THERE seems to be a serious outbreak of retirement disease and it appears to be infectious as Wladimir Klitschko, Tim Bradley, Takashi Miura and Takashi Uchiyama have all announced their retirement within the last two weeks and Miguel Cotto has said he will end his career this year. [And Juan Manuel Marquez now.] I have this theory that says if you hang around long enough you can eventually become popular (I’m still waiting). Klitschko has dominated heavyweight boxing for 14 years. Effectively after Lennox Lewis retired in 2003 Wlad and brother Vitali reigned supreme. Their dominance made the heavyweight division moribund. Everyone put up against them proved unable to find a way to deal with their clever use of their strengths and to anybody except a Klitschko fan heavyweight title fights were repetitive and boring. To hold that against them was obviously unfair. They were there to win and if they had tactics that ensured them of victory why should they change. Wlad built an amazing record of 25-4 in world title fights with 19 wins by KO/TKO. He was a huge draw in Germany but never really captured the hearts of boxing lovers elsewhere. Tremendous respect, yes, that special bond between a great fighter and the boxing followers – no. As is often the case he finally did win those hearts when losing to Anthony Joshua in the best heavyweight title fight seen for ages. Both Wlad and his brother Vitali have been great ambassadors for boxing in their outside of the ring activities giving millions to charities and involving themselves deeply in the future of their home country of Ukraine. This year it will be more than five years since Vitali retired and that will make him eligible for placing on the ballot paper for the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Wlad will I am sure be on the paper in five years time.
As with Klitschko Tim Bradley has never received the recognition he deserved for his achievements. The little Californian was WBC and WBO super light champion and twice WBO welter champion. He lost only one of 12 world title fights and beat Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, Manny Pacquiao, Ruslan Provodnikov, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jessie Vargas and Brandon Rios. His only losses were in the two return matches with Pacquiao. That is a record anyone could be proud of. He may have lacked the spectacular style of some but he worked hard and found a way to win and to some extent overachieving. However, some will never forgive him for the split decision win over Pacquiao. Again he may not have captured the hearts of the fans but he deserves more recognition and respect than he gets. Best of luck in the future Tim.
Miura and Uchiyama clashed in 2011 in a WBA super feather title fight which Uchiyama won on an eighth round retirement. Miura went on to win the WBC title in 2013 and made five defences, four of them against Mexican fighters including Francisco Vargas who took Miura’s title in an exciting war of attrition which saw both fighters on the floor. He earned a shot at the title again by knocking out Miguel Roman but in his challenge to Miguel Berchelt on15 July he was comprehensively outboxed and has timed his retirement well. Uchiyama was a strong WBA super feather champion making 12 title defences and going 24-0-1 in his first 25 fights. He lost his title on a shock two round wipe out against Jezreel Corrales in April last year and lost a split decision to Corrales in December. The success enjoyed by these continued a great tradition of Japanese fighters in the lower divisions and guys such as Naoya Inoue, Kosei Tanaka are now carrying the torch.
Cotto fights for the vacant WBO against Japanese fighter Yoshihiro Kamegai in Carson on August 26. His talk of ending his career on 31 December does not leave him much time for another fight and I can’t believe that if he wins he will walk away if there is the chance of another big fight for him but we will see.
I can’t believe there are many tears being shed over the current chaos in AIBA. If you will pardon the phrase the gloves are off in the infighting going on there. An Interim Management Committee (IMC) is pursuing legal action against President Ching-Kuo Wu and they went to court to block Wu’s access to the AIBA funds and to the headquarters in Lausanne. There allegations of financial irregularities and even suggestions that the AIBA is almost bankrupt. A rule was introduced in 2010 saying no President could be re-elected after three mandates have been completed. Wu entered the office in 2006 was re-elected in 2010 and again in 2014 but he claims that the 2010 rule was not retroactive so he asserts he can be re-elected for 2018 and 2022. An Extraordinary Congress will be held in November and you can be sure there will be blood on the floor but whilst feeling some delight at the position Wu, a man who has caused such anger over his insisting professionals be allowed to box at the Olympics, finds himself in, it is amateur boxing which is suffering right now with an absence of leadership. A big factor is the International Olympic Committee which has not yet issued any statement and whichever party they endorse will be in a very strong position. It is not out of the question that there could be a schism in amateur boxing but let’s hope not.
