Once again we're back to looking at the Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the week we've just had, and if we're honest the lack of in ring action has left us with not too much good, and quite a lot of indifference, which thankfully isn't a header here!
1 - CBC confirm Kento Hatanaka's next fight will be streamed globally for free!
With the growing number of payment services in boxing, and PPV's again becoming more and more prevalent, it's great to see that CBC are again showing some common sense. The Japanese broadcaster confirmed this past week that the WBC Youth Flyweight title bout between Kento Hatanaka v Roland Jay Biendima will be streamed worldwide for free. The channel have helped make Kosei Tanaka a star, streaming a number of his fights, and seem to know that getting eyes on their product is key to their fighters becoming more notable. They've done it with Tanaka and are now doing it was 21 year old Hatanaka. Well done CBC and fingers crossed others see the logic behind what they do, and try to replicate it for emerging hopefuls.
2 - Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo, sign us up!
Although not officially confirmed the reports that Junto Nakatani and Giemel Magramo will battle for the WBO Flyweight title was certainly good news. In fact it was really good news! We're expecting the bout to be confirmed next week, following the report from the gondol that the bout was set. This is the sort of match up that the sport needs more of, and the type of bout that we're always going to get very, very excited about! Two young, up and coming fighters, who could go in different directions, clashing head on for a world title! Yes please. This is the type of match up that title vacancy's should be filled by, and the type of bout that instantly gives the new champion some legitimacy, even if the title had previously been vacant!
3 - Ioka Vs Tanaka in the works!
One of the few real good points from this week was the WBO ordering Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka. On one hand it did feel odd that they were ordering back to back mandatory defenses for Ioka, who defended the belt against a mandatory in December, but on the other hand what an amazing match up, and this is something to get really, really excited about for later in the year! It is worth noting that Tanaka didn't seem to be expecting it to be ordered immediately, and neither did we given Ioka's last defense was a mandatory, so we wouldn't be too surprised to see the WBO delay this, as the the teams try to set it up late the last half of the year.
1 - Dubois Vs Joyce on PPV
British fans really are unlucky right now. It seems that over the coming months they are going to be getting shafted by the powers that be. The Fury Vs Wilder rematch was expected to be PPV, and we expect the Joshua Vs Pulev bout to be on PPV, and both of those are legitimately big bouts. However for Daniel Dubois to face Joe Joyce on PPV in an all British clash, between two men who have yet to break through as any type of stars. Genuinely ridiculous for this bout to be on PPV, and a very tough sell given the lack of personality both men have. Don't get us wrong, we are looking forward to the match, but this shouldn't have been on PPV, and it's a missed opportunity for both fighters and for fans.
2 - Naoya Inoue picks up a fever
After taking part in his typical training camp in Guam Naoya Inoue had to miss the annual Japanese boxing award ceremony last week due to fever. The fever is said to have been brought on by muscle fatigue, and it's a real shame. Not only did he have to miss the award ceremony but also take days out of training. On the other hand it has given the John Riel Casimero camp some more ammunition to help sell the fight, and credit goes to Casimero and Sean Gibbons for their entertaining press conferences this week.
3 - Korean boxing Hiatus
Earlier in the year we had several events in China being cancelled due to Coronavirus and now, due to the spread of the illness, we've seen a number of Korean events falling victim, with 3 planned shows being postponed indefinitely. That included the much anticipated Hyun Mi Choi Vs Maiva Hamadouche female unification bout. Whilst we totally agree with the shows being cancelled, it's still a big disappointment.
1 - Jarrell Miller's comments
Our thoughts about drugs cheats are that they need to be punished. They need to be given lengthy bans, prohibited from profiting from the sport, and made to actually feel like they've been punished. The entire system in boxing right now however seems to be the opposite, and seems to be more like a toddler being told to sit in the corner for 5 minutes. That is...unless you're Jarrell Miller. Less than a year ago Miller was found guilty of, essentially, being a cocktail of banned substances. This week he came out with a pro-drug message in what was a rather clear "fuck you" to the sport, and the others taking part:
“Minor setback for a major comeback. I’m coming for everything and everyone. No one is safe. Say hello to the bad guy,” ...“Everyone wants to portray the superhero. We don’t live in a sunshine world. I’ll never be the superhero. In my world, the majority of the time, the villain wins.”
He's not just showing no remorse for failing multiple drug tests, but is using it as part of the marketing for his return and showing contempt of the sport he's participating in. Fuck him and fuck the commissions that go on to license him. We need this sort of thing to end.
