By Eric Armit
Josh Taylor’s win over Jack Catterall was certainly controversial and a great deal was made of the British Boxing Board of Control stating they would be investigating the scoring. That is overstressing the BBB of C’s decision. It is standard practice for the Board to investigate any very controversial incident be it scoring or some other matter. I scored Catterall the winner by 114-111 but many rounds were close and at times a lack of activity in some rounds meant just one or two punches were the difference. The judge’s scores were Ian John Lewis 114-111 for Taylor, Victor Laughlin 113-112 for Taylor and Howard Foster 113-112 for Catterall. Ian John Lewis is being pilloried for his score as if it was way out of line with the other judges and yet the difference between the score from Ian John Lewis and that of Victor Laughlin was the equivalent of them scoring just one round different and both Laughlin and Foster had them even after eleven rounds with Laughlin scoring the last round 10-9 for Taylor and Foster 10-9 for Catterall. Again just one round difference so Ian John Lewis was not way out of line from Laughlin and Foster so three highly qualified judges saw this as a very close fight. I disagreed with Ian John Lewis but then I also disagreed with Victor Laughlin and Howard Foster which it seems means I was right and they were wrong but when I compare their experience of scoring fights to my own than I have to be ready to admit perhaps they were right and I was wrong. Scoring in boxing is purely subjective and based on individual perception and as long as the human element is involved there will always be differing views and controversy. There are split decisions and majority decisions every week in boxing for instance on one weekend in February in Argentina one judge had Kevin Acevedo beating Javier Herrera 99-93 and another had it 95-95, in California one judge had Horacio Garcia beating Isaac Zarate 80-72 and one judge had it 76-76, best or worst of all in Russia two judges had Ivan Kozlovsky beating Zoravor Petrosian 96-94 and the third had Petrosian winning 99-91. The higher the profile of the fight the louder the roars of rage when the majority disagree with the judges scoring. I wonder how many fans actually don’t score a fight round by round. If you don’t then you are yourself judging just by “perception” over the whole span of twelve rounds and saying who you thought won which is about as subjective as it gets. Ian John Lewis, Victor Laughlin and Howard Foster are honest and very experienced judges. Even as a Scot I thought they got the scoring in this one wrong but with my 114-111 for Catterall score I was only one round different from Foster’s razor thin 113-112 for Catterall so with scores that close it would be hypocritical of me to claim Catterall was robbed. He deserves a return but that won’t happen. The WBA have already mandated Taylor to defend against Dominican Alberto Puello
Anyone who is involved in boxing or has watched boxing for any length of time will know that these controversial decisions are commonplace so it is ridiculous to see the Speaker of the House of Parliament referring the Taylor vs. Catterall result to both the Government and the police for investigation. Catterall just happened to be one of his constituents. What a totally ridiculous waste of Parliament’s time when there is a far more important business such as a war in Ukraine for the United Kingdom Parliament to deal with and it is stupid to think that the police would be better able to investigate boxing scoring that the BBB of C. Someone should report Sir Lindsay Hoyle for wasting police time.
Politician’s taking up cases of controversial scoring is not new in boxing. When James Toney outpointed Dave Tiberi in a defence of his IBF middleweight title in 1992 the scoring was 115-112 twice for Toney and 117-111 for Tiberi. The result caused uproar and a US Senator called for an investigation into boxing. Of course the decision was not changed but some of the anomalies revealed in the investigation were contributing factors towards the introduction of the Muhammad Ali Act.
Mention of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine it is having its effect on boxing. Obviously high profile boxers or ex-boxers such as Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko have been mentioned in reference to the war but it also has implications for all Ukrainian and Russian boxers. A couple of examples are Russian bantamweight Nikolai Potapov being removed by the EBU from his role as mandatory challenger to Lee McGregor and replaced by Spaniard Sebastian Perez and Anna Levina removed ex-officio as co-challenger for the vacant EBU Female light flyweight title. Travel restrictions and logistic problems also affect Ukrainians and Olek Zakhozhyi has been temporarily removed as co-challenger for the vacant EEU Heavyweight title.
There could also be implications for Russian boxers based abroad as the conflict continues. There are Russians based in both the USA and Canada and it is hard to know how the public will react to them continuing their careers there and of course both Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol could be affected. Wladimir Klitschko has insisted that Bivol’s defence of his WBA title against Saul Alvarez in Las Vegas on 7 May should not go ahead dumping a decision in the laps of the WBA and DAZN as to whether they will support the banning of Russian boxers. If the war continues then Sergey Kovalev’s proposed return to action against unbeaten Tervel Pulev in May could be in jeopardy. Some declaration of opposition to the invasion of Ukraine might appease the public. Nothing is certain except uncertainty.
The trial is beginning in Puerto Rico of five suspects in the murder of Hector “Macho” Camacho back in 2012. Camacho and a friend were sitting in car outside a bar when they were shot. Two of the men arrested were extradited from jail in Florida and two others who were implicated were killed in separate incidents some time previously.
Looks like a busy time ahead for the Charlo twins. The WBO have ordered that IBF/WBA/WBC super welter title holder Jermell’s unification match with WBO title holder Bryan Castano has to take place before 14 May and negotiations have begun for Jermall to defend his WBC middleweight title against Jaime Munguia.
Kevin Lerena will continue his heavyweight campaign by facing Bogdan Dinu in Kempton Park on 26 March. Fourteen months of inactivity has cost Lerena his world rating but a win over Dinu should get him back in the picture. On the same show Juan Rous will be defending his national heavyweight title against Josh Pretorius with the vacant ABU title also on the line.
Jordan Gill certainly sprang an upset when he came off the floor and from behind on points to kayo European featherweight champion Kamil Guerfi in the ninth round on 27 February. This was a voluntary defence for Guerfi so the EBU has already nominated Mauro Forte as his mandatory challenger with the parties in private negotiation period.
France’s Dylan Charrat (20-1-1) and Germany’s Jama Saidi (21-2) are co-challengers for the vacant EBU super welterweight title. Charrat’s promoter won the purse bidding with a figure of EU 77,797 (£65,000/ $ 85,450). It looks another excellent European title fight.
It looks like there are a couple of rematches pending. The WBA has ordered a rematch between Michel Soro and Israil Madrimov. In their eliminator in December Madrimov shook Soro badly very late in the ninth round. Neither Madrimov nor the referee heard the bell go and as Madrimov continued to unload on Soro the referee stopped the fight. Former IBF super flyweight title holder Jerwin Ancajas has said he will activate the return clause in the contract with Fernando Martinez who decisioned Ancajas last month.
Ghana always stages a boxing match to celebrate the country’s independence. This year for the 65th anniversary of independence on 6 March veteran George Ashie 33-5-1 floored unbeaten 20-1 Robert Quaye twice on the way to an eighth round kayo victory and collected the IBF Continental Africa title. In another bout Nigerian Oto Joseph beat Ghanaian Tackie Annan but Ghana’s veteran female boxer Yarkor Chavez was stopped in the first round by Zambian Lolita Muzeya.
Sad to hear of the death of Ron “The Butcher” Stander. Ron put together 1 23-1-1 record before losing in four rounds against Joe Frazier in a challenge for the WBA and WBC heavyweight titles in 1972. He went on to face all of the big names around then fighting Jeff Merritt, Rodney Bobick, Ken Norton, Gerrie Coetzee, Boone Kirkman, Scott LeDoux, Scott Frank and James Tillis finishing with a37-21-3 record. He was 77.
Some sad news from Indonesia was the reported death of lightweight Hero Tito-real name Heru Putwanto-who after being knocked out in seven rounds in a fight for the vacant Indonesian title in Jakarta on 27 February underwent brain surgery and died on 3 March at the age of 35. An experienced fighter with a 29-17-2 record Putwanto had only been beaten on KO/TKO five times previously. In 2001 the WBC became so concerned with safety standards in boxing in Indonesia that it imposed a six month ban of Indonesian boxers fighting in WBC sanctioned bouts outside the country and the Indonesian Boxing Association had tightened up their safety regulations since then.
By Eric Armit
The world changes around us. For the first time a clash between two female boxers will head a card at the iconic Madison Square Garden. There are other firsts associated with the fight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano such as the first guaranteed seven figure purse for female boxers, which will be further increased by pay-for view, such as Taylor having scored a win over Serrano’s sister Cindy, such as Serrano being in the Guinness Book of Records for the most world titles won in different divisions (seven) by a woman, such as Taylor being in the first sanctioned woman’s boxing match in Irish history when still only 15 and so much more. Who would have thought as they sat watching Ali vs. Frazier I and II that for the Garden, which over its various reincarnations has staged so many great fights, one of the most significant fights in its history would be between two female boxers. It is a huge event for female boxing probably the highest profile female fight to date so let’s hope it helps interest in female boxing climb to an even higher level.
It is always good to see a young fighter break through and Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez certainly did that. Just 22 he came in at short notice to fight Carlos Cuadras for the vacant WBC super fly title. He had only 15 pro fights behind him with Cuadras having had 44 with eight of those being title fights of which he had lost only one. What was even more remarkable is that Rodriguez was really a light flyweight. In his last six fights he had weighed 109 ¼ , 109, 111, 109 ¼ , 110 ½ and in last fight before meeting Cuadras in October 109 ¼ with the WBC having No 6 in the light flyweight division before allowing him to jump him two divisions to fight for their super flyweight title. Risky but it worked out more the okay.
Good to see Errol Spence will be back in the ring on 16 April facing Yordenis Ugas with Spence’s IBF and WBC titles and Ugas putting up his WBA title. So another step along the way to a unified division. Terrence Crawford is in the wings with his WBO title but with Spence vs. Ugas for April he will have to wait another eight months at least for any unification effort and of course the No 1’s with the IBF, WBA and WBC will be pressing their cases for a shot at Spence or Ugas so no certainty of a unification fight for Crawford. I am still waiting to find out who was whispering in Crawford’s ear but when he played the race card I though Don King must be back on the scene or perhaps it was Crawford having studied the Don King playbook.
