By Eric Armit
I suppose I am not the only one of a certain age (don’t ask) who longs for “the good old days”. The days when there were only eight weight divisions and only one world champion in each division and Ring Magazine effective decided who was the champion. There were no “sanctioning bodies”-well there was the North American Boxing Association-but no one paid any attention to them. Title fights were held over fifteen rounds and national titles were prized by fighters as second only to world titles. Tobacco was the addictive substance of choice and if people had heard the word testosterone they probably thought it was the name of an Italian-American baseball player. Oh happy days!
That’s the rose tinted spectacles view because back in the 1950’s and early 1960’s there was evil lurking at the very heart of boxing in America.
In the 1950’s America was boxing. Current major boxing nations such as Japan and Mexico played little part at world title level and there was still a tendency in America to attach the label “horizontal” when describing British heavyweights.
Madison Square Garden (MSG) was the boxing equivalent of Mecca. Television was becoming a force through twice-weekly shows at the Garden and an organisation known as the International Boxing Club (IBC) headed by Jim Norris as President and his partner Arthur Wirtz was the most powerful outfit in boxing.
Businessmen Norris and Wirtz formed the IBC in 1949 along with lawyer Truman Gibson and Joe Louis but Norris was President and held 80% of the stock in IBC. Norris came from a family that controlled the grain market in Chicago and was personally rich. He was involved in ice hockey and horse racing.
In 1949 an ailing Mike Jacobs, through his Twentieth Century Boxing Club, owned the rights to promote at the Garden but the Garden organisation bought those rights from Jacobs for $100,000 and turned those rights over to their silent partner Norris who had exclusive leases on the Garden, Yankee Stadium, New York Polo grounds and other stadiums in Chicago and St. Louis. Norris had the stadiums but he needed fighters to fill them.
The fledgling IBC saw the heavyweight title as an obvious target but they were still finding their feet and did not “own” then champion Joe Louis. With the end of his career looming, and with the help of Gibson, Louis had moved to ensure himself of some post-retirement income by convincing the top four heavyweights Ezzard Charles, Jersey Joe Walcott, Lee Savold and Gus Lesnevich to give Louis exclusive rights to their services. One of the IBC’s first moves was to pay Louis $150,000 to retire and for him to also to assign to IBC the exclusive rights to Charles, Walcott, Savold and Lesnevich allowing the IBC to promote a tournament to fill the vacant heavyweight title and control the future of the heavyweight division.
IBC had the stadiums and the TV outlets and for the boxers they would need they turned to Frankie Carbo.
Since the early 1940’s Frankie Carbo had been building his position of power acting along with his No 2 Frank “Blinkey” Palermo as a promoter, matchmaker and undercover manager for many top level fighters with Palermo bringing to the table Ike Williams, Johnny Saxton, Clarence Henry and heavyweight Coley Wallace who would later portray Joe Louis in a film.
Carbo himself had his claws into most of the top lightweights, welterweights and middleweights and was behind the notorious Billy Fox vs. Jake LaMotta fixed fight where LaMotta was stopped in four rounds by the vastly inferior Fox. Although La Motta denied the fight was fixed he eventually admitted he threw the fight in return for a promised shot at the middleweight title. This was just one example of the power Carbo wielded.
Norris and Carbo began to work together with the urbane Norris the velvet glove and Carbo the iron fist and the real power man in the duo.
To obtain fighters IBC used the commercial approach along the lines of your fighter will not get a title shot or appear on a big TV show unless we get exclusive promotion rights and a share of your fighter. Carbo’s approach, usually channelled through Palermo, was more physical. Sign with IBC and give us a piece of your fighter or get hurt and very few had the courage to withstand those threats when the man behind them Carbo was a former member of Murder Inc
Naturally some of those left out in the cold complained over the monopoly that the IBC had established and hinted at some dark forces behind Norris and the IBC claiming that Norris was just a front for Carbo. The influence of Carbo in owning fighters and fixing fights was known to much of the press but only hinted at. Some State Commission also knew or strongly suspected the power and presence of Carbo but shutting out the IBC would mean the loss of the huge dollars that big fights could generate in hotels, clubs and businesses in their cities and stadiums.
As early as 1952 the Department of Justice set up a jury to investigate the claims that the IBC and MSG were exercising an illegal monopoly but action was stymied by the lawyers for the IBC and MSG claiming that professional boxing was not subject to the anti-trust laws as enshrined in the Sherman Antitrust Act. The IBC pursued their case all the way to the US Supreme Court but finally lost their case in 1955 with Norris estimated to have incurred $500,000 in legal fees,
In 1955 the New York State Athletic Commission decided to hold hearings into the allegations of mobster’s involvement in boxing and called Norris to give testimony. When questioned over his links to Carbo Norris stated that his meetings with Carbo were few, accidental and entirely unrelated to boxing. That was a lie as even at that time Carbo was using threats and actual violence to coerce boxers and managers to do business with the IBC.
The whispers of a criminally supported monopoly enjoyed by the IBC/MSG consortium grew to a point where action was taken in a US District court in 1957 to challenge the IBC’s monopoly. Norris had tried to forestall the case by resigning from IBC which was then bought by MSG but the court was unconvinced and ruled that through their control of the promotion of championship fights and control of major stadia IBC constituted a monopoly as shown by the fact that in the period from May 1953 and the case being heard in 1957 the IBC had an “interest” in 36 of the 37 championships fights held in the United States. The judgement limited the MSG for a period of five years from promoting more than two championships bouts in each calendar year and also placed the same limitations on Norris and Wirtz who were ordered to dispose of whatever stock they held in MSG. The court also ordered that the IBC be disbanded and that the Garden and other stadiums that had worked exclusively with the IBC must be leased for a reasonable rent to independent promoters effectively erasing one part of the empire of evil that had reigned for so long.
That ruling dealt with the IBC and MSG but what of Carbo? His undercover part in the IBC was being uncovered and he was the next one in the court’s sights. For him the beginning of the end came in 1958 when to avoid a trial where the extent of his role would become public he pled guilty to the derisory charges of managing boxers and acting as a matchmaker without a licence. He served two years in Riker’s Island prison and was released in 1960.
Unfortunately for Carbo in the same year as he was released a Senate Subcommittee led by Senator Estes Kefauver had been set up to investigate ties between organised crime and professional boxing and that turned the spotlight on Carbo, but who was this guy Carbo, often referred to as Mr Grey, who was being described as the Czar of Boxing?
Paolo Giovanni Carbo was born in Sicily on 10 August 1904. His family emigrated to America and Carbo quickly settled into a life of crime being sent to a reform school before he was even in his teens. He graduated from there to a variety of street crimes and protection rackets. He committed his first murder when he was twenty when he killed a taxi driver who refused to pay off the organisation Carbo was working for. Carbo pled not guilty and in the end through plea bargaining he was sentenced to two to four years but was released after twenty months.
The advent of prohibition boosted Carbo’s career and eventually he was recruited by Murder Inc who acted as enforcers for the Italian-American and Jewish Mafia and were suspected of over 500 contract killings. By the end of the 1930’s Carbo had been charged with more than eight murders but none of the charges stuck due to the reluctance of witnesses to come forward. Not surprising since after Carbo was charged with the murder of Murder Inc. informant Harry Greenburg one of the former members of Murder Inc who had also agreed to testify against Carbo suspiciously fell to his death from a window of a hotel whilst under police protection. Carbo was also a main suspect in the murder of Ben “Bugsy” Siegel who had overseen the building of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas for the Mob.
With the end of prohibition Carbo moved into boxing and the threats and coercion tactics he had applied in every business he had been a part off worked well for him in boxing and the extent of his influence only became apparent during Kefauver’s investigations.
The testimony came from others as Carbo pled the Fifth Amendment i.e. the refusal to incriminate himself, 25 times and Palermo did the same. The lid was lifted by boxers and managers who felt with Norris stripped off any influence and the US Senate looking to nail Carbo it was time to talk-and they did.
Former lightweight champion Ike Williams explained how Palermo had fleeced him of much of his ring earning. Another witness stated that Rocky Marciano’s manager Al Weill refused to allow Harry Matthews, the top rated heavyweight who had a long unbeaten streak, a fight with Marciano until finally Carbo approved it. By which time Matthews had been unbeaten for nine years building a run of 51-0-1 but being frozen out. Outstanding future middle weight champion Joey Giardello was another fighter frozen out. Giardello always claimed that he would have received a title shot much earlier if he had been managed by the mob but it was not until he had had been a pro for eleven years and had 106 fights that he was allowed to challenge for the middleweight title.
Carbo once claimed he had controlled the welterweight division for 25 years. An illustration was presented with regard to Johnny Saxton. A Carbo/Palmero fighter Saxton lost the welterweight title to Tony De Marco another Carbo owned fighter. Palermo managed Saxton so of course there was a return bout clause. However there was pressure within boxing for Carmen Basilio to get a title shot as despite a run of good wins he had been avoided. Even though Basilio was not owned by Carbo he was given a title shot. Saxton was told to waive his right to the return bout with De Marco and assured that he would get his title back. Basilio complicated matters by beating De Marco to win the title and beat then him again in a defence. Saxton got his promised chance and regained the title with a unanimous decision over Basilio a result that was universally condemned with two judges having Saxton winning by seven points. A promise kept but the decision caused such a stink that this time it was Basilio who had to be given a return and he beat Saxton inside the distance.
Top managers such as Jack (Doc) Kearns, Lou Viscousi and Willie Ketchum all worked with the IBC and Carbo. Typical of the deals was when Viscousi managed lightweight champion Joe Brown before Orlando Zuleta was approved to challenge Brown the promoter, a non-Carbo man, had to pay Carbo $5,000 and if Zuleta won Viscousi would get a piece of Zuleta.
A St. Louis police detective stated that Sonny Liston was owned by Carbo and others with Liston’s manager John Vitale and Palermo each having a 12% share, two unnamed others also having 12% each and Carbo 52%. Carbo made decisions that affected the careers of Jake LaMotta, Willie Pep Tony DeMarco and many many others. To get a title fight or fight on a TV card the fighters needed the approval of Carbo and Norris and that approval was conditionally on the fighter signing a long term exclusive contract with the IBC so even if they slipped up and a non-Carbo fighter such as Basilio won the title they still owned him through the IBC.
Incident after incident was revealed where Carbo and Norris decided the fate of boxers whilst sitting around a table at restaurant just across the road from the Garden and how Norris climbed on the gravy train taking cuts and shares from their dealings.
Due to illness Norris was allowed to give his evidence to the Senate committee in private. Norris was forced to admit that the testimony he had given to the New York State Athletic Commission in 1955 about his “rare” meetings with Carbo was a lie. He could afford to do so as the statute of limitations on perjury was five years and the Senate hearings were held more than five years after he gave his testimony in New York. With the dissolution of the IBC Norris was no longer involved in boxing but the revelations of his working relationship with Carbo seemed of little consequence. Norris had been part of a consortium that purchased the Chicago Blackhawks in 1946 and was chairman of the team when the club won the Stanley Cup in 1961 leading to Norris being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962. He had suffered from heart trouble for some time and died in February 1966 when his reported net worth was $250 million a contrast to fighters he helped screw such as Ike Williams who died penniless. True to his IBC business practices to the end just before his death Norris arranged for a National Hockey League franchise to be awarded to St Louis even though no one from St. Louis had applied for the franchise-and Norris just happened to own the St. Louis Arena.
The Kefauver hearings did not finish Carbo. Carbo had still owned the welterweight title now in the hands of Virgil Atkins. A proposal was made for Atkins to defend against Don Jordan in December 1958. It looked a safe match for Atkins as Jordan had lost to Dave Charley and had looked unimpressive in beating Gaspar Ortega twice on split decisions with one of those fights labelled a world title eliminator. Jordan was managed by Californian Don Nesseth who had no ties to Carbo and was being advised by Californian promoter Jackie Leonard, again not a Carbo man. Just to cover themselves in case of an upset Palermo contacted Leonard and Nesseth and told them that Carbo wanted 50% of Jordan or the fight would not go ahead. Nesseth was reluctant to agree to this. Leonard was aware of Carbo’s reputation so he called Truman Gibson Jr. who was associated with Carbo and Gibson advised Leonard to pretend to agree to the proposal but not to go through with the deal. Leonard mentioned Carbo’s reputation but Gibson assured Leonard that the days of gangsters and Carbo-like enforcers were a thing of the past. On that basis Leonard flew down to Florida and told Carbo it was a done deal. Jordan won the title and Nesseth refused to sign Jordan over to Carbo. An angry Carbo ranted over the telephone to Leonard saying “Just because you are two thousand miles away, that’s no sign I can’t have you taken care of”. Leonard was given police protection after his home was fire bombed. He then made the mistake of going out without his police protection. When he returned as he was closing his garage door he was attacked with a piece of lead piping, beaten and hospitalised.
