The biggest name in Japanese boxing over the last few years has been Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17).The Japanese star has managed to impress fans around the globe with his power, skills and speed and has proven his ability not just at home but also in the US and in Europe. The talented Japanese sensation has won world titles in 3 weights won the WBSS, unified titles at Bantamweight and, within just 20 bouts, is already being spoken about as one of the greatest Japanese boxers in history.
Despite having a brilliant legacy already the "Monster" is still just 27 years old and the future is still promising a lot for Inoue, who has spoke about wanting to box into his thirties and move towards potentially winning world titles up at Featherweight.
Today, in this weeks "Who..." , we are looking at Inoue, but not at what he should do next. Instead the three founders of Asian Boxing are looking to answer the following question:
"Who... Currently stands the best chance of beating Naoya Inoue?"
Lee: "I genuinely don't think there's anyone at Bantamweight who can genuinely trouble Inoue. There is a lot of talent in the division, but I don't think anyone at 118lbs right now actually beats him, though a few fighters will be able to take rounds off him. If push came to shove however I would say John Riel Casimero has the best chance of any Bantamweight. Casimero is an awkward fighter, he's heavy handed, quick and unpredictable and would be the one man with the tools to, potentially, land a big shot on the "Monster".
In reality however I think Inoue needs to move up in weight to find someone who can beat him, and 122lbs is a very exciting weight class, even if it doesn't have a "big" name there. At Super Bantamweight I give Murodjon Akhmadliev the best chance of beating Inoue. I think the Uzbek has the tools to be the best fighter at 122lbs. He's heavy handed, he's a good boxer, he has good work rate and he's a southpaw. He's the man I think has the best chance against Inoue, unless we think Inoue skips the division and begins fighting at Featherweight sometime soon."
Takahiro: "I think nobody at Bantamweight has a chance, and instead I will go with Super Bantamweight Stephen Fulton as the man with the best chance of beating "Monster". I think Fulton has the skills, work rate, toughness and desire to give Inoue a lot of questions. I don't think Fulton would win, but he has a better chance than anyone at Bantamweight and anyone else at Super Bantamweight.
I think to beat "Monster" you need a number of things. You need to be tough, you need to be strong, and you need to either be a dynamite puncher or you need to set an incredibly work rate. I think Fulton has the toughness, strength and work rate to grind Inoue into a competitive and close fight. I don't see anyone else at 122lbs having those tools, with out having a major flaw.
My pick, Stephen Fulton".
Scott: "Without being silly and matching Inoue against Featherweights, I think the only man who can beat Inoue right now, is Inoue himself. If he's focused, as he appears to be, and continues to fight the way he can I genuine don't give any Bantamweight or Super Bantamweight a chance against him right now. I think he hits too hard, too clean and times shots too well for anyone out there. Yes, there are fighters, like Casimero, Oubaali and Rigondeaux who would ask him questions, but I don't see any of them beating him.
If forced to find someone who I think could give him problems I would be looking at someone like Carlos Castro. Not a big guy, but a busy guy with height and reach advantages over Inoue. Rey Vargas, had he stayed at Super Bantamweight, would have been an interesting option. Fighters like Brandon Figueroa, who have size, might be able to ask questions but in Figueroa's case he simply gets hit too much, and a fighter can't try and eat Inoue's counters all day. To beat Inoue you need to be big, you need to fight big, and you need to have enough pop to get his respect. There's big guys at 122lbs, but few of them fight big and have the power needed.
If I was Inoue's team however I would avoid the Featherweight division as long as possible. That's when I think he'll find guys too big and too strong for him. Right now, the only man who beats Inoue, below Featherweight, is Inoue."
A few weeks ago we began a new series here looking to answer the question of “who…?” and we’re back again this week with the latest in this series. This week we’re not looking at someone coming through the ranks, or someone looking to prove themselves, but instead we’re looking at some who is currently at the top of sport and will lose their position later this year. That’s because we’ll be answering the question of:
“Who... will lose their world title this year?”
