By Eric Armit
With Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury less than ten days away the odds have changed very little. Two weeks ago I reported that Wilder was a slight favourite at 11/10 with Tyson quoted as a spread from 8/11 to 10/11. The latest odds are still slightly in Wilder’s favour at 20/21 with Tyson at 20/23 but that reflects that this is the most difficult heavyweight title fights in recent years to predict. In the past both Wilder and Anthony Joshua have been clear favourites in their title fights and before that it was not even worth betting on a Wlad Klitschko title fight.
Wlad has popped up to tease us by saying that if Fury wins he might consider coming out of retirement for a chance at revenge. Sorry Wlad but if that fight did take place it would be another Klitschko fight not worth betting on but this time no one would be betting on you.
The division continues to boil under the influence of Wilder vs. Fury. It seems that Anthony Joshua’s IBF mandatory defence against Kubrat Pulev is going to land in London on 20 June. The two grounds in competition to be the venue are Tottenham Hotspur’s Stadium or Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. The word “rivals” doesn’t even begin to describe how the respective fans see each other so competition will be hot to land the fight. Almost like an off pitch cup final. The Joshua and Pulev teams have until Friday (20 February) to agree terms.
Some potential shuffling has Andy Ruiz apparently pricing himself out of a fight with Dillian Whyte and Luis Ortiz being mention as an alternative opponent and a Whyte vs. Alex Povetkin match in May being the route Whyte may follow. The Oleg Usyk vs. Dereck Chisora fight will now be pushed back until May because of an elbow injury sustained by Usyk and after missing out on his fight with Chisora in October due to a bite from a spider Joseph Parker fights in Frisco, Texas on 29 February against 39-year-old Shawndell Winters who is just about acceptable on the basis of a stoppage win over then unbeaten 16-0 Olek Teslenko in October and after signing Jarrell Miller Bob Arum is doing more than just dipping his toe in the heavyweights as he has added Oscar Rivas to his team and finally Otto Wallin will return on 28 March vs. Lucas Browne in Las Vegas.
Things have certainly changed in the heavyweights over the past fifty years. The current WBC ratings-I chose them as Wilder is America-shows that out of the top 15 plus the champion four are British (Fury, Dubois, Joyce and Chisora), two are Americans (Wilder and Mike Hunter) and then it becomes really international with nine different countries represented in Oscar Rivas Colombia, Oleg Usyk Ukraine, Luis Ortiz, Cuba, Adam Kownacki Poland, Andy Ruiz Mexico, Filip Hrgovic Croatia, Joseph Parker New Zealand, Alex Povetkin Russia and Kubrat Pulev Bulgaria making up the rest of the fifteen plus the champion. It was much different fifty years ago. In 1970 in the top 10 Joe Frazier was champion and Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Jerry Quarry, Mac Foster and Sonny Liston were in the top spots in the rankings with only Oscar Bonavena, Henry Cooper and George Chuvalo posing any kind of minor threat to American supremacy. Right now as far as American heavyweights are concerned Deontay Wilder is an oasis in a desert and you would need strong binoculars to see any young American heavyweights coming over the horizon.
With the Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Teo Lopez fight set for 31 May it looks like that month may end with a bang as Daniel Jacobs is planning to fight then as well but no opponent named yet.
End of March is also looking interesting with David Avanesyan set to defend the European welterweight title against unbeaten Josh Kelly on 28 March in London. These two were to have faced each other in December 2018 but Kelly fell ill after the weigh in so the fight was cancelled. On the same night Dominic Boesel is putting his IBO and interim WBA super middle titles up for grabs against Zac Dun in Magdeburg with unbeaten heavy hope Peter Kadiru and former undefeated European heavyweight champion Agit Kabayel also on the card.
Felix Trinidad has a fight on his hands but not in the ring. The Banco Popular in Puerto Rico is threatening to seize all of his assets and he is fighting in the courts to prevent it. He has been fighting with the bank since 2013 when Trinidad filed a complaint against the Bank for allegedly mishandling his investments and the Bank sued Trinidad to recover a line of credit. In November the Bank filed a motion to freeze Trinidad’s assets. They feared that they would not be able to collect against that $22 million line of credit as documents showed that Trinidad’s net asset value dropped from $27 million in 2010 to $1.6 million in 2016. Hearings over the Bank’s action to freeze Trinidad’s assets are scheduled for 27 and 28 February.
Martin Vargas is probably the best fighter that Chile has ever produced and he is playing his part in establishing an unusual use for boxing. He is working with the Chilean Association for the Blind setting up a boxing programme for blind youngsters with the title of Raise Your Eyes Champion. It features training with a punch bag where the youngster can establish the position of the bag with a jab and then work from there with other punches and getting them in the ring, giving them a feel for where the ropes are and then letting them shadow box to build their sense of spatial orientation. He is being assisted by Cristian Valenzuela a vision impaired gold medal sprint winner at the Paralympics. Vargas boxed from 1973 until 1998 and had four shots at winning a world title. He was defeated in all four but he lost only 15 of his 109 fights.
