THE world keeps shifting under my feet and it is all just too much for my aging mind to deal with. We have a guy who has never been in a professional boxing match getting paid millions to fight a former pound-for-pound champion. We have a new boxing series which offers prizes huge enough to convince some of the best in the world to stop avoiding each other and fight. It has actually allowed the “seeded” fighters to hand pick their opponents-but from a very tough list- and in doing so leaves the four main sanctioning bodies sitting on the sidelines helpless whilst their titles are rendered superfluous and they suffer the loss of sanctioning fees. There are also changes I relish and despite the egos we can look forward to one of the most anticipated fights for years in Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez and if Anthony Joshua and Wlad Klitschko can make their minds up whether they are going to agree the date of the last Saturday in November in Las Vegas we will also be getting the most eagerly anticipated return fight in the heavyweight division since….hell it’s been so long since there was one I can’t remember when.
The drums have been beating for Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr and the stories have been trotted out about McGregor being floored in sparring and that the odds against a McGregor win have shortened dramatically etc. but in the end it will signify nothing. Whoever wins on August 26 it will mean nothing. It won’t change a single thing in the boxing world or prove anything. It is a manufactured spectacle of no long term significance to boxing but it will be a huge spectacle and by fight time I am going to be sick of people asking who I think will win. I will give them an honest answer – I don’t care.
The World Super Series Boxing (WSSB) Is a different matter altogether as it will provide lots of fights in a relatively short time that would either not have happened at all or taken years to put together. There is no obvious down side to it although kicking the series off by clashing with the Golovkin vs. Alvarez fight is not a good start but it will certainly provide us with some top class matches and that has to be good.
There was a lot of criticism in Germany over Arthur Abraham’s performance against Chris Eubank Jr or the lack of it. His long time trainer Ulli Wegner said that Abraham no longer had the heart for boxing. This performance and Abraham’s effort in April last year against Gilberto Ramirez where he lost every round have convinced many that at 37 he should retire. The title winning efforts of the Armenian born Abraham made him a millionaire at 27 and he has invested wisely in car dealerships and real estate so he does not need the money but he may not want to go out on such a humiliating loss.
There has been a war of words going on between the WBC and the AIBA. It really is a waste of time. The AIBA will not stop dabbling in professional boxing and as long as they have the stranglehold on Olympic boxing they have a strong position. Setting up alternative amateur competitions or threatening sanctions against boxers if they fight in any AIBA events is futile. If AIBA really think they can shove their way into professional boxing and become a player then let them. They will be no match for the big pro promoters and will just become a sanctioning body that crosses the red line on conflict of interest by also being a promoter line and they will find things different when they try to play with the big boys.
An indication of how things are changing is that just recently a Russian Boxing Federation has been formed from what were previously two separate bodies and they will control both amateur and professional boxing. The world keeps on changing.
Despite his June 3 fight against Fres Oquendo for the vacant secondary WBA title being cancelled after he tested positive for high testosterone levels Shannon Briggs is talking about resuming his quest for a shot the heavyweight title in October. Only in boxing could someone with two positive tests be talking about taking part in such a high profile event just four months after he gave a positive test. Hopefully it is only Briggs blowing wind but if he does fight Oquendo in October for the vacant secondary WBA title it will be a 45-year-old Briggs having his first fight for 17 months against a 44-year-old Oquendo who has not fought for 40 months. This should cause even the WBA to cringe with embarrassment.
Money matters in boxing so for those interested these were the reported purses for the fights at the weekend: Miguel Berchelt $250,000 Takashi Miura $195,000 Jezreel Corrales $75,000 Robinson Castellanos $50,000 Sullivan Barrera $120,000 Joe Smith Jr $160,000. So for a non-title ten round fight Smith took home more than Corrales and Castellanos earned between them for a title fight. It was also interesting that more money was paid out for the non-title show in Uniondale New York than in the title show in Inglewood. In Uniondale the purses were $250,000 each for both Omar Figueroa and Roberto Guerrero, $250,000 for Sean Monaghan $100,000 for Marcus Browne, $150,000 for Artur Szpilka and $100,000 for Adam Kownacki. So some big numbers but at the other end of the spectrum Top Rank won the bidding for the IBF welter eliminator between Konstantin Ponomarev and Carlos Ocampo reportedly with a bid of $30,000 which seems low. The winner of the eliminator will be the mandatory challenger to Errol Spence.
There must have been a time when Robinson Castellanos thought that appearing on a big show or being paid $50,000 for a fight or fighting for a world title were all impossible dreams. After turning pro in 2002 he went 10-10 in his first 20 fights including five losses by KO/TKO. From there he went 14-2 in his next 16 fights and ended up fighting Corrales for the WBA title-quite a turn around.
Sullivan Barrera’s win over Joe Smith Jr on Saturday has seen the two fighters now heading down very different paths. Barrera is being mentioned as a prospective opponent for both Sergey Kovalev and Nathan Cleverly and Smith is facing surgery for a fractured jaw he suffered in the second round of their fight. Boxing can be cruel and kind and this is a prime example of the way the pendulum can swing.