Just before we start, the condition here, as is typically the case with Asian Boxing, is that the fighter must be Asian to be considered a valid answer here. By “losing” their title, we mean losing their title in any manner. Be it from vacating, retiring, losing it in the ring or being stripped.
We will not be including cases where a fighter is promoted from “regular” champion to “super” champion. However we will be including “regular” and “interim” champions as champions for the purpose of the predictions here.
Lee: “I had a look at all the champions, from right across the sport, and I see a lot of fighters who might have tough fights in 2021. Of those however a lot have easier options they can take, and I don’t think too many are being backed into a wall to face a top fighter.
One possible exception there is Can Xu, who I love. I think every fight fan loves Can Xu. Sadly however I think he will be lured to the UK to have a bout with former IBF champion Josh Warrington. The bout every fight fan should want to see take place and should be excited to see happen. Sadly for Xu I think that fight will take place in the UK and judging in the UK, against British fighters, has become a joke in recent years. Especially against a popular fighter, like Warrington.
I think we’ll see Xu and Warrington put on a brilliant fight. A truly sensational battle. But I see judges marring the bout by giving a controversial decision to Warrington and Xu losing his title in very debatable fashion."
Takahiro: “I am sad to say I think it will be my countryman Ryosuke Iwasa, who will lose his title this year. The IBF “interim” Super Bantamweight title will likely not be around his waist at the end of 2021. I think he will have to fight Murodjon Akhmadaliev, and will lose in that bout to the very, very good Uzbek fighter.
I think Iwasa will put up a better effort against “Kaka” than he did against TJ Doheny, when he lost the full version of the title, but I think the Uzbek is too good, too strong, too powerful and too hungry for “Eagle Eye”. I like Iwasa, a lot, but I think he has too many problems with fighting southpaws, and that will show against the WBA “Super” and IBF champion. It will be a fantastic fight. And Iwasa has a punchers chance. But I think he loses a very wide decision. Maybe a late stoppage.
My guess. Ryosuke Iwasa (IBF “interim” Super Bantamweight champion)”
Scott: “This sport can be a funny one at times and we see long reigning champions being knocked off their perch when they look well set, we saw that last year with Wanheng Menayothin and Deontay Wilder. I think we’ll see something like that happen again in 2021, and for me the easy pick here is WBA “super” Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart.
I’ve felt for a while that Knockout has been happy to go through the motions at times and that his reign really isn’t that secure. He looked good last time out, beating Norihito Tanaka, but he has often under-whelmed and been a bit lucky against fighters who aren’t really world class. I thought he was fortunate against ArAr Andales, I think he under-performed against Toto Landero, Xiong Zhao Zhong, Byron Rojas and Carlos Buitrago.
He’s supposed to fight in May, more than a year after his last bout, and fighters are circling around his WBA title, with the likes of Jose Argumedo, Byron Rojas, Vic Saludar and Robert Paradero all wanting a shot at the belt. There’s also the likes of Hasanboy Dusmatov, Ginjiro Shigeoka, Jing Xiang all wanting a crack at a title this year. There’s a lot of sharks circling around Knockout, and I suspect a good offer to make him travel will be made, and we’ll see the 30 year old have the title taken away before the end of 2021.”
Back on December 31st we saw the end of 2020 and the year ended on a high for fight fans with a brilliant matchup between Kazuto Ioka and Kosei Tanaka. Sadly for the thrilling and exciting Tanaka the bout saw him suffer his first loss, being stopped by the more experienced Ioka, who boxed brilliantly and showcased some sensational counter punching throughout the contest.
Despite the loss it was clear that Tanaka was going to bounce back and return to the ring in 2021.
With that in mind the three co-founders of Asianboxing.info got together to put their ideas forward as to what is next for Tanaka in the third instalment of “Who…” as we try to answer the question:
“Who... should Kosei Tanaka face next?”
Lee: “I think in all honesty the options for Tanaka right now are quite limited, due to Covid19, and it’s clear he won’t be bringing in a limited imported opponent just to get a win. Saying that though, Tanaka has never had an easy bout and I don’t expect that to change now he has a loss on his record. Instead I think he will fight a good Japanese domestic fighter. The question really is “Who?” And sadly there aren’t that many options for him to look to face at the moment. The gulf between Kazuto Ioka and the rest in Japan is massive and anyone will feel like a massive downgrade for Tanaka.