There was quite a difference between two winning bids for upcoming European title fights. The winning bid for the fight between Spaniard Sandor Martin and Dane Enock Poulsen for the vacant EBU super lightweight title was won by Team Palle with a bid of EU 55,555 (approx. $60,000) although it is not certain that Martin will want to go down that route. The other was for the vacant European Union cruiserweight title between Frenchman Dylan Bregeon and Pole Nikodem Jezewski where the winning bid-in fact the only bid as Jezewski’s team were too late with their offer- was of EURO 12,000 (approx. US13, 000) from Bregeon’s team and that would be split 50-50. Not much money but actually quite a good contest at this level.
Having left the EU British fighters will now not be eligible to fight for the EU title but instead will have to contest the EE-EU title for fighters outside the European Union. That might actually work out well for British fighters. Like every other sanctioning body the EBU look kindly on those who win their subsidiary titles so it could be a route into the EBU ratings worth following. The British promoters have not put a great deal of effort into bidding for EU titles partially because there are some very good fighters to compete against and some rival promoters with serious money to bid against but the EE-EU rankings are not nearly as strong and neither are the promoters who might contest the bidding.
Back to purse bids- since the parties have not come to an agreement the WBO has ordered purse bids by 20 February for the light heavyweight eliminator between Gilberto Ramirez and Eleider Alvarez with the minimum bid set at $300,000. The split will be 50/50 unless the proposed venue is the home base for one of them in which case the “away” fighter gets 60%. The winner will have to meet the winner of an eliminator between Umar Salamov and Max Vlasov at least that’s the plan but don’t bet on it going down that route.
Sorry to see that Sergio Martinez is returning to action. “Maravilla” will be 45 next week and has not fought since losing to Miguel Cotto in June 2014. It seems that the target date is June 7 but the reason is harder to figure.
One downside of growing old-and I am an expert on that-is when the names that have contributed to your memories pass on. Recent deaths include Johnny Bumphus and only a day ago Jimmy Thunder. Two very different fighters. Johnny was a classy boxer who really should have had more success than the one world title he won and Samoan-born New Zealander Thunder (Jimmy Peau) a big punching banger. Jimmy beat Tony Tubbs, Trevor Berbick, Ray Anis and Tim Witherspoon. He lost to Derek Williams and Henry Akinwande in Commonwealth title fights but never fought for a world title and fell on very hard times before dying 13 February. RIP guys.
World title fights in April will see Junto Nakatani and Filipino Giemel Magramo contest the now vacant WBO flyweight title in Tokyo on April 4 and Patrick Teixeira defend the WBO super welter title against Argentinian and ex-undefeated champion Brian Castano in Los Angeles on 24 April. On 25 April Felix Alvarado defends the IBF light flyweight title against South African DeeJay Kriel in Indio California. Another April title fight will feature Andrew Selby against Italian Mohammed Obbadi for the vacant European flyweight title in London on 18 April.
By Eric Armit
With Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury II only just over three weeks away Wilder has emerged as the slight favourite. The odds currently sit at 11/10 on Wilder and a spread of between 8/11 and 10/11 on Fury. Very close but Wilder’s punch seems to be pushing the smart money his way.
Boxing continues to be the mover and shaker right now. There is no clarity over who Saul Alvarez or Manny Pacquiao will fight next and although there is talk of Floyd Mayweather vs. McGregor II surely there can’t be enough idiots to be conned by that a second time so the heavyweights have the stage.
Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev have been given an extension to 14 February for the parties to come to a mutual agreement over terms for Joshua to defend the IBF and WBA titles. The likely date for the fight is end May early June in the UK. The position with the WBO is not clear but there is a strong possibility they will strip Joshua even though their No 1 Oleg Usyk looks set to fight Dereck Chisora in London on 28 March. That looks a sensible second heavyweight fight for Usyk. Joshua was to have defended against Pulev in 2017 but the Bulgarian had to pull out due to an injury and Joshua stopped substitute Carlos Takam.
In the WBO ratings for December Joseph Parker was No 2 and Adam Kownacki No 3. They will both be in action soon. Parker is scheduled to fight on the 29 February in Frisco, Texas on the undercard to the Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas/Khalid Yafai vs. Roman Gonzalez show but no opponent confirmed at this time and unbeaten Kownacki faces Robert Helenius on 7 March. Both Parker and Kownacki will be trying to position themselves in case the WBO strip Joshua. If the WBO do that then either Parker or Kownacki would look to fight Usyk for the vacant title-or each other if Usyk decides to pass up on the WBO belt.
Frank Warren has had a long working relationship with the WBO and is very much a man with influence with them so it was no surprise to see in the WBO ratings for January that Daniel Dubois had hurdled over Kownacki and is now No 3. Quite a promotion for beating No 15 Kyotaro Fujimoto and with Joe Joyce not having fought since July but suddenly jumping into the WBO ratings at No 12 that makes the Dubois vs. Joyce fight being talked about for 18 April being another contest that could be for the vacant WBO title with Parker already having said he would love to fight Dubois.