This was one piece of brutality too far. The Californian State Commission and the Los Angeles Police Intelligence unit decided to go after Carbo. It is not clear how much success they might have had but they had a powerful ally. In November 1957 outside the small town of Apalachin in New York local and State law forces had stumbled on a meeting of Mafia bosses from all over the USA. The raided the meeting and more than sixty of the Mafia bosses had been detained and indicted. Before this there had been some doubts as to whether there was a nationwide criminal organisation. Now the FBI knew otherwise. The FBI was looking to build on that success in Apalachin and Carbo was an obvious candidate. In 1961 Carbo, Palermo, Truman Gibson Jr and two of Carbo’s enforcers were arrested and charged with extortion and conspiracy against Don Jordan. Gibson was only charged with conspiracy his part in the affair being his assurances to Leonard that it was safe to dupe Carbo.
With a young US Attorney General Robert Kennedy handling the prosecution Carbo was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison and Palermo to fifteen years. Carbo was initially incarcerated in Alcatraz but later switched to prisons in Washington State and then Illinois. He was eventually granted early parole due to ill health and died in Miami Beach in 1976. Palermo served just seven and a half years. He returned to his previous base in Philadelphia and for a while it was rumoured that he had a share in the earnings of heavyweight title challenger Jimmy Young but he was never a force again and died in 1996 at the age of ninety-one. The final chapter in the story of the attempt by Carbo and Norris to monopolise boxing. The good old days-I don’t think so. Take off the rose coloured spectacles Eric.
By - Eric Armit
Finally it is here Golovkin vs. Alvarez II. All of the trash talking is over and the most anticipated return fight of the year, perhaps for many years, will be over by Sunday morning. The bad feeling between the two fighters is genuine and so is the difficulty in predicting who will win. I slightly favour Golovkin so Gennady is my pick, but my dearest wish is a fight worthy of the occasion and a clear undisputed winner. Under this great fight David Lemieux vs. Gary O’Sullivan promises mayhem with Lemieux looking down the slope if he loses and O’Sullivan hoping to get a fight against the winner of Golovkin vs. Alvarez.
There is also Jamie Munguia and Roman Gonzalez fighting good level opposition. Munguia an exciting talent and he will be looking to blow away 20-1 Canadian Brandon Cook to build on his impressive power shows in wins over Sadam Ali and Liam Smith. Roman Gonzalez will be having his first fight for a year and be trying to salvage his career with a win over experienced Moises Fuentes. Two losses in the space of six months against Thai Srisaket saw Gonzalez fall from high in the Pound-for-Pound rankings to being dismissed as over the hill.
It has been good to see some big fights announced and confirmed or in the case of Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury seemingly all systems go with only the final details regarding date and venue to be announced-hopefully. December 1 or 8th have been mentioned as possible dates. Both fighters seem to have made concessions Tyson by agreeing to the fight being held in the USA and Wilder to a 50/50 purse split. There is some scepticism over whether it really will take place so let’s hope we see very soon a date and venue set and tickets on sale. Of course Wilder vs. Tyson is bigger than Anthony Joshua vs. Alex Povetkin. The winner will have a strong hand when it comes to bargaining for the Joshua fight next year but both Wilder and Fury know that what they are engaged in is basically an eliminator with the winner going on to face Joshua next year for a “Money Mayweather” level purse.
If Wilder vs. Fury does not come off then both fighters will have to scrape around trying to find another significant fight this year. Who knows perhaps the WBC might even insist Wilder fights the winner of the 22 December fight between Dillian White and Dereck Chisora. Of course if Povetkin beats Joshua then it’s a different ball game as the winner of Wilder vs. Fury vs. Povetkin instead of Joshua won’t have the same significance or the same money.
The other fights announced are Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jose Pedraza and Terrence Crawford vs. Jose Benavidez. The Lomachenko vs. Pedraza fight on 8 December will be a unification contest with Lomachenko’s WBA lightweight title and Pedraza’s WBA title on the line. Pedraza boxed well to win the title from Ray Beltran but I can’t see him stopping Lomachenko from adding another title to his collection.
Crawford vs. Benavidez will be held 13 October in Omaha. Crawford, who has just signed a long term extension to his contract with Top Rank, unified all four major titles at super light and it will lead to some great fights if his aim is to do the same at welterweight. Crawford vs. Errol Spence, Crawford vs. Manny Pacquiao, Crawford vs. Keith Thurman, Crawford vs. Shawn Porter all fights to savour.
As with Povetkin we have to hope Benavidez does not turn out to be a banana skin for Crawford. Not likely but in boxing anything can happen. Benavidez is not actually in the WBO ratings right now. That is because he is No 1 with the WBA and sanctioning bodies tend to omit a fighter if he is in the mandatory spot in another sanctioning body’s ratings but the next set of WBO ratings will soon solve that little detail. Both Crawford and the 6’2” Benavidez were top class amateur but their time at the top did not coincide. In 2006 Crawford won a silver medal at the National Golden Gloves and a gold medal at the National Police Athletic League Championships. He turned pro after failing to make the US Team for the 2008 Olympics. In 2009 Benavidez won a gold medal at the National Golden Gloves and a silver medal at the US national Championships. Interestingly in winning a bronze medal at the 2006 US National Championships Crawford beat Mikey Garcia 18-7 but lost to Danny Garcia 20-21. He did beat Danny Garcia in another tournament that year but lost to Cuban Yordenis Ugas which ended his hopes of a place at the 2007 Pan American Games. At the 2006 US National Championships you could have seen Crawford vs. Mikey Garcia and Crawford vs. Danny Garcia in the space of a couple of days for a few dollars entrance fee. Now they would be million dollar fights. In those 2006 Championships you could have watched Rau’shee Warren, Gary Russell, Danny Garcia, Demetrius Andrade and Daniel Jacobs who took gold medals and went on to win world titles and Crawford, Keith Thurman Edwin Rodriguez and Shawn Estrada who won bronze and Mikey Garcia, Casey Ramos, Mason Menard, Sadam Ali, Charles Hatley, Hank Lundy, Brad Solomon, Abraham Han. Jorge Diaz, Jessie Belmontes and Ray Robinson who went home empty handed. All for just a few dollars. A real bargain.
After the results at the weekend the situation in the welterweight division became even more interesting but no easier to predict. IBF champion Errol Spence is in a situation where he can make a voulantary defence. The No 1 spot in the IBF ratings was vacant until Yordenis Ugas beat Cesar Barrionuevo on Saturday. Previously Ugas could not go to No 1 as he had not beaten a rated fighter but in the crazy sanctioning body world he can now be No 1for beating No11. Shawn Porter, the new WBC champion, has been challenged by Spence but is not taking the bait with Porter’s father throwing Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia again, Terrence Crawford and Spence in the mix and saying that they will decide what Porter does next. There has been a suggestion that the WBC might make Ugas Porter’s mandatory but how can they jump a guy who was No 9 to No 1 for beating a guy who was No 8 escapes me-oh just a minute that’s exactly what the IBF will now do with Ugas!
Notable absentees from the discussions are Crawford’s mandatory contender Custio Clayton and also Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan. In an Instagram post Pacquiao threatened Top Rank with legal action over alleged non-payment of monies due to him from the US rights to his fight with Lucas Matthysse. That situation has been resolved. Pacquiao is seeing his options shrink for with fights very recently completed or scheduled for Porter, Garcia, Thurman, Spence and Crawford they are all “unavailable” right now. Obviously that could work in Khan’s favour. Any fight with Pacquiao in it is a big fight for big money and Pacquiao is said to be talking to Eddie Hearn about the possibility of a DAZN show. Since Khan’s fight on Saturday was on a Matchroom show it raises the possibility of a Pacquiao vs. Khan fight. However, Khan has said that Pacquiao has ruled himself out by asking for too much money and Khan will look to fight Kell Brook-which strengthens Brook’s hand. The stumbling block to a Khan vs. Brook fight would be the weight with Khan preferring welterweight but Brook knowing he would struggle to make 147lbs. A catchweight compromise might provide a solution but then they have to talk money and that could be another difficult hurdle. A pity both Pacquiao and Khan are past their best but perhaps that is fortunate for Khan.
With Oleg Usyk having signed with Eddie Hearn the drums are beating for Usyk vs. Tony Bellew. Not much drum rolling needed for what will be a big attraction which sells itself. However the WBA are insisting that Usyk faces Denis Lebedev. Whether Usyk does fight Lebedev or not the WBA will still be off a very embarassing hook that their multi-title greed has speared them. Right now they have a super champion in Usyk, a secondary champion in Beibut Shumenov and an interim champion in Arsen Goulamirian. At the start of this year Lebedev was their super champion. To tidy things up they tucked Lebedev out of sight as “champion in recess”. However Lebedev has come out of the little corner they tucked him into and now they have no title for him. It will be interesting to see how they deal with that on their next ratings. They will have to invent a title for Lebedev. How about “super secondary interim no longer in recess champion”. Ah what a tangled web we weave…………………
There are two possible solutions. Usyk could relinquish the WBA title or they can recant their mandatory order and agree to the Usyk vs. Bellew fight on the understanding that the winner of Usyk vs. Bellew agrees to fight Lebedev. Bellew’s last fight was his win over David Haye in a heavyweight bout in May. He has not fought at cruiserweight since beating B J Flores in October 2016. Although right up to and including their 31 July issued ratings the WBA had not rated Bellew at any position in any division he suddenly appeared at No 8 cruiser in their latest ratings. So is that a sign that they are going to approve Usyk vs. Bellew?
Excellent show building for New Orleans on 27 October. Two quarter finals of the WBSS super light series will see Regis Prograis take on Terry Flanagan and Swede Anthony Yigit against Ukrainian Ivan Baranchyk.
I would really have liked to see Donnie Nietes become a four division champion putting him level with Nonito Donaire. I saw the contests last weekend as a close fight but thought he beat Aston Palicte. The 36-year-old Filipino is now 16-0-2 in 18 world title fights and 8-0-1 against former, current and future world champions. His only career loss came on a split decision in 2004 in Indonesian against local fighter Angky Angkotta when Angkotta came in 6lbs over the weight but Nietes still went ahead with the fight. Since then he is 30-0-4 in 34 fights. Hopefully he will get another shot at a version of the super fly title but some sources say that he could face Kazuto Ioka next. A very tough ask.
Good to see British super bantam Thomas Ward may get a chance to fight in a final eliminator for the IBF super bantam title against Cesar Juarez. The 24-0 former undefeated British champion is currently No 8 with the IBF and Juarez No 6. With positions 1 and 2 vacant a win over Juarez could allow Ward to jump to No1. Juarez was stopped in five rounds by Isaac Dogboe for the interim WBO title in January but has scored three wins since then two against decent level opposition.
Still on the super bantams WBO champion Isaac Dogboe has said he would love to fight WBA champion Daniel Roman in London. The young Ghanaian fought in the Junior and Senior Novice championship and won the English National title when campaigning as an amateur in Britain and boxed for Ghana at the 2012 Olympics in London. He was born in Ghana and the Ghanaians naturally reacted with anger to an attempt by a UK paper to try to claim him for England.
Richard Commey is another Ghanaian fighter looking for a title fight but Commey will be in the challenger’s role. The IBF had extended the closing date for bids for the mandated title defence for Mikey Garcia against Commey until 13 September but I have not seen the outcome of that yet. The Ghanaian lost a very controversial split decision to Robert Easter for the IBF title in 2016 and deserves a return but Garcia may be looking for a higher profile opponent so it will be interesting to see whether he takes the fight or relinquishes the title.
Going back to the cruisers interim WBA champion Arsen Goulamirian will defend his title against Australian Mark Flanagan in Marseilles on 20 October. This will be the first defence for Goulamirian since winning the title with a victory over Ryad Merhy in March, Flanagan lost on points to Lebedev for the super title in July last year but has registered two wins since then.
