By Eric Armit
The news that Jarrell Miller failed a routine tests administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency on March 20 is a blow for all concerned. Miller is adamant that he is clean and referenced a test he had been given a week before that was clean but that really is irrelevant. For Anthony Joshua it puts a black cloud over his US debut. Miller was a viable opponent. Let’s face it once you cross out Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, Dillian Whyte and perhaps Luis Ortiz (who has twice failed tests) who is there? Although criticised as a choice at least Miller was big, unbeaten and known to the American market and is a far more threatening than Dominic Breazeale (Wilder) and Tom Schwarz (Fury). I don’t envy Eddie Hearn his task because the heavyweight division is not exactly teeming with talent right now. After the series of problem tests you could excuse someone from wondering why the heavyweight division continues to shoot itself in the foot.
The aftermath of problem tests were a feature of the past week. Tied into the Joshua fight undercard was the outcome of a recent investigation in Belgium. The WBC female lightweight champion Delfine Persoon is the premier boxer in Belgium. Back in October a doctor attended Persoon’s home to test her but she had just peed and could not give a sample. Persoon is in the police force so he then went to a course he though she was going to be on but she was not there and when he then went to the police station she was out on an assignment so the test never took place. Persoon’s case was heard last week by the Flemish Anti-Doping court and they exonerated her completely so if the Madison Square Garden show comes off she will be facing Katie Taylor in another battle of top strata females.
It was a totally different outcome for French heavyweight Tony Yoka. As I previously reported he had been slapped with a one year ban by the French Anti-Doping Agency for missing three tests. He appealed his case to the State Council last week but they upheld the ban so he cannot fight until June. His home Federation gave him a suspended sentence so they obviously did not accept his excuses for missing three tests, the French Anti-Doping Agency gave him a one year ban and the State Council upheld it. Yota is signed up to the VADA testing and even for missing just two tests a boxer can be removed from the VAD registration but the WBC have taken no action in Yoka’s case.
When I prefaced my piece in my last Snips and Snipes on the mirage of one universally recognised heavyweight champion I mentioned that Mike Tyson was the last to be able to have that distinction when he won the IBF, WBA and WBC titles. With that I brought down upon myself the scorn of fans of Lennox Lewis. The argument went that when Lewis beat Evander Holyfield he unified the same three titles and therefore he and not Tyson had that distinction. The reason I had named Tyson was that by the time Lewis beat Holyfield in November 1999 the WBO was in existence and therefore Lewis only held three of the four belts. The counter argument was that the WBO was not generally recognised at that time. The problem I had with that was that the WBO title was then held by Vitali Klitschko which is a fact and that the statement that the WBO was not generally recognised is opinion. If you feel I am wrong then please provide me the date by which you consider the WBO was “generally” recognised? Before Lewis beat Holyfield Vitali Klitschko, Thomas Hearns, Chris Eubank, Joe Calzaghe, Nigel Benn, Gerald McClellan, Winky Wright, Hector Camacho, Oscar De La Hoya, Acelino Frietas, Naseem Hamed, Marco Antonio Barrera, Johnny Tapia, Michael Carbajal, Jorge Arce and Ricardo Lopez had already been WBO champions. You might get an argument from the supporters of those fighters if you suggest they were not really world champions then.
I am an admirer of Gennady Golovkin. He is a great, talented and entertaining fighter who never bad-mouths or denigrates an opponent so a credit to the sport. You get what you see but there are things you don’t see because Golovkin tends to be a very private person and the Golovkin story has not always been a happy one. Gennady and his twin brother Max were both encouraged to take up boxing by their elder brothers Sergey and Vadim. Both of the elder brothers joined the Russian Army and both died in combat, Vadim in 1990 and Sergey in 1994 so the Gennady family has known deep sadness. Gennady and Max continued with their boxing. When it came time for boxers to qualify for the 2004 Olympics there was only one spot available in Athens and the Golovkin twins were both in line for the available slot. The Golovkin family decided that as Gennady was oldest-by 15 minutes- he should go to Athens. Gennady went on to win the silver medal and Max-who according to Gennady was the better boxer never boxed again but remains very much a part of the Golovkin team. There is a song “What a Difference a Day Makes” but for the Golovkin brothers and boxing what a difference 15 minutes made.