Briefly on the subject of change. The Scottish government has made it clear that it will bring in legislation with regard to gender defining. Without going into a great detail one of the proposals is that a person will be able to redefine their gender not through an invasive regime of medical tests etc. but through a simple declaration-based system. There are certain condition to be followed i.e. living as their new gender for a limited period of time prior to their declaration being effective but for sport it does open the possibility of a male/female athlete/boxer changing gender and certainly in Scotland providing the declaration process has been followed it would probably be illegal to stop that person competing as a male/female whichever is appropriate. If it becomes law-and looks certain to do so in Scotland-then that will be a situation the British Boxing Board will have to study carefully and although right now it is a Scottish/British matter it is anticipated that Trans gender athletes is something that many more countries will have to find non-invasive non-degrading ways to recognise and accommodate.
How embarrassing it must have been for the IBF as they toted their heavyweight eliminator around trying to find someone interested in fighting “favoured” Filip Hrgovic. Hrgovic’s team had been challenging anyone to fight him in an IBF eliminator and Tony Yoka took them up on that challenge but instead has had to go through with an already contracted fight against Martin Bakole. With Yoka being No 6 in the IBF ratings and Bakole No 15 if their fight takes place before Hrgovic vs. Zhilei bout the winner would qualify to fill one of two top spots in the IBF ratings which in theory with Luis Ortiz already filling the no 2 place would slam the door in Hrgovic’s face. Unbeaten Australian Demsey McKean was also in the frame to face Hrgovic but he reportedly declined so the job has gone to No 13 Zhang Zhilei. I used the word “embarrassing” and “favoured” because Hrgovic has climbed to No 3 with the IBF without every facing any fighter in the IBF top 15-and in fact is rated No 37 by BoxRec. The real disgrace will be if Hrgovic does beat Zhilei-ranked No 13-then climbs to No 1 above Ortiz –who beat then No 2 Charles Martin-then that will have the stink of blatant manipulation.
It is intended that Hrgovic vs. Zhang will be a supporting role under Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua II. Yoka vs. Bakole is now scheduled for May 14 at the Accor Arena in Paris. The original plan was for 15 January but with the pandemic restrictions would cut the possible attendance figures but the hope is that those will be lifted by the May date and that the attendance will be much higher as the Accor Arena has a 20,000 capacity.
News of another eliminator, this time for the WBO, Tim Tszyu has decided to put his No 1 position with the WBO at risk in a fight against Terrell Gausha at the Los Angeles Crypto.com Arena on 19 March. Gausha is not currently in the WBO top 15 but don’t bet on that not changing. Risky for Tszyu but he may have decided he needs to up his profile in the USA to strengthen his case for fighting the winner of the Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castano four-title unifier. Right now Tszyu is just one of four different No 1’s who will all want a shot at the new champion.
Also treading on Tim’s heels in a different way is his younger brother Nikita who is scheduled to make his pro debut as a middleweight on March 12 in Brisbane. Nikita gave up boxing about five years ago to work as an architect but Tim’s success has rekindled Nikita’s love of boxing.
The fight for the secondary WBA cruiserweight title between champion Ryad Merhy 30-1 and Evgeny Tischenko 9-1 in Ekaterinburg Russia on 26 March will also feature a good super welterweight match between Magomed Kurbanov 22-0 and former WBO interim super welter title holder Patrick Teixeira 31-2. Kurbanov is No 2 and Teixeira No 4 with the WBO so the winner will be treading on the heels of the Tszyu vs. Gausha winner.
Felix Sturm remains a draw in Germany but at 43 and with some of his legal troubles still not totally resolved who knows for how long the former two-division champion can carry on. His next fight will be an attractive “seniors” match with 39-year-old Hungarian Istvan Szili (25-2-2) in Dortmund on 26 March in an IBO eliminator with Sturm having his eyes on another title.
It is going to be Pacquiao vs. Maidana on 26 February in Las Vegas. Manny and Marcos never met as pros but they will be fighting “by proxy” on the 26th. Manny is the manager of IBF super flyweight title holder Jerwin Ancajas and “El Chino” of the challenger Fernando Martinez who competed for Argentina at the 2016 Olympics and 2015 World Championships. I go for A Filipino double. Martinez has benefitted from some IBF rankings parachuting as he jumped into the ratings in November 2021 after in August beating 19-21-2 Gonzalo Garcia in his only fight that year.
Just for curiosities’ sake approximately how many active male boxers do you think there are right now? By active I am talking about having had at least one fight in the past twelve months. Eight thousand? ten thousand?, fifteen thousand, twenty thousand ? Well if you went for twenty thousand you were the closest. Of course it is a snapshot as every day some boxers return to activity and some slip outside the twelve month measure. My snapshot found 20,808 listed as active boxers. Next test. Which three divisions have the most active boxers? Well my snapshot showed 1,960 lightweights, 1,916 super lightweights and 1,839 welterweights. The least? Not surprisingly the minimumweight division with 181 followed by light flyweight with 316 and flyweight with 573. How about female boxers how many and which divisions are the most/least populated? How many? Five hundred, eight hundred, one thousand, one thousand five hundred? Well the last figure is marginally closest with 1389 by my count. Most populated figures head south for the Female boxers with 178 flyweights, 158 featherweights and 145 bantamweights. Those ladies of larger disposition do not seem to be as keen on boxing as the least populated are light heavyweight 7, heavyweight 12 and a great big zero for cruiserweights! It is with grateful thanks to my friends at BoxRec that I compiled these figures.
As I said just for curiosity. What it proves beyond any doubt is-THAT I HAVE TOO MUCH TIME ON MY HANDS!!
By Eric Armit
This year we will see Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk, Artur Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol, Saul Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin III, Terrence Crawford vs. Errol Spence, George Kambosos vs. Devin Haney, Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Gervonta Davis, Oscar Valdez vs. Shakur Stevenson, Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire II and other great fights. I absolutely guarantee it. By the end of 2022 there will be just one champion per division, no sanctioning bodies, no exclusive promotional contracts, and no exclusive TV/Streaming contracts none of those things that have been put forward as reasons/excuses for the fights everybody wants to see not happening-marvellous! The bell is tolling right now for the sanctioning bodies and….no hang on that’s my alarm clock-oh no I’ve been dreaming I was back in the 1950’s again!
As I write on Thursday 27 January the WBC has given a final extension until tonight for the teams of Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte to come to an agreement and if there is no agreement then the fight will be auctioned on Friday 28. The interesting thing will be the purse split. According to the WBC rules the follow applies:
“ 2.16 Division of Proceeds in a Purse Offer. The net purse offer (after deduction of all sanction fees payable to the WBC hereunder) shall be divided as follows: (a) first, 10% of the total shall be set aside as a bonus for the winner of the contest, then, of the remainder, (b) 70% of the remaining 90% shall be for the champion and 30% of the remaining 90% shall be for the challenger in title bouts; and (c) 50% of the remaining 90% to each contender in the case of vacant titles or elimination bouts; provided, however, that the WBC Board of Governors, may by a majority vote, authorize a modification of the division of purse offer proceeds between boxers in a purse offer in particular cases, such as consideration of outstanding marketing value of one of the boxers, as the WBC shall determine in its sole discretion. The modification of the split of the remainder shall be limited to 60-40% and 55-45%, except in the most exceptional circumstances, in which the split may be modified to 50-50% at the WBC's sole discretion. “
So the WBC can alter the split however they like although it is interesting that the other splits mentioned all give the challenger a bigger share and nowhere does it imagine the challenger getting less than 30% but you can be sure that somewhere in the small print there is a bit that says irrespective of anything anywhere in these documents we can change whatever we want to change whenever we want to change it. Standard clause for all sanctioning bodies but when Jose Sulaiman tried to screw Graciano Rocchigiani out of the light heavyweight title he sued the WBC and forced it to file bankruptcy so perhaps not so watertight a get-out clause.
Mentioning the Japanese “Monster” Naoya Inoue earlier he is aiming to fight again in June in Japan. The plan is for him to face either Nonito Donaire or John Riel Casimero but if they are not available then he will look to move up and try for a shot at a version of the super bantamweight title to make himself a four division champion.
Whilst George Kambosos and WBC champion Devin Haney are in talks over a unification fight at lightweight Argentinian sources say that the IBF eliminator between No 3 lightweight Gustavo Lemos and No 4 Lee Selby will go on in Buenos Aires perhaps at the famous old Luna Park.
Former undefeated IBO cruiser champion Kevin Lerena is aiming to pick up his first title as a heavyweight when he faces Romanian Bogdan Dinu for the WBA Inter-Continental title in Kempton Par on 26 March. Lerena has a 15 bout winning streak going including seven IBO title fights. Dinu is 20-3 with his losses coming inside the distance against Jarrell Miller, Kubrat Pulev and in June last year to Daniel Dubois. Dinu is 6’5” and was 260lbs against Dubois whereas Lerena is 6’1” and was 211lbs in his last fight against Patrick Ferguson in December 2020 so a “big” test for Lerena. Also on the card Jan Roux will defend the national heavyweight title against Josh Pretorius and Shervantaigh Koopman puts his South African super welterweight title on the line against Jami Webb.
If EBU activity is any measure then boxing is certainly well on the road to recovery from the pandemic. There are still some delays and cancellations but as an example of what will be a busy day at the EBU office on February 16 in Rome bid purses, Jason Cunningham’s EBU super bantamweight title defence against Frenchman Terry Le Couviour, Italian Mauro Forte’s EU title featherweight defence against 28-0 Kamil Laszczyk and for Melania Sorroche’ s defence of the EBU Female bantamweight title against Delphine Mancini. Already agreed is the fight for the vacant EBU flyweight title between Angel Moreno and fellow-Spaniard Jairo Noriega marking only the third time that two Spaniards have fought each other for this title, Karim Guerfi putting his title on the line against England’s Jordan Gill on 27 February. A date is yet to be settled for Marco Huck vs. Agit Kabayel for the vacant EBU heavyweight title. Purse offers were also due on 16 February for David Ayanesyan’s welterweight title defence against unbeaten 28-0 Jordy Weiss but instead Avanesyan will make a voluntary defence against Finn Oskari Metz in March with a new date to be set for Avanesyan vs. Weiss.
Dubai continues to build as a boxing venue with Guillermo Rigondeaux facing Filipino Vincent Astrolabio for the vacant WBC International bantam belt on 26 February. Astrolabio is not in the WBC ratings but at this time but is No 7 with the WBO due to holding their Oriental title. Taking on Rigondeaux will be a huge jump in quality of opposition for Astrolabio.