Another interesting cruiser fight will see Jai Opetaia (16-0) vs. Bilal Laggoune (23-1-2) in Liege, Belgium on 6 October. Laggoune’s IBF Inter-Continental title will be on the line. This figures to be a really tough test for Opetaia. Laggoune lost a split decision to Doudou Ngumbu in February last year but has won his last three fights. Opetaia is No 10 with the WBO and Laggoune No 11 with the IBF.
The fight for the secondary heavyweight title between the holder Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo is scheduled for 29 September Cologne-don’t forget to miss it. Seriously the machinations of the WBA are not the fault of either boxer and even though neither of them is remotely near world class the y could still put on an entertaining fight. Charr has been angered by some of the press focusing on his not having a German passport. Charr is adamant that he feels himself to be German and will go into the ring under both the German and Syrian flags. His citizenship papers have been under review for a very long time with the suggestion that some outstanding tax issues are delaying it.
There is a height vs. weight formula to work out whether a person is obese. With so many heavyweights getting caught in drug testing I wonder if there is a way of coming up with a brain to weight formula to work out whether a fighter is dumb enough to think he can cheat and get away with it?
As a sport we have a bad habit of shooting our self in the foot. As if we did not have enough manufactured titles yet another one has popped up. Last week Umar Salamov won the vacant Eurasian Parliament title. Aghhhhhhhhh. To paraphrase the words of Sir Winston “never in the field of human conflict has a sport made itself look so ridiculous”.
By- Eric Armit
It was sad to read of the death of Senator John McClain He was a genuine war hero and twice a Presidential candidate but for myself his most relevant influence was through his work to clean up boxing through the development of what came into law in America as the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act which had a huge impact on boxing in the USA. The stated purpose of the Act was “ protecting boxers from exploitation, sanctioning organization integrity reforms, and requiring public interest disclosures to state boxing commissions……. to remedy many of the anti-competitive, oppressive, and unethical business practices which have cheated professional boxers and denied the public the benefits of a truly honest and legitimate sport," The impetus for the whole process that resulted in the Ali Act can be said to have been an IBF title fight back in 1992. The then IBF middleweight champion James Toney won a split decision over Dave Tiberi in Atlantic City. It was seen by many as a disgraceful robbery of Tiberi. His local Senator instituted an investigation and the testaments given sparked John McCain’s decision to push for changes in how boxing was run in the USA and particularly the promoter/boxer relationship and the influence of sanctioning bodies.
I had a minor role in that I had a number of phone calls from a researcher working for the Senator asking me how the “slave” contracts between Don King and his fighters worked and on how the “options” system worked. I explained that under the contracts King put in place there was a clause that said that as long as the boxer was in the world ratings then his contract with King would be automatically renewed. That effectively meant that for the whole of a fighters peak years he could not fight for any other promoter than Don King without King’s permission. I remember an instance in my time with the WBC ratings committee when we took out a prominent King promoted African boxer on the basis of his inactivity which would have made him a free agent. However when I presented the ratings to the Convention King’s influence was sufficient for the rating to be overturned and the fighter returned to the ratings and back under King’s control.
I explained that with options it was customary for the promoter of the world champion to insist on options on the services of the challenger so that if the challenger won then he was under contract to fight only for that promoter unless the promoter decided to sell some or all of the options to another promoter. The usual number of options was three-sometimes less-sometimes more. In addition the purse for each option was an integral part of the option and those purses were inevitably below market value. As an example a champion might get $100,000 for the title defence and the challenger $50,000. If the challenger won the price included in his option and instead of $100,000 that could tie him to receiving $50,000 for each of his three title defences. If the promoter had no market for the new champion then he could sell the options to promoters who could. A typical example was when Charlie Magri unexpectedly lost his WBC flyweight title to Frank Cedeno in his first defence. The British promoter had no way of making money out of his options on the Filipino but a Japanese promoter was anxious to get his fighter Koji Kobayashi a shot at the WBC title so he bought Cedeno’s options from the British promoter.
Naturally there was some watering down of the proposed Act before it was passed but it remains an important milestone in the way boxing is administered in the USA and had a ripple effect that led to other countries reviewing their own processes and procedures.
The Ali Act was only a small part of the work Senator McCain did in his time in government but boxing owes him a great debt of gratitude RIP Senator John McCain.
This has been a memorable week for boxing in Thailand as Wanheng (Chayaphon Moonsri) won his 51st fight. He can’t yet be said to have beaten Floyd Mayweather’s record as what makes Mayweather’s total of 50 significant is that his record is for winning every one of his 50 fights in his career. In order to surpass Mayweather’s record Wanheng has either to retire now with 51 wins or have some more fights and win them also before retiring. if Wanheng continues to box and loses then he still has a great record but there are plenty better records with just one or two losses on them.
The other milestone for a Thai fighter will probably be achieved by the time you read this. The 41-year-old former WBC bantam and super featherweight champion Sirimongkol Singwancha (Sirimongkhon Iamthuam ) has a 95-4 record and on Saturday 1 September will have fight No 100 in a twenty-four-year career. I am not sure if any other Thai fighter has reached that total. He started out as a super flyweight and in fight No 100 will be trying to win the Thai light heavyweight title. Between losing his WBC super feather title to Jesus Chavez in 2003 and losing a fight to Uzbek Azizbek Abdugofurov for the WBC Asian Boxing Council middle weight title in February he coincidentally won 51 fights in a row. He is taking no chances in fight No 100 as his opponent is Ugandan Muhammad Nsubuga with a 0-6 record!
That Sirimongkol vs. Nsubuga contest is typical of many abysmal matches in Thailand. Last weekend Tajik boxer Abdul Buranov lost to WBC No 3 flyweight Noknoi. Their respective records before the fight were Noknoi 66-5 and Buranov 0-3. In his four fights Buranov’s opponents records have been 64-5(Noknoi), 21-1. 15-2 and Noknoi again with 66-5.
Can’t help but be disappointed that the WBSS are going to do another cruiserweight series. Let’s face it this is a competition for the also-ran or never ran. Mairis Breidis, Yunier Dorticos, Krzys Glowacki, Marius Masternak, Maksim Vlasov, Andrew Tabiti and Noel Gevor are all good fighters and Russian Ruslan Fayfer in unbeaten but it was the knowledge that it could end up with Olek Usyk fighting Murat Gassiev that made the original so interesting and this tournament has no such star attraction.
It always seemed likely that the WBA would have to stand by the results of the purse bids-or should I say bid as there was only one-for the Ryota Murata vs. Rob Brant fight for their secondary middleweight title. If they had not done so but instead allowed Murata to fight Jason Quigley then the lawyers would have had a field day. Murata fights Brant in Las Vegas on 20 October and you can be sure that Bob Arum will be looking to get Quigley a fight with the winner or look for some other way to get the unbeaten Irishman a title shot.
African news has Joseph Agbeko returning to action on 8 September in Ho in the Volta Region of Ghana. He will fight fellow Ghanaian Ekow Wilson in defence of his WBO African title.
A couple of heavyweights will be in action on 8 September in Germany as Alex Dimitrenko makes a quick return after his loss to Bryant Jennings but no opponent named. In fact the New Jersey Commission gave Dimitrenko a suspension after the loss to Jennings which does not expire until 17 October!! The other bout features Croatian hope Filip Hrgovic against veteran Amir Mansour. Big test for Hrgovic even though Mansour is 46. This fight is for the vacant WBC International title. In Mansour’s last fight in November, a technical draw against Sergey Kuzmin, the result was changed to No Decision as Mansour tested positive for a banned substance.
Japan has only one fighter in the heavyweight world ratings and that is Kyotaro Fujimoto. The WBO have him at No 7 on the basis of his winning their Asia Pacific title. His opposition has been very modest at best, certainly not enough to be rated above Bryant Jennings or Dereck Chisora-but he is. They are not taking any chances with him. He is due to fight on 25 September with the name being bandied about of Thai Suthat Kalakek a former OPBF super middleweight title challenger who lost his last fight to a 6-0 novice. Hope they come up with something better than this for a world rated fighter.
Former WBO super featherweight champion Jorge Barrios has applied to the Argentinian Boxing Federation for a licence to fight again. Now 42 Barrios was recently released from prison after serving three years and seven months for homicide and culpable injuries. When driving his car he ran down and killed a twenty-year-old pregnant woman and left the scene of the accident. He has served the sentence that they gave him but four years for what he did seems wholly inadequate.
Boxing lost two former fighters from different country with the deaths this month of August of Charley “White Lightning” Brown and Argentinian Farid Salim. Brown won his first 23 fights before losing to Harry Arroyo for the IBF lightweight title in 1984. His career really faded downhill from there but he scored wins over Alfredo Escalera, the 25-0-1 Frank Newton and the 18-0 Louis Burke on his way to the title shot. He also fought Harold Brazier, Saoul Mamby, Greg Haugen, Johnny Bizzarro and Ralph “Tiger” Jones. After more than 60 amateur fights in Salim’s first pro fight in June 1958 his opponent Santos Galvan suffered an injury and died after the contest. Despite that Salim continued his career and went 27-0-2 including winning the Argentinian middleweight title. In his first fight in the USA he outpointed Ted Wright and also scored a win over Joey Giambra but lost to the wonderfully named Yama Bahama, Wilbert McClure, Joey Archer and Ruben Carter. RIP Charley and Farid.
By- Eric Armit
So great to see how boxing is flourishing again in Belfast. Saturday’s show with Carl Frampton defending his WBO interim title against Tasmanian Luke Jackson and Paddy Barnes challenging Cristofer Rosales for the WBC flyweight title in only his sixth pro fight. Frampton is germane to the popularity of boxing in Belfast and this will be a huge step up in standard for Jackson which I am sure will prove too much for him. The real WBO champion Oscar Valdez is still recovering from injury and has said it will be early 2019 before he is ready to return. IBF champion Josh Warrington will be in Belfast issuing a challenge to Frampton and that would be another huge British fight. The ranks of the WBO featherweights are a bit threadbare with Filipino Mark Magsayo, Namibian Sakaria Lukas, another Filipino Genesis Servania and Ukrainian Oleg Malynovskyi filling positions 1 to 4. Good fighters but not exactly star names but you can be sure there is a plan in place for Frampton. Barnes has a tremendous list of achievement as an amateur but he missed out on the biggest ones coming up short at the Olympics and the World Championships. And this is his chance to win the big one as a pro. Rosales lost to Andrew Selby but went to Japan and won the title there by beating an undefeated local which is no mean feat. He has experience over Barnes but is beatable.
And then there is Tyson Fury. I can’t see Francesco Pianeta as any threat to Fury on his way to a world title fight. A Fury vs. Deontay Wilder fight would be big wherever it is held and I hope it happens with the winner and Anthony Joshua meeting in 2019 in the richest heavyweight title fight in the history of boxing with each boxer probably getting around $50 million and to think Joe Louis biggest purse was $626,000. It’s great to see the heavyweight division right up there for interest.
I thought I might have a look at some of the things going on in the heavyweights right now.
How ridiculous can you get? Anthony Joshua is fighting Alex Povetkin on 22 September for the IBF, WBA and WBO titles. The WBA ordered Joshua to fight their No 1 Povetkin. Since Povetkin is also the No 1 with the WBO and there is no mandatory IBF challenger if Joshua beats Povetkin he has fulfilled his mandatory requirements-you think? No, the WBO have said that if Joshua beats Povetkin they may then want him to fight against another one of their fighters effectively ordering another mandatory defence. He may not want to but I can see Joshua being forced to relinquish one of his three titles as the sanctioning bodies are never happy sharing titles.
The IBF eliminator to fill the mandatory spot in their heavyweight ratings between Kubrat Pulev and Hughie Fury looks like landing in Sofia, Bulgaria on 27 October.
The one year suspension handed out to French heavyweight Tony Yoka for missing three test appointments stands. It had been appealed but the appeal was rejected.
Charles Martin has his eyes on another shot at the heavy weight title. He lost the IBF belt when he was knocked out in two rounds by Anthony Joshua in 2016. He had a couple of low level wins last year with the latest in July. He returns from a 13 month lay-off against the 17-0 Adam Kownacki on 8 September on the undercard to Danny Garcia vs. Shawn Porter in New York.
Naturally it will be billed as a crossroads fight when Bryant Jennings and Alex Dimitrenko meet in Atlantic City on 18 August, Jennings took eighteen months out after back-to-back losses to Wlad Klitschko and Luis Ortiz and has won four fights since returning. Dimitrenko, now 36, wins the small ones and loses the big ones and is running out of time.