In the current EBU ratings Joyce is listed as co-challenger with Marco Huck for the vacant title but Huck is unavailable due to a hand injury. The EBU would have jumped at Joyce vs. Dubois as a great fight for them but with Dubois not yet out of a period of suspension from the EBU ratings for fighting for the WBO European title they had to pass on it. The EBU had nominated Filip Hrgovic and Joyce to contest the vacant title, another excellent fight, and given a date of 12 February for the sides to agree terms but now if Joyce vs. Dubois goes ahead, and not for the EBU title, then the EBU will have to find someone else to fight Hrgovic and the winner will have to fight Huck
In other heavyweight news French heavyweight hope Tony Yoka has joined Top Rank. I can remember the days when Bob Arum shunned heavyweights. It was a smart decision. For many years Don King had a stranglehold on the division and had a good claim to be the No 1 promoter in the world with Bob Arum his only real competition. Well in a recent edition Boxing News listed the 50 most powerful and influential people in boxing today and No 1 was Bob Arum. King was not in the top 50. King put all of his eggs in the heavyweight basket whilst Arum diversified. Along came the Klitschko brothers who totally took over the heavyweight division and turned King into a boxing dinosaur.
Finally on the heavyweights, and the Klitschko’s, EC Boxing in Germany has just unveiled the “new Klitschko” in Victor Vykhryst. The 27-year-old 6’5” 242lbs –introduced as Victor Faust I guess to make his name easier for us to remember-has twice won the European title and is a four-time Ukrainian champion as well as putting together a 6-0 score in the German Bundesliga. The crowded dance floor just got more crowded.
On 31 January the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. That has some consequences for UK fighters in that to be eligible to take part in a European Union (EU) title bout UK boxers must have a passport or ID of one of the EU member Countries and also be in possession of a license issued by the corresponding Federation. That means that according to EBU rules as from 31t January British boxers cannot be rated in EU list. Instead in February they will be moved to the EE-EU ratings (EE-EU titles are for countries that are European but not part of the EU such as Russia, Moldova etc.). As at 30 January UK fighter s Mark Heffron at middleweight and Jason Cunningham at super bantamweight were listed as co-challengers for the vacant EU titles but I guess that they will not now get that opportunity. It does not affect British boxers fighting for the European Boxing Union (EBU) tiles. So for instance the EBU title fights involving Callum Johnson challenging Igor Mikhalkin in Manchester on 7 March for the cruiserweight title and Andrew Selby meeting Mohammed Obbadi in April for the vacant flyweight title are unaffected.
In another change which could affect boxers the WBC has decided that in future all WBC affiliated title fights will be held over ten rounds with an option for them to be over eight rounds. This only affects WBC title such as the WBC International, WBC Latino, WBC United Sates etc but not those of the OPBF, NABF, EBU, and Commonwealth etc. which are entities in their own right.
A joint effort between TGB and Golden Boy came up with the winning bid for Nordine Oubaali’s WBC title defence against Nonito Donaire. The bid was for $401,000. Oubaali will get $216,540 and Donaire $144,360. That does not add up to $401, 00 because the new WBC “incentive payment” approach is being used whereby 10% of the total purse will be put into an escrow account and will go to the winner of the fight. That’s a much better approach than the British Navy took to encourage fighting spirit during the Napoleonic Wars. Admiral John Byng failed, though a perceived lack of fighting spirit, to relieve the siege of Minorca they shot him-to encourage the others!
It was a surprise that Top Rank were outbid for the Josh Taylor vs. Apinan Sakkreerin fight by Samson Lewkowicz’s Sampson Boxing. Taylor’s share of the $1.32 million winning bid will be approximately$860,000 and Sakkreerin’s $460,000
How long should a fighter have to wait to get paid for a fight? Well in the case of former WBC featherweight champion Luisito Espinosa last December made it 22 years and he had still not paid in full for a title defence against Carlos Rios in the Philippines in December 1997. Espinosa was guaranteed $150,000 plus $10,000 for training expenses by promoter Rod Nazario. Under the contract by October 31Espinosa would get $50,000 of his purse and the $10,000 training expenses. That did not happen. On the eve of the fight he was paid just under $30,000 and given a letter of guarantee for the balance. He did not get that money either. Nazario died in 2009 and when Espinosa took legal action to claim the outstanding money from the estate of Nazario a regional court dismissed his claim. A Court of Appeals overturned that and ruled for Espinosa but Nazario’s beneficiaries contested that decision. Finally late last year the Supreme Court found for Espinosa and has ordered the beneficiaries to pay Espinosa $130,000 plus interest at 6% dating back to 1998
Still on money. Michal Cieslak is getting $150,000 for fighting Ilunga Makabu for the vacant WBC cruiser title in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Friday night. You have wonder if that is enough “danger money” The Polish party was given an armed escort from the airport to their hotel and the show is being promoted by Ferdinand Ilunga Luyoyo who as the General in charge of the Congolese anti-riot body known as the National Intervention Legion was sanctioned by both the USA and the European Union (including travel bans and freezing of assets) for his part in suppressing opposition to the then President Joseph Kabila. Should be no trouble with crowd control at the fight that’s for sure. Incidentally this will be the first world title fight in the DRC since Muhammed Ali knocked out George Foreman in October 1974.
Naoya Inoue is back in training for his unification fight with John Riel Casimero in the USA on 25 April. Whoever wins that one will hold three versions of the bantamweight title. Inoue holds the IBF and WBA titles and Casimero the WBO. That should be a short and exciting battle between two punches.