The busy schedule in Dubai will continue on 18 March with Olympic gold medal winner Estelle Yoka-Mosely (9-0), the partner of Tony Yoka, defending her IBO light title against Argentinian Yanina del Carmen Lescano (10-1). Mossely won gold at the 2016 Games and also won gold at the 2016 World Championships beating Katie Taylor in the semi-finals. Jono Carroll is also scheduled to fight on the card.
On the following night Sunny Edwards is scheduled to defend the IBF flyweight title against Muhammad Waseem. It will be Edward’s second defence of the IBF title. Waseem lost on points to Moruti Mthalane for the same IBF belt in 2018. Regis Prograis will also be on the March 19 card against Tyrone McKenna and also on the card will be Tokyo bronze medallist Hovhannes Bachkov from Armenia who lost to Keyshawn Davis at the Olympics.
Mossely against Lescano will be the first of two unique occasions for female boxing. The Mossely vs. Lescano contest will be the first all-female title fight to be staged in Dubai and an even bigger event will see Katie Taylor defend her four lightweight belts against Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden on April 30. The first time two female boxers have been the top line attraction in the history of the Garden.
Colombia lost one their history making fighters with the death of Bernardo Caraballo at the age of 80 last week. Caraballo was the first Colombia boxers to fight for a world title. After turning professional in 1961 he was unbeaten in his first 31 fights including victories over Pascal Perez, Piero Rollo, Chartchai Chionoi and Manny Elias. When in 1964 he challenged Eder Jofre for the WBA and WBC bantamweight titles (there was no IBF or WBO then) their combined records totalled 80 fights without a loss Caraballo’s record was 29-0-1,1ND and Jofre 46-0-3. Caraballo was knocked out in seven rounds by Jofre and in 1967 lost on points to Fighting Harada for the same titles. He fought on until 1977 facing top fighters such as Chucho Castillo, Alfredo Marcano and Ernesto Marcel ending with a record of 69-18-5,1ND and was honoured with the sports stadium in Cartagena being named the Bernardo Caraballo Coliseum. RIP Bernardo.
France also lost a well respected boxer with the death at 76 of Alain Ruocco on Sunday. Alain never reached world title status with a 29-8-1 record but he was a fight anyone type of fighter with his best performance being a victory over Louis Acaries for the French welterweight title in 1978. He managed and trained his son Marc who challenged for the EBU title and Alain trained French champions Jeremy Parodi, Daniel Bicchieray and Fredric Sellier. RIP Alain.
There were wide scale protests when the Iranian Government executed wrestler Navid Afkari in September 2020. Afkari was accused of the murder of a security guard but sources outside Iran felt that the sentence was tied to his part in some political protests. Now a young local boxing champion Mohammad Javad Vafaeli-Sani, detained in 2020, has been sentenced to death under charges of arson and destruction of government buildings but also of taking part in protests. His lawyer is lodging an appeal.
Politics has also played a large part in the post-boxing life of Vitali Klitschko and he has been appealing to people in Germany for solidarity with the Ukraine at this time. Both he and Wlad have give financial assistance to Ukraine during the war there but in the shape of medical supplies etc not in the form of arms or ammunition.
Two shows in Europe on February 19 will see Artur Mann trying to get back to winning ways as he faces Pole cruiserweight Nikodem Jezewski in Warsaw. Mann 17-2 lost on a third round stoppage against Mairis Breidis for the IBF title in October and Jezewski 20-1-1 was stopped in two rounds by Lawrence Okolie. Jezewski stepped in as a late substitute when Krzys Glowacki had to pull out of his fight with Okolie for the vacant WBO title in December 2020 due to a positive COVID-19 test.
On the same night in Hamburg Kazak heavyweight Zhan Kossobutskiy 17-0 will take on Johann Duhaupas 39-6 for the vacant WBC International title. Kossobutskiy is rated No 9 by the Worst Boxing Association. Duhaupas was wiped out inside a round by Tony Yoka in September 2020 and at 40 should not pose a threat to Kossobutskiy who is being “conservatively” matched.
It is a horrifying thought but there are three NABA title fights on the undercard of Makabu vs. Mchunu featuring fighters who would hardly qualify for a main event in the boondocks e.g. Anthony Lenk rated No 251 at middleweight and Cody Wilson 273 at welterweight. With the way Don King and the Worst Boxing Association “work” so closely together these guys could find their way into the WBA ratings.
By Eric Armit
I hope you did not make any travel arrangements to fly to Saudi Arabia to see the richest fight in the history of boxing because all you’ll see is a bit of open desert without even a date tree in sight. An arbitrator in the USA has ruled that the return bout clause in the contract for the second Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder fight is valid and binding and that Fury must fight Wilder again by 15 September. It appears that the parties engaged in putting on the Fury vs. Joshua unification fight thought this problem would just disappear. Perhaps because the COVID-19 restrictions meant the date set for the return could not be met it would invalidate the agreement and therefore was not a problem. Well they were wrong.
If there is any blame on Eddie Hearn’s side it is in believing what the Fury side were telling him about the threat from the outcome of the arbitration and now nothing is certain about Fury vs. Joshua except uncertainty.
Wilder has whispered that he might stand aside for a payment of $20 million. Compared to the $200 million being talked about for Fury vs. Joshua that would seem a “small” price to press ahead with Fury vs. Joshua. Bob Aram has quashed that by saying Wilder will not be paid any stand aside money and that he is making arrangements for Fury vs. Wilder with the Joshua fight (against Fury OK or vs. Wilder the cat would really be in with the pigeons then) perhaps taking place in November.
It could get ridiculous with Fury wanting a return clause in the contract for a third fight if he loses to Wilder etc. etc. etc. Also as part of the stand aside deal Wilder might try to insist he gets first crack at the winner of Fury vs. Joshua but Joshua is not a party to the Fury vs. Wilder return clause and I can’t see either Joshua or Hearn commit themselves to it and certainly not to any of the $20 million coming out of their pocket.
Ignoring the arbitrator’s decision is a non-starter. If Fury or his team did that then they could forget about fighting in American again as Wilder would be able to appeal for an injunction to stop Fury fighting with full confidence it would be successful.
Although Joshua is not a party to the contract for the Fury vs. Wilder third fight he is suffering collateral damage. Oleksandr Usyk’s team have already piled in with a threat of legal action against the WBO if they fail to now order Joshua to defend against Usyk and as Usyk is No 1 with the WBA they could be a target. Joshua is clear where the IBF is concerned as he filled his mandatory obligation by beating Kubrat Pulev.
It’s a mess. The easiest solution would be to do a deal with Wilder to stand aside but it will be expensive and trust between the various parties must now be at very low ebb. Ignoring the arbitrator is fraught with legal complications and if Fury vs. Wilder 3 goes ahead then Joshua could find himself stripped off one at least of his titles then we could wake up and find that the dream of a world heavyweight champion as opposed to title holders is a nightmare.
It is just another example of the farce having four “world” bodies has become. I was amazed at the number of knowledgeable people saying that Brandon Figueroa had beaten Luis Nery in a unification fight. That’s like saying if you have an apple and you pick up an orange you have unified the number of apples you have. Unify means “to make one”. Nery was the WBC title holder. Murodjon Akhmedov is the holder of the WBA Super title. Figueroa holds the secondary WBA title so not the real one. He won the WBC title but is not recognised as the WBA title holder by the WBA who have just issued a call for Akhmedov to defend their real title against Ronny Rios! Figueroa will go on to fight Stephen Fulton for the WBO title to unify the WBC and WBO titles. If Fulton wins the WBA will show him in their ratings behind Akhmedov. If Tyson Fury beat Trevor Bryan would he be WBA champion and not Anthony Joseph? If Errol Spence beat Jamal James would he become WBA champion? If Oscar Valdez beat Roger Gutierrez would he be WBA champion instead of Gervonta Davis. The word unify means “to make one”. This weekend in Las Vegas Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez will unify the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO titles. That is unification not the corruption of the real meaning of “unification” that the sanctioning bodies have dumped on boxing.
Money, money, money. It’s a rich man’s world. I saw some figures for Manny Pacquiao’s purses. They were in three categories: minimum guaranteed and estimated. To give you some examples of the highest figures: vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr estimated $120 million, Tim Bradley first fight guaranteed $26 million, Chris Algieri estimated $25 million, Miguel Cotto estimated $22 million, Juan Manuel Marquez second fight guaranteed $22 million. The long list only covered the period from December 2008 when he beat Oscar de La Hoya until January 2019 when he beat Adrien Broner and amounted to $446 million with the purses for three fights against Bradley alone adding up to $66 million. It does not include the pre-De La Hoya fights against Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera Erik Morales etc. His purse for the Ricky Hatton fight? $12 million!
Two incidents of “positive” tests have been cleared this month. Sergey Kovalev tested positive for a banned substance which caused his $2 million fight against Bektemir Melikuziev to be called off. There were questions over the test result. Kovalev then went through a series consisting of six tests and with all of them proving negative he has been cleared to fight again. He has not fought since losing his WBO light heavyweight title to Saul Alvarez in November 2019 so is looking to get back into action. The Japanese Boxing Commission have also cleared Kazuto Ioka. He was reported to have tested positive for a recreational drug and the case was also referred to the police as Japan takes very strict approach to drugs. The Japanese Boxing Commission investigation raised serious questions on how the A and B samples were handled and have admitted there mishandling which caused the problem so Ioka is able to continue his career.
Both Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez will have someone peering over their shoulder on Saturday. The main supporting fight will be between Jose Zepeda and Hank Lundy. A dislocated shoulder saw Zepeda lose against Terry Flanagan for the vacant WBO lightweight title in 2015 and he lost a majority decision to Ramirez for the WBC super light title in 2019. Wins over Jose Pedraza and Ivan Baranchyk have seen him positioned at No 1 with the WBC so he will be looking to challenge the winner.
On Taylor and Ramirez only fate kept them apart in 2012. They both competed at the London Olympics in the 60kg class both being eliminated on the same night. Taylor lost to Italian Domenico Valentino and Ramirez to Fazliddin Gaibnazarov. Who knows they might even have said “see you later” without knowing it would come true nine years later.
