WHEN I was a kid we had a saying “cheat’s never prosper.” Boy were we naïve. In September two fighters who have served derisory suspensions for positive tests will make a whole load of money as Saul Alvarez fights Gennady Golovkin and Alexander Povetkin challenges Anthony Joshua.
If you put aside the disgust over this cheating then Alvarez vs. Golovkin is a fight we all want to see. With the bad blood that has grown out of the positive tests and extended wait for their return contest hopefully it will be a better fight than their first one. Let’s hope this time Alvarez comes to fight.
Joshua versus Povetkin is not the fight we wanted but where the heavyweights are concerned, both inside and out of the ring, there seems to be more prima donnas than at La Scala. The WBA were always going to run out of patience over the unification fight between Joshua and the WBC champion Deontay Wilder. It was dumb of Wilder not to take any offer to fight Joshua anywhere. He can make five times more than he can against any other fighter. He is now left in limbo. His number one challenger Dillian Whyte – who he does not appear to want to fight- faces Joseph Parker on July 28 so whoever wins that at best it will be the end of the year before Wilder can face them. His number two is Dominic Breazeale and that is not going to be a big payday and below Breazeale sit Povetkin, Luis Ortiz, Tony Bellew, Parker and Charles Martin so slim pickings. Joshua vs. Povetkin is not a great fight. Povetkin looked vulnerable against David Price but he is a puncher and Joshua will make big money whomever he fights. The Povetkin fight will be staged on September 22 at Wembley Stadium where Joshua drew 90,000 for his fight with Wlad Klitschko. Povetkin will not be as big a draw but the crowds come to see Joshua so will still be big by anyone’s standard. What must be worrying for Wilder is that Joshua has said that if he gets past Povetkin – and the “if” word is mine not Joshua’s – then his next fight will also be at Wembley. Make sure your passport is up to date Deontay.
With Povetkin being both WBA and WBO number one and with the IBF number one spot vacant a win over Povetkin would take the pressure off Joshua for those other versions of the title he holds.
Looks like no one wants to fill the IBF number one position. Pulev was to fight Dillian Whyte in a final eliminator but Whyte has opted for a much more attractive fight against Joseph Parker. Next up was Jarrell Miller but when Pulev’s promoter won the purse bidding and was looking at Sofia as a venue Miller indicated he did not want to fight in Bulgaria and so Hughie Fury’s name suddenly came into the equation. Quite a transformation for Fury from unrated to number five for beating Sam Sexton particularly when you realise that even before he lost to Joseph Parker last September the IBF did not even rank him in the top 15. It stinks but then the IBF are desperate and running out of options and you can’t be seen to approve an unrated fighter in a final eliminator.
The question over the money for the Manny Pacquiao vs. Lucas Matthysse fight appears to be resolved with confirmation that the cash is in the bank. That uncertainty is a risk when a big fight goes to country or organisation who are buying the fight for publicity and don’t have a track record for staging big fights. The result of the fight won’t tell us anything new about Matthysse but it will answer a lot of questions about how much Pacquiao has left. It is his first fight since losing to Jeff Horn over a year ago so we, and a lot of boxers around Manny’s weight, want to find out if he still has a future.
The current World Boxing Super Series is not yet finished and already plans are well advanced for the next. In the super lights WBA champion Kiryl Relikh vs. Eduardo Troyanovsky will double as a quarter-final in the tournament and a mandatory defence by Relikh. In another quarter-final European champion Anthony Yigit will face Ivan Baranchyk. Since the IBF title is vacant and the number one spot in the IBF ratings is also vacant then it would make sense that the fight between Baranchyk No 2 and Yigit No 3, be for the vacant IBF title. According to the EBU Yigit is scheduled to defend the European title against Franck Petitjean on November 17 so that European title fight has to be in jeopardy. Josh Taylor and the winner of the fight on July 14 for the WBC Interim title between champion Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco are the others named so far. Velasco certainly profited from the ratings elevator going from No 34 to No 18 in the WBC ratings last month and with the next WBC ratings imminent he will probably find his way into the top 15. Missing at this time is WBC champion Jose Carlos Ramirez who defends against Danny O’Connor on Saturday and WBO champion Maurice Hooker. I expect Ramirez to win but I am not sure about Bob Arum letting him fight in the tournament as promoters prefer to pick the opponent for the champions and not leave it to another promoter to do so. It will be interesting to see what other names are added.
