September 19, 2016
September 19, 2016
best fighter

Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom

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ALTHOUGH most people were convinced that the Gennady Golovkin vs. Kell Brook fight would end in an inside the distance win for Golovkin, the fight still drew excellent viewing figures. The live fight had 843,000 HBO viewers with the replay adding a further 593,000. When you consider that there was substantial money paid out by Sky customers a live gate of almost 20,000 and TV Azteca getting over 1.5 million viewers it was a very lucrative fight. Brook would have attracted a lot of British fight fans but the real message is how much of a draw Golovkin has become. If Saul Alvarez starts acting like he actually wants to fight Golovkin and signs on the line Golovkin vs. Alvarez could be the biggest draw since Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. Alvarez will bring to the table a huge Mexican audience. HBO are said to be talking Saul Alvarez vs. Kell Brook in May 2017! Come on guys there is a whole ocean of water to go under the bridge before anyone can talk sensibly about that.

Ramon Gonzalez vs. Carlos Cuadras drew 833,000 viewers to HBO. It had the advantage of taking place at a time which suited the US market but it also drew in over 2,000,000 viewers in Mexico and Alvarez is a much bigger name to Mexican fans than Gonzalez or Cuadras. On September 24 it is Anthony Crolla vs. Jorge Linares, Marco Huck vs. Ovill McKenzie and Donnie Nietes vs. Edgar Sosa and October kicks off with Joseph Parker vs. Alex Dimitrenko and Juergen Braehmer vs. Nathan Cleverly and November will bring us Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward. Boxing is alive and well and the world did not end when Mayweather walked away and does not need him to come back – unless he wants to fight Golovkin!!

Plenty of speculation on who both Golovkin and Gonzalez should fight next. The sanctioning bodies have put their oar in. The WBA have said Golovkin must defend against Daniel Jacobs within the next 120 days and the WBC have ruled that Gonzalez must defend against Thai Srisaket with the parties given 90 days to come to terms or it will go to purse offers. Jacobs makes sense for Golovkin as he holds the secondary WBA title but if Golovkin decides it is not the fight he wants or is not a big enough fight then he can walk away from the WBA title and still hold two titles. Unfortunately his WBC mandatory challenger is Argentinian Jorge Heiland and his IBF one is Tureano Johnson both of whom are good fighters but neither is the sort of names to attract big purses or big viewing figures. Srisaket is a former WBC champion who has lost only one of his last 39 fights and has 13 wins in a row by KO/TKO. The loss was a technical decision against Cuadras when he was behind on all three cards. He has a good win over Jose Salgado (34-2-2) which saw him collect the WBC Silver title but the other victims are second class at best. Again it would not be a big money fight but the WBC will not be able to swerve past Srisaket. With Juan Francisco Estrada relinquishing the WBA and WBO flyweight titles to move up to super fly then a fight with Estrada or the Japanese star Naoya Inoue, who holds the WBO title, would be much better fights for Gonzalez but unlike Golovkin Gonzalez only has the WBC title so may be a little more reluctant to relinquish and might take the Srisaket fight just to clear the board for himself.

Random thoughts about last weekend’s fights. Plenty of criticism of the scores which had Brook level on two and ahead on one after four rounds. So it is not only the AIBA/Olympics where the scoring is controversial? Perhaps there are few cases of people in glass houses throwing stones over Rio. Scoring in fights is so subjective. The scores for Roman Gonzalez against Carlos Cuadras were 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 all for Gonzalez. I managed to convince myself that 117-111 was too wide and 15-113 too narrow. So how far apart were the judges in their assessment? If you think about it if the 117-111 judge had scored one round differently and given it to Cuadras instead of Gonzalez he would have scored it 116-112. If the judge who had it 115-113 had scored one round differently and given it to Gonzalez instead of Cuadras he would have scored the fight 116-112. They gave what looked like widely divergent scores but really just scoring one round differently would have brought all them all together. Also on scoring I am not in favour of the scores being revealed after 4 and 8 rounds but I find myself wondering if Stuart Hall would have changed his tactics if he knew that one judge had given all of the first nine rounds to Lee Haskins and another had given Haskins all of the first seven rounds. Effectively Hall needed a knockout but did not know it. The Robert Easter vs. Richard Commey results was very close and naturally Commey’s team with the support of the Ghana Board is to protest and the Sports Minister has also volunteered to support the appeal. There was no return bout clause in the contract so Commey will almost certainly have to wait for his chance.

