IT looks as though we will get the Manny Pacquiao vs. Amir Khan fight but whether it will happen in the UAE remains to be seen. Talk is of $38 million to take the fight there. Bob Arum is ever the pragmatist-show me the money! There is not much in the way of high profile matches out there for Pacquiao right now and Khan is as good a choice as any. Really it is a fight that Khan should take at any price as it would be the biggest fight of his career and for certain his last chance of landing a fight with Pacquiao. I feel sorry for Jeff Horn but that fight was always a puzzle to me and even if the UAE falls by the wayside then the next best option is still a fight between Pacquiao and Khan.
There has to be a good chance it will prove lucrative. Adrien Broner vs. Adrian Granados drew surprisingly good figures with an average of 779,000 viewers and a peak of 859,000 and Pacquiao vs. Khan should do much better than that.
Oscar de La Hoya is setting the cost of watching Saul Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez on TV at $60 and expecting 1 million + buys and again based on the Broner vs. Granados figures that is probably a conservative estimate. It is a pity it is being staged in Las Vegas. It would have been interesting to see whether this all-Mexican fight if held in Mexico City could have beaten the 130,000 record that watched Chavez Snr beat Greg Haugen. That would have been something for father and son to have taken part in two matches in front of world record live crowds 24 years apart. Chavez will literally be sweating to make the weight as it reportedly will cost him $1 million for ever pound over the 164.5lbs catchweight agreed.
If we get Pacquiao vs. Khan then along with Alvarez vs. Chavez that just adds to what promises to be an exciting four months. In date order we have an explosive fight between David Haye and Tony Bellew on 4 March, Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia on the same night, Gennady Golovkin vs. Danny Jacobs on 18 March, for me Golovkin’s stiffest test to date, Jorge Linares return fight with Anthony Crolla on 25 March, Joseph Parker vs. Hughie Fury on 1 April, Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jason Sosa on 8 April, Ricky Burns unification fight with Julius Indongo on 15 April, Anthony Joshua vs. Wlad Klitschko on 29 April, and Kell Brook showing a champion’s pride in his title by facing his mandatory challenger Errol Spence on 20 May and Terrence Crawford vs. TBA also on 20 May and that is just a sample. Who knows what goodies the second six months will bring? Oh! If you think I forgot Floyd Mayweather Jr vs. Connor McGregor I didn’t. It doesn’t qualify. It’s not confirmed, it is nothing to do with boxing and it is not something I or any real boxing fan is looking forward to. I wonder if we can get them to stage it in the UAE that would almost be far enough away.
With the Rio Olympics over the AIBA are now deciding what their next steps into professional boxing will be. They recently held a meeting with WBA President Gilberto Mendoza to discuss areas where they could work together “on common objectives”. AIBA again made it clear that they aim to become a major force in professional boxing. If they do continue down this road then they need to realise that they will just become yet another sanctioning body and when they are dealing with the Commissions and Boards running national boxing they won’t be able to use a ban on participation at the Olympic Games as a threat. In fact they will bring very little to the table in the way of stick or carrot. A bit worrying them talking to the WBA. Will we get interim/secondary Olympic Champions!
Why can’t they just fade away gracefully-or not so gracefully but just fade away? Roy Jones is sure that by fighting on he is not harming his legacy but is that true? The last time Jones could be described as being anywhere nears his peak was 2003. That is 14 years ago. Memories fade and every time some says what a great fighter he was (and he was a great fighter) that will always be followed by “but he fought on too long”. According to Russian promoter Vladimir Hryunov, who helped Jones obtain Russian citizenship, there are plans for Jones to fight in May in Belarus. Hryunov is also talking about heavyweight Alex Ustinov fighting on the show. Ustinov is No 3 in the WBA ratings but seems to have been elbowed out of the picture with Anthony Joshua fighting Wlad Klitschko for the vacant title and Shannon Briggs and Fres Oquendo now fighting for the secondary title. What a line up. By fight time Klitschko will be 41-year-old and been inactive for 17 months, Briggs will be 45 years old and not fought anyone of note for the last seven years and Oquendo will be 43 and inactive for almost three years. What has happened to the division that gave us Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes etc? Come to think of it they all fought too long as well. Perhaps it is a heavyweight disease as let’s not forget that Jones was a heavyweight champion at one time.
At least the WBA did refuse to sanction the Manuel Charr vs. Odlanier Solis as being for their interim title. That would have been a step too far. The bout was scheduled for 11 March has now been cancelled due to Charr suffering a shoulder injury. Count your blessings boxing fans.
When I was asking why they can’t just fade away I was also referring to Shane Mosley. According to Russian sources Mosley will face 21-year-old Magomed Kurbanov in Yekaterinburg on 7 May. Mosley is 45 and there seems no good reason for him to still be fighting. My assessment of Mosley will always be tainted by his admittance in his law suit against Victor Conte to knowingly using EPO.
