GOOD to have boxing back to normal. The elephant in the room of Floyd Mayweather Jnr vs. Manny Pacquiao is history; well it should be that there will always be people who won’t let go. Forget about the fight of the century we are back to Saul Alvarez vs. James Kirkland, Jamie McDonnell vs. Tomoki Kameda, Omar Figueroa vs. Ricky Burns, Eden Sonsona vs. Adan Estrella, Illunga Makabu vs. Thabiso Mchunu, Gennady Golovkin vs. Willie Monroe, Roman Gonzalez vs. Edgar Sosa, Alex Povetkin vs. Mike Perez, James DeGale vs. Andre Dirrell, Kell Brook vs. Frankie Gavin, Amir Khan vs. Chris Algieri, Bryan Vasquez vs. Javier Fortuna, Javier Mendoza vs. Milan Melindo, Evgeny Gradovich vs. Lee Selby, an awesome Anthony Joshua, Cotto, Wilder, Kovalev, Walters, Frampton, Quigg and so many more. None of these generated/will generate the hype or the income of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao but start focusing elsewhere because by 2016 both “Money” and Manny will be yesterday’s men and boxing will be regenerating as it always has done.
It was a class gesture by James DeGale dedicating his title winning effort to the late Darren Sutherland. The “Dazzler” seemed to have a brilliant career in front of him so it was a huge shock when he committed suicide in 2009. DeGale had beaten Sutherland at the European Qualifiers for the 2008 Olympics but Sutherland qualified at the second qualifier only to lose to DeGale at the Olympics. A friendship forged in the ring as so many are and a lovely gesture from DeGale that even during the euphoria of winning a world title he remembered Sutherland. Lee Selby also made a dedication over his win over Gradovich to his brother Michael who died 7 years ago at the age of 23.
DeGale became the first British fighter to win an Olympic gold medal and go on to win a world title. The nearest before him was Chris Finnegan who had the misfortune to be around at the same time as Bob Foster who knocked Finnegan out in the 14th round of their 1972 fight which was crowned Ring Magazine “Fight of the Year”. Audley Harrison has his world title shot but was stopped in three rounds by David Haye for the WBA title in 2010 but in this multi-multi titled era he did actually win the World Boxing Foundation title. Now that DeGale has achieved that high water mark Brits Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell might make it a case of “buses”- none for ages and the three come along at once.
With China dipping its toe into professional boxing the last big markets left virtually untouched are India and Pakistan. India in particular has been very strong in amateur boxing. There has been some pro boxing there but only a minimum and both they and Pakistan have approached the WBC for help in kick-starting the pro sport. It will take years for the pro sport to develop in both countries and there is no guarantee it will not wither on the vine but let’s hope not.
It was sad to read of the death of Yemeni boxer Ali Raymi as the victim of one of two bomb explosion at mosques in Sanna for which the Yemeni branch of ISIS claimed responsibility. Raymi was 41 and was a former Lieutenant in the Yemeni Elite forces back in the 1990’s and he started boxing in the military but was a controversial character in Yemen because of his life style. He fought as an amateur but also took part in many unsanctioned bouts before his first official fight in 2011. He then set a record by winning his first 20 fights by first round kayo and all 25 of his fights ended by KO/TKO. He won versions of very minor world titles at minimumweight, light flyweight, flyweight and super flyweight but the standard of his opposition was abysmal. RIP Ali.
It looks as though there is definitely a date problem affecting David Price’s June 26 fight in Liverpool. Price has been nominated to fight Erkan Teper for the European title and the purse bidding was won by Z! Group. They have booked the date of 17 July for the contest and that date is shown on the EBU web site. In the EBU Championship rules, Article 6.1.4 says that a fighter shall not box less than 28 days before a championship contest. The two contests currently on the schedule for Price are 21 days apart. The Article also allows this to be waived with the written permission of the EBU but I know of no application at this stage so either Price misses out on Liverpool or he misses out on the EBU title fight.