Figures released say that Vasyl Lomachenko’s purse for the Anthony Crolla title defence was $1.3 million and Crolla’s $300,000. It was amusing to hear Lomachenko saying he would fight Gervonta Davis for free. I couldn’t help but envisage Loma’s manager, trainer, sparring partner’s etc. getting out their calculators to figure out what their percentage of nothing might add up to!
I thought the absconding by top Cuban boxers had ceased but it is not so. Former World Amateur Champion Joahnys Argilagos is preparing to have his first pro fight. It took a long while to get him a visa but he is now being mentored by Erislandy Lara. Apart for the World Championships gold competing at 49kgs he was Cuban champion, World Youth gold medallist, took silver at the Pan American games and won a bronze medal in Rio.
There is another Pacquiao in the ring. Last week Jimuel Pacquiao, Manny’s son, had his first amateur fight and won on a second round kayo. It is not going to be easy for Jimuel to live with the Pacquiao name.
Sometimes I really do wonder about the people who are supposed to administer our sport. On 12 April the New Hampshire Boxing and Wrestling Commission approved a fight between Vincenzo Carita and Claudio Morroni Porto which local fighter Carita won on a first round kayo. Carita 34 had a 19-1-1 record before the fight with 18 of his 19 wins by KO/TKO nine in the first round. Brazilian Porto had an 8-4-1 record he is 47 years old and the first round knockout he suffered against Carita was his fifth first round kayo loss in a row. Disgraceful!
Two boxers who you might thought had or were going to retire made it clear it was not over for them. Despite a shock points loss to 11-5-1 Oscar Mojica and a broken nose Paddy Barnes is adamant that he will be back in action soon. The move to bantamweight did not work but there is still plenty of fight in “The Leprechaun”. Former WBO light welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov says that although he has not fought since losing to John Molina in November 2016 he is only taking a break having been sickened by boxing politics and will return
How things change. I am old enough to remember the days when the Eastern Bloc countries used to hog the medals at the Olympics and the European Championships. We consoled ourselves by saying they would never survive in the professional ranks now three Russian an a Ukrainian hold the four belts in the light heavyweight division and nine other former “amateur only” countries have nine other belts.
Two statues, two boxers, two very different outcomes. In Argentina yet another statue was raised to honour the memory of Oscar Bonavena. Heavyweight “Ringo” was idolised in Argentina but never quite made it to the pinnacle. With a 58-9-1 record including 44 wins by KO/TKO the nearest he came was a fifteen round points loss to Joe Frazier in 1968 with Frazier’s New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) version of the title on the line. Back in 1967 Oscar had entered the WBA heavyweight Elimination Tournament to find a new WBA champion when Muhammad Ali was stripped off the title by WBA and the NYSAC after he was convicted of draft evasion. In the Tournament Oscar beat Karl Mildenberger but lost to Jimmy Ellis. He fought just about every top heavyweight around before being shot and killed in May 1976 and three statues shows how revered he was in Argentina.
Carlos Monzon for me was the greatest Argentinian fighter ever. When he retired in 1977 he had an 87-3-9,1ND record, had ruled the middleweights for seven years, made 14 title defences and was unbeaten in his last 80 fights. Naturally he was elected to the Hall of Fame, naturally there was a statue dedicated to him after he died in a car accident in 1995. The statue was removed for refurbishment and when the task was finished it was ready to be re-erected. That’s when the darker side of Monzon caused problems. When Monzon died he was out on furlough from prison. He had been convicted in 1988 for killing his common-law wife and sentenced to eleven years. Members of a feminist group protested strongly over the statue being re-erected so it has not been replaced. Unfortunately great fighters are not necessarily great men and times have changed since 1995.
Still on Argentina Marcos Maidana having signed a contract for three fights this year says the first will be in June but no opponent named. Maidana at the time of talking said he had come down from 215lbs to 170lbs so he is obviously serious. Less pleasant news had former WBO welter and super welter title challenger Sebastien Lujan arrested on robbery charges. If convict he won’t want for company as his former manager is doing time for drug trafficking.
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