Nordine Oubaali will defend the WBC bantam title against Nonito Donaire in Carson on 29 May. On the same show Puerto Rican Subriel Matias will fight Batyrzhan Jukembayev in an IBF lightweight eliminator and Gary Antuanne Russell faces Jovanie Santiago at super lightweight.
Jarrett Hurd returns on 6 June in Miami facing Luis Arias at middleweight. Hurd has stressed that although this fight is at middleweight he is willing and able to drop back down to super welter for a chance of a revenge fight against Julian Williams.
Gilberto Ramirez will have his third fight at light heavyweight against Sullivan Barrera in Los Angeles on 9 July. Ramirez is No 3 with both the WBA and WBO but after his break with Top Rank it is hard to see a fight with WBO title holder Joe Smith come off.
I recently saw an application from a British promoter to stage a European Union title fight. Helooo guys-we are not part of the European Union now but there are titles there for the countries external to the EU and those ratings are now packed with British fighters.
Conrnelius Boza-Edwards was a very popular inside and outside the ring in the UK, He won the WBC featherweight title with a points victory over Rafael Limon in March 1981 and in what would be a ridiculously busy schedule for a world champion today he defended it with an inside the distance victory over Bobby Chacon in May and lost it to Filipino Roland Navarrete on a fifth round kayo in August so was champion for just five months. He won the European title and although losing to Chacon in May 1983 the fight was Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. Cornelius put together a nice winning run but lost in WBC lightweight title fights against Hector Camacho and in October 1987 to Jose Luis Ramirez before retiring. Corny settled in Nevada and stills lives there happy and popular. Hard work, determination and dedication took Cornelius to a world title and it seems those traits are in the genes. His daughter Dominique worked as a District Court marshall but her dream was to become a lawyer and that’s where those genes kicked in. She studied for more than three years at night school whilst still doing her day job and graduated. She then gave up the day job and dedicated herself to studying for the bar exam. Early this month she passed the Nevada bar exam and was formally sworn in with her dream of becoming a lawyer realised. Corny must have been so proud. Congratulations Dominique. You know your daughter has made it Corny when people stop referring to Dominique as Cornelius Boza-Edwards daughter and start referring to you as Dominique Bosa-Edwards father.
By - Eric Armit
I will start with a message from a boxing fan to-in alphabetical order-BA, EH, FW re TF vs. AJ. I know there is BM and BE’s involved but just GID. Translation: to Bob Arum, Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren regarding Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua I know there is big money and big egos involved but just Get It Done! If it doesn’t take place by autumn then there is every chance it won’t get done at all. Fury has not fought for over 14 months and there is pressure on the WBO to order Joshua to fight Oleksandr Usyk. We know the venue and the contracts are being pored over but to say we are inching to the finishing line is probably overstating the rate of progress based on recent exchanges between the parties involved so just get it done for the sake of boxing and your bank balances.
It was a bit like an old crocks heavyweight weekend as Joseph Parker stated he had injured his right elbow in one of the middle rounds of his fight with Dereck Chisora and Chris Arreola had injured his left shoulder against Andy Ruiz.
Some compensation for Arreola would have been his official purse of $300,000 with a guarantee with ancillaries of $500,000. Ruiz official purse was $1 million with a guarantee of $1.5 million.
Other purses for the Carson show saw Erislandy Lara‘s purse at $300,000, Thomas Lamanna $100,000 (he lasted just 80 seconds which works out at $1,250 per second), Omar Figueroa at $200,000, Abel Ramos at $150,000, Sebastian Fundora at $70,000 and Jorge Cota at $60,000.
Lee McGregor is not being allowed to rest on his laurels. After stopping Karim Guerfi to win the European bantamweight title in March the EBU have asked for purse offers by May 19 for a defence against mandatory challenger 32-0 Vincent Legrand. Still on European titles it is rumoured that David Avanesyan is stepping down as European welterweight champion allowing Conor Benn to challenge for the vacant title on a show on 31 July. Right now 27-0 Frenchman Jordy Weiss is the mandatory challenger with Kell Brook at No 1 and Benn at No 2 and I have seen no confirmation of the rumour. It is a tough task to win an EBU title but every bit as hard to hold on to it.
There will also be three EBU title fights on the undercard to Joshua Buatsi vs. Frenchman Daniel Bienda Dos Santos in Manchester on 15 May. This should be an easy night for Buatsi as Dos Santos has only competed at four and six rounds. The European title fights will see title defences by Gamal Yafai against Jason Cunningham at super bantam and Tommy McCarthy vs. Alexander Jur at cruiserweight with Lerrone Richards and experienced Italian Giovanni De Carolis fighting for the vacant super middleweight title. All good quality fights.
Former WBO super welterweight champion Jaime Munguia will return on 19 June against Pole Maciej Sulecki in El Paso. He will be defending the WBO Inter-Continental title in his third fight at middleweight. Sulecki is 29-2 with his losses against Daniel Jacobs and in a WBO title challenge against Demetrius Andrade.
Excellent WBA title fight coming up in July. Ryad Merhy (29-1) will put his cruiserweight title on the line against South African Kevin Lerena (26-1) in Brussels on 17 July with Lerena’s IBO title also on the table. It will be Merhy’s first fight since October 2019 but Lerena was in the ring more recently with a win over Patrick Ferguson last December.
There is still a pandemic hangover with two shows in Japan postponed and one in Denmark. The pandemic also struck Japan’s amateurs hard. Five of the nine boxers they sent to the World Youth Championships in Poland were infected reportedly after arriving in Poland. The one bright spot was the discovery of a new talent in Reito Tsutsumi who won gold at 60kgs.
Another matter rattling around in Japan is an alleged positive test for Kazuto Ioka from his WBO super flyweight title defence against Kosei Tanaka in December which has still not been resolved. The Ioka camp protests innocence and blames the test procedure and everyone is waiting for the matter to be dealt with four months after the fight.
One fight scheduled for later this month in Japan that is on is 21-0 Junto Nakatani defending his WBO flyweight title against former WBO champion Puerto Rican Angel Acosta. It will be Nakatani’s first defence of the title he won with an eight round kayo of 24-1 of Filipino Giemel Magramo in November. Nakatani, 23, with more exposure could be the next Japanese star. (Ed's note - It appears the date of this fight is not going ti be in May as first anticipated)
Not too surprised to see that Australia’s next heavyweight boxing star Justis Huni is to face former rugby league player Paul Gallen in Sydney on 16 June. It will probably be Huni’s last fight before competing in Tokyo. Gallen has built up a big following in Australia and he gets his reward for beating up poor Lucas Brown. A win for Gallen, who has only the most rudimentary of boxing skills, would be big blow to Australian boxing as Huni looks to be a teal talent.
It seems to be a bit of a turbulent time in boxing in Ghana. The Ghana Board gave Richard Commey a two year ban for being disrespectful now they have slapped heavyweight Richard Harrison Lartey with a five year ban. Lartey lost inside the distance in fights in Britain against Daniel Dubois, Nathan Gorman and Fabio Wardley but falsified a letter from the Board permitting him to fight Wardley. Lartey did not deny the charge but alleged that he forged the letter after the Board had taken £5,000 of his purse for the Gorman fight and this was his retaliation.
Manny Pacquiao is not the only boxer in politics. The Marquez brothers Juan Manuel and Rafael are campaigning, peaceably, in the elections in their district. Both were world champions but they will both have to remember that punches below the belt are expected in politics.
Talking about punches last weekend saw a number of boxers warned for punches to the back of the head and a plethora of such fouls ignored. Any punch to the back of the head is a foul! Most of those punches are delivered in clinches as a boxer reaches up and taps slaps or thumps his opponent. It doesn’t matter whether it is a tap or a full blooded punch it is still a foul. You can’t have a rule saying it is not a foul as long as it is not hard. You can’t say it is all right to hit someone to the back of the head but not in the groin after all not every man’s brains are down there no matter what women say. Is it going to need a tragedy or near tragedy such as that suffered by Prichar Colon before something is done about it?
It is always encouraging to see a former boxer staying in the sport and playing a leading role. Dominique Nato was French amateur champion at heavyweight four times and a constant member of the French national team for eight years. A detached retina forced him out of boxing in 1985 with a 14-0 record and he was appointed national technical director to the French Federation and oversaw a period when France won six Olympic medals. He was appointed Vice President of the Federation and in March this year was elected President. So a good pair of hands at the wheel for French boxing.
Not such a good time for boxing has seen two fighters facing serious charges. Felix Verdejo, 27, was arrested whilst the death of his pregnant lover Keishia Rodriguez is investigated. It is alleged that Verdejo attacked and kidnapped Rodriguez and then threw her off a bridge near San Juan. When he turned professional in 2012 Verdejo was being touted as a future world champion and he won his first 23 fights. He was then seriously injured in a car accident and was out of the ring for 13 months. When he returned he lost his first fight and had never really recovered his previous form before losing on ninth round stoppage against Masayoshi Nakatani in December 2020
On a less high profile case Namibia’s top amateur Junias Jonas has been arrested and is facing charges of allegedly attempted murder and assault of a police officer. Jonas, 27, was to have had his first professional fight last Saturday but that did not happen. Jonas had won gold at the African Championships and the Commonwealth Games and was considered one of the favourites at 63kg in Tokyo. He competed in the Rio Olympics but that was a traumatic event for him. He was arrested in Brazil for alleged sexually assaulting a housekeeper at the Athlete’s Village. He was released on the day of his quarter-final which he lost and had to remain in the Namibian Embassy in Brazil for eight months before being able to leave Brazil and was eventually cleared of the charges.
Better news was that Argentinian Maximiliano Veron had returned to consciousness after a twelve day induced coma. He had undergone emergency surgery for a bleed to the brain after being stopped in eight rounds by Gustavo Lemos last month.
Fights to watch for this weekend will see Liam Smith (29-2-1) vs. Magomed Kurbanov (21-0) at super welter in Ekaterinburg on Friday and of course Saul Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders in Texas on Saturday with Mexican Elwin Soto (18-1) defending the WBO light flyweight title against Japan’s Katsunari Takayama (32-8) and unbeaten Cuban heavyweight Frank Sanchez vs. seasoned veteran Nagy Aguilera (21-10) also on the card. May 14 will see Polish cruiserweight Michal Cieslak (20-1) vs. Russian Yury Kashinsky (20-1) in an IBF eliminator. Saturday 15 in yet another piece of WBA rubbish Mahmoud Charr will defend his-his what? He’s the WBA “champion in recess” but the WBA already have a Super a Secondary, and a Gold title holder so if Charr wins does he remain champion in recess or if Box Rec’s No 304 rated heavyweight Chris Lovejoy wins does he become champion in recess which would be farcical even for the WBA. I guess there is always the fall-back position of interim.