They old saying that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time was proved true with regard to the fight between Trevor Bryan and BJ Flores for the vacant interim WBA heavyweight title. Not one single TV Company showed interest which must be a first for any version of the heavyweight title. Next up Manuel Charr vs. Fres Oquendo. I did hear that some 14-year-old kid was offered the exclusive rights to show it on his smart phone but he declined as they WBA did not offer him enough-smart kid.
Yet another former amateur heavyweight star will be throwing his hat in the ring. Russian Evgeny Tischenko is scheduled to fight on Sunday in Ekaterinburg against 19-6 Venezuelan Williams Ocando; the 27-year-old Tischenko won a very controversial gold medal at 91kg in Rio looking lucky to beat Italian Clement Russo and in the final Kazak Vasily Levit. He won a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships and gold in 2015 and was also European gold medallist in 2015 so very strong credentials. The main bout in Ekaterinburg. The main bout on the show will see Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Robinson Castellanos fighting for the vacant IBO super feather title.
Two of Canada’s top heavyweights will clash in Quebec City on 6 October when Simon Kean 15-0 14 by KO/TKO faces Dillon Carman 13-3. Kean will be defending the WBC Francophone title.
The WBO heavyweight ratings are a joke. The principle behind ratings is supposed to be to rank the best fighters based on the quality of their performances and the opposition they have beaten. If it figures at all that reasoning is foreign to the WBO. They rate you much higher for winning one of their myriad of joke regional titles than for beating quality opposition. Their No 4 is Tom Schwarz a good German prospect who has never faced a rated opponent but has won their Inter-Continental title. In the BoxRec and IBO computerised ratings he is No 19 and 22 respectively. Their No 7 is Kyotaro Fujimoto who is their Asia Pacific champion No 43 with BoxRec and 37 with IBO, No 10 Tyron Spong Latino champion No 75 with BoxRec and No 72 with the IBO, Junior Fa Oriental No 55 BoxRec, No 52 IBO, No 13 Zhilei Zhang former Oriental No 44 BoxRec and 40 IBO, No 14 Ebenezer Tetteh No 203 with BoxRec and not on the IBO list as it only lists the first 100, No 15 tied Jean Pierre Augustin No 85 BoxRec and 82 IBO and Ali Eren Demirezen European champion No 71 BoxRec and No 67 IBO. It is interesting that the two Independent ratings are very close on their idea of where these fighters are rated. The scary things is that anyone in the WBO top 15 is automatically eligible to be a challenger to Anthony Joshua but if Eddie Hearn even thought of matching any of these guys with Anthony Joshua they would cart him to the funny farm. To be fair-occasionally-all sanctioning bodies play this game to some extent.
Enough of the heavyweights for now. Oleg Usyk vs. Tony Bellew is one to savour. There are talks going on but as he showed when winning the WBSS Tournament he has no problem fighting in the other guys back yard so it seem a doable fight to me-let’s hope.
On the cruisers Denis Lebedev will be climbing out of whatever recess the WBA put him-another stupid title-and facing Hinzi Altunkaya in Chelyabinsk on 7 September. Even the heavyweights are in less of a mess. The WBA have a super champion in Usyk. A secondary champion is Beibut Shumenov and an interim champion in Arsen Goulamirian. Now their “champion in recess” has climbed out of the cupboard there is no title left for him. Perhaps they could make him the secondary super champion or the secondary secondary champion or the interim interim champion!!
The fight for the vacant IBF middleweight title between Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Derevyanchenko is finally set for 27 October. It had been put back to 10 November to allow further negotiations between Eddie Hearn and Lou DiBella but they came to a private deal and it was changed to the original date.
Boxing News magazine recently did a piece on an unlicensed show in Aberdeen featuring former WBC heavyweight title challenger Danny Williams, famous for knocking out Mike Tyson14 years ago, and local fighter Lee McAllister a former double Commonwealth champion at lightweight and super lightweight. The “unlicensed” tag within the British boxing terminology means that it was not under the control of the BBB of C who would never have countenanced this. Williams was licenced by the Czech Republic, the fight was for the WBO (German version) heavyweight title and “commissioned”. by the British and Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA), again nothing to do with the BBBof C. I won’t even bother mentioning the result of this “fight” suffice to say that the 53-year-old Williams weighed 260lbs and McAllister was said to be four stones (56lbs) lighter i.e. 204lbs. The last registered weight for McAllister when fighting with a BBB of C licence was a career heavy 146lbs which meant he was carrying an additional 56lbs into this fight and since he had not grown another leg it was mainly around his waist. Naturally the fight drew a storm of scorn and criticism but as if that was not enough realising just how bad this whole thing was the Executive President and CEO of the BIBA Gianluca Di Caro tried to deflect the blame by saying “I did not want Danny to box on a BIBA licence because I felt we would be criticised”. Really WOW !! The BIBA is not a member or affiliated to the EBU but Di Caro reportedly said that the EBU gave permission for the fight and that he went along with it expecting the EBIU to veto it. What a load of BS. Di Caro knows full well that the EBU has no jurisdiction over any fights except those featuring the EBU, EU and EE-EU titles. They are not a licensing body and have no power to give or deny permission for any fight other than that relating to their own titles and certainly not for a WBU German or BIBA fight. This “fight” was a disgrace and the disgrace is the WBU and the BIBA’s alone.
Jamie Munguia is a busy man. His next fight is reported to be a title defence against Canadian Brandon Cook on the undercard to the Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez fight. The card will also feature Roman Gonzalez against Moises Fuentes. Gary O’Sullivan is also show as fighting a TBA. One suggestion was that it might be against David Lemieux which would be a great fight but that is just a rumour right now.
Jose Ramirez’s defence of his WBC super light title in Fresno on 14 September has an interesting undercard building with Maxim Dadashev vs. Antonio DeMarco for the NABF super light title. With so many super lights tied into the WBSS it might be a chance for the winner to land a title fight. Also on the card are Alex Besputin, the WBC No 8 super light from Japan Hiroki Okada 18-0 also hoping to impress and get into the title mix, Bryan Vazquez a former holder of the secondary WBA super feather title and Jamal Herring who faces 20-1 Vincent Moralde.
You win some, you lose some. That could almost describe recent purse bids and Top Rank. They won the bidding for the Maurice Hooker defence his WBO super light title against their fighter Alex Saucedo. Top Rank’s bid of $1,625,000 beat Matchroom’s $1, 5550,000 and it looks like it will go on in Oklahoma City, Saucedo’s home base. on November 16 or 17.
The second case was much more complicated over the bidding for Ryota Murata’s defence of the secondary WBA middleweight title against Rob Brant. I guess my lead in is not quite correct as you can’t lose if you never entered the race. There was only one bid for the fight from Greg Cohen of $202,114 as neither Top Rank nor Japan’s Akihiro Honda offer a bid. For some reason of their own the WBA had decided that the purse would be split 50/50 which did not help the situation. They Top Rank and Akihiro Honda both saw it as a stupid move by the WBA in calling for bids for a fight against Brant which was of no interest and dubious validity and Top Rank and Honda had already agreed between themselves to put Murata on a show in Las Vegas on 20 October in a big fight against unbeaten Top Rank fighter Jason Quigley which would be a much better fight that could lead to a fight with the winner of Golovkin and Alvarez. The WBA are in a mess. If they don’t honour the bid process you can be sure Cohen will sue and if they strip Murata they lose a sanctioning fee and incur the wrath of two of the most powerful promoters in the business. Cohen has already said he is aiming to put on the Murata vs. Brant fight on 27 October. We await further developments,
Marcos Maidana has launched a new promoting outfit down in Argentina. It s name is “31KO Sudamerican Boxing” and 31 just happens to be the number of fights Maidana won by KO/TKO.
Yet another new promoter has appeared as 19-year-old lightweight Devin Haney has formed his own promotion company making him probably the youngest promoter in boxing history. He will face Juan Carlos Burgos in Temecula on 28 September.
Gavin McDonnell will get another title shot as he challenges Danny Roman in Chicago on 6 October for the WBA super bantam title. McDonnell lost a majority decision to Rey Vargas for the vacant WBC title in February last year but has rebounded well with impressive wins over Gamal Yafai and Stuart Hall.
By Eric Armit-
A while ago it seemed that Deontay Wilder had only one fight to look at and that was with Anthony Joshua. That fight could have been made but Wilder had an inflated idea of his worth seeming to think that Joshua also had only one option. When Joshua’s team got tired of the back-and-forward mixture of unrealistic offers and social media trumpeting they moved on to Alex Povetkin. Not a great fight but sellable and let’s face it where Joshua is at this time any fight of his is going to be a big event for big money. Now the offers seem to be coming out of the woodwork for Wilder. The WBC has said it would not stand in the way of a return with Luis Ortiz. The elderly Cuban almost put Wilder away in their fight so some grounds for it. Tyson Fury has pitched in saying talks are underway for him to fight Wilder. Again sellable but we won’t know what Fury has by fighting guys such as Francesco Pianeta. The big German-based Italian lost in March to an eleven fight novice. One judge had it 96-94 and one had it 99-91 but they all had his opponent 22-year-old Petar Milas winning. However, for a second fight after thirty-one months out of action, the 6’5” southpaw is a reasonable choice but by no means a measure as to whether Fury will be ready for Wilder by the end of this year. The only name that never appears on Wilder’s dance card is the WBC No 1 Dillian Whyte. In his excellent fight against Joseph Parker Whyte showed his strengths and his weaknesses but he is the man that Wilder should be fighting and the WBC should be making it happen. Since winning the title Wilder has defended against Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka, Chris Arreola, Gerald Washington, Bermane Stiverne (of which the WBC should be ashamed) and Ortiz and if Wilder dodges Whyte the WBC title will be on its way to being a side show. I happen to think Wilder would beat Whyte but I would like the chance to find out if I am right.
Just when you think the WBA has hit rock bottom you find they are still digging. They are now reported to have recognised a fight between Trevor Bryan and BJ Flores as an eliminator for the No 1 spot in their heavyweight ratings. Currently Bryan is No 4 and Flores No 5 which is a disgraceful manipulation of their ratings but nothing unusual there. Bryan first entered the WBA top 15 in February 2016. To climb from No 15 to No 4 he has beaten Galen Brown (44-33-1) in July 2016, Sandy Soto (2-20) in April 2017 and Francois Russell (2-24) in December 2017. Flores lost to Tony Bellew for the WBC cruiser title in October 2016 being floored four times and stopped in three rounds. Flores made his first appearance in the WBA heavyweight ratings for February 2017 (published 17 March) for beating Jeremy Bates (26-18-1) but that victory won Flores the WBA-NABA title and you get rated for that even if you beat your grandmother. In the 18 months since that win he has fought once stopping Nick Guivas (13-6-2) but by January this year he had climbed to No 6 and now he is No 5. So 15 to 5 for beating Bates and Guivas. Not too surprising that Don King’s fingers are in this pie. It is impossible to take the WBA serious; in fact it is hard not to be disgusted by them. If Bryan and Flores is not ridiculous enough they have 46-year-old drugs cheat Guillermo Jones at No 10 heavyweight when his only fight in two years is a split decision win over Ytalo Perea (10-2-2) and after losing a court case when they tried to screw Fres Oquendo they are forced to have Oquendo in their ratings-he is No 2 –even though he has not had a fight for four years. Hold the press! He is scheduled to challenge Manuel Charr for the secondary title on 29 September. Can’t see any promoter or TV outlet wetting their knickers in excitement over that fight.
So the final of the WBSS super middleweight tournament between George Groves and Callum Smith will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 28 September. Smith kicked off the tournament with a win over Erik Skoglund on 16 September 2017 so the tournament will have dragged on for over a year. It is a great pity but the delay due to the injury to Groves has taken some of the shine of the final. It is a great fight but it would have been ideal if it had happened soon after both won their semi-final now it will be a cold start to the build-up. It is also a pity that such a huge fight between two British fighters is taking place in Saudi Arabia. It is all about money so presumably someone has put a lot of money into the pot to get the fight to Jeddah when commonsense said it should have been held in the UK.
Interested in money? Well Mikey Garcia collected $1 million for beating Robert Easter who received $500,000. Both were world champions holding well respected titles but the purses reflect the respective profiles and entertainment value.
