By Eric Armit-
Although most people were convinced that the Gennady Golovkin vs. Kell Brook fight would end in an inside the distance win for Golovkin the fight still drew excellent viewing figures. The live fight had 843,000 HBO viewers with the replay adding a further 593,000. When you consider that there was substantial money paid out by Sky customers a live gate of almost 20,000 and TV Azteca getting over 1.5 million viewers it was a very lucrative fight. Brook would have attracted a lot of British fight fans but the real message is how much of a draw Golovkin has become. Liam Smith may ruin the plans but if Saul Alvarez starts acting like he actually wants to fight Golovkin and signs on the line Golovkin vs. Alvarez could be the biggest draw since Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. Alvarez will bring to the table a huge Mexican audience. HBO are said to be talking Saul Alvarez vs. Kell Brook in May 2017! Come on guys there is a whole ocean of water to go under the bridge before anyone can talk sensibly about that.
Roman Gonzalez vs. Carlos Cuadras drew 833,000 viewers to HBO. It had the advantage of taking place at a time which suited the US market but it also drew in over 2,000,000 viewers in Mexico and Alvarez is a much bigger name to Mexican fans than Gonzalez or Cuadras. Saturday night sees Alvarez vs. Liam Smith and in Poland Krzys Glowacki vs. Olek Usyk, on 24 September it is Anthony Crolla vs. Jorge Linares, Marco Huck vs. Ovill McKenzie and Donnie Nietes vs. Edgar Sosa and October kicks-off with Joseph Parker vs. Alex Dimitrenko and Juergen Braehmer vs. Nathan Cleverly and November will bring us Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward. Boxing is alive and well and the world did not end when Mayweather walked away and does not need him to come back-unless he wants to fight Golovkin!!
Plenty of speculation on who both Golovkin and Gonzalez should fight next. The sanctioning bodies have put their oar in. The WBA have said Golovkin must defend against Daniel Jacobs within the next 120 days and the WBC have ruled that Gonzalez must defend against Thai Srisaket with the parties given 90 days to come to terms or it will go to purse offers. Jacobs makes sense for Golovkin as he holds the secondary WBA title but if Golovkin decides it is not the fight he wants or is not a big enough fight then he can walk away from the WBA title and still hold two titles. Unfortunately his WBC mandatory challenger is Argentinian Jorge Heiland and his IBF one is Tureano Johnson both of whom are good fighters but neither is the sort of names to attract big purses or big viewing figures. Srisaket is a former WBC champion who has lost only one of his last 39 fights and has 13 wins in a row by KO/TKO. The loss was a technical decision against Cuadras when he was behind on all three cards. He has a good win over Jose Salgado (34-2-2) which saw him collect the WBC Silver title but the other victims are second class at best. Again it would not be a big money fight but the WBC will not be able to swerve past Srisaket. With Juan Francisco Estrada relinquishing the WBA and WBO flyweight titles to move up to super fly then a fight with Estrada or the Japanese star Naoya Inoue, who holds the WBO title, would be much better fights for Gonzalez but unlike Golovkin Gonzalez only has the WBC title so may be a little more reluctant to relinquish and might take the Srisaket fight just to clear the board for himself.
Random thoughts about last weekend’s fights. Plenty of criticism of the scores which had Brook level on two and ahead on one after four rounds. So it is not only the AIBA/Olympics where the scoring is controversial? Perhaps there are few cases of people in glass houses throwing stones over Rio. Scoring in fights is so subjective. The scores for Roman Gonzalez against Carlos Cuadras were 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 all for Gonzalez. I managed to convince myself that 117-111 was too wide and 15-113 too narrow. So how far apart were the judges in their assessment? If you think about it if the 117-111 judge had scored one round differently and given it to Cuadras instead of Gonzalez he would have scored it 116-112. If the judge who had it 115-113 had scored one round differently and given it to Gonzalez instead of Cuadras he would have scored the fight 116-112. They gave what looked like widely divergent scores but really just scoring one round differently would have brought all them all together. Also on scoring I am not in favour of the scores being revealed after 4 and 8 rounds but I find myself wondering if Stuart Hall would have changed his tactics if he knew that one judge had given all of the first nine rounds to Lee Haskins and another had given Haskins all of the first seven rounds. Effectively Hall needed a knockout but did not know it. The Robert Easter vs. Richard Commey results was very close and naturally Commey’s team with the support of the Ghana Board is to protest and the Sports Minister has also volunteered to support the appeal. There was no return bout clause in the contract so Commey will almost certainly have to wait for his chance.