For Tanaka I think the focus needs to be on testing his stamina and testing his strength at Super Flyweight. He can work on the skills in the gym, but he needs to get rounds, he needs to be pushed and made to work hard. With that at the forefront of my thinking, I think he should fight Hiroyuki Kudaka next. Kudaka is a 4 time world title challenger. He’s tough. He comes to fight. He presses and pressures. He always makes fighters work hard. He also knows some veteran tricks. To me he is the ideal opponent for Tanaka to learn things from. An easy win, but also a good win.”
Takahiro: “The answer here is easy for me. Ryoji Fukunaga. There are not many fighters in Japan at 115lbs who are world ranked and the one that stands out the most is JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific unified champion Ryoji Fukunaga. I know that Tanaka will want to fight someone suitable. Someone good. And get in there with someone who will ask questions. He has something to lose themselves. Someone who, if he beats, he is still in the world title mix. With that in mind Fukunaga is the easy answer. The only answer.
At the moment Fukunaga has 2 world rankings. He is unlikely to get a world title fight himself, without scoring a massive win, and a win over Tanaka would be appealing to him as well. The bout would also work with the current covid19 issues, and not require Hatanaka and CBC to pay money for a fighter to sit in quarantine.
Make this bout and get it in Tokyo. Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoji Fukunaga! Triple crown on the line”
Scott: “I’ve gone with a similar tactic to Takahiro and looked through the world rankings for Japanese fighters given the Covid19 situation. There isn’t as many Japanese ranked fighters as I assumed there would be at 115lbs and there’s also some oddities, like the IBF ranking Koki Eto #7 despite the fact he’s retired. I’m also at a loss as to how Akio Furutani is ranked #11, even with his win over Takayuki Okumoto fresh in my mind. Doing this left me with two options.
The first of those was Sho Ishida, who is world ranked, a very live contender, best known for losing his biggest bouts, a friend of Ioka’s and a former stablemate of Ioka’s. On paper Ishida ticks almost every box, though I think Ishida will probably stick to fighting at Bantamweight and won’t move back down to Super Flyweight again.
With that in mind I was left with one other name, and it’s a name of someone I genuinely want to see Tanaka share the ring with again. That’s former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura. This bout just seems to make so much sense to re-do. Their first bout was the 2018 Fight of the Year and given the super close nature of that bout it deserves a rematch. It’s also one of the bouts that CBC know they can sell to an international audience, and if they are smart they could get this on TV in Latin America and potentially the UK. Kimura might not be the natural Super Flyweight that some would want to see Tanaka in with, but iron sharpens iron and if Tanaka wants a good test to return to the ring with Kimura is the man for me.”
Last week we began our "Who..." series by looking at who would be the next OPBF champion from South Korea and we're back again this week with the second in this series as we look towards the past and try to answer a new question about the world of Asian boxing.
This week the question is..
"Who... will be the next world champion from Uzbekistan?"
Lee: "I really like how many options we have here, and how exciting the rise of Uzbek boxing has become. It's really come out of nowhere, unless you follow the amateur scene, and has been hugely exciting. Like a breathe of fresh air. In many ways it reminds me of what boxing was like here in the 1970's, 80's and early 90's, where top amateurs raced to titles. There was no fear of being moved too quickly, and that was really exciting, seeing fighters move fast. If you were good enough, you were good enough.
For Uzbekistan the contender leading the way for me is Israil Madrimov, who I think will win a world title this year. He's in a tough division, but I think he'll win some version of the WBA title in 2021, hopefully the main version of the title. He has the power, skills, speed and hunger to be a big star. My only worry is whether the pandemic has started to chip away at his mental drive and his physical fitness. But I am still confident he will be a world champion. Maybe just a short reign though."
