THE Olympic Games are such a big event that over the past month they have largely pushed professional boxing off the back pages and the TV screens. The Games are over so it is back to business with a bang. On the weekend of 9/10 September in title fights we have Gennady Golovkin vs. Kell Brook, Carlos Cuadras vs. Ramon Gonzalez , John Riel Casimero vs. Charlie Edwards, Lee Haskins vs. Stuart Hall, Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergio Mora and Robert Easter vs. Richard Commey. On the weekend of 16/17 we have Shinsuke Yamanaka vs. Anselmo Moreno, Hugo Ruiz vs. Hozumi Hasegawa, Krzys Glowacki vs. Olek Usyk and of course Saul Alvarez vs. Liam Smith and those are just the world title fights. There are plenty other top flight fighters in action. Further down the time line we have Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward. Welcome back big time boxing we’ve missed you.
Are the great days finally over for Manny Pacquiao now that HBO have refused to buy the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jesse Vargas fight? Nothing personal, it is a business decision. They have looked at what the fight would cost them and what the potential revenue would be and decided the business case does not add up. Even at 37 “Pac Man” would still be at least 50/50 to beat any welterweight in the world but he is not the solid gold PPV seller he was. Of course it is also about Jesses Vargas who despite an impressive win over Sadam Ali as yet does not have the profile to be a PPV fighter off his own bat so he has to fly on Pacquiao’s coat tails for now. A win would give Pacquiao the WBO title and Tim Bradley would be his mandatory challenger. After three fights which did not set the world alight a fourth Pacquiao vs. Bradley fight would be a hard sell. A loss would spell the end of a truly great career but in either case the times they are a changing. No fighter in the history of boxing has won world titles at both flyweight and welterweight and no other Filipino sportsman has done as much to bring pride and prestige to his nation. If he promises to make the Vargas fight his last one I promise to travel to the Hall of Fame in five years time to see him get the Hall of Fame ring and the fist cast he so richly deserves. Better get myself a piggy bank.
Filipino’s have been in the new quite a bit lately. On Saturday in Taguid City Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo defends his IBF super fly title against Filipino Jerwin Ancajas and I lean towards Ancajas to lift the title. There is talk of another Filipino star Nonito Donaire defending his WBO super bantam title against unbeaten No 1 challenger Jessie Magdalena. Donaire has a huge edge in experience and Magdaleno has yet to go further than eight rounds in a fight but he has lots of talent and is much the younger man. A great match up of experience vs. youth. No youth involved with Jack Asis who has announced his retirement. Now as much an Australian as a Filipino the 33-year-old former IBO super feather champion showed what good management and a planned career can do. After a run of five losses in a row Asis was an unremarkable 21-18-4 but with that quality management and through building a good “home base” in Australia Asis went 14-0-1 in his next 15 fights before losing his IBF title to Malcolm Klassen last month. He is immensely popular down under.
It seems that the WBC can’t make their mind up over Alex Povetkin’s alleged positive test. They have forced Povetkin to fight an eliminator with Bermane Stiverne. If they believed that Povetkin did used a banned substance then they should have given him an extended ban and taken him out of the No 1 spot in their ratings. If they do not believe the alleged positive test then why have they deprived him of the mandated straight shot at Deontay Wilder that he was supposed to have earlier this year before Wilder got injured in the Chris Arreola fight? Either Povetkin was guilty or he was innocent but the WBC decision is at best a compromise or it was a cop out.
The fall-out from the Rio Olympic comes in all shapes and sizes. The AIBA received heavy praise from the IOC for their “contribution and dedication” to the “success” of the Olympic boxing tournament. That opinion is one view but others hold the view that some of the judging was just as poor as it often is at the Olympics. In fairness the pro game has little to throw stones about as there are poor decisions every week in professional boxing and quite a bit of home biased scoring. The big difference is the impact on the fighters involved in chasing an Olympic medal. If a pro boxer gets robbed he can hope to get his revenge within weeks or months. A loss at the Olympics means the end of a four year dream and a wait of another four years before there is a chance to right that wrong. There were 273 bouts at the Olympics and relatively few bad decisions. The problem was that some of those bad decisions came in high profile fights and were so obviously wrong. The upside is that the AIBA were severely criticised and forced to take some action.
Whilst even settling for silver would have brought Levit a big reward for Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan controversial losses saw insult and injury. Both thought they had won clearly but went home without a medal. Despite their outstanding performances over the years without elite level funding they could be forced to turn professional. No wonder Conlan exploded with rage.
Other post Olympic notes: Kazak gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov is looking to turn his gold medal into an even bigger cash cow. The 25-year-old welterweight is said to be on his way to join his brother Dauren who is based in Brooklyn and fighting under the Lou Di Bella banner. Spanish boxer Youba Sissokho also competed at welterweight in Rio. He put off an operation on a tumour in his neck to compete but luckily it turned out to be benign. You get out what you put in. India failed to win any boxing medals and only three of their boxers qualified. Despite a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games Manoj Kumar received no funding until he actually qualified for Rio in June which was too late to be of any use to him. Vijender Singh has shown the potential is huge there but with their national federation terminated in 2012 and showing no signs of coalescing into a format acceptable to the AIBA Rio served to emphasise just what a mess amateur boxing is in there. It is not much better for the members of the Pakistan team. Their daily allowance in camp whilst preparing for the Olympic qualifiers worked out at about $1 per day. There is no level playing field. Medals are influenced by funding.