Whilst Barrera seems to be making progress Artur Beterbiev is finding banana skins. His proposed IBF eliminator with German Enrico Koelling was to be the main support to Mikey Garcia vs. Adrien Broner on 29 July but has had to be cancelled. It has been suggested that with Beterbiev being a Muslim from Dagestan the tighter visa restrictions introduced by the USA have caused both an application and an appeal to be refused but to complicate matters further there is a dispute between Yvon Michel and Beterbiev over the status of their contract and he still has a past manager going to the courts. The IBF have asked for purse bids for the fight by 25 July but even then nothing is certain. Will Andre Ward want to fight the winner or will he move up to cruiser, will Beterbiev fight if Michel wins the purse bidding, will Beterbiev solve his visa problems-too much uncertainty.
With their No 1 Callum Smith opting for the WSSB tournament the WBC have given a date of 28 July for purse offers for the match between Anthony Dirrell vs. David Benavidez for their vacant super middle title. On 18 August in Mendoza Argentinian Juan Carlos Reveco faces Thai Komgrich in a final eliminator to find a challenger for WBO fly champion Donnie Nietes
Good to see Billy Joe Saunders getting back into action. For a variety of reasons the WBO middleweight champion has made only one defence of his title in the 19 months since he won it. His challenger Willie Monroe was crushed in six rounds by Gennady Golovkin in 2015 but rehabilitated himself with a victory over tough Gabriel Rosado in September. In the division eliminators are already set with the WBC mandatory challenger coming from the winner of the fight between Jorge Sebastian Heiland and Jermall Charlo and the IBF from Tureano Johnson and Sergey Derevyanchenko. Neither Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam or Ryota Murata are likely opponents so if Saunders beats Monroe his list of top quality opposition is limited but things can change quickly in boxing.
The Firat Arslan vs. Goran Delic fight was not a classic. Arslan was much too good for the carefully protected Delic. The promoters missed out on a great ticket selling line-both fighters work as lawyers and I am sure there a lot of people who would gladly pay to see two lawyers beat each other up.
The “Super Series” tournaments are proving popular. Rodney Berman has already run a couple and now he is launching two more in October at super middle and super bantam which will feature both high profile fighters such as Simphiwe Vetyeka and also give some promising fighters their chance.
Two South African fighters will face Filipino fighters in world title bouts. Gideon Buthelezi will put his IBO super fly title on the line against Filipino Ryan Rey Ponteras in East London and Hekkie Budler heads out to Cebu City to challenge Milan Melindo for the IBF light fly title. It will a toughie for Budler as Melindo will be making the first defence of the title he won with a shock first round stoppage of Akira Yaegashi in Tokyo in May. Budler will be aiming to become a three division champion so won’t be fazed by travelling into the lion’s den.
One title fight per show is never enough in Japan and there will be two titles on the line in Osaka on 13 September. IBF super bantam champion Yukinori Oguni puts his title up against Ryosuke Iwasa and WBO light fly champion Kosei Tanaka defends his title against Thai Palangpol.
I can’t believe there is an outfit aiming to re-introduce bare knuckle fighting. The sport has enough of an image problem without someone taking us back to the bare knuckle days. They claim to already have acceptance from some States for this but I know that some countries will never legalise it. If someone suffered a serious injury it is difficult to see how a judge could view it any differently to a street fight and if someone if badly injured in a street fight the law offers no protection to any participant.
Unbeaten Isaac Dogboe continues to be a big draw in Ghana. He fights this weekend against Argentinian Javier Chacon in the first defence of his WBO International title. Chacon is his toughest test yet as the Argentinian went the distance in a challenge against Anselmo Moreno for the WBA bantam title in 2014 and challenged Jamie McDonnell for the secondary WBA title in 2014 when a dislocated shoulder forced him out of the fight. As for the eliminator status of the fight with Chacon not currently in the WBO top 15 that is not a final eliminator but another step along the path for the former Olympian.
Another important fight for a Ghanaian boxer will see Emmanuel Tagoe defending his IBO title against former IBF super feather champion Argenis Mendez. The Dominican was looking a bit like damaged goods after back to back losses to Robert Easter and Luke Campbell but last time out he scored a good win over Ivan Redkach and he is the highest profile fight the 30-year-old Tagoe has faced in his 13 year career.
So sad to read of the death of Paul Ferreri. The Australian was a truly talented boxer and a genuinely nice person. He was Australian champion at bantam, feather and super feather and Commonwealth champion at bantam and super bantam. His one world title shot came in 1976 against the great Carlos Zarate and he was stopped in twelve rounds. He was 17-2 in Australian title fights and 11-3 in Commonwealth title fights in a 78-13-5 record and was one of the greatest little men produced by Australia.
We also lost Eddie “The Animal” Lopez. The Californian heavyweight never reached the heights with a draw against Leon Spinks his highest profile achievement. His four losses in his 25-4-2 record were to John Tate, Gerry Cooney, Marty Monroe and Tony Tucker. Unfortunately Eddie was one guy boxing could not save as he was a member of one of the biggest gangs in East Los Angeles and was no stranger to jail or drugs.
Once again from my soapbox. The weekend saw more flapping glove tapes. Why can’t they tape the gloves up as normal and then just wind a band of good quality Velcro on top of the tape-or is that too simple?
Historically the usual reason for a no contest was when the referee decided that one or both boxers were not giving their best and threw them both out. That was the stigma associated with a No Contest. That’s a sensible and valid use of No Contest. However If a fight ends inside four rounds due to a cut it and is not a win a loss or a draw then no decision is rendered so why do we not call it a No Contest when there was a valid contest but an unfinished one and no decision was rendered. Whoever came up with No Contest did not think it through. Here endeth the lesson!