The European titles continue to hold their value even with so many other titles around. Right now negotiations are ongoing for Gavin McDonnell (13-0-2), the brother of Jamie, to put his super bantamweight title on the line against fellow Brit James Dickens (19-1). Rudy Encarnacion (34-23-4) finally gets his title shot as he meets former champion Alex Miskirtchian (25-3-1), at the end of July for the vacant feather title and negotiations for Romain Jacob (23-0) to defend his super feather title against Stephen Smith (22-1) have a deadline of 31 July to reach an agreement. Fights for vacant titles include Orlando Fiordigiglio (21-0) against Cedric Vitu (41-2) at light middle on 13 June and a real humdinger at middleweight between Michel Soro (26-1-1) coming off a stoppage of Glen Tapia) and Emanuele Blandamura (23-1) on 20 June and Dymtro Kucher (22-1) vs. Bilal Laggoune (19-0-1) for the cruiser with purse offers closing 9 June.
For those interested in finances the standard EBU sanctioning fee is 5% of the boxers purse and minimum purse values are set at EU 4700 from fly to super fly, EU 4850 from light to middle and EU 5000 from super middle to heavy with a set figure of EU 2000 for any EU title fight at any weight.
Fres Oquendo recently won a court case. A New York District judge awarded Oquendo over $800,000 in his suit against the promoters of his fight with Ruslan Chagaev for the WBA secondary heavy title in July last year and also put in place an injunction preventing Chagaev’s promoters from staging any Chagaev bout where the WBA heavyweight title was at stake except against Oquendo. The paper trail on this was long and convoluted but three things in there interested me. It was alleged that the purse for Oquendo was mutually agreed to be higher than that appearing in the official contract and was deliberately understated in the contract so that the WBA sanctioning fee being a percentage of the boxer’s purses would be artificially lowered. My heart bleeds for the WBA. Another allegation was that Oquendo’s management contract included a clause that said that the contract would automatically roll over as long as Oquendo was rated in the top 10 by any sanctioning body. I thought that “slave” contract went out with the Muhammad Ali Boxing reform Act but obviously I was wrong. What that effectively means is that as long as a boxer is at the peak of his career he will never be a free agent. That is the type of contract Don King had with Azumah Nelson. When I was with the WBC Rating Committee at one Convention we realised that Azumah Nelson had been inactive and took him out of the ratings. When I presented the ratings and explained that we left Nelson out in line with the standard measure for inactivity both Jose Sulaiman and the Ghana representative on the Board of Governors protested that Nelson was a great boxer and should be reinstated. The Governors agreed and Don King had a satisfied smile on his face. It is an aberration of a contract clause and should not be allowed. The third thing that struck me was Chagaev is defending his WBA secondary title against Francesco Pianeta in Germany on 11 July. The WBA web site does not currently show the fight on its schedule. It remains to be seen whether the injunction has any teeth. The court case must have cost Oquendo a lot of money which he may never be able to recover get back. Chagaev’s team have said they will appeal the judgement so it is not over yet.
How embarrassing for the sport of boxing in South Africa. With Filipino’s Rey Loreto and Jetly Purisima still not paid for their fights in South Africa on 22 March the former Governor of North Cotabato in the Philippines took the step of writing an open letter to President Jacob Zuma requesting that he get involved. Zuma is said to have instigated an investigation but that news came from a journalist not a spokesman from Zuma so it is difficult to know what value that has. There is still the matter of a number of top South African boxers who have not been paid for fighting in a boxing league on which there has been no action at all. It appears they have no Governor to support them. As if that was not bad enough the South African Sports Minister has said the televised boxing will be returning soon and the administrative body Boxing South Africa will take control of broadcasting rights despite there being an ongoing case regarding this very issue. The Minister did not help his profile by deciding that it was vital that he attend the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight. Perhaps it would have had some value if he had talked to the Nevada Commission who could have told him that they don’t own the broadcasting rights. The only advice I can give to any manager , agent or fighter or official (the IBO officials also did not get paid) going to South Africa is make sure you have the money in your hand before you get into the ring because it seems there is no mechanism in place to make sure you do get paid.
No part of the sport seems to be working effectively down there. Ring officials are a vitally important part of the sport with the referees having a high responsibility for the health and safety of the boxers in the ring. The last time there was a refresher course for officials was 2009!
Not everything there is dire and desperate. In an amusing incident a promoter staged a dinner/boxing show. The boxing was okay but the food was alleged to be so poor that the patrons almost rioted. I wonder which part of dinner/boxing the promoter did not understand.
Tomas Adamek is set to return to the ring. The former WBC light heavy and IBF cruiser champion is in training for a fight with fellow Pole Przemyslaw Saleta. Both have indicated that they do not want any drug testing involved but one of Adamek’s team has offered to pay for the tests. Adamek has not fought since losing to Artur Szpilka in November and Saleta has not fought since beating Andrew Golota in February 2013. This is more a case of bad blood than a determination to re-launch their careers.