It must have resembled an Emergency in the home fighter’s dressing room in Hamburg last weekend. Artem Harutyunyan stopped Miguel Antin but fought from the first round with a broken right thumb and German-based Cuban Jose Larduet lost to Mariano Strunz when he injured his left knee and the torn ligaments he suffered will keep him out of the ring for at least four months.
A death in the family is a tragedy at any time but two in the space of just a few days is more than any family should have to suffer. The first was the death after a long illness of Peter “Terror “Mathebula at the age of 67. Peter made history when in December 1980 he outpointed Korean Tae-Shik Kim in Los Angeles to win the WBA flyweight title becoming South Africa’s first black world champion. He only held the title for three months but he put down a marker for other black African fighters to follow. He retired in 1983 and fell on hard times having to sell off his boxing trophies. Whilst preparations were being made for Peter’s funeral his newly widowed wife Emma Gabaitsiwe Mathebula collapsed and died. A double tragedy.
There are a couple of fights coming up for South African boxers. Kevin Lerena will defend his IBO cruiser title against Firat Arslan in Goppingen, Germany on 8 February. Lerena will be making the sixth defence of his title. Arslan, won the secondary WBA cruiser title back in November 2007 and if he is successful against Lerena then at 49 he must be one of the oldest guys to win a title. There is also talk of super middleweight Rowan Campbell fighting for the IBO title but not yet confirmed.
By Eric Armit
The build up to the hugely important and intriguing return match between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury has already started with exchanges of infantile threats and insults in what now appears to be par for the course for any big fight. Boxing and cage fighting are the only sports where this appears to be an essential part of the build up. You don’t get Roger Federer and Rafal Nadal swearing at each other and football, basketball, baseball, rugby, cricket etc. would never countenance such infantile behaviour. This is a fight that every boxing fan wants. It sells itself I question how many more tickets are bought as a result of this pantomime. I can’t help but feel that Muhammad Ali has to carry some of the blame. He is the first I can recall who shouted and screamed about what he was going to do to his opponents-OK I am overlooking Tony “I’ll murder da bum” Galento- often exaggerating and clowning with tongue in cheek but any trace of parody has disappeared and now we seem to need vitriolic childish behaviour to sell one of the biggest 50/50 heavyweight return fights out there. Not sure what it says about boxing but there again I love listening to Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra but they would probably be considered too boring to reach the finals of one of today’s talent shows so perhaps as with music boxing has moved on and I am still rooted in the past..
Naturally with Wilder vs. Fury set and the Anthony Joshua return still visible in the rear mirror, interest in the heavyweights remains high. The IBF have given Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev a deadline of 31 January to agree terms for Joshua’s mandatory defence. Andy Ruiz is aiming to returning to action in May or June. He is trying to talk up a fight with Dillian Whyte whilst at the same time there is talk of Whyte facing Alex Povetkin.
The Oleg Usyk vs. Dereck Chisora proposed match seems to have faded into the background and being replaced with Usyk vs. Joseph Parker for the vacant WBO title in the event that the WBO strip Joshua for fighting Pulev.
There was talk of Jarrell Miller returning on the undercard to Wilder vs. Fury but that would make a mockery of suspending boxers for positive tests as it would less than a year since he failed three tests. Yet another name to add to the heavyweight mix is Marat Gassiev who is moving up. It has been suggested he will fight on the undercard to Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas on 29 February but that has not been confirmed and Adam Kownacki returns to action with a fight against Robert Helenius on 7 March in New York
There will of course be huge interest in the proposed fight between Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois for the vacant European heavyweight title. There are a couple of things to be ironed out on that. Marco Huck is the official co-challenger alongside Joyce but Huck is currently out with an injured hand so that should not be an impediment. Another item to be dealt with is that Dubois was not rated in the EBU ratings for 31 December. This is because he won the WBO European title in March 2019 and under the EBU ratings standards not even winning but also fighting for another sanctioning body’s European title results in an automatic one year suspension from the EBU ratings. That leaves the EBU with a choice of sticking by their standards in which case Dubois would not be eligible to be rated and therefore not able to fight for their title until after the end of March or ignoring their standards and making an exception because of the high profile enjoyed by a Joyce vs. Dubois fight. That’s an ethical question for the EBU to solve. One law for the rich-one law for the poor?
Last piece on the heavyweights features my old “favourites” the WBA. As low as they have gone they are still digging. They have done some unbelievably bad ratings in the past but they surpassed themselves this time. If you look at their heavyweight ratings you will find Christopher Lovejoy at No 12. He is 18-0 with 18 wins by KO/TKO but when you dig into his record his being rated at all is disgraceful. He suddenly appeared at No 10 in their ratings dated 30 September 2019. He had not fought since May-four months before being rated-and that May fight, his only fight in 2019, was scheduled for four rounds against a fighter with a 6-50-2 record who he outweighed by 68lbs. He had not fought since December 2018 when he beat a guy with a 0-3 record in fact in his ten fights since January 2018 his opponents have had combined records of 21-162-8. His bouts have all been scheduled for four rounds apart from two bouts scheduled for six rounds (against guys with 4-23-2 and 4-27-0 records) and one eight round fight against a guy with a 0-3 record(that last fight in 2018). Let’s not forget that as he is No 12 the WBA have made him eligible to fight Anthony Joshua. What a travesty-what a disgrace. Maybe they could use him as an opponent for their reigning interim champion Trevor Bryan who has not fight since August 2018 or Manuel Charr the holder of their secondary title who has not fought since November 2017.