The USA needs to take a long look at how they prepare their boxers. There is often a transformation when their fighters turn pro so you have to ask why fighters such a Rau’shee Warren, Errol Spence, Jose Carlos Ramirez and Terrell Gausha can succeed as pros when they can’t even get though the Olympic quarter-finals?
My final thoughts are that the vote of confidence from the IOC has strengthened AIBA’s hand and effectively endorsed their policy of opening the Olympics to professional boxers. AIBA’s Rio experiment was a dismal failure as they kicked the whole thing off too late with only a couple of high profile pros taking up the offer. Instead of those pros contributing to the profile of the boxing tournament they crawled away with their tails between their legs. Look for AIBA to now do some long term planning using the time towards the World Championships to get a lot more pros on board. They will not go away and will only get stronger.
Felix Sturm has sold up his businesses and his gym in Germany and moved himself and his family to Bosnia. He is still disputing through the courts his alleged positive test for the illegal substance Hydro-XY Stanozol at the time of his revenge victory over Fedor Chudinov in February which saw him win the WBA super middle title. Due to the court case the WBA still show him as their world champion and Sturm intends to return to action next year so it is a messy position.
In the meantime the secondary version of the WBA super middle title is very much in play with Giovanni De Carolis set to give Tyrone Zeuge a return match. De Carolis retained his title with a draw in Germany against Zeuge in July now he will travel to Potsdam to face Zeuge again on 5 November.
Still on Germany in Goppingen on 17 September Firat Arslan, a former WBA secondary champion at cruiser, fights Nuri Seferi for the vacant WBO European title. Also on the show Odlanier Solis has his second comeback fight against Serbian-based Croatian Alek Todorovic and Karo Murat faces Czech-based Ukrainian Yevgeni Makhteienko for the vacant WBA International title. Both the Solis and Murat fights are poor matches.
Nice to see the WBA making a move towards reducing the number of champions by ordering real champion Kohei Kono to face interim champion Luis Concepcion. The win makes Concepcion the one and only WBA champion in the division. Now let’s see them force unification fights to clear up their 12 secondary champions and 8 more interim champions so they can have just one champion in each of the other 14 divisions. The number is 14 and not 16 as both Ricky Burns and Anthony Crolla are the only WBA champions in their divisions.
In my report of last week’s action I did not mention the results from a small show in Auckland, New Zealand where heavyweight Junior Fa moved to five wins with a first round kayo over a fighter having his pro fight. Not newsworthy. However when IBF/ WBO mandatory challenger Joseph Parker fought in his first New Zealand national championships he lost to Uaine Fa Junior. When Parker entered the Oceania qualifiers for the 2012 Olympics he failed to qualify losing to Uaine Fa Junior so perhaps it would have been smart of me to at least mention him. The reservations I have about the 26-year-old Fa is that he is up at 273lbs (124kgs) so not sure about his mobility.
If you were looking for someone to play the part of Dr Frankenstein’s monster then former WBA heavyweight champion Nikolay Valuev might seem a good choice. The 7’0” (213cm) tall Russian with his hard chiselled features would tick most of the boxes. However what you see with Nikolay is not what you get. Surprisingly he has turned out to be a successful politician but even stranger he has been chosen to front a new popular children’s programme on Russian TV entitled “Good night kids”. Nikolay has three kids of his own and has some excellent ideas for the programme to have a positive influence. He will share the limelight with some puppets of long standing including a pig, a bunny rabbit, a calf and a puppy. Has to be better than sharing a ring with Ruslan Chagaev, John Ruiz, Evander Holyfield and David Haye.
Stuff to look out for. Former IBO cruiser champion Rakhim Chakhkiev has his second fight of the year in Moscow on 9 September where he tackles Argentinian Alejandro Valori. This is on the undercard to Eduard Troyanovski’s IBF super light title defence against Keita Obara from Japan. Robert Helenius starts yet another rebuilding programme as he tries to rebound from his loss to Johann Duhaupas with a victory against the way over the hill Konstantin Airich in Mariehamn, Finland on 10 September. German light heavy Domenic Boesel (22-0) puts his WBO No 1 rating on the line against Frenchman Tony Averlant (24-8-2). That won’t be an easy one for Boesel as Averlant, the WBFederation champion, has won his last 6 fights. Boesel vs. Sergey Kovalev or Andre Ward – forget it. October 14 in Hamburg WBO No 2 cruiser Noel Gevor (21-0) puts his WBO International title up for grabs against useful Italian Mario Larghetti (24-2).