Dennis Boystov remains in an induced come. It seems the police now believe it was not a prearranged attack but of Boystov just being in the wrong place at the wrong time and the victim of a vicious gang looking for someone to beat up.
Japan lost one of its most experienced judges with the death of Kuwata Kazu Akira from prostate cancer. Kazu Akira first received his licence back in 1959 and officiated at his last show in 2012 so great service to the sport in Japan.
Nice show developing for Ballerup Denmark on 20 June with Patrick Nielsen facing former CBC challenger Charles Adamu, Dennis Ceylan taking on Sergio Prado and unbeaten fighters Micki Nielsen and Anthony Yigit on. Should be wins all the way for the promoter’s boys. There is talk of a Patrick Nielsen vs. Rudy Markussen fight later but nothing set yet. Two excellent fights planned for June 21 in Las Vegas will see former undefeated IBF super feather champ Rances Barthelemy take on former WBC light champion Antonio DeMarco. Second fight up at super light for the unbeaten Cuban who skipped right past the lightweight division. DeMarco is coming off a loss to Jesse Vargas for the WBA secondary title at super light. Both fighters are tall for the weight with Barthelemy at 5’11” (180cm) and Vargas at 5’10” (178cm) so now no one can tell them to pick on someone your own size. June 20 in Montreal under the David Lemieux vs. Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam fight for the vacant IBF middle title lightweight Dierry Jean will take on Jerry Belmontes and lightweight Ghislain Maduma will fight Italian Michele Focosi. June 26 in Hidalgo, Texas, Diego Magdaleno (27-1) and Puerto Rican Jose A Gonzalez (24-1) will clash at lightweight and Mexican super middle Gilberto Ramirez takes on Derek Edwards. June 27 sees Barry Michael’s young super middle Zac Dunn taking a big step up as he faces Max Bursak. Also in Australia Mike Katsidis returns to action again in Flemington, Melbourne 8 July with his opponent not yet revealed. Will Tomlinson and Brad Pitt are also scheduled to appear with their opponents the usual TBA.
Oh how the boxing world has changed. Willie Monroe Jnr fought for the world title in his 21st fight after only two ten round fights and with no big names on his record. Great uncle Willie Monroe fought from 1969 to 1981 and had 50 fights in 12 years including 35 scheduled for ten rounds and one for twelve. He beat Jose Gonzalez, Willie Warren, Eugene Hart, Stan Hayward, Billy Douglas, Marvin Hagler and so many more good quality fighters-and never once got even a sniff of a world title fight. In fact the only “title” fight he was in was for the meaningless North American title when he lost on a twelfth round stoppage against Hagler. Apart from my conviction that Sugar Ray Robinson was the best fighter who ever lived I stay well away from comparing fighters from other eras but as you can see from above there are big differences in the sport from decade to decade.
Sad news from Colombia has former WBC flyweight champion Prudencio Cardona in a bad way. Now 63 Cardona is suffering the joint effects of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He won the title in March 1982 but held it for only four months. He subsequently lost to Santos Laciar in a challenge for the WBA title before winning the Colombian national title. Shortly after that his career went downhill very fast and he ended up losing 13 of his last 14 fights. The WBC has been very generous to former champion in distress but it is difficult to know what can be done to help Cardona.
If a fighter makes a poor start to his pro career he should not panic. Take the case of former super fly champion Srisaket. The Thai was 1-3-1 in his first five fights but went on to win his next 26 and win a world title. If he can do it…
Hidden down in a four round bout on the May 22 show in Atlantic City was Carlos Gongora. The 26-year-old from Ecuador has been one of his country’s top amateurs for the past ten years. He won gold medals at prestigious tournaments such as the Pan American Junior Championships, the Copa Romana, the Jose Che Aponte, Romanian Golden Belt the Dominican Independence Cup and the South American Games. He represented Ecuador at the Pan American Games winning a bronze medal and competed at the World Championships and Olympics. The last Ecuadorian to fight for a world title was Segundo Mercado who drew and lost to Bernard Hopkins for the IBF middle title in 1994 and 1995 and he actually had Hopkins on the floor twice in their drawn fight. They are about due another world class boxer and they have high hopes for Brooklyn-based Gongora.