At the other end of the scale Hekkie Budler vacated the IBF light flyweight title rather than fight Felix Alvarado for a pitiful purse. Reportedly there was only one bid for the fight with a purse of $25,000. Budler would have picked up 75% so less than $19,000. Garcia was being paid more than $83,000 per round! Alvarado will now face Filipino Randy Petalcorin for the vacant title.
The purses for Jaime Munguia and Liam Smith were reported as $200,000 for Munguia and $75,000 for Smith and in the WBO super featherweight fight on the same card Alberto Machado’s take was $100,000 and Rafael Mensah’s $35,000.
Can’t get too excited over Rob Brant challenging Ryota Murata for the secondary WBA middleweight title. Brant was outclassed by Juergen Braehmer in the WBSS tournament. In fairness it was at super middle so he might do better at his normal weight. It seems that Brant was promised a shot at Murata when he stood aside to allow Murata a direct return against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam after the Japanese fighter lost a disputed decision to N’Jikam for the vacant title.The fight is out for purse offers due 13 August with a minimum bid of $200,000 set. It will be Murata’s second defence of the secondary title.
Going back to the super middleweights Jose Uzcategui will put his IBF title on the line against unbeaten Caleb Plant in Minneapolis on 24 August. Uzcategui was upgraded from interim champion to full champion when James De Gale vacated the crown. The No 1 position in the IBF ratings is vacant. Plant can’t fill that spot because he has not beaten a rated fight-but he can get to No 2 without beating a rated fighter!
A couple of weeks back I wrote about the death of Langton Tinago. Langton actually lost his Commonwealth lightweight title to Australian Barry Michael in 1981.Barry made two defences before losing the title to former WBA lightweight champion Claude Noel in 1982. Barry rebounded from that loss and went 10-0-1 in his next eleven fights regaining the Commonwealth title and winning the IBF title with a victory over unbeaten fellow-Australian Lester Ellis in July 1985. He then made three defences before losing the title to Rocky Lockridge in 1987. They say a picture paints a thousand words but words can hide a fascinating story. Barry had trouble getting approved for the challenge to Tinago because he had lost to British fighter Najib Daho, What is hidden in those words is that before the Daho fight Barry had an eardrum grafted into his left ear and went into the fight with a fractured left hand. Barry fought Daho again in 1986 and retained his IBF title with a unanimous decision. He lost his IBF title to Rocky Lockridge in his last pro fight in 1987. Behind those words is the story of a brutal attack on Barry in a nightclub. Four months before the fight with Lockridge Barry was attacked in an Australian nightclub by local gangster Al Gangitano, now deceased, who had at one time been with the team looking after Lester Ellis. Gangitano bit a chunk out of Barry’s cheek and with the other members of his crowd beat Barry up and broke his nose with a large glass ashtray. In the first round of the Lockridge fight Barry had his nose broken again. The story behind the words but there may be a picture to follow as there is a script in preparation for a film covering both Barry and Ellis and revealing the underworld figures who were involved in Australian boxing at that time. Barry, now 63, is a successful promoter so still very much part of the Australian fight scene.
It is a pity to hear that Sergio Martinez is contemplating a return to boxing. It appears that in doing fight scenes for a movie “Maravilla” got the itch again. Hopefully he will get talked out of it. Sergio is now 43 and has been out of the ring since losing to Miguel Cotto in June 2014. Please don’t Sergio.
Some exciting fights scheduled for 8 September. In Inglewood the super flyweights are at it again with Donnie Nietes defending his WBO super fly title against fellow Filipino Aston Palicte, Juan Francisco Estrada taking on Felipe Orucuta and the un-retired Kazuto Ioka vs. McWilliams Arroyo. On the other coast in Brooklyn Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter fight for the vacant WBC welterweight title and over in Birmingham Amir Khan will face Sammy Vargas. Khan should win but he can’t afford any banana skins at this stage of his career. Best fight in Birmingham could be the British middleweight title fight between Jason Welborn and Tommy Langford.
Roman Gonzalez will make his return to the ring on the undercard of the Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez fight in Las Vegas on 15 September. It seems incredible that at the start of 2017 Gonzalez was right up there at the top pound-for-pound lists and two fights later he is seen as a shot fighter. He will face Moises Fuentes in Las Vegas and a loss to the former WBO minimumweight champion might spell the end of his career. No opponent named yet but Jaime Munguia is pencilled in for a defence of his WBO super welter title on the Las Vegas card as a taster for a fight with the winner of Golovkin vs. Alvarez and the presence of Gary “ Spike” O’Sullivan on the show might signal an alternative route for Golovkin or Alvarez.
Looks like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr will return to action 7 September in Los Angeles against Sergio Mora. It will be Chavez’s first fight since losing to Saul Alvarez in May last year. Mora returned to action in April with a win over Alfredo Angulo. It has been suggested the fight will be at a catchweight of 171lbs but Mora, although described now as a super middleweight, was only 162 ½ lbs against Angulo and Chavez 164lbs against Alvarez so they should both be comfortable at 171lbs.
Nice gesture in that money from the Rodney Berman and Jeff Ellis “Reach for the Stars” show in Kempton Park South Africa on 10 August will go to the Reach for a Dream charity that works with children with life threatening illnesses. The show will also honour outstanding South African journalist and ring historian Ron Jackson. The main event on the show will see unbeaten 7-0 Rowan Campbell face Renson Hobyani 8-2 for the vacant South African super middleweight title. At all levels boxing does great work for charities but that doesn’t make for headlines so it is very under appreciated.
Plenty of action surrounding already scheduled and still to be scheduled European title fights. Purse offer for Vincent Legrand’s defence against Andrew Selby are due 9 August, James Tennyson’s defence of the super featherweight title will be held either 21 September in Belfast or 22 September in London, Kevin Lejarraga’s welterweight defence against Frankie Gavin will be in Bilbao on 17 November. Unbeaten Pole Kamil Szeremeta 17-0 is to defend the middleweight title against Spaniard Ruben Diaz 25-1-2. No date or venue for that yet. Both super middleweight champion Robin Krasniqi and heavyweight champion Agit Kabayel have voluntary defences in Leipzig on 27 October and then face mandatory defences against Juergen Braehmer and Swede Otto Wallin respectively.
Still on Europe it is planned to have an Italian Boxing Hall of Fame set up in Romagna by October and there are plenty of candidates in both Italian born fighters and in fighters with Italian antecedents. Let’s hope it does get up and running.
We keep hearing that men can’t multi task. Rubbish! During the third round of the fight on Friday between Luis Lebron and Milner Marcano in Barranquilla, Colombia, Marcano slipped on some water that had somehow found its way to the centre of the ring and he went down. The referee stopped the fight and looked around to see who was going to deal with the problem. The answer came in the form of a towel thrown at him from one side of the ring and a broom from the other so he did the job himself.
By Eric Armit
Manny’s back and all’s well in the world-well not quite. However Pacquiao’s win over Lucas Matthysse was the best result for boxing. The Filipino great is still a major player. Hopefully we can forget talk of a return with Floyd Mayweather Jr and although I would not rule it out I just can’t see Pacquiao wanting to go over old ground against Jeff Horn. Errol Spence, Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia would jump at the chance and fight Pacquiao anywhere, anytime. If it could be made Terrence Crawford would be a big fight but not a good choice for Pacquiao. Just too tough an ask for Pacquiao at 39. Pacquiao is talking about two maybe three more fights including one at the end of this year. If you look past Spence, Thurman, Garcia and Crawford then you are looking at lesser names such as Shawn Porter, Adrien Broner and Jesse Vargas with Amir Khan hoping to get into the mix but the WBSS super light tournament cuts down his options from that division. He is being urged to retire whilst still a champion-OK it’s a secondary title-but there is no talk of that from Pacquiao.
The only caveat about the fight at the weekend is the difficulty over judging how much was down to a refreshed Pacquiao and how much was down to a insipid Matthysse. The Argentinian put up only marginal resistance. What we got was not the Matthysse who beat Lamont Peterson, John Molina and Roberto Ortiz inside the distance and fought a war in outpointing Ruslan Provodnikov but the one who was knocked out in ten rounds by Viktor Postol. None of the three knockdowns was really convincing before Matthysse did his own no mas.
What a great weekend for boxing in the Philippines. Obviously Pacquiao’s victorious return hogged the headlines and to a degree it was a pity that it overshadowed two other outstanding performances by Filipino boxers. On Friday Vic Saludar challenged WBO minimumweight champion Ryuya Yamanaka in Kobe, Yamanaka’s home city, and won a clear unanimous decision. Vic probable looked a safe opponent. Over the previous thirteen months he had lost on points to 8-1-2 Toto Landero, beaten 6-2-2 Mike Kinaadman, 14-8-4 Lito Dante and then Kindaaman again. Nothing to scare Yamanaka there but a “low risk” fight exploded in their faces. On Sunday under Pacquiao vs. Matthysse Jhack Tepora floored and stopped Mexican Edivaldo Ortega to win the interim WBA feather title. Going into the weekend their only world champion was IBF super flyweight king Jerwin Ancajas so a huge boost for boxing in the archipelago of over 7,000 islands.
Things could get even better with Toto Landero challenging Simphiwe Khonco for the IBO minimum title in South Africa on Sunday and Froilan Saludar, the elder brother of Vic, challenging Sho Kimura for the WBO flyweight title in China on 27 July. Additionally minimumweight Mark Barriga could soon be fighting Mexican Carlos Licona for the IBF title as it is expected that Hiroto Kyoguchi will vacate the title. They will have another champion for sure because Donnie Nietes and fellow-Filipino Aston Palicte meet in Cebu City on 18 August for the vacant WBO super fly title. When Jerwin Ancajas outclassed Jonas Sultan in defence of his IBF super flyweight title in May it was the first world title fight between two Filipino boxers for 93 years-now it is two in three months.
Nietes will be aiming to become a four-division champion and if he wins he will be 17-0-1 in 18 world title fights and is currently 30-0-3 in his last 33 fights. Donnie comes from a fighting family. His uncle Dan is a former Philippines champion and now a judge, Uncle Junie had a brief pro career, Uncle Gerson Snr was a good level amateur and cousin Gerson Jr is a former amateur boxer and now trains Donnie alongside ex-Philippines champion Ala Villamor.
The WSBB have managed to pull together interesting lists for their next two divisions. The bantamweight contestants will be Mikhail Aloyan, Ryan Burnett, Nonito Donaire, Naoya Inoue, Jason Moloney, Juan Carlos Payano, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Zolani Tete. At super light we have Ivan Baranchyk, Terry Flanagan, Ryan Martin, Regis Prograis, Kiryl Relikh, Josh Taylor, Eduard Troyanovsky and Anthony Yigit. Both good lists but for me it is the bantams that really excite with four title holders in the competition whereas only Relikh is a champion at super light. I was informed that Prograis had relinquished the WBC interim title before he fought Juan Jose Velasco at the weekend and that their fight was for the WBC Diamond title.
It would have been interesting to see WBA No 4 Mario Barrios in the mix at super light. The 23-year-old from San Antonio, who turned pro at 18, is 21-0 with 13 wins by KO/TKO He faces a good test on 28 July when he meets Jose Roman who is 24-2-1
Floyd Mayweather’s record of 50 wins in 50 fights being the highest unbeaten total for any retired world champion is under threat. On August 28 in Thailand Wanheng (Chayaphon Moonsri) will face an as yet unnamed challenger in defence of his WBC minimumweight title. Wanheng is 50-0 and will be making the tenth defence of his title. Of course for his achievement to get him in the record books he will have to retire with a 100% record so you can be sure the challenger will be very carefully chosen.
Since the parties representing Kid Galahad and Toka Kahn Clary have been unable to come to an agreement over their IBF title eliminator the IBF have called for purse bids by 31 July. Galahad is No 3 with the IBF (positions 1 and 2 are vacant) and Clary is No 9.
Boxing has never been a major factor in Singapore sport but the emergence of Muhamad Ridhwan is sparking some interest. The 30-year-old “The Chosen Wan” has already won WBA Asian, UBO World and IBO International titles and now he is looking to add a more prestigious one. On 29 September in Singapore he faces Namibian Paulus Ambunda for the vacant IBO super bantam title. Ambunda, 37, a former WBO bantam champion, held this IBO title until losing it to Moises Flores in 2016.