I have to say I was surprised to see talk of Saul Alvarez fighting Billy Joe Saunders on 2 May. First let’s dismiss the “unification” question. Callum Smith is the WBA champion and Alvarez only holds the secondary WBA title so the fight can’t be a unification match. Secondly from a style point of view I am not sure that the tricky style of Saunders would make for an entertaining fight and thirdly Saunders looked very disappointing against ordinary Marcelo Coceres in November. Alvarez’s name would sell the fight. By May Saunders will have been a pro for eleven years and it would be good to see him get a huge purse as a reward for his efforts. It is also proposed that Jorge Linares tackles unbeaten Ryan Garcia on the same show.
Gennady Golovkin, the guy Alvarez should be fighting, has seen his IBF/IBO title defence against unbeaten 21-0 Pole Kamil Szeremeta put back to 28 March with Chicago a possible venue.
When a Chinese outfit won the bidding for Artur Beterbiev’s mandatory defence against Meng Fanlong with a purse of $1.9 million there was some talk of Beterbiev relinquishing the title. That problem has gone away as the Chinese failed to meet the timescale for putting up the required front money. Top Rank, who bid $1.3 million originally now have the rights to the fight with 28 March in Montreal a possible date/venue.
Can’t keep the Filipino’s out of the news. Manny Pacquiao had his first pro fight on 22 January 1995 so next week he will celebrate twenty-five years as a pro-and he weighed 106lbs in that first fight! And John Riel Casimero gets his reward for stopping Zolani Tete as he will face Naoya Inoue in Las Vegas on 25 April in a unification contest that will see Inoue’s IBF and WBA titles and Casimero’s WBO title on the table
The WBSS cruiser final will limp to its end on 21 March in Riga with Mairis Breidis getting home advantage against Yuniel Dorticos. I could not see any value in going over the cruisers for a second time and so it has proved.
Team Sauerland is putting on a show with Universum in Hamburg on 25 January. These two were great rival in the past and were the giants of German boxing. Universum went out of business but a reconstituted Universum is now back on the scene so in a shrinking market it makes sense for some form of co-operation. The main events will feature unbeaten German hopes super welter Abass Baraou who faces Mexican Abraham Juarez and super light Artem Harutyunyan against Argentinian Miguel Antin. Recently SES has grown in stature to a point where they also have a large part of the German market so it will be interesting to see how relations develop in German boxing.
It would be too much to expect the sanctioning bodies to adopt a united front to on anything and it is that way with pros fighting at the Olympics. Both the WBA and WBO have come out with statements supporting the idea whilst the WBC still sticks to their totally anti stance . The WBC has listed a number of genuine concerns around safety with which I sympathise. The problem is that it is happening with Argentinian former top amateurs Yesica Bopp, Erica Farias and Yamil Peralta the latest to declare their intention to try to qualify for Tokyo and the WBC’s concerns won’t be addressed any other way than through a dialogue with the IOC and those now administering the Olympic boxing.
Commonwealth fly champion Jay Harris gets his big chance when he challenges Julio Cesar Martinez for the WBC flyweight title in Frisco, Texas on the undercard to Garcia vs. Vargas . There has also been speculation over a title defence for WBA super fly champion Khalid Yafai against former champion Roman Gonzalez but that has not been confirmed and interim champion Andrew Moloney has threatened legal action over the proposal.
The WBO has designated Kosei Tanaka as super champion at flyweight.. I don’t recall them doing this before but I may have missed it but you can be assured more will follow. Just to fool us in their rules it says “ Current champion status is not required to qualify or continue as a Super Champion” so you don’t have to be a champion to be designated a Super Champion. I tried reading it upside down but it still does not make any sense!
Worrying to hear that former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks is hospitalised due to the prostate cancer he had been diagnosed with having spread to his bladder. He had been released from hospital in Las Vegas at the end of December but is back in there under treatment.
Jorge Rodrigo Barrios is another boxer who recently required hospital treatment. The 43-year-old former WBO super feather champion was stabbed numerous times by an assailant on 31 December but has recovered and left hospital. There is some confusion over the motive for the attack. Reports said his wallet and phone were stolen but also that the assailant, who has since been arrested, had shouted the name of the 20-year-old pregnant woman who was killed ten years ago in a collision with a car Barrios was driving. A death for which Barrios was found culpable and given a derisory sentence of less than four years.
By Eric Armit
As this year began there was speculation on when Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury would stop hurling insults and start throwing punches at each other. Well we did get Wilder vs. Fury but all that did was pose more questions and then up popped Andy Ruiz to spoil the party.
