Yesterday controversial US promoter Dong King released a bout list for his next show, set for January 29th at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The list, which features 3 bouts, looks like a card that will almost certainly fall apart in the next 3 weeks, but is a notable one for us as it features the ring return of a Kazakh world champion.
The Kazakh in question is Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) [Бейбут Амирханович Шуменов], the current WBA Cruiserweight champion, who was ordered to defend his title in a mandatory defense Ryad Merhy (29-1, 24) by the WBA in December.
It appears, for whatever reason, that a bout between Shumenov and Merhy isn't happening next, with Shumenov's opponent for this show listed as 35 year old American challenger Raphael Murphy (14-1, 11). Some how, and we really don't know how, Murphy is ranked #8 by the WBA, that's despite his last 5 wins coming against opponents with losing records and his last win over an opponent with a winning record coming in 2014. In fact Murphy has only beaten 2 opponents with winning records, and both of those wins came before he was knocked out by the then 2-0-1 Hugo Trujillo in February 2017.
Then again Murphy being ranked is no more disgusting that Shumenov still being the champion despite having not defended the belt since winning it in July 2018.
Yes the WBA really are a joke, and this entire show seems to suggest that they have a special relationship of some sort with King.
If this show goes ahead, and trust us, that's a big if, it will apparently be the first show Dong King has promoted, either by himself or as a co-promoter, since July 2018!
Don't colour us surprised when this one falls through at the last minute.
This past Monday the WBA announced that they had sent teams of Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) [Бейбут Амирханович Шуменов] and Ryad Merhy (29-1, 24) an order to begin negotiations for a mandatory bout between the two men.
The bout is being ordered as Shumenov, who hasn't fought since July 2018, is still the WBA "regular" Cruiserweight champion and is over a mandatory defense. In fact his last mandatory was supposed t take place in April 2019, and it's now already around 20 months over due. Merhy is the current "interim" champion, and there for the official challenger to the regular title.
Of course we would have assumed any reasonable world title body would have ordered this bout back in April 2019 and then stripped Shumenov, if appropriate, rather than have a situation like this, which makes the WBA look like a toothless joke.
The WBA have added that the two teams have a 30 day period to negotiate an agreement for their fight, starting on December 1st. If an agreement cannot be made by December 31st the WBA will begin moving towards purse bids. Something they should have done last year.
The now 37 year old Shumenov has often had a very odd relationship with the WBA, and the fact he's still a champion with them, more than 2 years after his last bout, shows just how odd their relationship is. We do, genuinely wonder, if Shumenov himself even realises he's a world champion or regards himself as an active fighter.
Ryad Merhy on the other hand is a hard hitting 28 year old, born in Ivory Coast but based in Belgium. He has rebuilt since a 2018 loss to Arsen Goulamirian by winning 5 in a row, though sadly he's been out of the ring since October 2019, when he won his interim title.
We'll be honest and assume we don't see this bout happening, and instead Shumenov will retire from the sport and get on with his life outside of boxing, whilst Merhy will potentially work his way towards a second bout with Goulamirian in the next 12-18 months.
It's fair to say that 2019 has been a complicated year for Kazakh fighter Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) [Бейбут Амирханович Шуменов], who was supposed to defend the WBA "regular" Cruiserweight title against Arsen Goulamirian, after a purse bid, before being injured.
That purse big had been rescheduled and delayed and was won by Shumenov's promoter who seemed to struggle to secure things for the bout before Shumenov's injury. It then seemed like Shumenov would be stripped of his title, for failing to defending, though is still listed as the champion.
Shumenov's injury has helped freeze the WBA title picture, with neither him, nor Goulamirian, fighting so far this year. The the impasse the WBA have done what they love to do and is creating an interim title, which will be fought for on October 19th when Ryad Merhy and Imre Szello face off.
Despite the WBA mess it's now being reported that Shumenov will return to the ring in November to defend his "regular" title, in Democratic Republic of the Congo, thanks to Don King, who is looking to put on a stacked card in the country formerly known as Zaire.
Given how Don King's promotional activity has gone in the last few years, and how Shumenov's own career has gone in recent years, we wouldn't be surprised at all if this fails to materialise. It seems we're not alone in that with Vesti.kz also being more than a touch critical about Don Kong, describing him as "The odious promoter".
According to www.sports.kz the WBA "regular" Cruiserweight title bout between Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) [Бейбут Амирханович Шуменов] and the unbeaten Arsen Goulamirian (24-0, 16) is off.
The site reports that Abel Sanchez, the trainer of Goulamirian, has stated that Shumenov is injured, again, and is not likely to face his man after all. Derailing the plans of Don King, Shumenov's promoter, who won the purse bids for the fight a few months ago.
Apparently the WBA have told members from the Goulamirian team about Shumenov being injured, with speculation being that it's his eye again. This cancelled plans for a May 11th date, a date which never had any venue announced or any real news at all about.
It also kills the hope that this bout would be the world title bout in Kazakhstan that MTK Global were going to put on their Capital City day show in July.
The talk is that Goulamirian will now face Mateusz Masternak (41-5, 28) in June in France for the regular title, before facing the winner of a bout between Denis Lebedev (32-2, 23) and Lawrence Okolie (12-0, 9) in a bout to unify the WBA titles, and lead to a single champion. It should be noted however that the WBA do seem to like to have multiple titles, despite public comments to the contrary, and plans are always subject to change.
If Shumenov is indeed injured, and it is his eye, then we wouldn't be surprised to see the 35 year old hang up the gloves and call time on his enigmatic career.
The WBA Cruiserweight title picture has been nothing short of a mess recently, with 4 different "world champions" at the time. Thankfully we are heading to a point where that mess will be tidied up, at least partially, and today saw the WBA hold a purse bid to begin the long process of getting rid of some of those world titles.
The purse bid in question was for the WBA "regular" Cruiserweight title, and was to set up a bout between "regular" champion Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) [Бейбут Амирханович Шуменов] and "interim" champion, come Gold champion, Arsen Goulamirian (24-0, 16).
The winning bid was put in by Don King, $821,000, with the purse to be split 55%-45% in favour of Shumenov. The winning was almost $200,000 more than the bid put in by Goulamirian's team, who were the
It was the only one of 4 purse bids ordered earlier this year to actually take place today, more than a week later than originally scheduled.
King's winning bid came with 3 possible venues and dates.The first possibility is on April 15th in Monaco, the second possibility is just over 2 weeks later, April 30th Kazakhstan whilst the other possibility is May 13th in New York. A decision will be made shortly on which of those options will be taken forward.
French website www.lequipe.fr have quoted Sébastien Acariès, who promotes Goulamirian, as saying "Given the large amount of the bid, I have no regrets " [Translated] and also seemed to rule out the April 15th option, "King, who sent his representative, he will now have to find a city, but I do not believe in the possibility of Monaco at all." This is likely due to the fact a bout in Monaco would essentially see Goulamirian being the local favourite.
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