September 11, 2015
September 11, 2015
Floyd Mayweather

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SO this will be Floyd Mayweather’s last fight. Somehow that does not ring true. Over his career Mayweather has been a massive talent and had the ego to match. Taking that into account what great athlete in any sport has ever said that he would be happy to equal an all-time record but had no interest in beating it. Proving you’re the best is what elite athletes are all about and if Mayweather settles for equalling Rocky Marciano’s record that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Of course there is another reason why Floyd is saying this is his last fight. Put simply there is no other way to market the fight. Andre Berto is a good fighter. Not great but good, but not good enough for a fight with Mayweather to be attractive on its own. The only thing that makes Mayweather vs. Berto saleable is the “Floyd’s last fight” tag. I understand that ticket sales etc. have been sluggish and without that last fight tag they would be a lot worse than sluggish. Perhaps Floyd is serious about this being his last fight but he does not strike me as the sort of guy who would walk away one fight short of standing out on his own as the world title holder who retired with the longest unbeaten run. Equal best is not Floyd-only the best will do.

An illustration of how the sport has changed over the years is that it will have taken Mayweather just a month short of 19 years to reach his 49 fight total. It took Marciano only 8 years. Fighters fought a lot more often in the in the 1940’s and 50’s. Between 1948 and 1949 Marciano had 24 fights because purses were much small so to make a living you had to fight more often.

I have heard people calling for Mayweather to have one more fight after Berto and go up against Gennady Golovkin. There is no way that is going to happen and rightly so. Mayweather started out as a super feather as a pro having won medals at light fly and fly in major competitions as an amateur. The most he has weighed as a pro is 151lbs against Miguel Cotto in 2012. Golovkin is a natural middle having spent the last three years there as an amateur and never weighing below 158lbs. Either Mayweather would end up giving away a lot of weight even at a catchweight or Golovkin would have to saw a leg off. Just no sense in that fight.

Manny Pacquiao will fight on but with neither he nor Mayweather talking a return. Bob Arum has thrown the names of Amir Khan, Kell Brook and Terrence Crawford into the ring as future opponent before Pacquiao hangs up his gloves and runs for President in the Philippines. It’s always a smart negotiating tactic to throw plenty of names in as you can play them off against each other to get them to accept a reasonable financial deal. Pacquiao will have to learn a whole new brand of fighting skills if he runs for office. In boxing you only have to worry about punches from the guy in front of you whereas in politics it is a stab in the back you have to watch out for.

On the subject of Bob Arum I see that Top Rank are going to work with Chinese sports marketing management company SECA to help with the formation of a boxing league for Chinese fighter “ League of Fists” . The aim is to help the development of pro boxing in China. I could find 185 Chinese boxers in the Chinese ratings. If that sounds good the same check reveals that 169 of those have had less than 5 fights and the majority have had only one or two. Additionally top fighters such Zou Shiming, Rex Tso and Ik Kang are way above this league level so there are very few fighters of any quality to get 224 matches per season as is proposed. Top Rank and SECA had better be committed because this is goiung to be a very long process from such an inexperienced base.

Looks as though Juan Manuel Marquez is targeting a return to the ring in December. He has been having discussions with his promoter Fernando Beltran. Marquez is 42 and has not fought since beating Mike Alvarado in May last year. It is a thought that by this time next year Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Marquez will probably be ex-fighters when for the last few years they have been the equivalent of the Leonard-Hearns-Duran-Hagler (except then it was four kings) so by 2017 it will be whole new era and it will produce stars of its own some of the current crop who will grow into that role and perhaps some guy who is not even a professional right now or has yet to walk into a gym for the first time will be the one. That’s the exciting thing about boxing the way it regenerates and produces new stars era by era.

Juergen Brahmer is not sitting around twiddling his thumbs. Having just had a comfortable win over Konni Konrad at the weekend he has already agreed to put his WBA secondary title on the line against South African Thomas Oosthuizen in Monte Carlo on 7 November. It is unusual these days for a champion to make two defences in just over two months. Despite some poor discipline and some indifferent performances Rodney Berman has shown his commitment to Oosthuizen by getting him this hardly merited title shot. I guess it could be the last chance saloon for Oosthuizen if he fails to make the weight or puts up a poor fight that will try even Berman’s patience. The show is shaping up nicely with British middle Adam Etches facing Japanese fighter Yosuke Kirima and Ricky Hatton’s fighter Khanat Zhakiyanov challenging Yonfrez Perez for the Interim WBA super bantam title. Berman is building a good following for his quality shows from Monte Carlo as a wise precaution. Currently he has a contract with Super Sport in South Arica for TV coverage of his shows which means that he is not directly affected by the South African Sports Ministry defying a court injunction and going forward with their plans to control the allocation of broadcasting of boxing by the State TV body. However a Contact Sports bill has been introduced which will give the Sports Ministry control over all broadcasting rights for all combat sports and Berman has made it clear that if that happens then he will move his base outside South Africa with South African boxers being the ones who will suffer. The aim seems to be for the Sports Ministry to eventually take over the broadcasting rights for all sports in South Africa.

