LIKE everyone else I would like to think the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight comes off this year. There is all sorts of pressure being heaped on Mayweather to take the fight, including a $120 million offer, but in the end it will be up to Mayweather whether it happens or not. I am not sure if money is the answer. The answer to ‘what do you give a man who has everything’ is not more money. He may not see it as others do but if he does not fight Pacquiao then that will forever be a blot on his legacy. No one will be able to talk about how great Mayweather was without adding …”yes but he ducked Pacquiao” and let’s hope that he values his legacy enough to avoid that footnote.
There is confusion over whether the Miguel Cotto-Saul Alvarez fight is nailed down. Oscar De La Hoya thinks it is but Cotto’s lawyer says no contract has been signed. It really is an intriguing fight. A loss for Cotto would perhaps seem him thinking of retirement whereas a win would mean that a fight with Mayweather or Pacquiao would be a possibility. For Alvarez a win would also mean a seat at the top table and whilst a loss would dent his reputation he is still only 24 so will be around after Mayweather, 37 Pacquiao, 36, and Cotto, 34 have all gone out to pasture.
I have a lot of time for the WBC, although it may not seem it. That’s partially a throwback when I worked with them, partially due to the quality of the people who work for them, the number of good friends I have there and their excellent work in medical and charity fields. I would like to think that efforts by Mauricio Sulaiman, who is proving a very progressive President, to get the other three major sanctioning bodies to work together and get them on board in a series of tournaments to decide one fighter in each division who can call himself a true world champion can succeed. Unfortunately it is like turkey’s voting for Thanksgiving. The sanctioning bodies exist on sanctioning fees and right now there are a whole plethora of “world” titles which, whilst they mean only confusion to the fans, are the life blood of the sanctioning bodies. If you have just one world champion per division then you have only one sanctioning fee per division so either the sanctioning fee gets increased 400 per cent – keeping the income the same for each body as in the past – or the sanctioning bodies get only 25 per cent of the fees they were getting previously. But is not just the sanctioning bodies who would suffer. Right now different Cable/TV companies have no problem featuring world title fights as there are so many to go around and it is the same for promoters who would struggle to get a world champion under contract if there were only 17 titles. Then you have to consider the supervisors and ring officials whose fees would also be hit by a reduction in world title fights. If by some miracle the tournaments were held then within months of them being finished you can be sure one of the sanctioning bodies would split ranks and go back to having their own champion.
What has started me off on this? Well Bob Yalen, he does so much more and differing work it would an insult to describe him as a statistician, has just issued some statistics for last year that show that there were 132 world title fights spread across 18 different countries with the USA 44, Japan 21 and Germany and Mexico tied on 12 each. In addition the WBA sanctioned 25 interim title fights the WBC (who gave up interim titles!) had 2 and the WBO had 2. Only the IBF genuinely do not have interim titles-up to now (see ** below). When they supposedly gave up the interim titles the WBC introduced Silver title fights and last year they sanctioned 29 Silver titles, but then decided it was okay for all of their other titles to have Silver titles thereby multiplying the number of WBC titles by as many divisions and regional titles as they already have.
I thought sense was creeping in when at the WBC Convention there was talk of stopping the stupid situation where in a regional or age related title fight only one of the contestants had to have a regional or age qualification so that you had the ridiculous situation of someone from the USA fighting for a Baltic title or a 35-year-old fighting for a Youth title. Good news? You have to watch both hands. Whilst talking about stopping this abomination the WBC have now instituted “Francophile” titles which are open to people from France, Canada, Romania and a whole load of other countries who have even the remotest tie to France even if it is only by drinking French wine (only joking about that bit) so here we have another 17 divisions and eventually we will have Silver champions etc. For a smart man I find it incredible that Sulaiman thinks the world needs more titles, or perhaps it is just that the WBC wants to rake in yet more sanctioning fees.
February 6 in Biloxi will see Jermain Taylor defending his IBF middle title against No 13 challenger Sergio Mora. First defence for Taylor of the title he won with decision over Sam Soliman in October. Taylor has a shooting charge hanging over him so needs to get active before being tied-up in court. Mora “The Latin Snake” is looking to become a two-division champion having been WBC light middle champion briefly in 2008.
Sad to see Mike Alvarado in trouble with the law-again. The Denver welter was stopped by police for having out of date registration tags. A records check found that Alvarado was wanted on a felony warrant and a traffic offence. A subsequent search of his car uncovered a concealed weapon and he was arrested. At this time it is expected that his fight with Brandon Rios on January 24 will still go ahead but the incident occurred at 4:15am which makes you wonder what sort of training regime he was following. He has been jailed twice before so could be looking at more jail time.
That was some schedule of world title fights in Japan last weekend with 8 title fights on 3 cards over two days. All four major sanctioning bodies were involved in the first really strong showing of how the JBC is now embracing the IBF and WBO after years of shunning those two organizations. This week the JBC awards for 2014 were announced with Naoya Inoue naturally getting the most recognition as MVP (Fighter of the Year), Fight of the Year and Kayo of the Year. The skills award went to Akira Yaegashi, Katsunari Takayama got an Award for his title efforts and the Fighting Spirits Award was shared between Takashi Uchiyama, Akira Yaegashi and Hishashi Amagasa.