Since I am on the WBA they pulled off another beauty this month. It had already been announced that Carlos Canizales would defend the secondary WBA light flyweight title against Esteban Bermudez even though Bermudez was not in the WBA ratings. In his last three fights in October 2020 Bermudez had lost on points to unrated Rosendo Guarneros who had lost his last two fights. This was Bermudez first and only fight to have been scheduled for ten rounds. In December 2020 he beat Javier Marquez who was having his first pro fight and in March this year had a technical draw in an eight round fight with Luis Macias who was 11-10-2 and had lost four of his last five fights. Surprise surprise! In the WBA ratings published 30 April Senor Bermudez suddenly appears where? At No 15-no, No 14 no, No 13 no, No 12 no, No 11 no and there he is a No 10. The WBA are so arrogant they don’t even bother to hide their manipulations.
I am sure that many youngsters who enter boxing have dreams with one of those being to actually compete at the Olympic Games. Well Ghana has one of those young men in Prince “The Buzz” Larbie. He has already set his sights on the Olympics-for 2032! Larbie is only seven but already is a household name Ghana. He certainly has all of the moves of a “honey I shrunk the kids” version of a Gervonta Davis or Devin Haney and regularly takes part in exhibitions with much elder youths who don’t go easy on him. You can see him on You Tube but 2032 is a long way away and a lot can happen between now and then but you can’t blame him for dreaming.
By Eric Armit
The richest fight in boxing history is slowly edging its way across the starting line. Just a few I’s to cross and T’s to dot (Yes I know it is supposed to be the other way around but this is boxing so nothing is normal). There’s good news and bad news. The good is we have an idea of the day the deed will be done with a date somewhere in the spread between the last two weeks in July and the first week in August. The bad news is that it will almost certainly be in that great fight city of Jeddah. Not London, not Las Vegas, not New York. A city where human rights are ignored, women are treated as second class citizens at best, imported labour lives in squalid conditions with virtually no rights and alcohol is banned-and those are its good points! Putting those niceties aside from my visits to the area when working in the oil industry the only exercise you indulged in was rushing from one air-conditioned building to the next before the sun frizzled you up. Oil dollars will have bought the richest fight in boxing history and only 0.0000001% of boxing fans will be able to say “I was there” but it is better than no fight at all. I just hope we get a great fight-but if not there is always the return match-and don’t rule out a return of the return if it is 1-1 after the first two fights. Wonder where the 2022 fight will be staged!
Suddenly boxing is experiencing some seismic changes. Eddie Hearn is ending his association with Sky Sport and uniting with DAZN and taking his Matchroom fighters with him although Sky will continue to have an involvement in the fights of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury. DAZN is planning to make the Saul Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders fight available in the UK through its app. An indication of the competition it aims to bring to the UK market. Whilst that will be a blow to Sky Sport Boxing it leaves a gap for another promoter to enter into a partnership with Sky Sport. Frank Warren has an ongoing contract with BT Sport and there is another player entering the field.
Wasserman, a huge global sports agency, has bought the Sauerland organisation and it too is targeting the British boxing scene looking to use its massive wealth to sign up British boxers. Sauerland had looked to have taken its eye of the ball in Germany losing some key fighters and not announcing any star signings. There was also no mention of the future of the WBBS so it remains to be seen if it has a future after the way the cruiserweight tournament limped to a finish.
The farcical position with the WBA myriad of heavyweight titles continues. On 15 May in Hamburg Mahmoud Charr will defends his WBA title “champion in recess” against Chris Lovejoy the boxer with one of them most ludicrous records for any title challenger in any division at any time. However that is not certain as Don King has said he has an exclusive promotion contract with Lovejoy and is threatening to stop the fight. He did the same when Lovejoy was to have fought in Britain. The promoter in Hamburg is going ahead with the title defence and if it is not possible to use Lovejoy then he will ditch Lovejoy and replace him with another fighter. It has been over three years since Charr last fought and Lovejoy is not currently in the WBA rankings. He has had just one fight in the last two years and his last five opponents had records of 3-10-1, 2-18-0, 0-3-0, 6-52-2 and his last opponent in January was Misael Sanchez who was 12-16-7 and Box Rec had him at 433 in the World. The question is that since the WBA already have a Super, Secondary and Gold champion and Charr is champion in recess what title does the winner of the Charr vs. Lovejoy then hold?
Andy Ruiz is said to have dropped 60lbs in training for his fight with Chris Arreola. Of course the question is what weight he started at. He had gone from 268lbs to 283lbs for the two Anthony Joshua fights so if he has dropped 60lbs from the 268lbs he could make Bridgerweight but it would be nice to see him restore some pride.
They have only recently come on the scene and already I don’t like Triller. For their Fight Club night where Teo Lopez will defend his lightweight titles against George Kambosos they will be featuring a fight between Evander Holyfield and Kevin McBride for their Legends Golden Belt. McBride is in the hat because he beat Mike Tyson fifteen years ago but he is now 47 and like Holyfield has not fought for almost ten years. I don’t understand how boxing people can be attracted to something like this but the disease keeps spreading where it is either a case of “All Your Yesterdays” or media starlets with less ability than a six round prelim fighter but get paid more than a world champion. Only in boxing!
Plenty going on the bantamweights. Naoya’s next opponent will be Filipino Michael Dasmarinas but no date set yet. WBC champion Nordine Oubaali defends against Nonito Donaire on 29 May and John Riel Casimero will defend his WBO title against Guillermo Rigondeaux on 21 August. It can’t be a unifier since Rigondeaux only holds the secondary WBA title. Waiting in the wings are Ghanaian Manyo Plange and Melvin Lopez who meet in a WBA final eliminator on 3 July.
You would think that promoters would give the WBA a chance to manipulate their ratings before announcing a fight. Carlos Canizales will put his secondary WBA light fly title on the line against Mexican Esteban Bermudez on 28 May. Bermudez is not yet in the WBA ratings but on his form in his last two fights beating a guy who had never had a fight and getting a technical draw against a fighter with an 11-10-2 record he meets the stringent WBA standards easily. I am trying to come up with a sandwich board for the WBA with their logo on saying “buy your rating here”.
Cuban Erislandy Lara is aiming to become a two-division champion. On 1 May in Carson he faces Thomas LaManna for the secondary WBA middleweight title. Lara is currently the holder of the secondary WBA title at super welterweight and should beat LaManna but even if he does it will still only hold a secondary title which does not count in my view.
That guy has topped the ratings again. This time in his political career. Senator Pacquiao topped a survey on the Filipinos' preferred senatorial candidates for next year's national elections with 58.9 percent backing from those polled backing Manny with Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno second on 53 percent. Presidential candidate next Manny?
Five years late and still awaiting the results of a fresh investigation launched by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) into the conduct of judging and refereeing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as part of a series of reforms approved by the governing body's Board of Directors. All 36 referees and judges used for the boxing tournament at Rio 2016 had been suspended by AIBA over corruption concerns and would not be allowed to officiate at Tokyo 2021 or any qualifying events. The results of the original investigation were never published.
It was good to see that the Georgia Commission has changed the result of the fight between Regis Prograis and Ivan Redkach to a TKO for Prograis. The theatrics by Redkach writhing in agony on the canvas from a “low” blow kidded the officials into deciding to go to the cards and Prograis was declared the winner on technical decision even though the large screen replays showed not only that the punch passed outside of Redkach’s left elbow but also that it only brushed Redkach’s side.
After Zou Shiming won his second Olympic gold medal and turned pro in 2013 it was being shouted from the rooftops that China was going to be the next super power in boxing. No one is even whispering that now. There are few professional fighters and most of those are still at the novice stage and without the tournaments to help them develop their skills they cannot succeed. China has one title holder Can Xu who holds the secondary WBA lightweight title and one No 1 in Meng Fanlong at light heavyweight with the IBF but no one seems to be pushing his case for a challenge to Artur Beterbiev. Heavyweight Zhilei Zhang had his limitations exposed by Jerry Forrest in their drawn fight. Hong Kong’s Rex Tso was tipped to be a star when he won his 22 fights but his wide open style saw him taking too much punishment and he wisely retired in 2017 (ed's note - Tso currently fights in the amateur ranks). Box Rec lists 21 Chinese heavyweights but other than Zhang only one of them has had more than five fights. There are 17 light heavyweights listed and the most active fighter has had only seven fights. It is a similar picture at flyweight with 25 listed with only four having had more than ten fights and the most experienced on 15. No investment-no returns.
By Eric Armit
I am starting to get twitchy about the Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury fight. It appears that some factors have been agreed but others remain to be resolved and that is leading to some doubt as to whether the outstanding issues are significant enough to derail the negotiations. We are told that all that is outstanding is where and when and let’s hope that is so. I still have a hangover from when the first negotiations for Floyd Mayweather Jr vs. Manny Pacquiao collapsed and we did not to see them fight at what would have been the optimum time and some of the shine had gone off the fight by the time it did happen. This is too big a fight and worth too much to those with a piece of it so I am hoping we hear soon with a date and venue.
It seems spring madness is in the air. Evander Holyfield has accepted a fight with Mike Tyson (we think), Oscar De La Hoya is returning having just passed his 48th birthday and not having fought for twelve years when he lost to Manny Pacquiao and weighed 145lbs. Roy Jones wants to fight De La Hoya although Jones is 52 and weighed 199lbs in his last professional fight. I guess there is more chance of De La Hoya now making 199lbs than Jones getting down to 145lbs but to be honest I could not care less. The same goes for the third fight between Tyson and Holyfield. Tyson is 54 and last fought in 2005 and Holyfield is 58 and last fought in 2011. If that turns you on then good luck to you but to me it would be like watching Usain Bolt and current World 100 meters champion Chris Coleman racing each other in 30 years using Zimmer frames. Miguel Cotto, 40, is going to face Juan Manuel Marquez, 47, in an exhibition and Marco Antonio Barrera is also getting in on the act and will fight an exhibition against Joes Soto Karass. Yet another show will feature Julio Cesar Chavez, 58, vs. Hector Camacho Jr and Julio Chavez Jr vs. UFC champion Anderson Silva. Equally as strange is Denis Berinchyk aiming to have a bare knuckles fight with their champion Artem Lobov. Normally interest in these types of exhibitions /cross discipline fights are a sign that boxing is ailing but I don’t think that is the case right now. Perhaps nostalgia is staging a comeback.