It was nice to see veteran Moruti Mthalane regain the IBF flyweight title at the weekend. He vacated the title a few years back after a farcical purse bidding process left him with the prospect of defending his title in Thailand for a derisory amount of money. South Africa will be hoping for another title win on Sunday when Simphiwe Khonco defends the IBO minimum title against Toto Landero (holds a win over Vic Saludar). The fight is part of a show to honour the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth and Khonco’s promoter Rodney Berman has released Khonco so that he could top the bill for the promoter of that show.
It must have been depressing for the Boxing South Africa team to have gone to the trouble of arranging for the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport to give a clinic on this very important subject of doping when only eleven licensees turned up. You can’t help people who won’t help themselves.
Thursday 19 July marked the sixtieth birthday for Azumah Nelson, arguably the greatest African fighter of all time. The “Professor” a former All-Africa, World Military and Commonwealth gold medal winner was WBC champion at feather and super feather. He beat Wilfredo Gomez, Marcos Villasana (twice), Juan Laporte, Mario Martinez (twice0, Calvin Grove, Gabe Ruelas and Jesse James Leija. British fans are unlikely to forget his one round demolition of Pat Cowdell and his dramatic last round stoppage of Jim McDonnell. He drew and then stopped Jeff Fenech in two great fights with the win in 1992 being rated by Ring Magazine as Upset of the Year and his 1995 stoppage of Ruelas was Ring Magazine Comeback of the Year. Azumah only lost two fights over his peak years. After only thirteen fights he came in as a very late substitute against the great Salvador Sanchez in 1982. He was up on one of the three cards before being stopped in the fifteenth round in what was tragically Sanchez’s last fight. His other loss was when he moved up to lightweight in 1992 to challenge Parnell Whittaker and lost a close unanimous decision. Azumah was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004. Equally important is the donations he has made to many orphanages in Ghana and the Azumah Nelson Foundation to help the youth of his country. He has been a great ambassador for boxing and for Ghana and the WBC have made arrangements to honour Azumah.
Still on Africa I was advised this week of the death of Langton Tinago. The Zimbabwean “Schoolboy” died on 17 July. For many years Langton was the man in boxing in Zimbabwe. Over a 20 year career from 1967 to 1987 he had 110 fights ending with a 86-20-3,1ND record. He was national champion at lightweight and welterweight and had three spells as Commonwealth champion at super featherweight and lightweight and scored wins over Ken Buchanan, Willie Booth, Chris Sanigar and Australia Graeme Brooke. He fell on hard times after he retired but was a much revered figure in Zimbabwe boxing.
By Eric Armit
Finally we have some clarity and some hope. The clarity is over the return between Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez who will get it on again in Las Vegas on 15 September and the hope is that the negotiations between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, or more correctly between their promoters, looks to be getting close to an agreement. Both fights will be huge and a Joshua vs. “Wilder fight in the UK could match or even surpass the figures for Joshua vs. Wlad Klitschko.
Since Tyson Fury broke the log jam with his win over Klitschko the heavyweight division has returned to being the attraction it once was. I can remember the days when the heavyweights and the middleweight were the glamour divisions so it’s “Happy Days Are Here again……”
Still on heavyweights it remains to be seen how kind boxing history will be to David Haye now that he has retired. Injuries have blighted the late years of his career with only six fights in the last eight years of activity-or inactivity as you might say. He certainly ruled the roost for a while at cruiser being undefeated European and WBA/WBC champion and won the WBA heavyweight title but it is a moot point whether wins over Monte Barrett, Nikolay Valuev, John Ruiz, Audley Harrison and Derek Chisora, the only “name” heavyweights he beat, are enough to offset the toe injury loss to Wlad Klitschko. Good yes, great no.
The Dillian Whyte vs. Joseph Parker fight is a good match for both fighters. Perhaps a win would mean no more hoops to jump through for Whyte. He is the WBC No 1 but the possibility of a Wilder vs. Joshua fight is drowning out his claims for a fight with Wilder. For Parker a win would put him back into the picture after his loss to Joshua which has seen him drop out of the top 5 in all of the ratings. Since Alex Povetkin is No 1 with both the WBA and WBO he must he hoping a fairy godmother appears so that “Cinderella” Povetkin can go to the ball.
There must be quite a few top level welterweights waiting to see whether Manny Pacquiao can beat Lucas Matthysse on 15 July in Kuala Lumpur. It remains to be seen whether at 39 Pacquiao is still a force or whether the way he struggled against Jeff Horn marked the first signs of footsteps sliding down the hill. Most top fighters in the welterweight division will to be hoping for a Pacquiao win as Manny is still a big money fight for anyone. A win for Matthysse would lift the Argentinian’s profile but not to the level of Pacquiao and in my opinion Terence Crawford and Errol Spence would beat Pacquiao and Matthysse but we will know more after 15 July.
We also have clarity on where and when the cruiser section of the WBSS tournament will finally conclude with Olek Usyk and Murat Gassiev meeting in Moscow on 27 July. For the first time since I didn’t know when we will have one champion in the cruiser division with the IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO titles on the line. The matter should have been resolved six months ago and there was always a risk that injury or some other factor could derail the tournament but it has been worth the wait to get the right two contestants together. With all the signs saying that George Groves vs. Callum Smith will contest the super middle final once Groves is fit that will also be a much delayed but best outcome final it is just a pity that the impetus has been lost by the delays.
The good fights keep coming with Jermell Charlo and Jarrett Hurd being lined-up for a unifications match. Charlo will be putting up his WBC super welter title and Hurd his WBA and IBF titles. It will be an explosive encounter with bad feeling between the two fighters. Hurd is 22-0 with 15 wins by KO/TKO and Charlo is 31-0 with 15 wins by KO/TKO.
What a contrast in the performance of two relatively unknown Mexicans in title fights. Jaime Munguia 28-0 comes in as a late substitute and proves to be an animal blowing away Sadam Ali in four rounds when Ali had beaten Miguel Cotto in his last fight. At the weekend Carlos Ocampo 22-0 is blown away inside a round by Errol Spence and it is ridiculed as a mismatch and yet both Munguia and Diaz had met very similar opposition and neither was expected to win. Both of the sanctioning bodies involved played their little games. Munguia went from unrated by the WBO to No 6 when he had not had a fight and Ocampo went from 6 to 3 with the IBF for beating someone with a 14-3 record. It was impossible to predict that Munguia would destroy Ali and also that Ocampo would collapse but it is easy to be smart after the event. Munguia will defend his WBO super welter title against Liam Smith in Las Vegas on 21 July and it is justice for Smith as he lost the chance to fight Ali through injury. It will also give some clarity on whether Munguia is really as good as he looked against Ali or Ali just had a very bad night.
Puerto Rican “El Explosivo” Machado defends his secondary WBA super feather title against Ghanaian Rafael Mensah on the undercard to this Munguia vs. Smith fight. Machado is 19-0 with 16 wins by KO/TKO. Mensah is 31-0 with 23 wins by KO/TKO but his No 1 rating by the WBA is farcical. He has never fought outside Ghana, has never fought anyone remotely near being rated and it is 2014 since he last fought in a fight scheduled for more than eight rounds. Mensah may be a very good fighter but there is nothing in his record to justify being rated No 1 but then this is the WBA we are talking about. Also on the card is Demetrius Andrade vs. Yamaguchi Falcao.
The undercard to Golovkin vs. Alvarez will include Diego De La Hoya vs. Franklin Manzanilla with Gary O’Sullivan and Joseph Diaz also scheduled to feature. Manzanilla gets the match after his upset win over 32-2 Julio Ceja in May.
Regis Prograis will defend his WBC interim super light title on 14 July in New Orleans when he faces unbeaten Argentinian Juan Jose Velasco. The 29-year-old Prograis is based in Houston but was born in New Orleans. Velasco has benefited from the WBC ratings elevator going from No 34 in their ratings to 18 without fighting. Top 15 in the next ratings?
Rocky Fielding faces a tough task when he challenges Tyron Zeuge for the secondary WBA super middle title in Offenburg on 14 July. Zeuge has been improving steadily and being British Fielding will know how hard it can be to get a win in Germany.
Brit Dave Allen also has an overseas assignment as he will be in Paris Saturday night to provide the next test for French heavyweight idol Tony Yoka. The Rio gold medallist is already living the super star life with big names from French show business attending his fights and with lucrative out of the ring contracts. Yoka cannot afford to lose as he has an 8 million Euro deal with French TV for exclusive rights to his fights over the next four years. However there is still the possibility of his parade getting rained on. He has currently been given a suspended ban for missing three scheduled drugs tests. The final decision on what his sentence will be is expected around 4 July. He could get anything from a two year ban to a light slap on the wrist so to some extent not only Yoka but also the Anti-Drug Agency are both under close scrutiny.
Interesting match in Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina will see former world title challenger Matias Rueda 30-1 against 25-year-old 17-0 Cesar Antin. Rueda was stopped in two rounds by Oscar Valdez in a challenge for the WBO feather title in 2016.
Argentinian boxing could be in for a boost as it is expected that before the end of August all five of the boxers from their team at the 2016 Olympics will have turned pro. Alberto Melian, Fernando Martinez, Alberto Palmetta and Ignacio Perrin have already gone pro and Yamil Peralta is said to be crossing over in August. Peralta, who fought at 91kgs as an amateur, represented Argentina at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and at the World Championships in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Peralta, Martinez and Melian are the best hopes as both Palmetta and Perrin have already stumbled in early paid fights.
Still on Argentina how dumb can you be? Marcos Maidana was photographed with two pistols which was bad enough but then he posted a picture of himself sitting in a car with an Uzi on his lap and one on the seat next to him. That stupidity brought a downpour of media criticism. Not exactly a good role model.
I really do wonder about the quality of some bodies overseeing boxing. Take the Bund Deutscher Berufsboxer (BDB) which is one of the bodies supposedly overseeing boxing in Germany. On 16 June in Berlin on a show under their banner Robert Maess halted Mihaita Cosma in two rounds. Obviously for the fight to have gone ahead the BDB must have approved it this despite Maess being 21-1 and Cosma 0-18. Maess had won 19 of his fights by KO/TKO and Cosma had lost every one of his 18 fights by KO/TKO and in those 18 losses he had only twice managed to get past the second round. If the BDB consider this an acceptable match it begs the question of what they consider unacceptable but then these are the same people who concealed from the EBU a positive test for Erkan Teper. When I see disgraceful matches like this I wonder just what justification could be offered if the fighter with the abysmal record suffered serious injury.
By Eric Armit
So it is two down and one to go. We now know who will be the finalists in the WBSS cruiser final and we almost know who will be in the super middle final. The decision on the super middles will depend on a medical report on George Groves shoulder injury. Hopefully there will be a concession available to put the super middle final date back if necessary to allow Groves to compete but there will be TV dates and other financial considerations. It had been said that if Groves could not fight then Chris Eubank Jr would take his place but the bad gash suffered by Eubank must also make him doubtful for the final. If he is not available then I am not sure who would step in but it would have to be stronger opponent than Nieky Holzken. The Dutchman gave a good account of himself but was never a danger to Smith. I would hate to think that Sauerland would look to slip in Juergen Brahmer but don’t rule that out. Subject to it being Smith vs. Groves and Olek Usyk vs. Murat Gassiev then the WBSS could count itself as a 100% successful on its selection of participants as these are the pairings that most people wanted and expected to be in the finals. I am sure there were others that the WBSS would have liked to pick but not everyone was willing to hand their fighters over to the WBSS. One thing you can be sure about is that when the smoke clears the sanctioning bodies will already be looking for ways to split the titles again.
WBSS was subject No 1. Number 2 was the mini super fly extravaganza last weekend with Srisaket, Juan Estrada and Carlos Cuadras in action. The outcome there just muddied the waters. Srisaket’s win over Estrada was controversial and there is talk of a return with the WBC saying it would not stand in the way of such a fight. Then you had Cuadras, who was fighting McWilliams Arroyo as a warm-up to being next in, line for the winner of Srisaket vs. Estrada getting beaten. There is the potential in this division for a WBSS-type tournament with Srisaket, Estrada, Cuadras, Arroyo who has to be in the picture now, WBA champion Khalid Yafai and WBO champion Naoya Inoue and IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas and even Roman Gonzalez could be in the mix. It won’t happen because there are too many different promoters/ TV companies involved who won’t work with each other.