2 - Eddie Hearn admits he doesn't want to match his guys
After telling us for years that "to fight X you need to sign with us" and after telling us for months that he was trying to match some of his guys, Eddie Hearn this week came out and admitted that he wants to cheer on one guy in a fight rather than two. Given the wealth of talent Matchroom have at Middleweight, Super Middleweight and Heavyweight this has really left a sour taste, especially when he's previously blamed the fighters. Given he has fingers in the purses of fighters like Gennady Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders, at 160lbs and 168lbs, and Heavyweights like Michael Hunter, Filip Hrgovic, Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora there are great match ups to be made, in those divisions. What doesn't help is he then comes out and explains that certain men are divisional "boogeymen", as he did with with Michael Hunter this week. If you have most of the top names in the division and choose not to match them, they aren't boogeymen, they are just being badly handled!
3-Guillermo Rigondeaux's Career Sabotage continues
Generally we expect the most talented people in the field to be the best, make the most money and develop their reputation to a point where people want to see them show what they can do. For Guillermo Rigondeaux however we once again saw the Cuban's knack of messing things up for himself shine. "El Chacal" finally fought at his natural weight this weekend, dropping to Bantamweight at the age of 39, but once again stunk the joint out, and once again showed why HBO refused to touch him with a barge pole. Unfortunately however this time it was on Showtime, who are also now unlikely to work with him. Loud boos filled the arena for his fight against former Super Flyweight champion Liborio Solis. What didn't help Rigondeaux was that he hurt Solis several times, but refused to go for the finish, particularly in the later rounds when it was clear Solis couldn't bother him. From siding with Carbie when he Gary Hyde had something organised, to shitting the bed on HBO against Joseph Agebko to his string of B tier wins over the likes of James Dickens, Rigondeaux has made himself unwatchable in a sport that is dependent on fans and TV audience. He might be among the most gifted natural athletes in the sport, but also one of the stupidest. His ring IQ might be incredible, but his inability to see the bigger picture, really shows a complete lack of business smarts and once again he's going to find himself totally frozen out by TV and big fighters. We know the purists might enjoy his style, but unfortunately for the Cuban they aren't the people in charge of the TV companies, or the ones that the fighter needs to impress. They are a small minority, and even they seem to be realising what a truly disappointing under-achiever Rigondeaux is.
(Image of Rigondeaux Vs Solis courtesy of Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME)
In Diriyah later today we'll see the latest Matchroom card, headlined by a Heavyweight title rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua. The bout is one of the biggest of the year. It's on a bumper Sky Box Office PPV, it's on DAZN in the US WOWOW in Japan and various other broadcasters around the globe. It is one of boxing's biggest spectaculars of the year and likely to be the most profitable fight of the year, with a massive site fee to go with all the broadcasting rights.
Whilst the show has multiple issues with it, some of which have been gone over by better writers than I including the human rights issues with Saudi Arabia, and we have previously stated our case on the increase in pricing in the UK, the one that is perhaps the most irritating right now, and follows on from what I wrote in last weeks Hot Take, is the number of fighters on the show with failed drugs tests to their names.
We're not going to go in depth on the various complications of drug testing or the ineffectiveness of the Clean Boxing Program and he VADA tests, both of which are better than nothing but neither is close to good enough for the sport, and both should only be seen as the bare minimum expected of fighters. My guess is that the future of drug testing will be 365 day a year round testing, not a random test here and there, but daily tests, measuring not just for the chemicals we know can be taken, but also for elevated levels and changes. This will be the gold standard in the future, and although still not impossible to beat, will really make it significantly tougher.
Instead of blaming the testing agencies, which are not yet fully fit for purpose, and are in some cases quite toothless when it comes to the suspensions they can hand out, we are going to focus on promoters, and how the buck really does stop with them. Contrary to what some might think. At the end of the day the promoters, essentially, decide who gets to be on their shows, who fights, what they get paid and where the fights take place. If the promoters refuse to play ball with those who get caught with illicit substances in their system then the fighters will have to either self fund shows, or get out of the sport.
Hearn himself seems to actually agree with the point I've made above, with their not being enough testing. He himself has pointed out that "The testing is too sporadic in the US. There is simply not enough of it carried out." The truth is that it's not the US that that's a problem in, but a global problem. The entire sport needs to see a massive increase in testing for world class fighters.