Vasyl Lomachenko will return in June probably against Japanese fighter Masayoshi Nakatani. Nakatani’s record is 19-1 with the loss coming on a wide unanimous decision in a fight against Teo Lopez in July 2019. He rebounded from that with a stoppage of Felix Verdejo last December and is No 5 lightweight with the WBO. First fight for Lomachenko since losing his IBF and WBA titles to Teo Lopez in October last year. Nakatani’s 5’11 ½” height might give Lomachenko problems but Loma has reached where he has by solving problems in the ring.
Tim Tszyu has obviously impressed his Russian antecedents as there is now a move to award him Russian citizenship. Is that interim, secondary or franchise citizenship? Someone must have Putin a good word for him.
Having said they were in no hurry to get Tszyu a title chance his backers have now indicated that they are willing to put up $10 million to get IBF/WBA/WBC champion Jermell Charlo or WBO champion Brain Castano to come to Australia to defend their titles.
Tony Yoka’s next fight could be a defence of his European Boxing Union title against Belgian Herve Hubeaux. Nothing confirmed but it would be a good match for Yoka as Hubeaux has a 32-3 record and has not lost inside the distance.
Still on heavyweights purse bids were due yesterday for an IBF final eliminator between No 4 Michael Hunter and No 5 Filip Hrgovic. No news yet but the winner will be eligible to move into the vacant No 1 spot leaping over No 2 Charles Martin and No 3 Oleksandr Usyk and being in the queue for a shot at the winner of Joshua vs. Fury.
Looks like Nordine Oubaali will return on 29 May defending his WBC bantamweight title against Nonito Donaire which will be Oubaali’s biggest name opponent so far.
Once again the WBA have presented me with a difficult problem. I have to decide which of two blatant manipulations of their heavyweight ratings is the most disgraceful. Could anything be worse than the slipping of Bermane Stiverne into the ratings for Don King so that Trevor Bryan could win their secondary title? I will leave you to judge. Take the case of Chris Arreola. He fights Andy Ruiz on 1 May and is No 8 in the WBA ratings right now. They slipped Arreola into their rating at No 8 on 30 June last year. I looked back to April 2015 without finding Arreola anywhere in their ratings prior to that sudden entry in June 2020. This sudden elevation in June 2020 comes despite his last fight had been in August 2019 when he lost to Adam Kownacki and there having effectively been no boxing in the USA between March 14 and 9 June when Top Rank invented the “bubble! The WBA even previewed their manipulation by saying with the ratings issued on 31 May 2020 that “Due to the Coronavirus boxing like all other sport has been forced to stop. All boxers will maintain their ranking until we resume normal activities”. So in June the WBA resumed normal activities by slipping an inactive Chris Arreola into their ratings at No 7!
Don’t make your mind up yet until you see what has happened to Bogdan Dinu. Not exactly a household name but No 2 in the WBA heavyweight ratings above Luis Ortiz, Deontay Wilder and other bigger and better names. I have to say in advance that my vote for the most blatant manipulation goes to Dinu. On 3 October 2020 he beat Frank Bluemle a guy with a 16-8-2 record ranked No 502 by BoxRec who was 2-6 before fighting Dinu with all six losses coming inside the distance and five of them inside three rounds. Naturally that did not earn him a place in the ratings issued by the WBA on 30 October-but did “earn” him a place at No 9 in the 30 November ratings. Without fighting he climbed to No 3 in the WBA ratings 29 of January and is now No 2. Don’t be surprised if you start hear talk of Dinu challenging Trevor Bryan for the WBA secondary title.
The IBF are not immune to strange happening in their ratings. On Saturday Jerwin Ancajas will defend the IBF super flyweight-or junior bantamweight as they call it-against Jonathan Javier Rodriguez. With the No 1 and 2 slots vacant he is the highest ranked fighter at No 3but can’t be No 1 or 2 because he has not beaten a rated fighter. Sounds sensible but that does not explain how Rodriguez has gone from No 15 to the No 3 –without fighting anyone! His two most recent fights were in June 2019 and December 2020 both against unrated fighters. In the IBF ratings for 2 December 2019 he was No 15. By the 2 February 2020 he was No 10 and in March 2020 he was No 3. How do you get from No 15 to No 3 without having a fight? Don’t ask me-ask the IBF.
Why do I bother? Well to quote Simon Wiesenthal “for evil to flourish it only requires good men to do nothing” and since in my old mum’s unbiased opinion I was a good boy I am obliged to do something to draw attention to how disgracefully those who are in positions of power in our sport are acting and don’t forget every time a rating gets manipulated some other fighters get screwed.
Just two more rants as I would not want to leave the WBC out of things. The Franchise Champion is one of the most ridiculous pieces of tinkering for a long time. The one thing I used to think that the sanctioning bodies brought to boxing was the mandatory challenger. When Ring Magazine was the authority on titles there was an unshakable principal that other than for retirement the only way a fighter could lose his title was in the ring. Now that meant that a champion could pick and choose who he fought or did not fight and a lot of good fighters found themselves frozen out with no recourse to any authority or any pressure on the champion. By rating someone No 1 the sanctioning bodies seemed to have righted that wrong and for years being No 1 meant you were the mandatory challenger and there were clauses in the rules of the sanctioning bodies enshrining that right. Forget it being No 1 now does not mean you are the mandatory challenger-ask Dillian Whyte-or Srisaket if you don’t believe me as they both found that being No 1 did not give them any right to a shot at the title. Now we have a Franchise champion and in Mauricio Sulaiman’s own words “A franchise boxer enjoys special status with respect to his or her mandatory obligations……….”
Being No 1 in a division that has a Franchise champion means you have no idea of your status or rights with regard to a title shot. A Franchise champion does nothing for boxing at all it does not bring one more dollar on a gate or on a boxers purse or clear the way to a big fight all it adds is one more piece of confusion to an already ridiculously obfuscated sport and even now the rules on a Franchise champion losing or winning the Franchise designation in the ring are being “updated”. As far as I can see the only thing it has brought the WBC is criticism and ridicule.
To finish my rant I feel that the WBC made an error in naming their new weight division after a young boy. No matter how brave-and the 6-year-old James Bridger was a hero tackling a dog about to attack his sister and suffering numerous bites in doing so-but the new division has a name that reflects one heroic act in Britain, My worry is that once the WBA, WBO and IBF decided to adopt the same weight division they are unlikely to dedicate it to young James. The sanctioning bodies already can’t agree on calling their divisions super (WBA, WBC, WBO) or junior (IBF) so I can see us ending up with four different names for the same division. If the new division was to have been personalised with a name then something with a more worldwide significance and an outstanding legacy such as Mandeladivision would have been better. Good luck to you James I hope you have a happy and prosperous life.
By Eric Armit
Scoring and ratings are two of the moist contentious matters in boxing today. I will leave the subject to scoring for the present. As far as ratings are concerned the whole approach is a hotchpotch of 18 divisions with four sanctioning bodies doing their own version and with super, secondary, interim and gold titles we now have 86 boxers claiming to hold a title loosely labelled as “world”.
Ring Magazine can rightfully take the credit for the introducing boxing ratings with their first being published in 1924. That was not straight forward as having the Ring editor or staff compiling the ratings. Hall of Fame writer Nigel Collins wrote in a Ring article in 1987 when introducing the system of world-wide panel/voting that those first ratings were largely compiled by promoter Tex Rickard and when Rickard died it was Jack Dempsey who took over the task before being replaced by Madison Square Garden matchmaker Tom McCardle. A bit like Bob Arum followed by Anthony Joshua then Brad Goodman.
Ring lost its way under the Editorship of Nat Loubet with a ratings scandal leading to the TV companies turning to the sanctioning bodies for ratings. Nigel brought Ring back to its premier position with the panel/voting system but the sanctioning bodies already had their foot in the door by then.
I took a random look back at the Ring ratings in February 1955 when there were only eight divisions and eight genuine world champions and only ten fighters rated in each division. The champions heaviest to lightest being Rocky Marciano, Archie Moore, Sugar Ray Robinson, Carmen Basilio, Wallace (Bud) Smith, Sandy Sadler, Robert Cohen and Pascual Perez. With only eight divisions unlike the eighteen of today life really was tough at the top with so many talented boxers chasing so few positions.
That prompted me to look at the situation today but through the prism of only eight divisions.
It would be tough being a welterweight vying with Manny Pacquiao, Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Mikey Garcia and perhaps current super welterweights Jermell Charlo and Erislandy Lara also in the welterweights. How about a lightweight division with Teo Lopez, Devon Haney, Gervonta Davis, Vasyl Lomachenko, Ryan Garcia with Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez down from the current super lights and Oscar Valdez and Shakur Stevenson up from the super featherweights? Bantamweights? How about Naoya Inoue, Nonito Donaire, John Riel Casimero. Nordine Oubaali plus Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket, Jerwin Ancajas and Kazuto Ioka all competing for just ten ratings places and just one title. A super fight a week/month almost guaranteed as the best would have no alternative but to meet the best.
The Chavez clan are preparing for a family outing. In June in Guadalajara the patriarch Julio Cesar Chaves will face Hector Camacho Jr. in an exhibition, Julio Cesar Jr. will face UFC star Anderson Silva and in a real fight between two members of the royalty of Mexican boxing Omar Chavez will face Ramon Alvarez the brother of Saul, Rigoberto and Ricardo Alvarez.