Takahiro: "Whilst Japan is going through a golden age the Uzbek scene is just as hot with so many exciting fighters coming from the country, and making their name in the US. That is really exciting and shows the backing a lot of their fighters are getting.
The backing has let Murodjon Akhmadaliev fight for a world title in just his 8th bout and I think other fighters will look to match that target. With that in mind I will be picking Bektemir Melikuziev, who I think will win a world title this year, in his 8th fight. It's a unfortunate that Sergey Kovalev failed a drug test, as that would have been good preparation for "Bully". I think the fact he can fight at 168lbs or 175lbs is a good advantage for him, and I think he will pick up some form of WBA belt. Maybe not main WBA belt, but enough to claim a "world" title. In 2022 maybe he get a "real" title. as well.
My Pick, Bek Bully!"
Scott: "As the other two guys have said, the Uzbek's are really making a mark and doing things in a really, really exciting fashion. There is a lot of top amateur fighters who are now chasing professional honours, and a lot of them are taking a rather untraditional route there. They aren't wasting their time, and their prime years building up fancy 20-0 records against opponents they would be 1/100 to beat, but are instead looking to skip the easy bouts and the often pointless record building stage of their careers. Whilst it's the fast track will work for some and fail for others, it's something I personally enjoy watching, and it condenses the wait to find out if someone is a legitimate talent.
I'm looking at the other end of the scales though. Rather than in the middling weights I'm looking at the lower weights and picking Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov to be next, and to do so in 2022.
The lower weights are often the ones where we see fast tracking done and Dusmatov is certainly ticking the boxes that will see him being moved aggressively. He's now aged 27, is in his prime, he's got the skills, power, speed, and the amateur experience to be matched hard and will not want to waste his career. The big question is "what weight will we see him winning a belt at?" And I think 108lbs is among the toughest divisions out there, but I see him having success there, if he needs to. Alternatively there are weak title holders at 105lbs, which we have to assume he can make with a day before weigh in, or even 112lbs.
Alternatively he could very easily make a mark at 112lbs. I think those options are what his team will be looking to weigh up this year, and early next year he'll win a world title. Whether that's a lesser champion at 105lbs or an aging veteran at 112lbs I'm not sure. but I'm confident he picks up a belt next year"
On Saturday night we were treat to a very public joke by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which again showed that replays in boxing are a long, long way from being an effective solution to modernise the sport and bring it in line with elite level Tennis, Cricket, Soccer and American football. In fact we saw it come under such scrutiny and questioning that it's perhaps better to be put on the side line and worked on quietly before trying to be re-introduced, much like Open Scoring.
The bout in question was the second bout between Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney, which ended in a No Decision following serious swelling around Franco's eye, very early in the bout.
Afterwards the cause of the swelling was reviewed, over and over and over....taking more than 20 minutes to make a decision on the call. And then they still got it wrong. This has lead to some hilariously bad takes online, such as some suggesting it was the "worst robbery in history", unless you've just started following boxing you know that's crap. And others saying "fuck Las Vegas", including the show's promoter Bob Arum.
Lets just take a few steps back and look at things.
Is it the worst robbery in history?
No. Flat out no. We do a "Controversial Clashes" series and that often covers worst decisions, and we're considering just bouts with Asian fighters, ignoring travesties like the first bout between Juan Martin Coggi and Eder Gonzalez, or James Toney Vs Dave Tiberi, Paul Williams Vs Erislandy Lara. This was the wrong decision, but it's not even going to break into the top 50 worst robberies.
So lets stop the hyperbole, before the entire conversation falls on to an untruth and devalues the actual issues at hand.
Lets be honest folks, this probably isn't even the worst decision you've seen in the last few weeks. Unless you are very, very new to boxing. If you are, go check out that Coggi Vs Gonzalez bout to see something hilariously bad and that will make you feel a lot less angry about this week's action.
Fuck Las Vegas?
This is the more interesting one, and the one that we really want to discuss in two parts.
Firstly if the bout was ANYWHERE but Nevada the bout would have been a No Contest when it was stopped. The referee called the incident that caused Franco's injury an Accidental Head Clash, whether rightly or wrongly. In any other state that would have been it. There wouldn't have been replays. There wouldn't have been a 20 minute delay. That would have been the call and it wouldn't have been called to question in the way it was here. The referee's call would have stood.