Gonzalez is now a four division champion. How does that compare to six division champion Pacquiao. Manny is 5’5 ½” turned pro at the age of 16 weighing 106lbs, won his first title in his 25th fight at 112lbs, his second at 122lbs in his 35th fight, next it was 130lbs in fight No 51, he took the fourth, the 135lbs title, in fight No 42, the fifth at 147lbs in fight No 55 and his the six at 154lbs in fight No 57. When you lay it out like that it shows just what an incredible achievement winning titles in six divisions is. Gonzalez is 5’3” tall and he turned pro at 17. He won his first title at 105 lbs after 21 fights, his second at 108lbs in his 28th fight, his third at 112lbs in fight No 40 and his fourth on Saturday at 115lbs in fight No 46. So they both started at approximately the same age and weight but by his 46th fight Pacquiao had skipped past the featherweights and was already weighing 129 1/2lbs and fighting Erik Morales at super feather and accelerated through the weights from there. It would be nice to think that Gonzalez might go on to win more division titles but at 5’3” tall he is just that bit smaller than Pacquiao so Manny’s record of being the only fighter to win titles from flyweight to super welter is not under threat.
A memory can be an evil thing in boxing. If you have one you are likely to remember things some people would rather have you forget. An example was the trumpeting in 2015 of how the IBF, WBA and WBC were all going to work together for the good of boxing. They were going to lay down criteria for unification bouts, and also work together on weigh-ins, anti-doping and other medical issues, designation of judges, electronic scoring and other subjects. The WBA President talked about a drive to get single world champions and the adoption by the other two bodies of ½ point scoring. All wonderful stuff and then the bodies went their separate ways and did things their own way with not even a nod towards all the wonderful stuff they were going to do together. OK that’s not 100% accurate. The WBA and WBC did agree to both use “super” as in super welter etc. which was no big deal as they were both already using that designation. This is the time for you to break out with thunderous applause as the huge world shaking change is that the WBC agreed to stop using strawweight and go over to minimumweight. Yes that was the world changing decision they made. Well not quite. The IBF did not agree so to this day the IBF still designate the lower weight divisions as junior light, junior bantam etc. There you have it. Three of the “greatest” minds in boxing took two meetings and could not even agree to call the weight divisions by the same name-and the WBO declined to even attend. The WBA’s pledge to work to one unified champion in each division? I am shocked and amazed that they now have only 38 champions spread over the 17 division what a sacrifice that must be. Two sayings come to mind. “Turkeys voting for Christmas” and “Listen to the words but judge by the actions”. None of the bodies will give up one slice of their power and there is a huge gap between what they said they would do and what they have done.
The only one who comes out with any credit is WBC chief Mauricio Suleman as he at least initiated the meetings but was naive to think any real progress would come from them but he tried unlike the WBO who took the attitude that we are not interested in the good of boxing only in our sanctioning fees. They trumpet their fight against drugs and then introduced to their ratings last month heavyweight Eric Teper who is suspended by the EBU until July 2017 after testing positive twice in fights and on 15 October he fights for their vacant WBO European title. Strange way to combat drugs in boxing.