A couple of bumps in the road for Top Rank with Gilberto Ramirez leaving and their losing the purse bidding for Teo Lopez vs. Geroge Kambosos Jr title fight. Triller bid almost 2 ½ times the Top Rank bid and $2.5 more than the next higher bid from Eddie Hearn. That would worry me if I had shares in Triller as Bob Arum and Eddie Hearn have the depth of experience to know what a fight is worth so Triller’s bid strikes me as a loss leader with no guarantee of carry on opportunities to cover what they seem certain to lose on Lopez vs. Kambosos. The fight will be in Miami on 5 June. Australia has been having a bad run in world title fights so Kambosos will be looking to change that. Ramirez is hoping to land a fight with Dimity Bivol the holder of the secondary WBA light heavyweight belt but too often that secondary title can be a blind alley.
Former WBO super welterweight champion Jaime Munguia is scheduled to return to action on April 24. No venue but Shane Mosley Jr is being talked about as his opponent. Munguia’s aim is a crack at Gennady Golovkin’s IBF middleweight title which would be an interesting match unlike Golovkin vs. German Patrick Wojcicki. With No’s 1 and 2 vacant Wojcicki is in No 3 one spot above Munguia. Wojcicki can’t go to one of those vacant spots because he has never beaten a rated fight-but is rated for winning the IBF Inter-Continental title. Golovkin vs. Wojcicki would be the IBF’s version of Alvarez vs. Yildirim.
The top two spots in the IBF super lightweights are also vacant. The plan is for two eliminators Lewis Ritson (No 6) vs. Jeremias Ponce (No 5) and Subriel Matias (No 7) vs. Batyrzhan Jukembayev (No 8) with no mention of No 3 Liam Paro and Shohjahon Ergashev (No 4) needless to say-but I will-none of these fighters are No 1 or No 2 as they have not beaten any rated fighters.
It looks as though Mikey Garcia has drawn the winning ticket in the lottery to fight Manny Pacquiao. There are two schools of thought. One says Manny should go for Errol Spence or Terence Crawford and one that says Garcia is a good pick. At 43 and without a fight since July 2019 Spence and Crawford I think would be too tough for Manny at this late stage of his career. Losing to either would not seriously tarnish his position as one of the all time greats in our sport but it would be a pity to see him go out on a loss. Garcia is ten years younger and a four-division champion with a 40-1 record with the loss to Errol Spence his only defeat in his 6-1 record in world title fights. OK he is not Spence or Crawford and it is a fight that would have been better five years ago but it makes a sensible and less threatening fight to go out on so beat Garcia and hang up your gloves Congressman. Any last fight in fact any fight except Conor McGregor is a plus.
With eight fights in 30 months Russian Evgeny Tischenko has hardly been super busy or whizzed through the ratings. He is currently No 15 with the WBC but on 27 March in Ekaterinburg he tackles the WBC No 1 Thabiso Mchunu for the WBC Silver title. The 6’5” southpaw, now 29, won gold medals at European Youth, European Under-23, European Championships, World Championships and the 2016 Olympics so a full hand now he needs to get past Mchunu and then WBC champion Ilunga Makabu to turn gold and silver into a world title.
It was a case of working overtime for Brandun Lee and Brian Norman Jr last night (Wednesday) in Uncasville. Super lightweight Lee knocked out Samuel Teah in three rounds and welterweight Norman stopped unbeaten Benjamin Whitaker in five rounds. Going in Lee had won 19 of his 21 fights by KO/TKO including 11 first round victories with his 21 wins taking less than 38 rounds and Norman ended 15 of his 18 fights by KO/TKO, including 10 first round finishes and less than 42 rounds for his 16 victories. Just as well they are not paid by the round.
This weekend it is Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Roman Gonzalez in Dallas a great match and on the same card Hiroto Kyoguchi defending the WBA light flyweight title against Axel Aragon Vega and in Uncasville David Benavidez vs. Ronald Ellis with Benavidez carrying a faint hope of a fight with Saul Alvarez down the line-but don’t hold your breath David. On 19 March in Bolton Karim Guerfi defends the Europe bantam title against unbeaten Lee McGregor. On 20 March Artur Beterbiev puts the IBF and WBC light heavyweight titles up against Adam Deines, Lawrence Okolie and Krzys Glowacki contest the vacant WBO cruiser title in London and in Texas Vergil Ortiz faces a hard night against Maurice Hooker.
Going back to the champions in 1955 it is nonsense to attempt to compare boxers from different eras. When Archie Moore won the light heavyweight title in December 1952 he had already packed 160 fights into 17 years before getting a title shot. Sandy Saddler won the featherweight title on 29 October 1948 having already had 94 fights (Willie Pep who he beat was 134-1-1before losing the Saddler fight) and Sadler fitted in four more non-title fights over November and December. Different times. Not better-not worse but very different.
By Eric Armit
As I write I am waiting for the details of the Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury fight to be announced. Bob Arum has said that it is a done deal and will be signed sealed and revealed shortly. It could be the most expensive fight in the history of boxing certainly in heavyweight boxing and it will be between two British heavyweights-you know about British heavyweights don’t you? That’s the ones that the American press at one time labelled “The Horizontal Heavyweights” but now if you were listing the top ten active heavyweights in the world Deontay Wilder is the only American who would be in the list and Charles Martin and Michael Hunter would just about make it into the top 20. I feel that perhaps boxing has completed a three hundred year cycle as according to the Ring Record Book and Encyclopaedia it was Englishman James Figg who was the first to be looked upon as heavyweight champion back in 1719 (at that time we had some colonies somewhere to the West as I recall) so once again Britain is the centre of the world of heavyweight boxing. Obviously the aim will be to have the largest live gate possible and I just hope it is in Britain or the USA and not sold off to some Emirate with no boxing tradition. As seems to be a growing trend it appears there will be a return clause in the contract before the result of the first fight is even known ( I thought return clause contracts were banned?) but as long as we get a controversy free fight worthy of the occasion I will be happy. We will then have a unified heavyweight division-until a sanctioning body strips the new champion.
The poor showing by Avni Yildirim came as no surprise to anybody and Mauricio Sulaiman says he is going to investigate the process for nominating mandatory challengers. Well it is a bit too late to shut the gate now as the horse bolted a long time ago. In August the WBC ordered Saul Alvarez to meet Yildirim and yet in September they dropped Yildirim to No 2 (two positions above Anthony Dirrell who had beaten Yildirim in Yildirim’s last fight in February 2019) but he remained the mandatory challenger even though he had not won a fight since September 2018.
Ratings are subjective Boxing is not like other individual sports such as golf or tennis. In those sports where there is a recognised world body the best from across the world constantly face the best on a weekly basis making it easy to operate a points system to arrive at No 1. In boxing a top level boxer will fight 5 or 6 times a year at the most and rarely against any of the other top boxers renders any points system meaningless and with four major sanctioning bodies who almost always exclude from their ratings any mandatory challenger from another body the search for a worthy mandatory is further limited.
Another factor complicating the selection of a suitable mandatory challenger is the strength of the champion. Yildirim might have seemed a reasonable choice as a mandatory challenger for Caleb Plant or Billy Joe Saunders but not Alvarez so do you factor that in when deciding to nominate a mandatory challenger. It is not easy.
I did world ratings for Boxing News magazine on my own for many years and can honestly say I was never really happy even with my own ratings. Luckily I only had oversight from Ron Olver the assistant Editor and then later Harry Mullan the Editor but no lobbying. Sanctioning bodies are lobbied constantly by promoters and managers doing their job and sanctioning bodies-all sanctioning bodies-have to work with promoters which is another factor. The sanctioning bodies have also bastardised the very principle of ratings by rewarding positions in their ratings based on a fighter winning one of their minor tiles irrespective of the opponent faced. Usually the sanctioning body provides no oversight except to make sure the sanctioning fee is received. A promoter can pick his fighter’s opponent so the promoter knows how much it will cost him to get his fighter rated but no one seems to look at it that way.
Many years ago Bobby Lee Snr then the President of the IBF got caught selling spots in their ratings. As a result the IBF was put under court supervision and its rules re-written. If you look at the IBF ratings today you will often see the No 1 and No 2 positions vacant. This is due to one of the rules introduced during the supervision period. The rule states:
For a boxer to be rated in the number one (1) or number (2) position, he must be rated in one of the top five (5) available positions and beat another boxer rated in one of the top five (5) available positions. Boxers competing in bouts not scheduled for 12 round IBF Eliminators will not eligible for ranking above number three (3).
It is so commonsensical that you wonder it needs to be written into a rule. How could you get to No 1 without ever beating someone in the top 5-well Yildirim did it and other fighters do it every month. The WBA have a very complex set of tables covering every rated position and how it is arrived at and perhaps one day will realise it is being used to level out the legs of the table around which the Ratings Committee meet and it will see the light of day again. The sanctioning bodies are driven by sanctioning fees and there will be many more “Yildirim vs. Alvarez” episodes-it’s the nature of the beast.
Quite a switch in the venue for the return fight between Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte with travel restrictions meaning it will now take place in Eddie Hearn’s back garden in August instead of Gibraltar. Not rock on but rock off.
Great to see that the business has been done to put together the Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez fight for 22 May in Las Vegas. As it stands the winner will be the only fighter holding all four versions of a title in a division.
The log jam seems to be breaking on European title fights as restrictions are eased. Lee McGregor will challenge Kamil Guerfi for the bantamweight title in Bolton on 19 March and 26 March in Barcelona will see Andoni Gago defend the featherweight title against Gavin McDonnell and Sandro Martin defend the super lightweight title against Kay Prospere. Tonight (5 March) in Nantes Tony Yoka has a good test as he faces the strong Belgian Joan Tambwe Djeko for the vacant EU heavyweight title and in theory the parties for the mandatory defence of the European heavy title by Joe Joyce against Marco Huck are “in the negotiation period” but it is not certain it is a fight that will interests Joyce.
Gonzalo Basile is rated No 333 in the World’s heavyweight listing by Box Rec but at 46 he is still fighting and still winning-occasionally. He won a fight in Brazil last month collecting the UBO International and American Boxing Federation West belts. That was fight No 91 for the 46-year-old Argentinian so he might make it 100 fights and I can’t remember the last time a heavyweight had 100 fights.
Still on heavyweights it will be interesting to see how the new slimmer Andy Ruiz fares against Chris Arreola on 24 April. Ruiz was 268lbs when he beat Anthony Joshua and 283lbs when he lost to him so I guess we just wait and see.