Had the bout been held outside of Las Vegas we'd all be talking about wanting a rematch, and that's exactly what we should be pressing for now. That's the right thing to do, it's the thing the fans want, the fighters should be wanting and their teams should be looking to force. It's not often boxing can get an easy win, and that is an easy win. Re-hold the bout, and lets see them go again in an unofficial rubber match match. Their first one was great, and the second should have been great. Now we have even more intrigue going into a third bout.
But it was in Las Vegas, and they do have replay in action!
Indeed it was. It was in possibly the only regional using replays with any regularity, in fact this wasn't the first time during the current Top Rank in the Bubble run of shows and again it showed the issues with replay, which were laid very bare here. It's not replay it's self that is bad, but it's the unclear aim, and use of replay which is an issue.
Back in July, I know some boxing fans have short memories, we saw replay being used in the bout between Jose Pedraza and Mikkel LesPierre. Originally LesPierre has a knockdown called in his favour, in round 5, and then we entered round 6 before the referee left the ring and was convinced he had made a mistake, over-turning his original decision.
That was a farce, and in the end didn't actually matter. But at least they got it right. They should have had the decision made before we entered round 6, and in reality the ringside officials should have the power to over-rule the referee if there is a clear error. And this was a clear error.
In October we saw an improvement to the system, albeit still a flawed system. In October, for the bout between Arnold Barboza Jr Vs Alex Saucedo, we saw a ringside replay official look over a potential knockdown and over-rule the referee during a time out, ruling that a knockdown took place. The referee called a slip and he was quickly corrected, with Joe Cortez watching the replay and correcting the call from Celestino Ruiz. Ruiz then told the judges to score the knockdown, allowing them to correct their cards.
It still wasn't PERFECT, but it was a massive upgrade on what we had had just weeks earlier and it lead to Joe Tessitore, working for ESPN, to proudly state "by the way for everybody who has spent the entire day watching college football and getting angry at the TV as it takes 3 minutes and 5 minutes and 6 minutes for a review boxing just did it in about 10 seconds after the round...Well done by the Nevada State Athletic Commission".
Joe was right. This was impressive, it was timely it. It worked. It got it correct and it put the two fighters both clearly in the position that they knew what the ruling was, and could change their tactics accordingly. It was corrected within moments, and most done between rounds, with a time out being called before the action resumes for the referee to instruct the judges.
This is how it should be done. A decision should be made, it should be clear, and it should be explained to both the judges and the corners if need be. Everyone should be on the same page and know where they stand. They can they adapt their tactics if needed.
Right so they work, and they are improving!
Of course the system is improving, but those are the only times it's been used in boxing, and it's been used with mixed success in the past. There are three other notable examples, two where they got it right and one where they got it very, very wrong.
The wrong example is probably the least well known, and that's a 2012 bout between Nihito Arakawa and Daniel Estrada. A cut was caused on Estrada that was ruled, by the referee, to have come from a headclash. Due to the WBC accidental foul rule Arakawa was deducted a point before replays showed it was a punch that caused the cut and the point deduction was removed. Then the replay call was over-ruled, when the cut that was caused earlier in the bout stopped the contest, leading to a technical decision in favour of Estrada. Not the TKO win to Arakawa that the replay call, earlier in the bout, should have lead to. This lead to confusion in both corners and lead to massive confusion with the referee yelling that it was an elbow that caused the damage.
The WBC knew this was wrong and tried to sort out a rematch between the two men. Estrada declined it and we ended up getting Arakawa's bout with Omar Figueroa as a result. It was a complete cluster fuck of a situation.
Another example, where they got it right, also involved a Japanese fighter. That was Koki Eto's first bout with Jeyvier Cintron, when Cintron was dropped and out on his feet from what, initially, looked like a clean punch. It was then reviewed and showed an elbow had caught him and sent him loopy. The original decision, of a TKO1 for Eto, was rightfully over-turned, we had a rematch and Cintron won, securing a bout with Kazuto Ioka.