Gonzalez is now a four division champion. How does that compare to six division champion Pacquiao. Manny is 5’5 ½” turned pro at the age of 16 weighing 106lbs, won his first title in his 25th fight at 112lbs, his second at 122lbs in his 35th fight, next it was 130lbs in fight No 51, he took the fourth, the 135lbs title, in fight No 42, the fifth at 147lbs in fight No 55 and his the six at 154lbs in fight No 57. When you lay it out like that it shows just what an incredible achievement winning titles in six divisions is. Gonzalez is 5’3” tall and he turned pro at 17. He won his first title at 105 lbs after 21 fights, his second at 108lbs in his 28th fight, his third at 112lbs in fight No 40 and his fourth on Saturday at 115lbs in fight No 46. So they both started at approximately the same age and weight but by his 46th fight Pacquiao had skipped past the featherweights and was already weighing 129 1/2lbs and fighting Erik Morales at super feather and accelerated through the weights from there. It would be nice to think that Gonzalez might go on to win more division titles but at 5’3” tall he is just that bit smaller than Pacquiao so Manny’s record of being the only fighter to win titles from flyweight to super-welter is not under threat.

A memory can be an evil thing in boxing. If you have one you are likely to remember things some people would rather have you forget. An example was the trumpeting in 2015 of how the IBF, WBA and WBC were all going to work together for the good of boxing. They were going to lay down criteria for unification bouts, and also work together on weigh-ins, anti-doping and other medical issues, designation of judges, electronic scoring and other subjects. The WBA President talked about a drive to get single world champions and the adoption by the other two bodies of ½ point scoring. All wonderful stuff and then the bodies went their separate ways and did things their own way with not even a nod towards all the wonderful stuff they were going to do together. OK that’s not 100% accurate. The WBA and WBC did agree to both use “super” as in super-welter etc. which was no big deal as they were both already using that designation. This is the time for you to break out with thunderous applause as the huge world shaking change is that the WBC agreed to stop using strawweight and go over to minimumweight. Yes that was the world changing decision they made. Well not quite. The IBF did not agree so to this day the IBF still designate the lower weight divisions as junior light, junior bantam etc. There you have it. Three of the “greatest” minds in boxing took two meetings and could not even agree to call the weight divisions by the same name-and the WBO declined to even attend. The WBA’s pledge to work to one unified champion in each division? I am shocked and amazed that they now have only 38 champions spread over the 17 division what a sacrifice that must be. Two sayings come to mind. “Turkeys voting for Christmas” and “Listen to the words but judge by the actions”. None of the bodies will give up one slice of their power and there is a huge gap between what they said they would do and what they have done.

The only one who comes out with any credit is WBC chief Mauricio Sulaiman as he at least initiated the meetings but was naive to think any real progress would come from them but he tried unlike the WBO who took the attitude that we are not interested in the good of boxing only in our sanctioning fees. They trumpet their fight against drugs and then introduced to their ratings last month heavyweight Eric Teper who is suspended by the EBU until July 2017 after testing positive twice in fights and on 15 October he fights for their vacant WBO European title. Strange way to combat drugs in boxing.

On the same subject Russian Igor Mikhalkin is hoping for some leniency. He tested positive for melodonium after the defence of his European light heavy title against Patrick Bois in March and was stripped off his title and given a two year suspension by the EBU. His plea for leniency is based on his confirmation he had used it but not knowing it had gone on the banned list and on having used only a very small amount. I can’t see that reasoning flying but he could always fight for a WBO title! Felix Sturm’s move to Bosnia is unlikely to solve anything as he is still the subject of an ongoing police investigation after his positive test when winning the WBA super middle title from Fedor Chudinov in February.

The Russian Federation announced itself pleased with its boxing team’s performance in Rio where they took home one (hotly disputed gold medal for Evgeniy Tishchenko), one silver and two bronze-and then sacked their coach!