The IBF have ordered Robert Easter Jr to enter into negotiations to defend his lightweight title against Denis Shafikov. You will have the sight of the 5’11” (180cm) Easter against the 5-5” (165cm) Shafikov. I can hear some dumb commentator telling us “Easter is the one in the gold trunks”. Hey thanks I would never have guessed.
Richard Commey should be next in line for a title shot as he lost hotly disputed decisions to both Easter and Shafikov. Commey’s next fight will be in Accra on 11 March when he faces Belgian-based Tunisian Hedi Slimani (26-2). On the same show Frederick Lawson (25-1) returns to the ring in a fight against Jamaican Sakima Mullings (16-2) for the vacant WBC International Silver title. First fight for Lawson since suffering a fractured jaw in his losing fight against Kevin Bizier in November 2015. A couple of good matches.
It must be frustrating for Donnie Nietes living in the shadow of Manny Pacquiao. The 34-year-old “Ahas” has a chance to become only the third Filipino to win a world title in three divisions when he tackles Thai Komgrich for the vacant IBF fly title on ALA Boxing’s Pinoy Pride show in Cebu City on 24 April. Only Pacquiao (six divisions) and Nonito Donaire (four divisions), have won in three or more divisions. This will be the 16th world title fight for Nietes and he is unbeaten in his last 31 contests.
Mercito Gesta (29-1-2) is another Filipino with an important bout scheduled. The former IBF lightweight title challenger has his first fight in 18 months when he faces Mexican Gilberto Gonzalez 26-3) in Las Vegas on 1 April. Although Gonzalez has won his last 8 fights by KO/TKO it is a do-able task for Gesta. His only loss was a wide unanimous decision when he challenged Miguel Vazquez for the IBF title in 2012.
Boxers are certainly a different breed these days. In bygone years when a boxer retired it was probable that he would end up running a pub or bar. No longer my friends. Former IBF and WBA cruiser champion Denis Lebedev is aiming to run for mayor of Moscow. We have Senator Pacquiao and mayor Vitali Klitschko. How about Floyd Mayweather Jr for President – that would trump them all.
I find it a puzzle that the WBA can say they are aiming to have only one champion in each division whilst at the same time sanctioning fights for their secondary title such as Briggs and Oquendo? The leopard does not change his spots. What they give with one hand (only one champion in each division=less sanctioning fees) they take back with the other. The WBA have just introduced a WBA Asian Boxing Association so 17 more meaningless titles and plenty more sanctioning fees.
There are unification fights and there are real unification fights, those which cover all of the belts. Norwegian “First Lady” Cecilia Braekhus (29-0) is defending her titles on Friday night (24 February). Her titles are the IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO and IBO welterweight titles now that’s a monopoly.
Twice during the Broner vs. Granados fight the action was interrupted whilst the tape around Broner’s glove had to be redone. It surely can’t be brain surgery to actually get a tape that works. It happens constantly and I fail to understand why. Is it the quality of the tape or the application? It can interrupt a fight at a vital moment or the loose tape can even flick into a boxers eye. In a million dollar fight surely buying some tape that does what it is supposed to do won’t break the bank.
There are all sorts or recriminations flying about over the cancellation of the show that was to have featured the professional debut of Olympic bronze medallist Mohamed Rabii. The fighter himself was in no doubt that the fault lay with the local Federation with whom he had a rocky time as an amateur but for whatever reason hopefully Rabii will make his debut soon.
Nigerian boxing received a shot in the arm with two of their fighters lined up for big fights. Isaac Ekpo (31-2) will challenge Tyrone Zeuge (19-0-1) for the WBA super middle title in Potsdam on 25 March and one day before that Abolaji Rasheed faces Sam Sheedy in Sheffield for the vacant Commonwealth welter title.
I missed reporting one show in my fight reports and that was the one in Cotonou, Benin, on 10 February where John Amuzu beat Nigerian Kareem Yaqub on a third round retirement to retain his World Boxing Foundation International title. Amuzu is 20-1 with his loss to Manuel Roman in Californian in 2013. His real name is Ghislain Vodounhessi but I will go with Amuzu. Apart from Ghana, Nigeria and Namibia a lot of the fights from the West Coast of Africa go unreported.
I said sometime back that with China embracing professional boxing, India was the last big market to be explored. The first sign of the happening was with Vijender Singh turning pro. Things have moved an important step forward from there with IOS Boxing Promotions singing up some of the country’s top amateurs to pro contracts. They already have Commonwealth gold medallist and double-Olympian Akhil Kumar and World Championships and Olympics competitor Jitender Kumar. The latest addition to their team is Diwakar Prasad a former Olympian.These fighters are turning pro late but the fact that they are is encouraging for boxing in India.