We also saw the review process kick in for the WBC Flyweight title bout between Charlie Edwards and Julio Cesar Martinez, with that bout being in England. This bout ended in round 3 after Martinez hit Edwards with a shot when the Englishman was on a knee. Originally ruled a KO3 win for Martinez it was later over-turned to a No Contest on review. The right call was made following the review.
This was the right decision, got the wrong way. As prior to the No Contest being delivered it was stated that replay wasn't in use, and then it was. And then it was used in a way that helped the promoters fighter. Something we need to worry about with retroactive reviews (more about these later).
Not only were these decisions very different, in terms of outcome of the review and the review it's self, but they also make it clear that not all reviews can be done the same. However that doesn't mean we can't have a general understanding of how review can be done correctly.
So they work, what's the problem? Why didn't they get it right?
Firstly we need to ask what is a review ACTUALLY for? Is it to get the result right or is it to clear up obvious mistakes?
This might seem a really silly question but if it's to get the right result, then in reality we should see all bouts go through a post fight review with post fight scoring. The biggest issue in getting the right result is rarely the single call of a referee but instead the judges. Yes referees have got it wrong, as we show regularly in out Controversial Clashes series, but more often it's the judging that is giving us the wrong result.
Sure we have cases like Gujelmo Ajor completely botching the Danny Lopez Vs Fel Clemente bout, or Armand Krief messing up the result of Hyung Chul Lee's first bout with Alimi Goitia, but by far and away the judge needs sorting first.
As a result we need to assume it's to tidy clear and obvious errors. The knockdowns that should have been rules a slip, or vice versa, the cuts that might have been from a headclash, and the borderline low blows. This would follow the line that VAR was brought into football, soccer for our American readers, with decisions only being looked at when there was a "clear and obvious error". We're not going to turn this into a rant about VAR, because that's for someone else, but the principle was clear. Only clear errors should be over-turned.
In our eyes a "clear" error is one that should be spotted quickly and effectively. Ideally between rounds, like the call of Joe Cortez in the Arnold Barboza Jr Vs Alex Saucedo bout we mentioned earlier. That left both men knowing where they stood entering the next round. There was no long and arduous task of correcting things and we were all ready to go within seconds.
What we saw at the weekend wasn't anything like that. What we saw at the weekend was a calamity of errors.
What do you mean?
What should have happened was in round 1 Russell Mora called an accidental clash of heads that caused a swelling around Joshua Franco's eye. The call should have been reviewed by ringside officials during the rest of the round, and there was a good chunk of it, and in the break between rounds 1 and 2 to clear up a "clear and obvious error". If they couldn't spot an a "clear and obvious error", the two fighters should have gone into round 2 with the referees call. This would have allowed both men to alter tactics to try and give a result, knowing that if the bout doesn't go beyond 4 rounds there will be no result.
For example had Moloney known the swelling was caused by a head clash he could have tried to leave the eye alone, racked up points attacking else where and then pressed the fight in round 5 to force a conclusion and take the technical decision. It would have been a hard ask, of course, but he would have known that if the bout was stopped due to the eye that would have been it. He'd not take the victory.
Likewise had Franco been under the illusion the damage was from a punch heading into round 2 he may have felt he had to put it all on the line, and go out swinging. Otherwise a loss was imminent. Likewise he may have realised he'd have to fight one-eyed and saved himself from further damage, whilst a accidental head clash ruling was going to work in his favour.
The problem was that heading into round 2 everyone was under the belief it was an accidental clash of heads. The call wasn't really looked at until after the fight. This was too late. This had left a material change on how the fight played out. The two men were clearly made aware it was being treat as a headclash, whether that was right or wrong, during the fight.
The post fight antics, multiple replays, and eventually getting the wrong decision is heart breaking for Moloney. Though had Franco lost his title due to following the referees instructions, we'd feel he was in a heart breaking decision. By reviewing the bout after the contest, in this manner, there was no way boxing was going to come out as a winner. Only a loser.
So what's the solution?
We hope, more than anything, that the outcome of this leads to a rematch and to the entire replay system being overhauled.
The way it was used was a disgrace to boxing. If it's to be used, it should only be used at the end of the round of the incident in question. Whether that's a knockdown call the previous round, or a knockout in the current round. Trying to retroactively correct errors from previous rounds isn't a workable solution. It isn't a fair solution, and it isn't the right solution. It's a slippery slope to chaos, to controversy and to bailing out referees and fighters, and potentially further helping favourites get their way.
Sit with us a moment longer and ponder this scenario. Fighter A is dropped in round 1 from a low blow, and in round 2 from a low blow. Both are called legitimate shots and give fighter B a couple of 10-8 rounds to start the bout. Fight B is then deducted points for low blows in rounds 9 and 10. Would it be fair to go back and review those earlier knockdowns, and deduct further points whilst over-ruling the knockdowns from earlier in the fight? Maybe even disqualify fighter B in round 11 for repeated low blows based on what he had done earlier in the fight?
It might seem silly, but that's what retroactively reviewing could cause. In fact we could see a small decision win, a 114-113 for example, swing the other way based on a point deduction correction, or a knockdown correction retroactively applied.
For the sake of our sanity we need to accept that whilst the replay officials may have taken 26 minutes to make a wrong decision on Saturday night, they also made the "right decision". They made it clear that this is a farce, it allows bouts to be altered retroactively, and that they are still not implementing a system that works.
We don't NEED replay in boxing. We would maybe like it, but we'd only like it if it was clear, it worked, and the decisions could be rendered in real time, or similar. So far it has felt like a half baked idea, badly implemented. It has been revised, but it still leaves much to be desired and a lot of work to do. Just as VAR does in football.
Technology in sport can be slow to progress, but can revolutionise how sport is done. Tennis and Cricket have used Hawkeye amazingly well, and maybe a similar, multi-camera, multi-replay system is needed in boxing, rather than this half baked thing we have. Or maybe we shouldn't have replay at all, and the referees decision is final, not a take we'd go with but a valid all the same. Maybe full fights should regularly be reviewed to get the right decision.
Fighters, camps, promoters, officials and fans all need to be fully in the loop of how it will be used, when it will be used, and what it's purpose is. This weekend showed that more than ever. Everything needs to be transparent.
Moloney was denied the title!
One final point to end this one, and one that we have seen echoed, a lot. "Moloney was robbed of the title", "that belt belongs to Moloney", "Franco is a fake champion", "Give that belt back". We get the point, Moloney should hold the WBA Regular Super Flyweight title.
Or should he?
Fans talking about that belt, at all, are legitimising another issue in boxing. The WBA's multiple titles. That belt shouldn't be Moloney's for the simple fact that that belt shouldn't exist. The WBA should recognise ONE champion per division, and the line of Roman Gonzalez, the WBA "Super" champion should be the only one we, as fans, care about. The belt that Franco has was created solely for the WBA to collection sanctioning fees. If you choose to recognise the belt, you lose the validity of arguing there's too many belts in the sport.
Roman Gonzalez's line as the WBA Super Flyweight champion goes back to 2014. He beat Kal Yafai, Kal Yafai beat Luis Concepcion, who beat Kohei Kono, who won the belt when he beat Denkaosan Kaovichit on March 26th 2014. The title Franco has appeared 3 months before Gonzalez beat Yafai for the belt, when Moloney beat Elton Dharry for the "interim" title, which was then upgraded to the "regular" title in June for the first bout between Moloney and Franco.
Lets not legitimise the WBA's bull crap by ignoring history.
The stronger case is that Moloney may lose out on an opportunity down the line. That case can be answered by everyone doing the right thing and sorting out a rematch. Alternatively Moloney is a Top Rank fighter. Top Rank have another fighter in the same division, with a world title, Jerwin Ancajas. There is an opportunity waiting in the wings for Moloney to fight for a legitimate world title. If he's denied both of those chances, then boxing has a lot to answer for, and that should be the bigger issue.
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