As we look forward to 2020 the same question is right there with things as clear as mud. Joshua had apparently put things back on track by gaining revenge over Ruiz and the return fight between Wilder and Fury is set for 22 February and it looks as though Joshua will relinquish the WBO title and instead defend the IBF title against Kubrat Pulev in April. So clarity at last. Well no as it has already been stated that there will be a third Wilder vs. Fury fight in the summer irrespective of what happens on 22 February so any fight between Joshua and the winner could not happen until late in 2020 and who knows by then Olek Usyk might have intruded into the Wilder-Fury-Joshua equation if he gets past Dereck Chisora on 7 March. Fury sacks his trainer, Joshua offers to act as a sparring partner for Fury to prepare him for the Wilder fight, Wlad Klitschko occasionally hints at a comeback, if the WBO title is vacated Usyk could finish up fighting Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte has been cleared of the suspicion of using a banned substance so will the WBC mandate that the winner of Wilder vs. Fury II has to defend against Whyte throwing a spanner into the whole Wilder-Fury-Joshua situation and with Ruiz and Alex Povetkin being mentioned as possible opponents for Whyte in his next fight.. It is about as confusing as the old Bud Abbott and Lou Costello “Who’s On First” sketch Don’t be surprised if at the end of next year as we look forward to 2021 we will be asking ourselves the same questions all over again- but no one can say the heavyweight division is boring.
According to some figures released from the Joshua vs. Ruiz fight the purse for the champion Ruiz was $13 million and for Joshua $85 million. Don’t know how accurate they are and whilst I did not expect a 50/50 split I though Ruiz might get a larger share of the money. Joshua will have had other sponsorship money on top of the $85 million which dwarves the size of the purses Wilder and Fury fought for and will get paid in their return match.
Saul Alvarez has relinquished the WBO light heavyweight title so that he can choose which division he wants to fight in without any pressure from the WBO. He said of the WBO “I have long enjoyed my relationship with the WBO and appreciate all they do to preserve and enhance the sport of boxing” Now remind which sanction body was it that anointed Alvarez as their Franchise Champion?
Marcos Maidana has found it impossible to resist the lure of the ring. Now 36 the former holder of the secondary WBA welter title has talked about returning before but has not followed through and the talk has died away. This time he seems to have made his mind up and he will be returning on 18 April on a show promoted by none other than Marcos Maidana. Handy that as there is not much chance of the promoter giving him a tough fight for his return.
Boxing a young man’s sport-forget it. Manny Pacquiao has just celebrated his 41st birthday and 44-year-old Omar Narvaez is scheduled to fight in Rosario Argentina on 21 December. That will be fight No 55 for Narvaez. On 1st December he celebrated 19 years as a pro, He has a record of 28-3-1 in world title fights and Manny is 19-4-2.
Nkosinathi Joyi made a third oldie holding back the ageing process. The 36-year-old former IBF minimumweight champion outpointed Filipino Joey Canoy in East London on Monday to collect the IBO minimumweight title. Joyi was being written off after a 4-5 run but took two years out and is 3-0 1 technical draw since returning last December. There were to have been two IBO title fights on this excellent show but Gideon Buthelezi’s defence of the super flyweight title was called off on the day before the fight when his proposed challenger Alex Marin reported ill. Another disappointment for the local fans was the eleventh round victory for Argentinian Fernando Martinez over Athenkosi Dumezweni in a fight for the vacant WBC Silver super fly title. Martinez is 11-0 but behind that sits extensive experience as an amateur including a number of seasons competing for the Los Angeles Matadors in the WSB, fighting in the AIBA Pro Boxing and competing at the 2016 Olympics.
Former middleweight and super middleweight champion Felix Sturm has been released from custody. He had been held in a German jail pending charges for tax evasion. To obtain his release he had to surrender his passports-German and Serbian- and come up with EURO 300,000 ($ 334,000) bail money. It seems that the German authorities realised that Sturm would not be able to raise the money to pay off his 5.8 million Euros ($6.8 million) whilst sitting in jail but if they released him then he might be able to raise some of it by fighting. There is talk of a fight with Arthur Abraham but I don’t see that as a $6.8 million fight and if he did get more than $6.8 million for a fight of then he would owe tax on the anything left over after settling his $6.8 million from that fight. He could finish doing the hokey cokey in and out of prison.
There are a couple of interesting European tile fights coming up in the New Year. Igor Mikhalkin and Callum Johnson will face each other on 7 March in Manchester in a fight for the vacant European light heavyweight title and Italian outfit OPI Since 82 will stage the third clash between Francesco Patera and Edis Tatli for the European lightweight title but no date yet. Patera beat Tatli to win the title then Tatli regained it in a return match only to relinquish it and for Petra to win the vacant title by beating Lewis Ritson. Two 50/50 title matches,
Pole Kamil Szeremeta will now challenge Gennady Golovkin for the IBF middleweight title sometime in March. It was to have been going ahead in February but has been pushed back due to clashes with other major fights. Szeremeta is 21-0 but to show the value of his rating the No. 1 and 2 spots in the IBF middleweight rankings are vacant but Szeremeta can’t go to the No 1 or 2 slot in the IBF ratings because he has not beaten a rated fight but it seems there is no problem in getting to No 3 without facing a rated fighter which is farcical.
The Congo has produced many good fighters but there are rarely any major fights staged there. That will change on 18 January when local fighter Ilunga Makabu (26-2) and Pole Michal Cieslak (19-0) clash for the vacant WBC cruiser title. In his only other world title fight, also for the vacant WBC title, Ilunga had Tony Bellew down in the first round before being stopped in the third. Cieslak has wins over Youri Kayembre Kalenga and Olan Durodola but will start an outsider against the heavy punching Makabu who has won 24 of his fights by KO/TKO.