Such a tragedy to read of the early death of Bobby Chacon. He was one of the most exciting fighters of his era. The “Schoolboy” was a huge ticket seller with his explosive aggressive style and won WBC titles at both featherweight and super featherweight. He ducked no one and his record reads like a who’s who of the top fighters of his day. He beat Frankie Crawford, Chucho Castillo, Danny Lopez, Alfredo Marcano, was 1-2 in fights with Ruben Olivares, Rafael Limon, Cornelius Boza-Edwards and even some guy called Freddie Roach and at his peak only lost to the best such as Olivares, Boza-Edwards, Alexis Arguello and Ray Mancini. A great career but Bobby paid for his brave, wide-open style and wide-open life style suffering eventually from pugilistic dementia and dying at the early age of 64. He is rightly in the Hall of Fame.

Nice to see the WBC arranged a dinner in Mexico to honour Sugar Ramos. The Cuban great still looks in good health at 74. He was a great featherweight who escaped Cuba in 1960 to continue his professional career in Mexico. He lost only once, on a disqualification, in his first 49 fights winning the WBA and WBC feather titles in 1963 with a win over Davey Moore who at that time had lost only one of his last 38 fights. Tragically Moore hit his neck on the bottom rope when knocked down in the tenth round and died two days later from the whiplash effect of his neck hitting the rope. Ramos made successful defences against Rafiu King and Mitsunori Seki and then went to Ghana to defend his title in 1964 against the local hero Floyd Robertson in the first world title fight ever held there. Ramos had to climb off the floor to take the split decision with the Ghana Board first declaring it a no contest and then proclaiming Robertson the winner and world champion, which everyone ignored. Ramos lost his title to Mexican Vicente Saldivar in September 194. He twice challenged for the lightweight title losing both times to Carlos Ortiz and from then he faded although he was still good enough to beat future WBC lightweight champion Chango Carmona, former WBC champion Raul Rojas and Lyle Randolph. He ended with a 55-7-4 record with 40 wins by KO/TKO. I had the pleasure of seeing him destroy Brit Sammy McSpadden in two rounds at the Empire Pool Wembley in 1963 and was awestruck by the flashing hand speed and accuracy of his combination punching. May you have many more happy years Sugar.

When “Magic Man” Paulie Malignaggi beat Antonio Moscatiello in London in December he probably thought he had fulfilled an ambition to win the European title. Actually it was ‘a’ European title, namely the European Union title which is for fighters from or licensed in a country within the European Union so excludes places such as Ukraine and Russia as opposed to the European Boxing Union (EBU) title which is for all European fighters. Paulie is going to try to put that right. He is co-challenger for the now vacant EBU welterweight title along with French fighter Ahmed El Mousaoui (24-2-1) and the fight is out for bids with purse offers due 20 September. This time it is for real Paulie.

The EBU nominated Callum Smith and George Groves to contest the vacant super middle title and they state that it is in a period for negotiation. If he takes the fight Smith will be risking his WBC No 1 position so although it would be huge fight for Britain he may not want to go down that road.

As usual there are some high quality EBU title fights on the boil. Unbeaten Anthony Yigit and former champion Lenny Daws are paired for the vacant super light title with Sauerland Event and Hennessy Sports said to be in negotiation with either agreement or purse offers by 28 September. Frenchman Mehdi Amar will defend his title against former WBO super-middle champion Robert Stieglitz in November, Brit Ryan Walsh (21-1-1) has an away date on 15 October in Frederickshavn, Denmark against Denis Ceylan (17-0-1) for the vacant feather title. Ivory Coast-born Ryad Merhy has been getting some good result in Belgium and he gets his big chance as he is to challenge Dmytro Kucher for the light-heavyweight title. Kucher won the tile in June with a one round stoppage of Enzo Maccarinelli. He is 24-1-1 with 18 off his 24 wins by KO/TKO. Merhy is 19-0 with 16 of his wins by KO/TKO. The deadline for negotiations is set for 6 October.

Computers!!! The first time I put Golovkin in my spellchecker it came up with “lovemaking” can you image the headline? Lovemaking gives Brook a fractured orbital bone. I could not find anything in the Kama Sutra (that I borrowed from a friend – honest) that covered that.