On the same subject Russian Igor Mikhalkin is hoping for some leniency. He tested positive for melodonium after the defence of his European light heavy title against Patrick Bois in March and was stripped off his title and given a two year suspension by the EBU. His plea for leniency is based on his confirmation he had used it but not knowing it had gone on the banned list and on having used only a very small amount. I can’t see that reasoning flying but he could always fight for a WBO title!
Felix Sturm’s move to Bosnia is unlikely to solve anything as he is still the subject of an ongoing police investigation after his positive test when winning the WBA super middle title from Fedor Chudinov in February.
The Russian Federation announced itself pleased with its boxing team’s performance in Rio where they took home one (hotly disputed gold medal for Evgeniy Tishchenko), one silver and two bronze-and then sacked their coach!
Such a tragedy to read of the early death of Bobby Chacon. He was one of the most exciting fighters of his era. The “Schoolboy” was a huge ticket seller with his explosive aggressive style and won WBC titles at both featherweight and super featherweight. He ducked no one and his record reads like a who’s who of the top fighters of his day. He beat Frankie Crawford, Chucho Castillo, Danny Lopez, Alfredo Marcano, was 1-2 in fights with Ruben Olivares, Rafael Limon, Cornelius Boza-Edwards and even some guy called Freddie Roach and at his peak only lost to the best such as Olivares, Boza-Edwards, Alexis Arguello and Ray Mancini. A great career but Bobby paid for his brave, wide-open style and wide-open life style suffering eventually from pugilistic dementia and dying at the early age of 64. He is rightly in the Hall of Fame.
Nice to see the WBC arranged a dinner in Mexico to honour Sugar Ramos. The Cuban great still looks in good health at 74. He was a great featherweight who escaped Cuba in 1960 to continue his professional career in Mexico. He lost only once, on a disqualification, in his first 49 fights winning the WBA and WBC feather titles in 1963 with a win over Davey Moore who at that time had lost only one of his last 38 fights. Tragically Moore hit his neck on the bottom rope when knocked down in the tenth round and died two days later from the whiplash effect of his neck hitting the rope. Ramos made successful defences against Rafiu King and Mitsunori Seki and then went to Ghana to defend his title in 1964 against the local hero Floyd Robertson in the first world title fight ever held there. Ramos had to climb off the floor to take the split decision with the Ghana Board first declaring it a no contest and then proclaiming Robertson the winner and world champion-which everyone ignored. Ramos lost his title to Mexican Vicente Saldivar in September 194. He twice challenged for the lightweight title losing both times to Carlos Ortiz and from then he faded although he was still good enough to beat future WBC lightweight champion Chango Carmona, former WBC champion Raul Rojas and Lyle Randolph. He ended with a 55-7-4 record with 40 wins by KO/TKO. I had the pleasure of seeing him destroy Brit Sammy McSpadden in two rounds at the Empire Pool Wembley in 1963 and was awestruck by the flashing hand speed and accuracy of his combination punching. May you have many more happy years Sugar.
When “Magic Man” Paulie Malignaggi beat Antonio Moscatiello in London in December he probably thought he had fulfilled an ambition to win the European title. Actually it was ‘a’ European title, namely the European Union title which is for fighters from or licensed in a country within the European Union so excludes places such as Ukraine and Russia as opposed to the European Boxing Union (EBU) title which is for all European fighters. Paulie is going to try to put that right. He is co-challenger for the now vacant EBU welterweight title along with French fighter Ahmed El Mousaoui (24-2-1) and the fight is out for bids with purse offers due 20 September. This time it is for real Paulie.
The EBU nominated Callum Smith and George Grove to contest the vacant super middle title and they state that it is in a period for negotiation. If he takes the fight Smith will be risking his WBC No 1 position so although it would be huge fight for Britain he may not want to go down that road.
