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.
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