No 3 is the heavyweights. Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz meet on Saturday, WBC No 1Dillian Whyte and Lucas Browne meet on the 24 March, Anthony Joshua fights Joseph Parker on 31 March, WBA No 1 Alex Povetkin fights David Price on the undercard to Joshua vs. Parker and Tony Bellew and David Haye have their return on 5 May. Jarrell Miller, whose name is being bandied around as a possible opponent for Joshua post Parker, fights Johann Duhaupas on 28 April so the heavyweights are really getting things sorted with the three champions and their No 1 challengers all in action-and that’s without Tyson Fury throwing his hat in the ring. Oh dear I am forgetting the secondary WBA title fight between Manuel Charr who has lost to Povetkin and Duhaupas and was knocked out by Mairis Breidis against Fres Oquendo who last fought in July 2014. Even Charr’s team do not want this fight. They bid $101,000 for it against the $600,000 bid by Oquendo’s team but of course Oquendo’s team have had four years to save up the money to make the bid.
To put that money into context Danny Garcia was paid $1.25 million for the non-title fight with Brandon Rios and Rios $500,000. For those interested in money-and who isn’t-on that show David Benavidez was paid $400,000 and Ronald Gavril $125,000. By comparison with those figures the super flyweight flurry was relatively cheap at Srisaket $250,000, Estrada $100, 000, Brian Viloria $50,000, Donnie Nietes $40,000, Juan Reveco $30,000 and Cuadra and Arroyo $25,000 each. When you consider the quality of fighters such as Srisaket, Estrada and Nietes it appears there grounds for a legal challenge. Never mind equal pay and discrimination against women how about equal pay for the little men suffering from discrimination on the grounds of weight?
With regard to Gonzalez promoters in Nicaragua are said to be trying to set up a Nietes vs. Gonzalez fight in Managua at the new Alexis Arguello Arena in June.
It is not just the cream of the heavyweights (or cheese in the case of Charr vs. Oquendo) that are going to be in action over the next three months. Charles Martin returns on the Wilder vs. Ortiz undercard against Curtis Harper, Andy Ruiz returns against Devin Vargas on 10 March, Robert Helenius fights Yuri Bykhautsou in Estonia on 17 March, Hughie Fury faces Sam Sexton for the British title on 12 May, Agit Kabayel is to defend his European title against Alex Dimitrenko. Otto Wallin and Adrian Granat clash for the vacant European Union title on 21 April in what must be the biggest fight in Sweden since professional boxing returned there and Eddie Chambers is said to be returning after two years out. Coming through are Daniel Dubois, Tony Yoka, Oscar Rivas, Adam Kownacki, Simon Kean, Tom Schwarz, Filip Hrgovic. Nathan Gorman, Trevor Bryan, LaRon Mitchell and Junior Fa. All unbeaten. If you are a heavyweight and you are not fighting in the next three months fire your manager!
So Manny Pacquiao feels insulted to be offered a fight against Mike Alvarado on the undercard to Jeff Horn vs. Terrence Crawford. I can quite understand that considering all the Pacquiao has achieved but what other options are there out there for him. He is talking about fighting Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur on 29 April or 5 May which is feasible but probably tougher than Alvarado. Pacquiao really needs to be thinking of how he wants to end his career he needs to remember how Floyd Mayweather went out with a whimper fighting Andre Berto so let’s hope he has a better plan than that.
Frank Warren’s show at the O2 on 14 April is looking a high quality night. Apart from the all-British WBO middle weight title fight between Billy Joe Saunders and Martin Murray and Terry Flanagan vs. Maurice Hooker for the vacant WBO super light title there is also a good English super middle title fight between two unbeatens Darrell Williams and Lennox Clarke with Anthony Yarde, Daniel Dubois and Ohara Davies against TBA’s.
Luis Nery is a disgrace. Not only is he a drugs cheat but he even defrauded the promoters and TV on Thursday by failing to make weight. The disgrace is that he was 5lbs over at the first weigh-in. He managed to lose 2lbs but was still well over the limit and rightfully stripped of his title. After all that you can be sure that when he rehydrated he would have a big advantage over Shinsuke Yamanaka who may even have weakened himself to make the weight. The Japanese had paid for a fight between two bantamweights and they did not get that. The WBC also has to explain what happened with trial weights. If Nery was 5lbs over at the first weight how much over was he a week before that?
I feel sorry for Artem Dalakian. He is rated No 1 and wins the vacant WBA flyweight title by beating No 2 and within a couple of days is told he has to defend against No 3 by quoting a rule they rarely follow. As if that is not bad enough the guy he has to fight, their No 3, was knocked out Juan Reveco in 2014 and has never fought anyone remotely near the ratings since then. Over the past 12 months he has won five fights and his victims had combined record of 5-16. More WBA rubbish
Lee Haskins is looking to rebound from his crushing loss against Ryan Burnett which cost him his IBF bantam title. Lee is now to meet Frenchman Omar Lamiri for the vacant EBU title with date and venue to be advised. Another British fighter with European business on his calendar is Thomas Ward who has to defend his European title against Frenchman Samir Ziani with again date and venue to be advised.
Probably the most interesting of the British vs. Europe fights is the one in Bilbao on 24 March where WBA No 3 Bradley Skeete 27-1 faces the local hot prospect WBA No 7 Kevin Lejarraga 24-0 19 wins by KO/TKO for the vacant European welterweight title. A real hard one to pick a winner.
An all-European title fight on 24 March in Marseilles will see Frenchman Arsen Goulamirian 22-0 take on Belgian Ryad Merhy 24-0 for the vacant secondary WBA cruiser title. Another piece of WBA convoluted madness. They made Denis Lebedev champion in recess so that they could upgrade Yunier Dorticos to super champion so the fight with Murat Gassiev could be a unification fight. Gassiev won so he is now their super champion and Goulamirian vs. Merhy is for the secondary title and poor old Denis Lebedev is left sitting in the corner like little Jack Horner (old British nursery rhyme character).
It is not that long ago the Felix Verdejo was considered to be the lightweight champion of tomorrow. An injury and other problems derailed that expectation for a while. He hopes to get his title train back on track when he returns to action on the Top Rank show in New York on 17 March against Mexican Antonio Lozada on the undercard to the two WBC title fights of Juan Carlos Ramirez vs. Amir Imam form the vacant super light title and Olek Gvozdyk vs. Mehdi Amar for the interim WBC light heavy title. It will be the first fight in 13 months for Verdejo. Lozada was considered a good prospect himself when he was 23-0 with 20 wins by KO/TKO. He is still an impressive looking 38-2 but some of the shine has rubbed off. Just to show how farcical the sanctioning bodies can make our sport on 9 March Regis Prograis fights Julius Indongo for the interim WBC super light title and just eight days later Ramirez fights Imam for the full title and what worries me is that they do not even see how stupid this makes them look. Try explaining that to a non-boxing fan and try making sound sensible. Never mind that try explaining it to a boxing fan and making it sound sensible.
By Eric Armit
The threat that the IOC may drop boxing from the 2020 Olympic Games should come as no surprise. For a few years now the AIBA which has responsibility for administrating International “amateur” boxing-but let’s not kid ourselves the Olympics Games are no longer for amateurs-have too long been focusing on making money rather than developing the sport. For a few years they have through the WSB and other initiatives helped make the transition from AIBA to professional boxing easier for elite boxers. However they have failed to tackle the quality of judging and refereeing and have failed to put in place and to police internal controls leaving themselves open to allegations of mismanagement and profligacy taking the organisation to the edge of bankruptcy. The criticism over their handling of boxing at the Rio Olympics had already put them under the IOC spotlight and then they went and shot themselves in the foot over the appointment of an interim President . They selected a man who has been sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department for alleged links to a major “transnational criminal organisation”. I can almost imagine the conversation “We need an interim President let’s appoint Gafur Rakhimov” with one voice saying “ isn’t he sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department for alleged link to a major “transnational criminal organisation”. “Yes sounds just the man for the job”!
A ban from the Olympics would be a huge blow for boxing’s prestige but it is more difficult to decide whether it would have any repercussions for professional boxing. Certainly many of today’s top boxers have competed at the Games. From the 2012 Games seven gold medallists: Zou Shiming, Luke Campbell, Vasyl Lomachenko, Ryota Murata, Egor Mekhontsev, Olek Usyk and Anthony Joshua turned professional with Shiming, Lomachenko, Murata, Usyk and Joshua winning versions of world titles. Five silver medal winners: Tugstsogt Nyambayar, John Joe Nevin, Denis Berinchyk, Fred Evans and Esquiva Falcao and ten bronze medallists Paddy Barnes, Mikhail Aloyan, Michael Conlan, Taras Shelestyuk, Anthony Ogogo, Yamaguchi Falcao, Olek Gvozdyk, Tervel Pulev and Ivan Dychko are pros. Fighters such as Andrew Selby, Oscar Valdez, Felix Verdejo, Jeff Horn, Errol Spence, Artur Beterbiev, Rau’shee Warren, Josh Taylor, Anthony Yigit, Isaac Dogboe and many others did not even medal.
The Games are a major showcase for talents such as these but there is nothing to say that these fighters would not have come through into the professional ranks if there had not been and Olympic Games. For me a World Championship gold medal is every bit as hard to win. At the 2012 Olympics you would need to be victorious in a maximum of five fights to win a gold medal but at the 2011 World Championships the figure would be seven fights. Fighters such as Joshua, Murata and Campbell did not make it to the World Championships gold standard and Barnes, Conlan, Horn, Valdez, Taylor, Yigit, Ogogo, Spence, Evans, Beterbiev, Joseph Parker, Naoya Inoue and Khalid Yafai did not win medals.
However an Olympic gold medal is the dream, the pinnacle and without that dream perhaps some boxers would turn professional earlier and more worrying some without the glint of gold and the money it can be turned into might just decide the risk is not worth the reward and try another sport and be lost to boxing. The only people who can keep boxing in the Olympics are the AIBA. To try to start another organisation to compete with them would just cause chaos. The WBC talked about doing it when the AIBA decided to let professionals complete at the Olympics and that never even got off the ground but with their track record relying on the AIBA to clean house is a depressing thought based on their track record. Overlooked in the threat of a ban is that the IOC would insist on only eight division for male boxers which will also have an effect.
There is talk of Floyd Mayweather fighting in the MMA and perhaps even a return with Conor McGregor. I felt it was against when McGregor fought Mayweather as it made a farce out of boxing but if Mayweather wants to try MMA I have no problem with that. He might even get his butt kicked-literally. He is suffering from the condition that hits many boxers when they retire in that they miss the limelight and Mayweather’s ego must find that hard to bear.
WBSS really is a gift to boxing that just keeps on giving. Murat Gassiev vs. Yunier Dorticos was an excellent fight. It was not a thrill a minute but high quality work with neither man wasting a punch. I was surprised that Gassiev fought on the back foot for so much of the fight but he boxed intelligently and paced the fight better than Dorticos and has a good chance against Olek Usyk.
I can’t wait for George Groves vs. Chris Eubank Jr. for me it is a 50/50 fight and one that might never have happened as it would probably foundered on the money split. The WSBB have made the reward worth the risk. It will be interesting to see where the WBSS goes next. I can’t see them going to the heavyweights, the light heavyweights or the middleweights. The super welterweights might be doable but right now there is a lack of big names in the division and that applies to a number of other divisions. The featherweights with Gary Russell, Carl Frampton/or Nonito Donaire, Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Lee Selby/or Josh Warrington, Oscar Valdez/or Scott Quigg and Joseph Diaz would be an interesting mix but the cruisers and super middles happened because there was no real USA input. That meant that the participants had no contractual ties to major cable outlets and there was no problem such as might have occurred if Top Rank or Golden Boy did not want their fighters to take part.
Typically the WBA took away Denis Lebedev’s title and stuck him on the shelf out of the way so that Gassiev vs. Dorticos could be a unification fight. Hope they promised him something nice for getting them out of that fix.
No opponent named yet for Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring on 14 April in New York under Jeff Horn vs. Terrence Crawford. Initially the name of Lucas Matthysse was mentioned but that seems unlikely now. There is talk of Pacquiao vs. Vasyl Lomachenko later in the year. For the Horn fight Pacquiao was 145lbs and for the Guillermo Rigondeaux fight Lomachenko was 129lbs so it would probably be a catchweight contest but I don’t think it is a good fight for Pacquiao or the right one for Lomachenko but it may come down to how much money it might make. I guess Manny could cut a leg off.