Klitschko’s retirement has thrown a spanner in the works of the heavyweight division. We had Joshua vs. Klitschko II to look forward to but now Kubrat Pulev looks the only viable option if Joshua is going to fight this year. With Deontay Wilder fighting Luis Ortiz and Joseph Parker defending against Hughie Fury and Tyson Fury again hinting retirement the other options are dire. The sooner we get a crop of young heavyweights coming through the better then we can get rid of dead wood such as Bermane Stiverne, Alex Ustinov, Shannon Briggs, Fres Oquendo, Manuel Charr etc .
There are some young heavyweights out there. On 30 September in Magdeburg unbeaten German hope Tom Schwarz 19-0 puts his WBO Inter-Continental title on the line against Pole Marcin Siwy 17-0 and on 6 October in Paris Olympic gold medallist Tony Yoka has his second fight. The pressure of expectation on Yoka is almost as intense as that on Anthony Joshua when he turned pro. There are also some very exciting British prospects such as Daniel Dubois, Joe Joyce and Nat Gorman and Swede Otto Wallin.
What a mess the sanction bodies make of our sport. Jorge Linares will defend the WBC light title against Luke Campbell at the Forum in Inglewood on 23 September. Simple a good fight but for which WBC title? The WBC show in their ratings: Champion: Mikey Garcia, Diamond Champion: Jorge Linares! If Campbell beats Linares he will not be WBC Champion but WBC Diamond Champion – whatever that means. They said they were getting rid of interim titles but didn’t. They introduced Silver titles to replace the interim titles – but kept the interim titles. Then they invented diamond titles what next? Platinum, titanium, nickel, krypton, tellurium, xenon – I don’t want to worry you but there are 118 chemical elements!
The WBA have been in their bossy boots mood this week. They have ordered Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam to defend his secondary middleweight title against Japanese fighter Ryota Murata. N’Jikam outpointed Murata for the vacant title in Japan in May which proved highly controversial. With the importance of the Japanese market it was obvious the WBA would take this action. Personally I did not think it was a bad decision. Murata did almost nothing over the first half of the fight but that was overlooked due to his stronger finish. The WBA have also instructed Kazuto Ioka to defend his flyweight title against No 1 challenger Artem Dalakian. Typical of the WBA is that Dalakian has never fought a rated opponent but somehow gets to No 1. There is talk of the WBA moving their offices I would like to suggest the Marianas Trench as a suitable site.
To be fair to them they did take action against Shannon Briggs – if a six month suspension counts as a punishment. No wonder some fighters are willing to take the chance of using banned substances if six months is considered suitable punishment The gap between Briggs last two fights has been six months and eighth months which makes a six month ban a farce particularly as they let him retain his No 3 rating. The fact is that the WBA cannot stop Briggs fighting as their ban only applies to fights sanctioned by the WBA so Briggs could fight tomorrow and not be violating the ban. It is time the WBA stopped pontificating about fighting drugs in boxing and actually did something significant but they don’t have the guts to do so.
Sergey Kovalev will return to action before the end of the year. The former light heavy champion will fight in New York but no opponent mentioned yet.
Felix Verdejo is aiming to keep busy whilst waiting for Terry Flanagan to recover from his leg injury. Verdejo will fight on the undercard to the show in Tucson where Gilberto Ramirez defends his WBC super middle title against Jesse Hart and Oscar Valdez puts his WBO feather title on the line but no opponent named yet. Yuriorkis Gamboa is also returning. On 12 August in Cancun he goes up against Alexis Reyes. The Cuban is now 35 and you have to wonder where it all went wrong. At one time he was 23-0 and had held world titles in three divisions. What a waste of talent.
