By Eric Armit
Sometimes a draw can be a fair reflection of a fight but it rarely satisfies either boxer and rarely settles anything. That is certainly the case for the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury fight. I thought Fury won by four points and it seems that the majority of observers-but not all- also thought Fury won. It is nice to feel you are in a majority but also irrelevant because in boxing the result is decided by three judges and not by popular vote. Effectively the draw in the Wilder vs. Fury fight meant that Wilder remained the WBC champion and Fury having relinquished the WBA and WBO titles in 2016, and been stripped off the IBF title the same year, had no title. The best thing for boxing would have been a win for either fighter which would almost certainly have guaranteed a fight with Anthony Joshua next year to unify the heavyweight title for the first time since 5 May 1989. On that date Mike Tyson held the IBF, WBA and WBC titles but on 6 May Francesco Damiani won the inaugural WBO title and no one has held all four titles since then. Up until Fury’s win over Wlad Klitschko Lennox Lewis and Klitschko were the only fighters to have held three of the four titles.
There is no guarantee of a unification fight in 2019. Already no one can be sure whether Wilder and Fury will go straight into a return match. The WBC after a unanimous vote of their Board of Governors ordering the rematch then fudged the issue by saying that if Wilder requested permission to fight Joshua in a unification fight they would vote again. It is also a fact that such a unification match is not solely in the WBC’s hands. It would need the WBO to ignore the claims to a fight with Joshua for their No 1 Dillian White-and the WBC to do the same as he is No 1 with them in their ratings published after the draw with Fury-and the IBF to let their No 1 Kubrat Pulev, who beat Hughie Fury in an eliminator, be by-passed and the WBA to do the same for secondary champion Manuel Charr and interim champion Trevor Bryan. It is a simple fact that despite what they may say none of the four sanctioning bodies want a unified title-in any division. The fans might want it and the media may want it but for commercial and prestige reasons each sanctioning body wants its own champion. After his win over Klitschko It took the IBF only ten days for them to find a reason to strip Fury of their title. There is no benefit whatsoever for a sanctioning body in a unified title.
As far as money is concerned the basic figures saw Wilder getting$4 million and Fury $3 million and as they were willing to fight each other for that then the favoured fight on money alone for Wilder must be Joshua. Wilder’s team had been willing to accept a flat fee of $15 million to fight Joshua last year and talked about offering Joshua $80 million. The Wilder vs. Fury fight was a great heavyweight fight so they would both expect to be paid a lot more for the return but there would be a lot more money on the table if they fought Joshua ‘
There was mention of Fury being the linear champion but I have problems with the “Linear” concept of “the man who beat the man”. For me if there is or has been a linear champion then when he retires that line is broken. If the linear champion is the holder of the WBC title then when he retires the WBC will nominate two fighters to fight for the WBC title. The supporters of the linear champion theory will have no say in who those fighters are so effectively the WBC will be the decision makers on the linear champion and if there are stronger IBF, WBO or WBA champions-stronger than the two the WBC nominate-then hard luck on them as the new WBC champion will be recognised as the linear champion irrespective of his quality. Olek Usyk is the first truly unified champion of the cruiser title since Evander Holyfield back in 1988 when there was no WBO and since Usyk’s first title was the WBO title then presumably when he gives up his cruiser titles the WBO will rule of who is the linear champion!
On the subject of titles the WBA went their usual mercenary way. They had more champions than titles at cruiser with Usyk as super champion, Beibut Shumenov as their secondary champion, Arsen Goulamirian as interim champion and Denis Lebedev as champion in recess. With Lebedev having escaped from “recess” they have invented yet another title for Goulamirian-he is no longer interim champion he is now Gold champion. Does that mean that having been interim world champion he drops the word “world” or is he now the WBA Gold World champion? A great idea by the WBA going for gold you might say. As of last month there are 118 elements listed in the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. Apart from gold silver and bronze there are beauties such as Praseodymium, Molybdenum and even Krypton (ite), which might scare their super champions, so plenty of scope for more titles for the WBA.