It could be that Dubai will be painted green on 3 April as Michael Conlan and Tyrone McKenna are both aiming to appear on the undercard to the rescheduled Jamal Herring’s WBO super featherweight title defence against Carl Frampton
They are doing a good job of guiding Tim Tszyu. Jeff Brubaker, Jeff Horn and Bowyn Morgan have all been reasonable test and now he will face former WBO title challenger Dennis Hogan who lost on a majority decision to Jamie Munguia in 2019. Tszyu is No 2 with the WBO so if he gets past Hogan he will get a shot at Brian Castano for the title.
Two shows planned this month as boxing gets back into its stride in South Africa. Rowan Campbell will put his South African super middleweight title on the line against experienced Ryno Liebenberg on Rodney Berman’s show on March 14 at Emperors Palace and Joyce Kungwane is targeting 20 March for a show featuring the return of Hekkie Budler and Xolisani Ndongeni.
Can’t say I am happy about talk of Chris Eubank Jr vs. Kell Brook as Kell has been in some tough battles and this may be a fight too far.
Not too keen either on Marcos Maidana threatening to return to the ring to fight Adrien Broner. Maidana is running a strong promotion team in Argentina so stick to the day job Marcos.
Return fights are nothing new for Felix Trinidad and he is in one again now. In his legal dispute with the Banco Popular de Puerto Rico a judge ruled that the Bank had to pay Trinidad $1,184,000 but they are appealing the decision in the Supreme Court. You are ahead on points Felix so hang in there.
By Eric Armit
Last year “Canelo” Alvarez was the “Flavour of the Month”. It seemed that almost every week there were stories about who he would be fighting and in the case on Avni Yildirim-who he would not be fighting. Names and legal writs were the flying about. The WBC had the embarrassment of their “Franchise” champion refusing to fight for their title illustrating clearly who was the dog and who was the tail. In the end Alvarez fought Callum Smith which was probably the best options he had at the tim. He is now scheduled to face Yildirim for the vacant WBC title on 27 February. It then looks like Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO title in May leaving only Caleb Plant between Alvarez and total dominance at super middleweight. Then we can start all over again with rumours of where/who he will conquer next.
As we get into 2021 it seems the Manny Pacquiao is donning the “Flavour of the Month” tag. He is going to fight Conor McGregor-no he’s not. He’s going to fight Ryan Garcia-no he’s not. He is going to fight Floyd Mayweather-god I hope he’s not.
Pacquiao celebrated 26 years as a pro last month and up until the pandemic struck last year he had had at least one fight in each of those 26 years (* not a record see Kid Azteca at the end of this column) over ten different weight divisions. He was 42 in December and this will almost certainly be his last year as a pro and he won’t want to go out on a loss so you can expect quite a few more names being floated until Manny makes his choice.
When he does fight he will not be fighting as WBA champion as the WBA decided that due to inactivity (i.e. not paying sanctioning fees for a while) they were replacing him as Super Champion with Yordenis Ugas and designating Manny as “Champion in Recess” a term coined by Jose Sulaiman for stripping a champion of his title without stripping him of his title!
Manny’s mistake was not being promoted by Don King. King’s fighter Beibut Shumenov won the WBA secondary cruiserweight title in July 2018 and never defended it. Various proposed fights fell through and at one time Shumenov was named Champion in Recess but no effort was made to replace him as champion. The WBA finally stripped him off the title last month after 2 ½ years. King’s fighter Trevor Bryan won the WBA interim title in August 2018 and the WBA still showed him as interim champion in their January 2021 ratings so although he did not defend the title for 2 ½ years he was never stripped- but the take Pacquiao’s title away after 17 months and no matter how they dress it up they have taken his title away as Yordenis Ugas now holds the WBA Super welterweight title.
The Don King show on 29 January illustrates the level of King’s influence. The original intent was for Bryan to fight Manuel Charr the holder of the WBA secondary title. According to Charr’s team in order to obtain a visa that would allow him to fight in the USA Charr needed to be able to show a valid contract for the fight. Charr’s team had signed the contract from King and sent it back to King but they claimed that King never signed and returned a copy of the contract so they could not travel. The outcome was that Charr lost his secondary WBA title and was made “Champion in Recess” and King got to replace Charr with a 42-year-old Bermane Stiverne who had not won a fight since 2015, had lost in one round against Deontay Wilder in 2017 and in six rounds against Joe Joyce in February 2019 had not fought since February 2019 and was not in the WBA ratings. Strangely Stiverne was in training which would only make sense if King knew Charr would never be able to get to Miami!
In the case of Shumenov the WBA told Shumenov on 30 November that his mandatory defence was more than a year overdue and that Ryad Merhy was his designated mandatory challenger. They also reminded Shumenov/King that that the champion could not fight any other fighter within sixty days of his mandatory period expiring. They ordered negotiations but nothing was heard from King during the mandated period. Then Merhy’s team found out King had asked for a Special Permit (allowed under WBA rules) to put on a voluntary defence for Shumenov against another King fighter Rafael Murphy. There should have been a $20,000 fee for the permit but King asked that be waived and he also asked VADA to waive testing of Shumenov and Murphy. That whole farce fell apart and in the end the WBA finally stripped Shumenov appointed Merhy champion and ordered him to defend against Yunier Dorticos.
Shumenov is a Kazak and yet there was never any mention in newspapers or web sites in Kazakhstan of Shumenov being in training for a fight.
All done in accordance with the WBA rules and King's application for Special Permit also in accordance with the rules and Merhy nearly got shafted.
This whole sorry mess took focus away from Shumenov’s proposed opponent Murphy and the disgraceful manipulation of the WBA ratings.
How did Murphy suddenly leap into the WBA ratings in 2019?
Murphy’s last four fights have been
Feb 2017 Hugo Trujillo L TKO 5 Trujillo's record 2-0-1 Murphy unrated by the WBA
July 2018 Juan Reyna W KO 1 Reyna's record 6-9-1 Murphy unrated by the WBA
May 2019 Oswaldo Ortega W RTD 2 Ortega's record 3-11 Murphy unrated by the WBA
August 2019 Larry Pryor W PTS 4 Pryor's record 11-20
Murphy rated No 7 by the WBA
Going into the Murphy fight Pryor had lost 6 of his last 7 fights
In the WBA ratings for 31/10/19 Murphy having never previously been rated suddenly appeared at No 7 for beating a guy with a 11-20 record in a FOUR ROUND fight. He has not fought since August 2019 and he is No 7 in the current WBA ratings.
And these are the guys that wanted to help clean up Olympic boxing!!
The WBO are making life difficult for whoever wins between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. If their June fight does come off the WBO have stated that the winner will have to defend their title against the winner of the fight between Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce. Sounds good except that it seems if Fury and Joshua do fight the contract will include a return fight clause. Would the WBO really strip the winner of Fury vs. Joshua?
Some fights to look forward to: February 13 in Indio Joseph Diaz defends the IBF super featherweight title against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Patrick Teixeira puts his WBO super welterweight title on the line against Brian Castano. On the same night in London Josh Warrington makes his first appearance since relinquishing the IBF featherweight title with a ten round fight against 21-2 Mexican Mauricio Lara and Zelfa Barrett faces former IBF super bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez. A great all-Mexican fight on 20 February in Las Vegas will see Miguel Berchelt defend his WBC super feather title against Oscar Valdez a real mouth-watering clash. Their combined records are 65-1 with 55 wins by KO/TKO. Also on 20 February in London we have the much anticipated European welterweight title defence by David Avanesyan against Josh Kelly. The undercard of Alvarez vs. Yildirim will feature Julio Cesar Martinez defending the WBC flyweight title against Puerto Rican McWilliams Arroyo. Anthony Dirrell returns to action on 27 February against Kyrone Davis. March 18 in Puerto Rico French super middleweight hope Christian Mbilli 17-0 faces his test to date in the shape of Ukrainian Ievgen Khytrov 20-2 with former WBA title holder Alberto Machado 22-2 against 19-0 Hector Tanajara. March 20 is the date for Lawrence Okolie and Krzys Glowacki to face off with the vacant WBO cruiserweight title on the line. March 31 will see Tim Tszyu take on Dennis Hogan and if Tszyu wins that he will be looking to get a shot at a version of the super welterweight title later in the year and also on the card a good domestic scrap as Billy Dib tackles Kye MacKenzie. It seems that the plan is for Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez to each put their two titles on the line to establish the king of the super lightweights on May 8 in Las Vegas so some exciting times ahead.
Felix Trinidad scored a win. This one came in a legal battle with the Banco Popular in Puerto Rico. Trinidad is taking action against the Bank alleging mismanagement of his funds. A court had ordered Banco Popular to pay $1-1 million to Trinidad but the Bank had appealed against that ruling. Last week the Court of Appeal voted 2-1 to reject the appeal but the Bank says the fight is not over-a different sort of return match to the ones Trinidad is used to.
South African Kevin Lerena is seeking to become the first title holder in the new WBC Bridgerweight division. That dream almost came to nothing last week when a helicopter Lerena was in crashed. Both Lerena and the instructor survived without serious injuries. Lerena is No 2 in the new WBC ratings with Oscar Rivas at No 1 but it remains to be seen how any eliminators are structured.
Old habits really do die hard. It is amusing in theses closed-doors days to see a winning fighter race to a corner and climb the ropes to waive triumphantly at um-four people!
Boxing’s heart is in the right place. Saul Alvarez has appeared on a video with an appeal for funds to help young David Antolin who is suffering from cystic fibrosis, Tyson Fury has donated a signed pair of silver boxing gloves for an auction run by CancerCare entitled “The Month of Love” . This is to support local people in Kendall and Barrow in North West England affected by cancer and bereavement during COVID-19. The gloves are just one item of many which will be offered in online auction throughout February with people invited to place silent bids. Finally Pole Kamil Szeremeta auctioned off the shorts he wore for his fight with Gennady Golovkin to raise funds for a 20-month-old baby boy with an extremely complex heart defect. As a sport we do care.
* Kid Azteca: Real name: Luis Villanueva Paramo was Mexican pro who had 252 fights 192 wins (114 by KO/TKO),47 losses, 11 draws and 2 No Decisions. He fought from 1929 until 1961 so he fought over four decades and had at least one fight a year in every one of those 31 years.
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