The fight that was to mark Guillermo Rigondeaux’s move to bantamweight has had to be postponed as his proposed opponent Liborio Solis could not get clearance of his visa in time. It will be rescheduled. Solis is No 1 in the WBA bantam ratings and Rigondeaux No 2. That may sound OK but as the lowest Rigondeaux has weighed is 119 ½ lbs and that was back in 2010 rating him as bantamweight is yet another WBA sleight of hand trick.
Why can’t they stay away? Riddick Bowe has recently talked about returning to the ring. Former world champion Bowe is 51 and has not fought since 2008 so let’s hope talk is all it is
Boxing in Japan is going out with a bang this year. The card on 23 December in Yokohama will feature three world title fights with Ryota Murata defending the secondary WBA middleweight belt against Canadian Steven Butler, Moruti Mthalane putting his IBF flyweight title up for grabs for the third time with three-division champion Akira Yaegashi his challenger and WBC light fly champion Kenshiro Teraji will be making a seventh defence of his title against replacement challenger Randy Petalcorin. In addition Roman Gonzalez fights in an eight round contest on the show. Eight nights later in Tokyo Jeyvier Cintron challenges WBO super fly champion Kazuto Ioka and in a miserable excuse for a title fight WBO flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka puts his title on the line against Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi who in his 13-3-1 record has never fought an opponent anywhere near the world ratings.
So sorry to read of the death of Saoul Mamby at the age of 72. If you look at his overall record of 45-34-6 you might question his quality but Saoul fought on long after he should have put his gloves away and that’s where most of those losses came. At his peak he was an outstanding technician a difficult opponent to tackle. He lost on a very controversial split decision to Thai Saensak Muangsurin in Thailand 1977 in a challenge for the WBC super light title but won the title in South Korea in 1980 with a stoppage of local boxer Sang Hyun Kim and made five defences before losing his title to Leroy Haley in 1982. He failed in three attempts to regain the title and became a travelling loser fighting in a number of different countries. He scored wins over Percy Hayles, Mike Everett, Esteban De Jesus, Maurice Watkins, Monroe Brooks, Gary Hinton and many others. RIP Saoul
WBA cruiser champion Arsen Goulamirian defends the secondary WBA cruiser title against Constantin Bejenaru on 28 December in Marseilles. Fights to look out for in 2020 include Alex Besputin defending the secondary WBA welter title against Yordenis Ugas on 14 February with Ryan Garcia also on the bill, Caleb Plant putting his IBF super middleweight title on the line in Nashville on 18 February with no challenger named yet. Mikey Garcia and Jessie Vargas meeting on 29 February in Frisco, Texas, and Amir Khan talking about fighting again in March or April.
Merry Christmas and I hope 2020 is kind to you all.
By Eric Armit
Saul Alvarez had his tactics just right against Sergey Kovalev. He threatened enough to keep Kovalev fighting at a pace that eventually simply tired the older fighter out and then he stepped up his pace and provided a devastating finish. Greatness is his already but that brings its own pressure as with each achievement it becomes more difficult to take a step back or sideways. He stepped sideways to fight Rocky Fielding but his public and his paymaster will want him going onwards and upwards (not in weight) and fights that would fulfil that requirement are pretty scarce.
With Manny Pacquiao not quite the draw he was Alvarez is the current version of the “cash cow” role that Floyd Mayweather Jr once played. A fight with Alvarez is the biggest pay day available now so naturally they are queuing up to fight him. Dmitry Bivol would be the best fight if Alvarez stays at light heavyweight and Callum Smith would be the obvious choice at super middleweight as he is the real WBA champion! If he returns to middleweight then it has to be Gennady Golovkin as no other fight in that division would generate the sort of money that interests Alvarez. Billy Joe Saunders is still unbeaten but his style might not make for a good fight and he does not have the profile level of Golovkin. Can’t ever see Alvarez going back down to welterweight but if he did both Errol Spence and Terrence Crawford would be big fights. We have to wait and see where Canelo goes from here.
I hate to rain on Alvarez’s parade but labelling him a four-division champion just does not work for me. When he beat Rocky Fielding at super middle that fight was for the secondary WBA title as Callum Smith was the real champion so an incentive there for Alvarez to fight Smith and become a real four-division champion. If you feel he did qualify by winning that secondary WBA title then you are accepting Manuel Charr as a bona-fide heavyweight champion. You can’t have it both ways. Mexico has had three four-division champions in Juan Manuel Marquez (feather, super feather, lightweight and super lightweight), Jorge Arceb(light flyweight, super fly weight, bantamweight and super bantamweight) and Erik Morales (super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight and super lightweight) and they were all full titles not secondary, interim, gold, diamond, franchise or other.
The information released on the purses for the Alvarez vs. Kovalev fight show Alvarez being paid $35 million and Kovalev $3 million but ancillary monies will have pushed both of those figures much higher.