As usual there are some high quality EBU title fights on the boil. Unbeaten Anthony Yigit and former champion Lenny Daws are paired for the vacant super light title with Sauerland Event and Hennessy Sports said to be in negotiation with either agreement or purse offers by 28 September. Frenchman Mehdi Amar will defend his light heavy title against former WBO super middle champion Robert Stieglitz in November, Brit Ryan Walsh (21-1-1) has an away date on 15 October in Frederickshavn, Denmark against Denis Ceylan (17-0-1) for the vacant feather title. Ivory Coast-born Ryad Merhy has been getting some good result in Belgium and he gets his big chance as he is to challenge Dmytro Kucher for the light heavyweight. Kucher won the tile in June with a one round stoppage of Enzo Maccarinelli. He is 24-1-1 with 18 off his 24 wins by KO/TKO. Merhy is 19-0 with 16 of his wins by KO/TKO. The deadline for negotiations is set for 6 October.
Computers!!! The first time I put Golovkin in my spellchecker it came up with “lovemaking” can you image the headline? Lovemaking gives Brook a fractured orbital bone. I could not find anything in the Kama Sutra (that I borrowed from a friend-honest) that covered that.
The Olympic Games are such a big event that over the past month they have largely pushed professional boxing off the back pages and the TV screens. The Games are over so it is back to business with a bang. On the weekend of 9/10 September in title fights we have Gennady Golovkin vs. Kell Brook, Carlos Cuadras vs. Ramon Gonzalez , John Riel Casimero vs. Charlie Edwards, Lee Haskins vs. Stuart Hall, Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergio Mora and Robert Easter vs. Richard Commey. On the weekend of 16/17 we have Shinsuke Yamanaka vs. Anselmo Moreno, Hugo Ruiz vs. Hozumi Hasegawa, Krzys Glowacki vs. Olek Usyk and of course Saul Alvarez vs. Liam Smith and those are just the world title fights. There are plenty other top flight fighters in action. Further down the time line we have Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward. Welcome back big time boxing we’ve missed you.
Are the great days finally over for Manny Pacquiao now that HBO have refused to buy the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jesse Vargas fight? Nothing personal, it is a business decision. They have looked at what the fight would cost them and what the potential revenue would be and decided the business case does not add up. Even at 37 “Pac Man” would still be at least 50/50 to beat any welterweight in the world but he is not the solid gold PPV seller he was. Of course it is also about Jesse Vargas who despite an impressive win over Sadam Ali as yet does not have the profile to be a PPV fighter off his own bat so he has to fly on Pacquiao’s coat tails for now. A win would give Pacquiao the WBO title and Tim Bradley would be his mandatory challenger. After three fights which did not set the world alight a fourth Pacquiao vs. Bradley fight would be a hard sell. A loss would spell the end of a truly great career but in either case the times they are a changing. No fighter in the history of boxing has won world titles at both flyweight and welterweight and no other Filipino sportsman has done as much to bring pride and prestige to his nation. If he promises to make the Vargas fight his last one I promise to travel to the Hall of Fame in five years time to see him get the Hall of Fame ring and the fist cast he so richly deserves. Better get myself a piggy bank.
Filipino’s have been in the news quite a bit lately. On Saturday in Taguid City Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo defends his IBF super fly title against Filipino Jerwin Ancajas and I lean towards Ancajas to lift the title. There is talk of another Filipino star Nonito Donaire defending his WBO super bantam title against unbeaten No 1 challenger Jessie Magdaleno. Donaire has a huge edge in experience and Magdaleno has yet to go further than eight rounds in a fight but he has lots of talent and is much the younger man. A great match up of experience vs. youth. No youth involved with Jack Asis who has announced his retirement. Now as much an Australian as a Filipino the 33-year-old former IBO super feather champion showed what good management and a planned career can do. After a run of five losses in a row Asis was an unremarkable 21-18-4 but with that quality management and through building a good “home base” in Australia Asis went 14-0-1 in his next 15 fights before losing his IBF title to Malcolm Klassen last month. He is immensely popular down under.