Let’s be fair to the WBA it was Jose Sulaiman who first introduced interim titles as well as things such as champion in recess and champion emeritus.
The very thought of any of the sanctioning bodies wanting to take the place of the AIBA is enough to send shivers down the back of any boxing lover. They have made a mockery of the concept of a world champion and it would be a disaster if they got any control over Olympic boxing.
If the rumours that the WBSS is in trouble and may go no further are true then it is a big loss for the fighters and the fans. There are no dates showing for the next round of the cruiserweight, super light or bantam semi-finals and there should have been by now. They have given us some great fights that would probably either not otherwise been made or taken a long time to put together. It has been a high quality product but also a very expensive one and the signs are not good.
It is a great pity that HBO has bowed out of boxing. Since 1973 they have featured so many great fights and fighters and they had a top quality boxing team. It is a mark of how the boxing world has changed in that the headline contests in the final HBO show featured two female world title fights. That was never even dreamed about as a possibility when HBO first started covering boxing. Boxers such as Claressa Shields, Cecilia Braekhus, Delfine Persoon, Jelena Mrdjenovich, Katie Taylor, Mariano Juarez, Yessica Bop, Chantelle Cameron, Eva Wahlstrom and others have already or are now building huge followings. The problem in the past has been a lack of depth and the wide gap between the top liners and the others but that is changing slowly.
Oscar Valdez will return to the ring in Tucson on 12 January putting his WBO featherweight title on the line with Spaniard Andoni Gago being mentioned as a possible challenger. It will be the first fight for Valdez since he suffered a broken jaw when defending the WBO title against Scott Quigg in March this year. Officially Gago is listed to fight champion Kiko Martinez for the European title with negotiations underway been the two parties so the Valdez fight is not yet nailed down.
The 2 February return match between Eleider Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev should be an interesting one. At 35 it is a fight Kovalev can’t afford to lose
Keith Thurman will return to the ring on 16 January with a defence of his WBA welterweight title against Mexican Josesito Lopez in New York. It will be Thurman’s first fight since taking a split verdict over Danny Garcia in a title defence in March 2017
It is amazing how things sometimes turn out in boxing. Back in 2016 Jason Welborn must have wondered if he had a future when he lost on points to William Warburton who had 96 losses on his record. Yes 96! In December 2018 he was fighting in Los Angeles for the WBA and IBF world titles.
Sergey Derevyanchenko may get another shot at IBF champion Daniel Jacobs early next year. Derevyanchenko is No 4 with the IBF and they have ordered a fight with their highest rated challenger No 2 Jack Culcay (the No 1 slot is vacant). It would be a fight where Derevyanchenko would be a heavy favourite and as he is not currently in the WBA or WBO ratings and only No 10 with the WBC it would seem to offer his best chance to a title fight.
A WBO final eliminator between No 2 Shefat Isufi and No 3 Vincent Feigenbutz is set for 22 February to decide who gets the shot at the winner of Gilberto Ramirez vs. Jesse Hart WBO super middleweight title fight tonight. Whoever wins between Isufi and Feigenbutz will never stand a chance against either Ramirez or Hart. It is unusual but Hungarian promoter Felix Racz won the bidding so Feigenbutz will have to fight in Budapest. Normally Sauerland Promotions would be the ones to put in the highest bid for a Feigenbutz contest.
Another top amateur is crossing over. Canadian Arthur Biyarslanov has signed with Lee Baxter and will have his first pro fight on Saturday. “The Chechen Wolf” Biyarslanov Competed at the World Youth Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships. He won big in 2015 getting a gold medal at the Pan American Games beating top Cuban Yasniel Toledo Lopez making him the only Canadian to win gold at those Games. He took gold at the 2016 Americas Qualifier and competed at the 2016 Olympics finishing with an 85-13 amateur record. Another one to watch.
It was a weighty matter when Hemi Ahio and Conrad Lam fought on 24November. Ahio is a reasonable size heavyweight at 6’0” and 246lbs. Lam is 6’4” and weighed in at 434lbs so 680lbs between them. I hope no one matches Lam with Dennis Lewandowski as he comes in around 280lbs.
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