There is some question over the participants in the bantamweight WBSS tournament. Originally the names of Ryan Burnett, Zolani Tete, and Emmanuel Rodriguez were announced. Jason Moloney was added later with Nonito Donaire the very latest to sign up. Naoya Inoue and Russian Misha Aloyan are awaiting formal confirmation but there is now some question as to whether Burnett will participate.
The world is changing too quickly for me with the unique WBSS tournament and professionals boxing at the Olympics. Now Golden Boy is going into partnership with Facebook to show live cards free of charge on the social media site. Too much change at my age but let me add one wish of my own and that is the revival of professional boxing in Cuba. That I would welcome. Too often by the time the great Cuban amateurs turn pro they are already past their peak or too set in their styles to make a successful transition to the pros. There are high class fighters such as Lazaro Alvarez, Carlos Banteur, Rosniel Iglesias, Julio La Cruz, Robeisy Ramirez, Erislandy Savon and Yosvany Veitia who would be great additions to the pro ranks.
Purse bids have been in the news with the postponement of submission of bids for Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko fight. Originally this was to be an IBF final eliminator but since the IBF stripped Gennady Golovkin of their title that changes the picture with the Jacobs vs. Derevyanchenko fight probably being for the vacant title. As No 1 Derevyanchenko is in the driver’s seat with the No 2 position vacant and Jacobs No 3. Golovkin was stripped for not complying with the IBF instructions to defend against Derevyanchenko. What will happen next is not clear. Lou DiBella insisted that the fight go to purse offers so right now no one knows who will promote the fight or which channels it goes to but as Jacobs is tied to HBO if the purse winner wanted to deal with another channel then Jacobs would be unable to fight. If Jacobs can’t take part then the IBF would have to look further down their ratings which currently read 4) Jermall Charlo, 5) Demetrius Andrade, 6) Tommy Langford and 8) Martin Murray.
There was something very strange about the outcome of the bidding for Adonis Stevenson vs. Oleg Gvozdyk fight. The winning bid was $3,102,000 from Tom Brown who often works with Al Haymon, next highest was $2,100,100 from Yvon Michel and then Top Rank with a bid of $1,670,000. Just 30 minutes after winning the bidding Brown rescinded his bid and since Michel’s bid was next highest he was awarded the fight and he proposes to stage it on November 3 in Montreal. Top Rank have protested and say that a new purse offer process should be undertaken. However if a promoter who won the purse offer relinquishes the right to promote the bout then clause 2.20 of the WBC rules gives the WBC the right to grant the fight to the second highest bidder. The only explanation I can see is the when Brown/Haymon saw they had bid £1 million more than the next highest bidder they realised they had seriously overpriced the fight and ducked out.
Saturday will see the return to the ring of Beibut Shumenov in Astana, Kazakhstan against German Hinzi Altunkaya. This will be for the vacant secondary WBA cruiser title even though Shumenov has not fought for over two years. The former WBA light heavyweight and one time holder of the same WBA secondary cruiser title announced his retirement in June last year citing an eye injury. He also complained of a lack of activity. With proposed fight falling through he had only one fight in 2015 and one in 2016, but says he is now looking to be more active. The WBA rating of Altunkaya is obscene. In the ratings published 31 March he was unrated and in April he suddenly appeared at No 3 even though he had not had a fight since January when he beat a guy with a 3-7-1 record. There is no honest explanation for blatant manipulation such as this – disgraceful and so typical of the WBA.
Namibian Sakaria Lukas, the WBO No 2 feather, is saying that he is now a free agent. Lawyers for Lukas are claiming that an essential part of the contract between the boxer and MTC Sunshine Academy was access to IBO title fights. However IBO President Ed Levine was reported as saying that MTC was suspended for non-payment of sanctioning fees. MTC say Sakaria is still under contract and with Lukas positioned for an eventual challenge to Oscar Valdez or interim champion Carl Frampton there is serious money at stake here.
Some good European Boxing Union title fights are lined up. On 11 August in Finland lightweight champion Edis Tatli (30-2) defends against Frenchman Marvin Petit (23-1-1). Brit Frankie Gavin will challenge welterweight champion 25-0 Kevin Lejarraga in Bilbao on 17 November. No date yet for Dominic Boesel vs. Enrico Koelling at light heavy. Purse offers have been called for or negotiations are underway for Vicente Legrand vs. Andrew Selby at flyweight, Lee Haskins vs. Georges Ory at bantam, Abigail Medina vs. Jeremy Parodi at super bantam, Marc Vidal vs. Kiko Martinez at feather. For those interested in money the winning bid for Vidal vs. Martinez was Euro 26,113 ($30,437 or £23,000).
