WELL it’s over. The elephant in the room that distracted boxing fans for a few weeks and earned a fortune for two millionaires is over and done with. It was a huge event but not a great or even good fight and if you paid to see it then once you boast “I was there” it’s difficult to think of anything else you can say about it. Conor McGregor fought better than most forecast but not much better than could be expected from a man competing in a sport for which he was ill-prepared against one of the great exponents of the that sport. McGregor’s inexperienced showed in the way he flapped and pawed with some of his punches and in how quickly he tired in fighting three minute rounds. Floyd Mayweather fought a smart fight. There is no way McGregor could have anticipated that Mayweather would steal the patented high guard, walk forward and work inside tactics of Arthur Abraham. When the punch stats showed that one fighter had thrown only 20 jabs in the ten rounds – and that it was Mayweather – that was a real shocker. A bit like a foil fencer using a broad axe, but it worked. The hope now is that it is the last of these cross-discipline circuses.
The Nevada Commission was obviously worried that the fight might start before the first bell. They actually had one official standing with his arm outstretched in front of each fighter ready to restrain them as the referee gave his final instructions. Even the commission believed the hype.
With that out of the way we can now focus on the real business at hand. The Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez fight. It’s a true fans fight a real grudge match promising explosive action with Golovkin having an 89% KO/TKO ratio with 23 wins by KO/TKO in his last 24 fights and Alvarez a respectable 69% with youth and a great chin in a fight where who can take it rather than who can dish it out could be the decider. The ingredients are there for a middleweight version of “Joshua vs. Klitschko” with three of the four versions of the middleweight title on the line. This fight is everything that Mayweather vs. McGregor was not.
With WBO champion Joseph Parker defending against Hughie Fury on September 23, Anthony Joshua probably defending his IBF and WBA titles against Kubrat Pulev on October 28 and Deontay Wilder could put his WBC title on the line against Luis Ortiz in New York on November 4 the heavyweight division is heating up. Parker is very much the poor relation in this with his WBO title having lesser value but as with the Wilder vs. Ortiz fight the big prize is a fight with Anthony Joshua if Joshua gets past Pulev – and he should. For the Wilder vs. Ortiz fight to take place stand aside money will have to be paid to the WBC no 1 Bermane Stiverne. The situation with the former champion is ridiculous. He is No 1 with the WBC but has not fight since November 2015. OK it was not his fault that the fight with Alex Povetkin fell through when the Russian tested positive for a banned substance. There is talk of Stiverne vs. Dominic Breazeale but if Stiverne decides not to risk that fight and opts to take the stand aside money and then wait to fight the winner it will be more than two years since he had a fight. That’s almost a silly as the WBA who due to a court ruling still have an obligation to include their No 3 Fres Oquendo in their ratings and in a title fight even though Oquendo has not fought since July 2014.
Despite positive sounds from both sides a fight between WBC light-heavy champion Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack, the new holder of the secondary WBA title, is probably dead in the water. Firstly the WBC No 1 Eleider Alvarez has wasted no time in insisting Stevenson has to fight him and the WBC would have to back Alvarez in that. Even if the Stevenson vs. Jack fight did come off it would not be a unification fight as Jack only holds the secondary WBA title and if Stevenson won it would be ludicrous for the holder of the WBC title to be shown only as holder of the secondary WBA title. The WBA have order Jack to defend against their interim champion Dmitry Bivol. By ordering this is it possible the WBA are working towards one “universally recognised “champion in each division. Dream on! They still have nine secondary champions and four interim champions.
