off because he got arrested, and another just did not arrive. On the day of the weight in there is supposed to be a female fighter from Kazakhstan but she spent three days in airports and caught an infection so the doctor rules her out. With all of the above there is still one fighter without an opponent and if you can’t find someone for him you will not meet the minimum rounds requirement for the show. All you have to do is to find someone immediately available who has all of his paper work for all of the HIV tests and Hepatitis B & C test. One is found in Arkansas and he saves the show by working until 11.00am on the day of the fight and then driving six hours straight to get to the weigh and somehow you have show. Easy peasy my friend Bad Chad-fancy doing another one next week?
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.