Boxing goes on down there in spite of the stupidity of the authorities and in December two of the countries top cruisers will clash as Kevin Lerena faces Johnny Muller. When they fought in November Muller got the unanimous decision but Lerena is confident he can reverse that loss.

Good to see Scot Ricky Burns continuing with his boxing career and taking an important step with his challenge for the EBU light title against Finn Edis Tatli on 24 October in Sheffield. The EBU title is a very prestigious title but if he wins Ricky will have to defend against the current mandatory challenger Emiliano Marsili. The Italian is 32-0-1 and hammered Derry Matthews to defeat in seven rounds for the IBO world title in his only visit to Britain in January 2012.

After a court case Ruslan Chagaev and Fres Oquendo will finally meet again in a repeat of their fight in July last year when Chagaev won the vacant WBA secondary heavyweight title. There was dispute over whether the wording of the contract for the fight gave Oquendo the right to a rematch and a US Court ruled in favour of Oquendo. The fight will be in Kiel on 17 October with the winner having to defend against Lucas Browne.

Former undefeated WBA feather champion Nicolas Walters is set to return to action on a HBO show on 12 December. There was talk of Yuriorkis Gamboa as the opponent but that seems to have faded so no opponent and no venue named yet. It will be interesting to see whether Walters decides to fight at feather again or whether having lost his WBA title on the scales he elects to go up a division.

Panamanian Guillermo Jones is looking to return to action on 3 October. Now 43 the former WBA cruiser champion has not fought since beating Denis Lebedev in May 2013 when he reportedly tested positive for a banned substance. Jones contested the findings and return match was scheduled for April last year in Moscow only for Jones to give another positive test before the fight and to fly out of the country. Boxing seems to be the only sport where a positive test is punished with a slap on the wrist.

Looks like a good European heavy title fight could be on the cards with Erkan Teper defending against Robert Helenius. Teper won the title with a crushing kayo of David Price in two rounds in July. His mandatory challenger is Dereck Chisora and the EBU site states “parties in negotiation” so that might complicate matters. Swedish-born Finnish star Helenius beat Chisora on a hotly disputed decision in 2011 and was inactive from March 2013 until March this year and has scored two low level wins and is down at No 15 with the EBU.

There was an immigration flavour about boxing in Germany last week. We had Konni Konrad fighting Juergen Braehmer. Konni was born Mevludin Cokovic in Montenegro but moved to Germany with his parents and for a while after their arrival the family lived in a container but getting into boxing allowed him to make the money to help the family to a better life with Konrad being the youngest pro in Germany when he joined the paid ranks at 17. We also had Polish-born Sebastian Tlatlik who won the German International super feather title at the weekend. He and his brother Robert moved from Poland to Germany when they were both very young and have found success there. Armenian-born Artem Harutyunyan was himself a refugee at one time and he is doing his bit to help some settle in Germany. The former European Championships bronze medal winner is working at a small basement gym where Syrian refugees are taught the rudiments of boxing as he tries to help them find the path to a reasonable living but just as importantly to give the jobless youth somewhere to come and to learn the discipline that is such an important part of any boxer’s preparing and of life.

It was also good to see Amir Khan pledging to help out with the current humanitarian crisis to aid the flood of Syrian refugees in their efforts to escape their war torn country. Khan is also helping boxing in Pakistan by indicating he is ready to bring promising Pakistani boxers over to Britain if they want to visit his academy. On a recent visit to Pakistan he travelled to Lyari where there is an SSB camp where 60-70 boxers will be able to train.