Two fighters with dust to shed will clash in Las Vegas on 22 August as Mickey Bey faces Anthony Peterson. Former IBF light champion Bey will be having his first fight since losing his title to Rances Barthelemy in June last year and Peterson his first since beating Samuel Kotey Neequaye in April last year. Time is running out for Peterson to take his career seriously. Former WBA champion Juan Carlos Payano takes on Alexis Santiago and Ashley Theophane, Ron Gavril, Ishe Smith and unbeaten Saul Rodriguez are scheduled to also appear on this show. Rey Vargas makes the first defence of his WBC title against Ronny Rios in Carson, California on 26 August and Antonio Margarito continues his comeback on 2 September in Chihuahua against Carson Jones. There is talk of Daniel Jacobs returning on 14 October in New York with no opponent named. Jacobs vs. Jermall Charlo down the line. That would be an explosive pairing.
Great bantam fight scheduled for Belfast with Zhanat Zhakiyanov defending his WBA title against IBF champion Ryan Burnett. A real 50/50 fight. Burnett will have home advantage but somehow I don’t think that will worry Zhakiyanov. He has fought in his native Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Switzerland, England, Belarus, China, Northern Ireland, Australia and Monaco and he won the title against an American in America.
Poor Jorge Heiland. The Argentinian was first put in the No 1 spot by the WBC in April 2015 but contrary to past practice being No 1 did not make him the mandatory challenger (if the No 1 is not then who is?). After waiting two years to finally get to a point where he knows what he has to do to get the title shot he finds himself facing a much bigger opponent in Jermall Charlo. Then he injures his knee before the fight (he had the knee heavily taped when he climbed into the ring). You can’t blame him for going through with a fight he had no chance of winning. He had already waited two years and he must have feared that if he pulled out he would never get the chance.
Ghana’s former Commonwealth champion Richard Commey has signed a promotion contract with Di Bella Entertainment. Let’s hope that the combination of strong management from Michael Amoo-Bediako and the promotional skills and influence of Lou Di Bella can get Commey another world title shot.
In the case of South African cruiser Kevin Lerena he will be getting a title shot. The Johannesburg southpaw will face Youri Kayembre Kalenga for the vacant IBO cruiser title in his home city on 9 September. The undercard will see South African light middle champion Nkululeko Mhlongo try to rebound from three straight losses as he puts his title up for grabs against unbeaten Brandon Thysse. Mhlongo has never lost by KO/TKO but Thysse is 9-0 with 8 wins by KO/TKO.
German police are still investigating the murder of Tunahan Keser. The young German professional boxer disappeared on June 23 and his body was found dumped in a forest on 21 July. He had been shot. On the day before Keser disappeared his trainer Khoren Gevor was shot in a knee but the police are not able to definitely connect the two although there seems a high probability the two incidents are linked.
In my last Snips I wrote about how delighted people must have been to have seen the fight where two pro boxers, who were also lawyers, exchanged punches. A similar thing occurred at the show where Dominican Carlos Adames beat Carlos Molina. The press were kept outside the arena for 50 minutes and a few remarks were exchanged with the promoter’s representative who took off his coat and challenged one of the reporters to a bare fist fight in the parking lot. I had visions of a headline of “Press flattens Promoter” which might have made people think the promoter had stumbled into a dry-cleaning store.
Boxing continues to be a family business. Last week in Mexico Jose Angel Napoles had his first pro fight and drew in a super light four rounder. This Napoles is the grandson of the great Jose Angel “Mantequilla” Napoles .Now I feel ancient as I can recall being at ringside at the Empire Pool in 1972 to see Jose kayo Ralph Charles in seven rounds.