It seems that the WBC can’t make their mind up over Alex Povetkin’s alleged positive test after his fight with Mariusz Wach in November. They have forced Povetkin to fight an eliminator with Bermane Stiverne. If they believed that Povetkin did used a banned substance then they should have given him an extended ban and taken him out of the No 1 spot in their ratings. If they do not believe the alleged positive test then why have they deprived him of the mandated straight shot at Deontay Wilder that he was supposed to have earlier this year before Wilder got injured in the Chris Arreola fight? Either Povetkin was guilty or he was innocent but the WBC decision is at best a compromise or it was a cop out.
The fall-out from the Rio Olympic comes in all shapes and sizes. The AIBA received heavy praise from the IOC for their “contribution and dedication” to the “success” of the Olympic boxing tournament. That opinion is one view but others hold the view that some of the judging was just as poor as it always is at the Olympics. In fairness the pro game has little to throw stones about as there are poor decisions every week in professional boxing and quite a bit of home biased scoring. The big difference is the impact on the fighters involved in chasing an Olympic medal. If a pro boxer gets robbed he can hope to get his revenge within weeks or months. A loss at the Olympics means the end of a four year dream and a wait of another four years before there is a chance to right that wrong. There were 273 bouts at the Olympics and relatively few bad decisions. The problem was that some of those bad decisions came in high profile fights and were so obviously wrong. The upside is that the AIBA were severely criticised and forced to take some action.
Many thought that Kazak boxer Vasily Levit was robbed of the gold medal when he lost to Russian Evgeny Tischenko. The Kazak government had promised $150, 000 to their athletes for a silver medal but they allocated Levit the additional $100,000 that he would have received had he won the gold. In addition Russian Andrew Ryabinsky said if both Levit and Tischenko would agree to turn pro he would promote a fight between them and it would be a big draw.
Whilst even settling for silver would have brought Levit a big reward for Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan controversial losses saw insult and injury. Both thought they had won clearly but went home without a medal. No medal-no funding. Despite their outstanding performances over the years without elite level funding they could be forced to turn professional. No wonder Conlan exploded with rage.
Other post Olympic notes: Kazak gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov is looking to turn his gold medal into an even bigger cash cow. The 25-year-old welterweight is said to be on his way to join his brother Dauren who is based in Brooklyn and fighting under the Lou Di Bella banner. Spanish boxer Youba Sissokho also competed at welterweight in Rio. He put off an operation on a tumour in his neck to compete but luckily it turned out to be benign. You get out what you put in. India failed to win any boxing medals and only three of their boxers qualified. Despite a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games Manoj Kumar received no funding until he actually qualified for Rio in June which was too late to be of any use to him. Vijender Singh has shown the potential is huge there but with their national federation terminated in 2012 and showing no signs of coalescing into a format acceptable to the AIBA Rio served to emphasise just what a mess amateur boxing is in there. It is not much better for the members of the Pakistan team. Their daily allowance in camp whilst preparing for the Olympic qualifiers worked out at about $1 per day. There is no level playing field. Medals are influenced by funding. Not one sub-Sahara male boxer won a boxing medal and yet on the other side of the coin despite a well-funded elite programme Britain landed only one silver and one bronze and the USA also took only one silver and one bronze. The USA needs to take a long look at how they prepare their boxers. There is often a transformation when their fighters turn pro so you have to ask why fighters such a Rau’shee Warren, Errol Spence, Jose Carlos Ramirez and Terrell Gausha can succeed as pros when they can’t even get though the Olympic quarter-finals?
My final thoughts are that the vote of confidence from the IOC has strengthened the AIBA’s hand and effectively endorsed their policy of opening the Olympics to professional boxers. The AIBA’s Rio experiment was a dismal failure as they kicked the whole thing off too late with only a couple of high profile pros taking up the offer. Instead of those pros contributing to the profile of the boxing tournament they crawled away with their tails between their legs. Look for the AIBA to now do some long term planning using the time towards the World Championships to get a lot more pros on board. They will not go away and will only get stronger.