The WBC continues to threaten that any pro fighter who takes part in the qualifying for the 2020 Olympics will be dropped from their ratings. So far both Alvarez and Andy Ruiz have said they have no interest in the Olympics (not sure they were even asked) but world rated cruiserweight Mateusz Masternak has said he will enter the qualifiers. Whilst I am not happy about pros fighting at the Olympics let not be stupid-the Olympics are to all intent and purposes a competition for professionals. There are very few real amateur involved in any Olympic sport these days. Competing at Olympic level means full time preparation and financial backing. I can’t see the decision to allow professionals to box at the Olympics being dropped so the alternative is to try to work with the Olympic Committee in the same way football and to set limits on those who can compete. There could be age and experience qualifications such as under-23 and with less than 15 or 20 professional fights and not rated in the sanctioning bodies top 10 or similar. It is going to happen and it is important for professional boxing to have some input and threatening sanctions is a negative approach.
The WBSS bantamweight tournament has finally ended. With Zolani Tete having to drop out through injury and Ryan Burnett suffering a fight-and career-stopping injury against Nonito Donaire Inoue was always going to be the winner
Whilst Pacquiao stands like a colossus over Filipino boxing despite losing Donaire has proven himself one of the all-time greats in Pinoy boxing. In almost 19 years of campaigning “The Flash” has won eight different titles over four different divisions and they, as with the three Mexican’s above, have all been full titles. A great career if he can be rightly proud if he decides to hang up his gloves.
In unifying the IBF and WBA titles and winning the Ali Trophy Inoue has to be one of the most exciting fighters around. He is still only 26 and has managed to become a three-division champion after less than 20 fights and in under six years. He has not cleaned up the bantamweights yet. Zolani Tete puts his WBO title on the line against John Riel Casimero in Birmingham on 30 November which is a great match and Nordine Oubaali showed in beating Inoue’s younger brother Takuma that he can’t be overlooked. Plenty to come from this division.
The WBO may have thrown a spanner in the works of the WSSB cruiser tournament by ordering an immediate rematch between Mairis Breidis and Krzys Glowacki. Breidis stopped Glowacki in three rounds in June to win the WBO title and advance to the WBSS cruiser final against Yunier Dorticos. Glowacki’s team lodged a protest over what they saw as poor refereeing in the second round in the shape of a too lenient approach to a blatant elbow in the face from Breidis which floored Glowacki and the round going over the three minutes. A tight schedule has been set with an agreement in fifteen days or if that does not happen then a purse closing date in November. Although no date has been set for Breidis vs. Dorticos it makes sense for Breidis to vacate the WBO title for the more lucrative and higher profile WBSS fight. If he does vacate the WBO will be left with loser Glowacki vs. No 1 rated 49-year-old Firat Arslan. You reap as you sow.
Veterans Jean Pascal and Badou Jack will clash on December 28 in Atlanta with Pascal’s secondary WBA light heavyweight title up for grabs. With Pascal, 37, having been written off a couple of times and Jack at 36 suffering a horrifying cut when losing against Marcus Browne in January retirement must loom for the loser.
Roy Jones continues his love affair with Russia. He has set up Roy Jones Jr Boxing Russia and stages his first show in Yekaterinburg on 7 December. It will be shown on the UFC Fight Pass streaming service with WBA gold champion Alexey Egorov as the star turn.
Retirement did not last long for Denis Lebedev. The former undefeated WBA cruiser champion will return on 21 December in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, against former WBO title challenger Thabiso Mchunu with Dmitry Kudryashov also on the card.
Murat Gassiev is another Russian former world champion returning to the ring. Gassiev has been out of action with a shoulder injury since losing to Olek Usyk in July last year. He is looking to fight in January with Joey Dawejko a suggested opponent.
Jeff Horn will get his chance at revenge when he faces fellow-Australian in Brisbane on 18 December. Zerafa scored a career best win when he stopped Horn in nine rounds in August. Another loss could strike a fatal blow to Horn’s career.
Good looking show on tap in Paris on 15 November with Arsen Goulamirian defending the full WBA cruiserweight title against Australian Kane Watts and in what promises to be the best fight of the night an all-French match at super welter between Michel Soro (34-2-1) and Cedric Vitu (47-3) for the WBA gold title. Typical of the WBA to set rules for how a fighter become a “super champion” and then ignore them completely by upgrading Goulamirian straight from interim champion to super champion.
Former middleweight and super middleweight champion Felix Sturm has been back in court. He faces charges of tax evasion, assault and violation of anti-doping laws. He is alleged to have evaded 5.8 million Euro ($9.4 million) in taxes between 2009 and 2017. This was a short hearing and the full case starts next month meanwhile he will remain in custody where has been held since being arrested in April.
British heavyweight Daniel Dubois will be in action again on 21 December when he will face Japanese heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto with both Dubois WBC International title and the vacant WBC Silver title up for grabs. The 33-year-old Fujimoto is 21-1 and has won his last 16 fights but will be giving away 5” in height and has been carefully steered away from any threatening opposition.
Canadian Yves Ulysse will defend his WBA super light gold title against Ismael Barroso a former holder of the interim WBA light title in Costa Mesa California on 5 December and on the same card unbeaten super middle D’Mitrius Ballard 20-0 tackles 16-1 Brazilian Yamaguchi Falcao.
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