I was away on a tour of the Cities of Eastern Europe and missed the Terrence Crawford vs. Julius Indongo fight but caught the replay. Indongo had looked very useful in destroying Eduard Troyanovsky and outclassing Ricky Burns but Crawford was another couple of levels above at least. There are some tasty morsels out there if the fights can be put together such as Crawford vs. Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia or Mikey Garcia. His time as unified champion was short as he had no interest in fighting Sergei Lipinets so he relinquished the IBF title. Lipinets is the IBF No 1 beacuse he has beaten someone who was rated in the IBF top 15 at the time they fought. That was Lenny Zappavigna. A little bit of adjustment was undertaken. Zappavigna was No 7 and Lipinets was No 8 and although neither had had another fight before they met by Zappavigna was No 3 and Lipinets No 4.To again show the questionable positioning of fighters in their ratings behind Lipinets the No 2 spot is vacant and Japanese fighter Akihiro Kondo is No 3. Why is Kondo not No 2? That’s because he can’t be No 2 as he has never fought anyone in the IBF top 15 but somehow qualifies to be No 3! The reason they can’t put him to No 2 is that when Bobby Lee Snr was arrested by the IBF for allegedly selling spots in the IBF ratings one of the rule changes they had to adopt was not to put someone in the mandatory or No 2 position unless they had beaten someone in the top 15. Perhaps we should get the FBI instead of the IBF to do the ratings. I am still proud of the letter that Lee sent to Boxing News complaining strongly about my criticisms of what I saw as blatant manipulation of their ratings by the IBF. He finished the letter by saying “we are watching you”. He should have been watching his Ratings Chairman Doug Beavers who was wearing an FBI wire. Happy days.
The WBC are sending out some very mixed signals. They are donating Diamond Belts to the winner of the Super Series at cruiser and super middle so effectively endorsing and supporting the tournament. However despite Callum Smith being their No 1 super middle he has been well and truly shafted. They had ordered a fight between Smith and Anthony Dirrell in September for their vacant title but Dirrell refused to accept the date or the terms effectively ruling himself out. In the meantime Smith had signed to fight Erik Skoglund on 16 September in the quarter-finals of the Super Series. The WBC then tried to set up a Dirrell vs. David Benavidez fight for their title but injury ruled Dirrell out of that. Instead they have agreed that Benavidez fights Ron Gavril for the vacant title. Gavril rose in the WBC ratings from No 27 to No 16 for beating 11-1 Chris Booker and from 16 to No 6 for beating unrated 16-5-1 Decarlo Perez so a very questionable elevation. Now Smith finds himself out of the title picture because he is fighting in the very Super Series that the WBC have endorsed. You can’t endorse a tournament and then penalise people for participating in it that is the worst kind of double speak.
Shane Mosley has finally hung up his gloves. He had a great career and as a three division champion who fought in 23 world title fights (excluding a couple of interim title fights) and beat Oscar De La Hoya twice, Fernando Vargas, Antonio Margarito and many others will eventually be a candidate for the Hall of Fame. His legacy will always have a blemish in my eyes after he admitted taking steroids but claimed he did not know what they were. His claim for $12 million against the head man at BALCO the company that supplied him with the substances who alleged on numerous occasions that Mosley knowingly took them was dropped. Richard Schaefer, then with Golden Boy, actually asked if the Nevada Commission could investigate allegations that Mosley was using the BALCO supplied steroids at the time of his 2003 win over Oscar De La Hoya and continued to use them until 2005 whether Mosley’s win over De la Hoya could be overturned but was told it could not. There is no way of knowing in which of Mosley’s fights he was using the banned substances.
On the subject of the De La Hoya clan cousin Diego faces a tough test on September 16 when he fights former undefeated IBF champion Randy Caballero. The 23-year-old Diego is 19-0. Caballero seemed poised to become a big name after he beat Stuart Hall for the IBF title in October 2014 but nothing has gone right for him since. He was inactive in 2015 which resulted in the IBF stripping him of the title and had only one fight in 2016. He had a win over WBC title challenger Jesus Ruiz in March so hopefully he is back on track.
So sad to read of the death of Frank Quill. The Australian was a huge influence in the Australian National Boxing Federation and a long-time member of the WBC. He was also a good friend and a true gentleman and any time spent with him was a pleasure. I will miss him greatly.
Crime report: Some muggers in Argentina picked the wrong victim. Former WBA lightweight champion Raul Balbi was out with his daughters when a couple of villains tried to rob them. Balbi flattened one and chased and caught the other. Less palatable is the news that Argentinian middleweight Amilcar Funes has been arrested for alleged involvement in a botched robbery that led to murder.