Still on helping the young former WBO super fly champion Jose “Carito” Lopez is running a gym in Puerto Rico. The WBO recently donated money to the gym to enable the purchase of a bunch of boxing equipment. A nice gesture from the WBO. Lopez could certainly teach the young to never give up. He won the WBO title at the fifth attempt. He also has the unique underachievement of being the only fighter to lose in a world title fight to a guy who was pulled out of the audience to face him. Well so the myth makers would have you believe. Back in 1999 Lopez was to fight Alejandro Montiel for the vacant WBO title. Reportedly with the show already underway Montiel was unable to go through with the fight. When the promoter was told that Garcia was in the audience they hauled him out and kitted him up with borrowed equipment and he won the fight and the title. A great story but since Garcia was not formally on the show the question arises as to why he weighed in the day before the fight. Garcia went on to win and obviously he was a very late substitute but out of the audience to win-no but the story sounds better that way.

There seems to be some sort of growing band wagon supporting Shannon Briggs’ claim to be worth a title shot. There is an old Danny Kaye song about the King having no clothes. Those on the bandwagon should realise that despite all his antics Briggs has no clothes/ valid claim. He has not fought a single opponent who would figure in anyone’s top 100. Back in August 2014 the WBA in their wisdom had Briggs at No 14. For beating Cory Phelps, Richard Carmack and Zoltan Petranyi he has risen to No 5 but then I only expect stupidity from them. What surprises me is those who should know better listening to Briggs shouting and antics and not looking at what he has achieved. If you even take the most cursory look you will see that Briggs has only fought old men, fat old men, has beens, never weres and some who once were but no longer are. Some were impressed by a 30 second clip of him knocking over an overweight Mike Marrone. Well Marrone had been inactive for almost one year and had only one fight in almost four years. He was 30lbs heavier than when he faced Guillermo Jones for the WBA cruiser title in 2011and that extra 30lbs was all on his waistline. Rating wise BoxRec has Briggs rated No 47 and Marrone No 272! IBO Ratings have Briggs at 45 and only list 100 so Marrone does not even figure in their list. The WBC list 40 heavyweights and Briggs has never fought any of them. He dare not fight a serious opponent because he would be exposed but the mad way this sport is he could shout and scream his way to a title shot without having to fight any opponent with even moderate ability. David Haye and Tyson Fury have cleverly made use of outlandish tactics or outlandish statements but they both had fought and beaten notable opposition. Briggs is conning people and they are falling for it.

Good match coming up in Mexico City on 3 October as Jorge Paez Jr takes on Ramon Alvarez. Next fight for world rated light heavy Sean Monaghan will be on October 16 against Don George. Monaghan is rated No 4 by the WBA but has yet to face a rated boxer so let’s hope they put him in a 50-50 fight soon. Julius Jackson will be hoping to follow in dad’s footsteps. The son of Julian Jackson has been paired with Jose Uzcategui in an IBF final eliminator to decide the mandatory challenger to James DeGale. This one will be in San Antonio on 6 October. Fernando Montiel should provide a tough test for Lee Selby when the Brit makes the first defence of his IBF feather title in Glendale Arizona on 14 October. The former WBO fly, super fly and bantam champion is looking to become a four-division champion at the age of 36 and has won his last eight fights. I expect Selby to be too quick for the Mexican veteran but anyone with 39 wins by KO/TKO always has a punchers chance.

It was a nice gesture to see Nigerian GOtv presenting to Jonathan Dele with a cheque for 25% of the tickets sales revenue from their show in Lagos last month. Dele spent most of his career based in Barcelona and in his career between 1969 and 1977 ended up with a 40-10-8 record. He beat top boxers of the time in Angel Robinson Garcia and world champion Jose Legra. He won the Commonwealth Boxing Council title by beating Jim Watt on points in Lagos in 1975 and in one of his defences beat world rated Percy Hayles before losing his title to Lennox Blackmore in his last fight in 1977. Dele is suffering prostrate problems and will require surgery so it was nice to see him supported in this way by GOtv and the Nigerian Boxing Board of Control.

It used to be part of the advertising for the military to say “Join the Army and see the world”. Well these days it is be a loser and see the world. On last week’s show in Leeds the Latvian cruiser Arturs Kulikauskis was stopped in five rounds by Tony Bellew. It was his fourth visit to the UK but he has also fought in Austria, Russia, French Polynesia, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Ukraine, Poland and Spain. Lucky man. When I worked in the oil and gas industry I did a job where some of the team went to Monaco and I got to go to Harland & Wolff Belfast on a rainy Monday. Next time I’m coming back as a losing boxer it seems to be much more fun.