You had the traditional sanctioning body manipulation with Go Odair who fought Takayama for the vacant IBF/WBO strawweight title suddenly jumping from No 13 to No 2 in the WBO ratings without fighting. All I can say about the IBF is that in the last ratings on their web site Odair was No 6(4) but strangely their web site has not posted any ratings since their September set! The WBA also seem to have one law for Uchiyama and one for other champion. His challenger Israel Perez was rated No 8 and this was Uchiyama’s first defence for exactly a year. He made two defences in 2013 against his No 4 and No 8 rated challengers so he has not made a mandatory defence for two years. In other cases the WBA would have had an interim champion in place a long time ago, but not for Uchiyama.
Norberto Jimenez who drew with Kohei Kono in a challenge for the WBA super fly title on the Tokyo show proved to be a bad tempered, arrogant fighter who did not endear himself to the fans-or the judges. He has one of those strange records. He was 3-8-2 in his first 13 fights but then went 17-0-1 in his next 18. One reason was a spell of 11 wins against opponents with combined records of 3-53!
For me the worst aspect of an exciting weekend was former WBA strawweight champion Ryo Miyazaki being paired with an unknown Thai with no traceable record. There would have been nowhere to hide if a tragedy had occurred there.
Still on Japan, the former WBC light-flyweight and WBA flyweight champion Hilario Zapata is heading to Japan to train fighters out there. The great little Panamanian has a two year contract and is taking a one year sabbatical from his job in banking and will make a decision at the end of the first year whether he stays in Japan or returns to Panama. Now 56 Zapata made 11 defences of the WBC title in two reigns as champion and six defences of the WBA title.
Former WBC light-middle champion John “The Beast” Mugabi is sitting down to wrote a book about his life. Now 54, the hard punching Ugandan won his first 25 fights by KO/TKO before losing to Marvin Hagler for the IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight titles. He also lost to Duane Thomas for the vacant WBC light middle title but then won the WBC title by beating Rene Jacquot before losing it to Terry Norris. In his last fling at the big time he was stopped inside a round by Gerald McClellan for the vacant WBO middle title. On the plus side Mugabi beat Eddie Gazo, Curtis Parker, James Green, Nino Gonzalez and Earl Hargrove all by KO/TKO. He ended with a 42-7-1 record with 39 wins by KO/TKO in fact only five of Mugabi’s 50 fights went the distance. It will be interesting to hear of his time with famed trainer George Francis who tore his hair out over John’s casual attitude to training. Mugabi is currently working with the Australian amateur team and is hoping the book will come out in June.
There are rumours that Charles Martin will be the opponent for Eddie Chambers under the Fury vs. Hammer fight at the 02 at the end of February. It will be interesting if it comes off as southpaw Martin is 18-0-1 with 16 wins by KO/TKO and is already rated WBO 7 and IBF 9(8).
Don’t look for any amateur background on Tyson Fury’s opponent Christian Hammer because you won’t find it under that name. The Romanian-born fighter’s name is Cristian Ciocan and in his unpaid days he won a gold medal at the World Youth Championships, a bronze medal at the European Union Junior Championships, a bronze at the European Union Senior Championships but lost on points to David Price in the semi-finals of the 2008 European Olympic Qualifiers.
With Yoan Pablo Hernandez ill the IBF have ordered a fight between Ola Afolabi and Victor Ramirez for the interim title. No date set yet but the IBF have said that if Hernandez is not fit to fight by September then the winner will be upgraded to full champion**
IBF feather champion Evgeny Gradovich has said that he wants his mandatory defence against Brit Lee Selby to be staged in Russia. Although he has defended his three times in Macao he has never fought as a pro in his native Russia. In the end money will decide where the fight is held.
After turning down a fight with Jermell Charlo in December Demetrius Andrade has now been order by the WBO to defend his light-middle title against the unbeaten Texan who is his mandatory challenger. Andrade turned down the chance to fight Matt Korobov for the vacant middleweight title preferring to hold on to his light-middle crown.
This could be a break through year for New Zealand heavyweight prospect Joseph Parker. He kicks off his season on March 5 in Manukau against American Jason Pettaway who has a 17-1 record. Parker has been sparring with Wladimir Klitschko and has impressed the triple title holder. He is flattered by his WBA No 10 rating but has shown plenty of talent. Pettaway looks a test on paper but don’t look too closely. He has only ventured outside the low level West Virginia/Kentucky circuit once when he has stopped by Magomed Abusalamov in New York. Only four of his victims have had positive records and then only marginally so he should be no real test for Parker.
The Monte Carlo show on February 21 has a couple of good fights underneath Gennady Golovkin vs. Martin Murray. Hekkie Budler will defend his WBA and IBO strawweight titles against Mexican Jesus Silvestre and Lee Haskins faces Frenchman Omar Lamiri for the vacant EBU bantam title. Someone at the WBA must like Silvestre. He was No. 2 in their ratings published on 8 April last year. He then lost an eight round split decision to Eduardo Martinez (record 10-2-1) who was himself coming off a loss. In their 9 May ratings Silvestre had been moved down to…oop’s sorry this is the WBA… he was still No 2 and Martinez was nowhere in sight. Good old reliable rubbishy WBA.