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.
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