Plenty of signs that Tyson Fury is working hard to get himself back into fighting condition which will certain liven things up in the division. After over two years out of the ring it is impossible to say whether he will return to the conditioning he showed in outboxing Wlad Klitschko. Even as a joke his mentioning Antonio Tarver and Shannon Briggs as possible opponents is in the worse possible taste. Does he really want to fight a drugs cheat? That would go really well in view the problems he has only recently been able to put behind him.
The WBC have got themselves in a fix. For some reason they have approved Miguel Berchelt defending his super featherweight title against Ghanaian Maxwell Awuku. This despite the fact that Awuku is not in their top 15.In fact he is not in their top 20. In fact he is not in their top 40-so unrated. I watched Awuku give Daud Yordan a good fight in 2015 but since then he has had just two fights in 2015, one in 2016 and one in 2017 all against local opposition with very poor records so naturally he has not done enough to deserve to be rated but is acceptable as a world title challenger! Even if he is coming in as a substitute there must be 40 rated fighters checking their phones to see if the missed a call and when they find they didn’t they must wonder what the points is of having ratings if they get totally ignored and by-passed.
Sauerland Promotions have had a prominent role in the WBSS but all has not been going well for them in other areas. So far IBF light heavyweight title challenger Enrico Koelling, former interim WBA super welter champion Jack Culcay and unbeaten middleweight Stefan Haertel have all deserted Sauerland for other promoters. Sauerland have said they will soon announce new names for their team but these were three of the best cards in their deck,
One of Sauerland’s star names, Vincent Feigenbutz, has been frozen out. No he is not leaving Sauerland and in fact he fights South African Ryno Liebenberg on 17 February. Feigenbutz has been in a very strange camp in preparation for the fight. He has built himself an igloo and sleeps there and does his sparring in a ring built in the snow. He has also included locust in his diet. I know there is snow business like snow business Vincent but this is the boxing business.
For those interested in money the purses for the Jose Linares vs. Mercito Gesta show were as follows: Linares $300,000, Gesta $70,000, Lucas Matthysse $210,000, Teerachai $40,000.
Argentinian TV is running a 13 part TV drama on the life of Carlos Monzon. A truly great fighter and one of the best middleweights of all time but not the nicest of men who went to prison for tossing his wife off a hotel balcony. The good, the very good and the ugly.
I can’t see the sense in David Price taking the fight with Alex Povetkin. After his crushing loss to Christian Hammer in February last year I thought he might hang up his gloves. However he returned in December in what I thought would be the first of a few not too testing outings against very modest opposition. That seemed sensible but to now go in with Povetkin that seems senseless.
Fights to watch out for: Excellent British middleweight clash will see Tommy Langford and Jack Arnfield fighting for the British middles title under Groves vs. Eubank. Also on February 17 in Las Vegas Ray Robinson vs. Yordenis Ugas. On the same night in El Paso unbeaten Caleb Plant fights Rogelio Medina in an IBF eliminator at super middle. Under Oscar Valdez vs. Scott Quigg in Carson on 10 March 20-0 Andy Vences vs. 17-0 Erick Deleon and Andy Ruiz returns for the first time since his majority decision loss to Joseph Parker in December 2016 against Devin Vargas. The unification fight at super welter between WBA champion Erislandy Lara and IBF champion Jarred Hurd will be on 7 April but no venue yet
By Eric Armit
Fighters progress at different rates and that was shown on the big show at the weekend where Errol Spence was making a defence of his IBF welterweight title and Marcus Browne was fighting in a ten round support fight. Both were members of the US Olympic Team in 2012 which failed to win a medal. Spence was the only one to make it to the quarter-finals and the US had to rely on Claressa Shields to put an American on the podium. Spence is a world champion and Browne despite his 21-0 record is probably a year away from a title fight and his name has yet to come up when discussing challengers for Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson, Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev.
Despite not winning a medal the US men’s team have done well so far as professionals. Rau’shee Warren and Spence have won world title and Terrell Gausha, Mike Hunter and Dominic Breazeale have challenged for world titles. Jose Carlos Ramirez fights Amir Imam for the vacant WBC super light title in March and Joseph Diaz is the No 1 rated feather with the WBC so is in line to challenge Gary Russell, who incidentally qualified for the 2008 Olympics but passed out in the dressing room before his first fight. That only leaves Jamal Herring who was the oldest member of the Team and with a 16-2 record it does not look as though he will progress further. That’s not a bad return so far for a Team who were flops in 2012.
The British Team in 2012 produced two gold medals from Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell, silver from Fred Evans and a bronze from Anthony Ogogo. As professionals Joshua has won a world title and Campbell has challenged for one. Not a great return but team members Josh Taylor and Andrew Selby are both closing in on world title shots. Fred Evans has just recently turned pro but Ogogo and team captain Thomas Stalker have struggled as pros.
By failing to make the weight Javier Fortuna threw away his chance to win the IBF lightweight title and rightly so. What I have problem with is that Robert Easter could have lost his title by being defeated by a man who is over the weight limit for the lightweight division. That is against natural justice and when that happens it is purely a commercial consideration. The TV Company, the promoter and the sanctioning body all have a commercial interest in the fight going ahead and the stupidity of having a lightweight title fight when one fighter weighs over the limit for the division is brushed under the carpet. I wonder what would happen if a fighter who lost his title under these circumstances went to court where those involved could try to explain to a judge how it can be a title fight if one guy is inside the weight limit and the other outside. It is right that the guy who does not make weight can’t win the title but somehow the guy who is champion and made the weight can lose the title. Money rules all of the time.
OK here comes the big news-both Wlad Klitschko and Vasyl Lomachenko have taken dives-honest. Ok it was in a frozen pool in the Ukraine. It appears to be a tradition on epiphany, the celebration of how the star led the three Kings or Wise men to visit baby Jesus, so panic over. Wlad won on points staying in the water much longer than Vasyl.
No name yet for Lomachenko’s opponent on 28 April. The problem is that Lomachenko’s opponent has to be a big name but apart from Miguel Berchelt there are no names at super feather and at light Easter has just defended his title and would not be a draw, Terry Flanagan has moved up and Jorge Linares defends his title against Mercito Gesta with only the WBA title on the line as Gesta is not in the WBC top15. Sometimes a fighter can be too good for his own good.
According to French sources Tony Averlant is to be the next opponent for unbeaten Anthony Yarde with the WBO European and WBO Inter-Continental titles on the line with Bradley Skeete facing Hungarian Laszlo Toth and Daniel Dubois also on the card. It will be an interesting fight if Yarde vs. Averlant does come off as the 6’2” Averlant has won 8 of his last 9 fights and only been beaten twice by KO/TKO, but there is no confirmation of the match so it might just be some French kite flying.
In what may be another bit of French kite flying it was claimed that the WBO are about to put Olympic gold medallist Tony Yoka in their next heavyweight rankings. This after three fights against Travis Clark rated No 201 by BoxRec, Jonathan Rice No 149 and Ali Baghouz No 329. Could even the WBO be so cynical as to jump on that bandwagon? Don’t bet against it.
Good to know that Roy Jones is finally going to put away his gloves. Surely one of the most talented fighters of all time it has been a real shame to see him blemishing his legacy by fighting on long past the time when there was any sensible reason to do so. He should have retired after beating Antonio Tarver in 2003 when he was already an eight-time champion over three divisions and 49-1 with his only loss a disqualification. He could have been inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008 (You have to have been retired for five years to get on the ballot paper) but hopefully after he beats Scott Sigmon in Pensacola on 8 February he will focus on promoting and get to Canastota in 2023.
As Jones prepares to bow out Felix Sturm prepares to return. The former holder of the IBF, WBA and WBO middleweight and WBA super middleweight titles has said he will fight this year but no date or venue. In February 2016 Sturm tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid following his victory over Fedor Chudinov in a defence of his WBA super middle title. The investigation into the positive test dragged on and Sturm announced in October 2016 that he was vacating the WBA title due to an elbow injury. The WBA dropped the matter and because the WBA did not open proceedings against Sturm the German BDB Federation decided not to move against him. Sturm left Germany for Bosnia, he is of Bosnian descent, but it is not known if he intends to fight there or back in Germany.
The Inglewood show on 24 February just got even more interesting as Donnie Nietes will now defend his IBF flyweight title against Juan Carlos Reveco. The show already has Srisaket defending the WBC super fly title against Juan Francisco Estrada, Brian Viloria tackling Artem Dalakian for the vacant secondary WBA fly title and Carlos Cuadras facing McWilliams Arroyo in what is virtually an eliminator to see who gets to fight the winner between Srisaket and Estrada. It will be good to see Nietes get some high level exposure. The 35-year-old Filipino is unbeaten in 32 fights going back to 2004 when he lost a split decision to an Indonesian in Indonesia. He is a three division champion and is 16-0-1 in 17 world title fights. The 37-year-old Viloria is no spring chicken and this will be his 15th world title fight
Yet another black eye for boxing as Japanese fighter Kenichi Ogawa’s pre-fight test before his contests with Tevin Farmer for the vacant IBF super feather title proved positive for a synthetic testosterone in both the A and B samples. His post fight test was clean but the Nevada Commission have issued a suspension which will be in place until a hearing which could be in March. Farmer’s team had already protested the controversial decision given to Ogawa and if the Nevada Commission confirms the suspension after the hearing then it seems certain that Ogawa will be stripped off the tile.
Back in Japan the Kameda brothers are aiming to return to action. Koki, a three division champion has not fought since losing to Kohei Kono in a challenge for the WBA super fly title in October 2015. Brother Tomoki, a former undefeated WBO bantamweight champion who lost twice to Jaime McDonnell in challenges for the secondary WBA title is also said to be fighting on the show.
You can’t blame Anthony Mundine for calling out Jeff Horn after his win at the weekend. Mundine has been remarkably able to shift between divisions from super welter to cruiser but has never been less than 153lbs. He has put any thought of Horn fight aside for the moment as he and old foe Danny Green are heading for South Africa to take part in an “I’m a Celebrity-Get Me Out of Here “ show. Locking Tony and Danny together in a room could have interesting consequences.
Horn fights Terrence Crawford in New York on 14 April as Crawford attempts to win his sixth world title and become a three division champion. A win for Horn would be an even bigger surprise than his win over Manny Pacquiao and I fear for Jeff’s title.
On the same night in London Billy Joe Saunders will put his WBO middleweight title on the line in an excellent match-up against Martin Murray. With his outclassing of David Lemieux Saunders has greatly increased the possibility of a fight with the winner of Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez but Jermall Charlo, Daniel Jacobs, Ryota Murata and Demetrius Andrade are also in the queue. It would be dangerous to look beyond Murray who has had four world title shots and must know there won’t be another one if he loses to Saunders. On the same show Terry Flanagan faces a difficult task to become a second division champion as he takes on unbeaten Maurice Hooker for the vacant WBO super light title. Two high class contests.
Spaniard Kiko Martinez seems to have been around forever-that’s because he turned pro at 18 and has been fighting for 13 years. The former IBF feather champion has ducked no one. He is 7-4-1 in his last 12 fights with the losses being to Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz and Josh Warrington. He is back in the picture now being lined-up to challenge fellow Spaniard Marco Vidal for the European feather title and it is a fight he could win.
Imre Szello is looking to remain unbeaten and get some revenge for Hungary when he takes on Denis Grachev in Budapest on February 16. Grachev took a split decision over former undefeated WBO light heavy champion Zsolt Erdei in 2013 spoiling Erdei’s chance of joining the elite band of world champions who have retired winning all their fights. Erdei was 33-0 at the time but ended up 34-1. So near yet so far.
The ink was hardly dry on the contract for Juan Carlos Ramirez to fight Amir Imam for the vacant WBC super light title than an interim title fight was agreed. Ridiculous really. In this one on 9 March in Miami Regis Prograis will tackle Viktor Postol. The winner will go on to fight the new champion. Again an abominable misuse of the word interim. Send the WBC a Thesaurus so they can come up with something different such as “a good excuse for another sanctioning fee”.
Don King-yes he is still around but only on the fringes-won the purse bidding for the WBC super welter eliminator between Pole Maciej Sulecki 26-0 and Vanes Martirosyan with the winner promised a shot at Jermell Charlo. Something stinks here with Martirosyan not having fought since losing to Erislandy Lara in May 2016. Twenty months inactivity and he climbs from No 3 to No 2 in the ratings.
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.