Hearrn himself has stated also stated "Anthony (Joshua) insists on VADA testing for himself and his opponents from 14 weeks out from a fight and the cost comes out of the promotional budget." For a fighter fighting twice a year, as Joshua has this year, it means he and his opponent, in this case Andy Ruiz for both fights, spend just over half of the year in some form of testing program. Given we still don't really understand how good long term effects of drugs are, this simply isn't good enough. It's better than nothing, sure, but still isn't good enough. It's been suggested in research that benefit from testosterone can give benefits an athlete's entire career, and taking that outside of the 14 week window could give significant long term benefits. There's then the slippery slope with Testostrone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and the Therapuetic Ues Exceptions (TUE's).
Staying with Hearn's own words in regards to the WBC, and their Clean Boxing Program, “I’ve got guys who have signed with me and signed up to WBC testing, they’ve never been tested". There appears to be no point to the WBC's CBP until they actually give you a regular series of random test when you move into their rankings. In our eyes the program simply isn't good enough, or fit for purpose. As we've seen in the past, they sometimes allow people to just fight anyway, or give them such insignificant punishments that they are meaningless. Luis Nery failed a test but was allowed to keep the title he won, so what was the point in the CBP there?
So with WBC not testing enough and the drug testing bodies not yet catching up to the level of testing needed, we need someone to stand up for the sport. Why not have it be the man who said “Something is going to happen, someone is going to die, someone is going to get hurt for life, someone is going to get paralysed by a drugs cheat, what happens then? Is that murder?"
At the end of the day a promoter putting 4 fighters, that's 40% of the fighters on the poster above, on a show who have failed a drugs test suggests that he's okay with drugs cheats in boxing. In fact it suggests he's happy to pay them, potentially rewarding them, for taking substances that are banned. With the card having Alexander Povetkin, Dillian Whyte, Mariusz Wach and Eric Molina it seems very much like someone getting "hurt for life" is a price Mr Hearn is happy with.
Of course it's boxing, this is one show among many that Mr Hearn will put on this year, and these are but a handful of his fighters. But lets not overlook that he has other fighters who have failed drug tests, with a variety of excuses, among his stable. Including Billy Joe Saunders, Hughie Fury, Kid Galahad. He has also signed for Joshua to fight Jarrell Miller, who had failed a drugs test. It seems that whilst drugs cheats are bad, they aren't that bad...
I am, for the sake of this article, putting all fighters that fail drug tests under the same banner. The reality is that they aren't the same. What Miller did, by essentially being a human cocktail of drugs, is much worse than testing positive for a chemical in a nasal spray or on a skin cream. One is deliberately cheating the other, perhaps ignorantly breaking the rules, but at the end of the day the athlete needs to take responsibility for their body, what's in it and what they take. Going back to the long term benefits for something like testosterone, whilst not everything will give such stark long term improvements things that help prolong the amount of training, speeding up recovery time are also helping an athlete get an unfair advantage. The advantage of something in a cold medicine being able to aid training, is still giving an advantage to an athlete.
Whilst the argument is that promoters aren't the police of boxing might be true, they are the ones with the power to truly punish fighters who fail tests. They are they ones who can blackball fighters, refuse to work with them, and make it clear the sport is going to a zero tolerance model. The problem is no promoter wants to take the risk of letting one of the fighters make money for someone else, so maybe a collective promotional code of conduct needs to be brought in, and signed up to by promoters, to alleviate the fear that is Hearn doesn't use Dillian Whyte, neither will Bob Arum, Lou DiBella, Oscar De La Hoya or Frank Warren. Rather than freezing a fighter out independently, you freeze them out as a collective, you finally all get on the same page on something and move forward with a clear vision of a drug free sport. If a fighter breaches the agreement it would allow the others to freeze them out of any joint promotional work.
Looking back over the murder quote above, it does leave the question, if a known drugs cheat does kill someone in the ring will the promoter be an accomplice to murder?
At the end of the day being a professional sports person is not a right, it's an honour. As sports fans we have become accustomed to people doing bad, then, eventually, being welcomed back to the sport. The reality however is that boxing, and MMA and other combat sports, aren't the same as cycling. This is a sport where advantages you have can have untold medical affects on other competitors. In cycling and tennis cheating is punished because you are cheating the sport. In combat sports it needs to be punished more severely as fighter is risking someone else's health.
Note - For those suggesting day by day testing is unworkable for costs, it's worth noting that in 2018 the University of Waterloo sent out a press releases stating they were close to developing a test that would cost a fraction of current tests, work incredibly quickly, and work as a flagging system before a more in depth confirmatory test was done. This would allow day by day testing, and where a test is flag a full test would then be needed. This is certainly a workable model in boxing, and whilst it might still be some time away from hitting the market, so to speak, it seems the future is almost here.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces