BRITISH boxing again showed its financial strength over the weekend. David Haye and Tony Bellew shared just over $8.5 million (£7 million) for their fight with Haye taking down just over $5 million (£4.2 million) and Bellew just over $3.4 million (£ 2.8 million). In contrast Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia each received $2 million so Haye alone took down more than Thurman and Garcia combined. It was good to see a fight with no title attached as the top paid attraction at the weekend. It goes to show that a fight does not have to have a spurious title tag to sell.
In the end neither fight was a classic. Once Haye was injured it then really became a question not of who would win but whether Haye could go the distance. As for Thurman vs. Garcia both fought in too controlled a fashion to generate the heat that might have made it a classic. At least we “only” have three world welterweight champions. For me the Kell Brook vs. Errol Spence fight feels like it will be a much better fight than Thurman vs. Garcia. Then of course you have Manny Pacquiao defending his WBO title against whomever.
Pacquiao vs. Horn on-off. Bob Arum says no way Pacquiao vs. Amir Khan – then it was on. Now it appears to be off again as the $38 million dollars proved to be a mirage. Horn thinks it still might go ahead now that the Khan fight appears dead in the water and Khan thinks it is not dead in the water. Bob Arum thinks Pacquiao should fight Adrien Broner or Terrence Crawford. I know that Pacquiao wants to get paid the most he can and does not want to end his career on a loss but come on Manny. Put us out of our misery and pick someone – so that then we can criticise your choice of opponent!
Pacquiao has earned the right to look for multi-million dollar purses and of course availability of TV/PPV dates has a big influence on when is a good time to put a fight on. Oh how the world has changed from the days when it was bums on seats and a million dollar purse was a pipe dream. It took years for Pacquiao and Mayweather to meet and it is almost certain they will never fight each other again. On February 5 1943 Sugar Ray Robinson had his winning streak halted at 40 when he lost a wide unanimous decision to Jake LaMotta. How long did it take for their return fight to go on? One year? Two years? More? They fought each other again just three weeks later! It was a different world in boxing then.
Still on money Hughie Fury is looking at a career highest purse in the $1,204,400 he will get for challenging Joseph Parker for the WBO title in Auckland on 5 May. Parker’s purse will be $1,806,600. A lot of water will have to pass under the bridge before it happens but imagine that if everything went their way the Fury’s could hold all four versions of the heavyweight title as the Klitschko’s did, but don’t hold your breath.
With all of that money sloshing around in British boxing I am surprised that the highest bid for the Andre Dirrell vs. Callum Smith fight came from Dirrell’s promoters and it will probably end up in the USA in early June. With all due respect to Dirrell he is not a high profile fighter and I expected Matchroom to win the bid but there are other big fights to go on in Britain and I guess there is only so much money to spread around. Whoever wins will have to follow the championship fight with two mandatory defences with the first being against unbeaten Turkish boxer Avni Yildirim.
So sad to read of the death of Lou Duva. With the help of his family he did such a great job of building the Main Events outfit and was a great manager and trainer and is rightfully in the Hall of Fame. I can honestly say I never met anyone who was as passionate about his fighters as Lou. A giant of a man. RIP Lou.
More hypocrisy from the WBA. They have trumpeted that they are aiming towards one world champion in each division. I guess in their language that means one super champion. On 18 March their super champion Gennady Golovkin fights their secondary (world) champion Daniel Jacobs with the IBF and WBC titles also on the line. However they have now said that Ryota Murata and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam will fight for their secondary (world) title so they don’t even plan to have just one WBA champion. Rubbish.
I admire what the WBC is doing to try to eradicate the taking of banned substances. I was not sure how serious they were but the strong action they have taken towards Alex Povetkin is what we need to see. It has to be clear that if you take a banned substance there are serious consequences and it is also encouraging to see how many fighters have signed up to their testing programme. Hopefully their proactive approach will shame the other sanctioning bodies into either climbing on board with the WBC or starting their own programme. Of course none of the sanction bodies actually run day to day boxing. That is in the hands of the various Commissions and Boards. The sanctioning body can only ban a boxer from fighting for their titles. The EBU have suspended Erkan Teper for two years but that only stops him fighting for European Boxing Union titles and since there are ongoing legal investigations his home body cannot suspend him.
The IBF have taken strong action in excluding Povetkin from their ratings for twelve months. That seems to be a move on their part to show serious they are over the use of banned substances. When it was reported that their then champion Lamont Peterson tested positive for a synthetic testosterone in a random test in 2012 they took no action. Now they have come down hard on Povetkin – or have they? Don’t look closely or you might realise that the last time Povetkin was in IBF top 15 was May 2015!! Some punishment, boy I bet that really worried Povetkin.
Former IBF super feather champion Jose Pedraza was hit hard by his loss to Gervonta Davis but is ready to bounce back. The Puerto Rican is moving up to lightweight and will fight again on June 5 but no opponent named yet.