Still on the EBU they made the right decision in refusing the German Bund Deutscher Berufsboxer (BDB) application to be reinstated as an affiliated member. This is the body that hid from the EBU a positive test in an EBU title fight by Erkan Teper. Have they improved? When administrative body accepts a fight between Robert Maess (21-1 19 wins by KO/TKO) and Mihaita Cosma (0-18 18 losses by KO/TKO) as an acceptable match you have to wonder what they find unacceptable.
It has been a good few weeks for Erik Morales. Last month he was inaugurated into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and now he has won another honour. In the recent Mexican elections he was voted in as Diputado for District 07 in Tijuana. The Camara de Diputados is the Mexican equivalent of the US House of Representatives.
Isaac Dogboe will make the first defence of his WBO super bantam title against Hidenori Otake in Phoenix on 25 August. Otake the WBO No 5 has a 31-2-3 record with his only loss in his last 24 fights being a wide unanimous decision against Scott Quigg in 2014 for the secondary WBA title. Whilst Isaac Dogboe brought a title to Ghana the IBO took one away. They have stripped Emmanuel Tagoe of their lightweight title for not entering into negotiations to defend against Fedor Papazov. Since the 28-1 Tagoe is not rated by any of the four major bodies he is going to have to a problem getting a shot at another title.
With Abner Mares having failed in his bid to win the real WBA feather title from Leo Santa Cruz the WBA secondary title is now vacant. The WBA No 2 Jack Tepora 21-0 will fight No 3 Edivaldo Ortega (26-1-1) on the undercard to Pacquiao vs. Matthysse. Just to be consistent in their stupidity on 11 August the WBA No 1 featherweight Jesus M Rojas defends the WBA feather interim title against Joseph Diaz. So the WBA aim is to still have a super champion, a secondary champion and an interim champion so what happened to their vow to reduce the number of champions? Also on the undercard to Pacquiao vs. Matthysse Carlos Canizales will defend the WBA light fly title against Bin Lu of China. Never heard of Bin Lu? Not surprising as although he was an elite level amateur he has had only one pro fight. In September last year he stopped Thai Wanchai Nianghansa who had an 8-9 record. The WBA were so impressed that five months later, without Lu having had another fight, he suddenly appeared in the WBA ratings at No 12. It’s a pity they are not a US based outfit as the FBI might show the same interest as they did when the IBF was selling places in their ratings.
Thai fighters like to keep busy so WBC super fly champion Srisaket So Runvisai has a non-title fight in Thailand on 21 July against Korean Young Gil Bae. Interesting heavyweight fight coming up as Bryant Jennings goes for his fifth win in a row as continues his effort get another title shot. He takes on IBF No 8(7) Alex Dimitrenko on 18 August in Atlantic City. Dimitrenko was to have challenged Agit Kabayel for the European title but has gone for the Jennings fight instead. Jennings, the WBO No 8 lost on points to Wlad Klitschko for the IBF/WBA/WBO titles in 2015.
Tony Yoka has some competition-at home. His wife Estelle Mosseley was World and Olympic Champion and now she too will turn pro later this month. She has been signed up by a TV Channel for a programme of ten fights through to 2020.
Some other of the former stars of French amateur boxing will be in action on 27 July in Le Cannet with Olympians middleweight Christian Mbilli 10-0 and Rio bronze medallist Mathieu Bauderlique 14-1 scheduled to appear. Main event will see 17-0-1 Yannick Dehez defend the French welter title against 15-0 Jose Gomez. The show is being promoted by Brahim Asloum, himself an Olympic gold medal winner back in 2000 when he beat Brian Viloria on the way to the final giving France its first Olympic boxing gold medal for 64years. Asloum twice held the WBA light flyweight title and retired when still champion. He is now one of the leading promoters in France
A curious one from way back. In 2006 the USA and Ukraine teams met and at 75kgs Shawn Porter beat Oleg Usyk. It is difficult to imagine a 165lbs Usyk.
In a similar vein US amateur Khalil Coe has to be worth keeping an eye on. Last month in the Chemistry Cup in Germany he won the gold medal knocking out four-time World Champion and Olympic gold medallist Cuban Julio La Cruz inside a round.