Felix Sturm has sold up his businesses and his gym in Germany and moved himself and his family to Bosnia. He is still disputing through the courts his alleged positive test for the illegal substance Hydro-XY Stanozol at the time of his revenge victory over Fedor Chudinov in February which saw him win the WBA super middle title. Due to the court case the WBA still show him as their world champion and Sturm intends to return to action next year so it is a messy position.
In the meantime the secondary version of the WBA super middle title is very much in play with Giovanni De Carolis set to give Tyrone Zeuge a return match. De Carolis retained his title with a draw in Germany against Zeuge in July now he will travel to Potsdam to face Zeuge again on 5 November.
Still on Germany in Goppingen on 17 September Firat Arslan, a former WBA secondary champion at cruiser, fights Nuri Seferi for the vacant WBO European title. Also on the show Odlanier Solis has his second comeback fight against Serbian-based Croatian Alek Todorovic and Karo Murat faces Czech-based Ukrainian Yevgeni Makhteienko for the vacant WBA International title. Both the Solis and Murat fights are poor matches.
Nice to see the WBA making a move towards reducing the number of champions by ordering real champion Kohei Kono to face interim champion Luis Concepcion. The win makes Concepcion the one and only WBA champion in the division. Now let’s see them force unification fights to clear up their 12 secondary champions and 8 more interim champions so they can have just one champion in each of the other 14 divisions. The number is 14 and not 16 as both Ricky Burns and Anthony Crolla are the only WBA champions in their divisions.
In my report of last week’s action I did not mention the results from a small show in Auckland, New Zealand where heavyweight Junior Fa moved to five wins with a first round kayo over a fighter having his first pro fight. Not newsworthy. However when IBF/ WBO mandatory challenger Joseph Parker fought in his first New Zealand national championships he lost to Uaine Fa Junior. When Parker entered the Oceania qualifiers for the 2012 Olympics he failed to qualify losing to Uaine Fa Junior so perhaps it would have been smart of me to at least mention him. The reservations I have about the 26-year-old Fa is that he is up at 273lbs (124kgs) so not sure about his mobility.
If you were looking for someone to play the part of Dr Frankenstein’s monster then former WBA heavyweight champion Nikolay Valuev might seem a good choice. The 7’0” (213cm) tall Russian with his hard chiselled features would tick most of the boxes. However what you see with Nikolay is not what you get. Surprisingly he has turned out to be a successful politician but even stranger he has been chosen to front a new popular children’s programme on Russian TV entitled “Good night kids”. Nikolay has three kids of his own and has some excellent ideas for the programme to have a positive influence. He will share the limelight with some puppets of long standing including a pig, a bunny rabbit, a calf and a puppy. Has to be better than sharing a ring with Ruslan Chagaev, John Ruiz, Evander Holyfield and David Haye.
Stuff to look out for. Former IBO cruiser champion Rakhim Chakhkiev has his second fight of the year in Moscow on 9 September where he tackles Argentinian Alejandro Valori. This is on the undercard to Eduard Troyanovski’s IBF super light title defence against Keita Obara from Japan. Robert Helenius starts yet another rebuilding programme as he tries to rebound from his loss to Johann Duhaupas with a victory against the way over the hill Konstantin Airich in Mariehamn, Finland on 10 September. German light heavy Domenic Boesel (22-0) puts his WBO No 1 rating on the line against Frenchman Tony Averlant (24-8-2). That won’t be an easy one for Boesel as Averlant, the WBFederation champion, has won his last 6 fights. Boesel vs. Sergey Kovalev or Andre Ward-forget it. October 14 in Hamburg WBO No 2 cruiser Noel Gevor (21-0) puts his WBO International title up for grabs against useful Italian Mario Larghetti (24-2).
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.