Former interim WBC super bantam Julio Ceja is also looking to fight again soon. After losing his title to Hugo Ruiz in February last year he suffered an injury to his right foot which has kept him out of the gym but he is back and just awaiting a name and date for his return.
The pairing of Noel Gevor and former WBC champion Krzys Wlodarczyk looks a really good match. They face each other on 13 May in Poznan giving Wlodarczyk home advantage. This is effectively a final eliminator for the IBF title with Gevor currently their No 3 and Wlodarczyk No 4. The first two spots are vacant. Gevor can’t be No1 With some clever management he has become the IBF’s highest ranked fighter without facing a top 15 opponent so can’t be No 1.
Another IBF eliminator, this one at bantam, will see oldie Omar Narvaez face Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez. The 41-year-old Argentinian already holds the Argentinian record for most world title fights at 31 and if he were to go on to win the title at bantam he would be the first Argentinian fighter to achieve that feat. The 24-year-old Rodriguez is 15-0. Again the positions 1 and 2 in the IBF ratings are vacant as neither Narvaez nor Rodriguez have beaten a rated bantamweight. The winner will be the mandatory challenger to Lee Haskins.
With the controversy over the result of their last fight it is no surprise that talks are on-going for Mundine vs. Green III. No agreement yet but there is enough money on the table to make it happen. They are 1-1 at the moment and hopefully the outcome is clear enough to not require a Mundine vs. Green IV.
The thing I like most about the Olympic Games is the aftermath. Suddenly a whole batch of talented young fighters who have either realised their Olympic dream or seen it fade away pour out into the professional ranks and you can start to look for the next star names. Women’s boxing is a typical example with Nicola Adams, Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields moving over to challenge established champions who will be looking to knock some spots of these newcomers. Whether it is Michael Conlan, Joe Cordina, Paddy Barnes, Shakur Stevenson, Robson Conceicao, Tony Yoka, Mohamed Rabii, Souleymane Cissokho, Misael Rodriguez, Gary Russell or any one so many more their presence can only be good for professional boxing. Of the class of 2012 Anthony Joshua, Vasyl Lomachenko, Zou Shiming, Olek Usyk, Oscar Valdez and Rau’shee Warren have come through to win world titles and somewhere in those new professionals are tomorrow’s stars.
A run of 61 wins in a row sounds impressive but when it only gets you rated No 6 in the WBC flyweight ratings it tells you all you need to know about the quality of Noknoi Sitthprasert’s 61 victims. What is strange is that he was 1-4 in his first five fights. Now 61 wins in a row. I didn’t know there were that many second rate flyweights in Indonesia.
They say time marches on but when you get to my age time seems to develop a warp drive that would leave the Star Ship Enterprise far in its wake. My first ever boxing idol was Joe Louis way back in the days when he was the world heavyweight champion – no secondary or interim champions in those days – as he dodged no one and overcame much of the resistance to black fighters caused by the controversial Jack Johnson. Eventually time caught up with Joe and he lost his title, his money and eventually his life. Part of his legacy was the city of Detroit’s decision to name the major sport arena in the city the Jose Louis Arena. Now time has even caught up with this part of Joe’s legacy. The crumbling edifice is to be torn down and a new arena built in the city. However it won’t be named the Joe Louis Arena but instead the Little Caesars Arena. I guess there was money involved in the choice of a name but it is so sad to see a city just dumping the symbol of one of their most famous citizens. Detroit may forget Joe Louis but I won’t.
Sometimes when you follow the career of a boxer and he suddenly disappears from view you wonder what happened to him. Did he suffer a career ending injury? Did he have too many other things going on in his life? Did he leave the sport in disgust over a bad decision etc? There is always the possibility of him going off the rails and ending up in jail. That’s not a cause that happens too often but it is what happened with promising Matt Remillard. The Connecticut fighter came up through the amateur ranks and went on to win his first 23 fights collecting the NABF and NABO titles on the way. His winning streak came to an end in 2011 when he was floored three times and retired after ten rounds in losing his titles to Mikey Garcia. Remillard then foolishly got into an argument where he allegedly beat someone up with a baseball bat. He has always denied the baseball bat part of the story but was jailed for five years. He is out now, back in the gym and looking to pick up his career again with a fight on April 1. He is only 30 so all is not lost but it will be an uphill struggle.
It is amazing the disadvantages that some determined people overcome to fulfil their dream. Danish fighter Frederik Hede Jensen suffered from Legg-Calve-Perthes which is a disorder that effects children and leads to loss of bone mass and it particularly affected Jensen’s thigh bones. He was in a wheelchair between the ages of 4 and 9 and that should have ended any hopes he had of becoming a boxer. However he overcame the handicap and was Danish champion last year. He has now signed with Team Sauerland and has his first professional fight in Aarhus on 18 March so I wish him well. Remillard may have thrown his dream away but for Jensen it is a dream realised.