EDDIE HEARN has certainly caused a stir with his deal with DAZN. The early signs are that the eight year billion dollar deal as announced could have a huge impact on the boxing scene. With financial backing seemingly already in place the important work of filling in the names of the fighters who sign up to the deal can now start and it is that element which will decide whether we have a game changer or a false dawn. Until we see the names no one can be sure just how big a deal it is. Obviously there is realisation that Anthony Joshua’s name would give the whole scheme a big boost but there has to be a long term plan to sign or build others to star status.
The World Boxing Super Series did not get all of the top cruisers and super middles but it did put together two sets of top quality contestants and it produced some excellent fights which would not have happened if the WBSS had not made the money available. It has also shown the pitfalls in the way the tournament is structured. With both George Groves and Olek Usyk injured and the two final bouts postponed the tournament has lost some of its impetus. It seems as though there is time for Usyk vs. Murat Gassiev to fit into their schedule but there are doubts about whether Groves can overcome his injury in time to fight Callum Smith. Chris Eubank Jr would be the logical stand in and a Smith vs. Eubank fight would be tough one to pick a winner but with Kalle Sauerland being so much a part of WBSS my fear is that Juergen Brahmer might get slotted in as he had to withdraw from his fight with Smith due to injury and for my money that would devalue the tournament.
The DAZN deal is not in the WBSS format so it will live or die on the names who sign up for the multi-fight deal. As with the WBSS there will be some boxers who are tied to promotional or TV contracts which would preclude them from signing as this is not a knockout tournament but a long term on-going commitment which will require guarantees from and to both parties. A boxer could seriously harm his career if the walks away from a deal with HBO or Showtime only to find his career stagnates but in all honesty in boxing you are only as good as your last fight whether you are with HBO, Showtime or DAZN. The boxers will be saying show us the money and the boxing fans will be saying show us the fighters and only then can we get an idea how all of this will work out but you can be sure HBO and Showtime will not be spectators they will be in there fighting to retain the quality fighters they have and adding more to their rosters.
The WBSS have already announced that Ryan Burnett, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Zolani Tete have signed up for the bantamweight tournament with other names to follow but once you get past those three things get very hazy. Jamie McDonnell defends the secondary WBA title against Naoya Inoue and the winner of that would be a natural choice for a fourth contestant. The WBC title is vacant with Frenchman Nordine Oubaali at No 1 and Thai Petch Sor Chitpattana No 2. The WBA No 1 is Filipino Reymart Gaballo and those three are hardly household names. Perhaps unbeaten Jason Moloney might get a call but with Paul Butler and Omar Narvaez both getting beaten recently and veterans such as Stuart Hall and Lee Haskins unlikely to get invites it is difficult to see the bantamweight tournament being as big a success as the cruiser and super middle.
What a great weekend for boxing the past one was. You had the artistry of Vasyl Lomachenko severely tested by Jorge Linares. Because of the decisive nature of the dramatic finish to the fight it is easy to overlook the fact that the scores after nine rounds were 86-84 Lomachenko, 86-84 Linares and 85-85 so it looked as though either man could go on and win but Lomachenko found the punch to end the fight and that is what truly great fighters do. We also had a huge upset as Jamie Munguia came in as a late substitute and destroyed the champion and big odds favourite Sadam Ali which again proved how unpredictable boxing can be and how quickly a fighter can go from unknown to champion inside twelve minutes. Just thought I would throw in that in my voluminous weekly reports Munguia was one of my weekly “One to Watch” as were David Benavidez, Ryan Burnett and Isaac Dogboe (this last bit has been an unpaid advert for my Weekly Reports).
Munguia has not been given much time to enjoy his victory as the WBO have said that negotiations for a defence against No 1 Liam Smith must commence within 30 days. Smith of course had to pull out of his fight against Sadam Ali which gave Munguia his chance.
For Lomachenko a fight with Mikey Garcia would be a big attraction but WBC champion Garcia is scheduled to fight IBF champion Robert Easter in a unification match on 28 July that would put a fight between Lomachenko and Garcia back to the end of the year which may not suit Lomachenko.
As if the heavyweight division was not interesting enough we have Wlad Klitschko apparently refusing to rule out a return to the ring. I thought he made an excellent decision in walking away after the loss to Anthony Joshua. It was a great fight to leave as a reminder of your career. There are fights there for him but I hope he does not return. Next month I am going to the International Boxing Hall of fame to see brother Vitali inducted and it would be nice to think that when Wlad has been inactive for the regulation five years it will be his turn.
On the subject of the Hall of Fame I was sorry to read that Nino Benvenuti was ill. He visited the Hall last time I was there and looked as though he had just stepped out of Giorgio Armani advert. What really impressed was that Emile Griffith was also there and was a very ill and frail man. Benvenuti and Griffith fought each other three times in less that twelve months with no quarter asked or given but for every minute of the Hall of Fame visit Benvenuti was beside Griffith supporting and caring for him. Fights such as these two greats shared form a bond and generates a respect that can last their whole lives so get well Nino.
Hughie Fury returned to action last week and looked good in stopping Sam Sexton. To show how ridiculous ratings can be the WBO had Fury No 1 when he lost a majority decision to Joseph Parker. It was close and certainly worth a return. The WBO’s response was to drop Fury in their next month’s ratings from No 1 to No 10 which just seems ridiculous.
Going back to Isaac Dogboe as an indication on how much of a struggle it can be for African fighters to reach the top Dogboe will be anxious to get back in the ring and earn money as soon as he can. His father mortgaged just about everything and even then they also ran up debts to support Dogboe on his way to the title. With no government support and with TV only mildly interested in anything except football it was a struggle but they won the title and now they need to keep the title. I have played it down but Dogboe actually has dual Ghanaian and British citizenship and is a former English amateur champion so Britain can claim a bit of him.
Dogboe is unusual in that he does not hail from the Bukom district of Accra. This slum area on the outskirts of the city has produced some of Ghana’s greatest fighters such as world champions Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, Joseph Agbeko, David Kotey, Nana Yaw Konadu and Alfred Kotey. I can remember many years ago when the Tepito district of Mexico City had the same reputation producing fighters such as Carlos Zarate and there were wars every week at the Arena Coliseo but that well seems to have run dry.
After Munguia’s upset victory Roberto Manzanarez will take a big step towards landing a title shot of his own if he can beat Mercito Gesta in Indio on June 14. The 23-year-old Manzanarez was born in Phoenix but has done almost all of his fighting in Mexico. After turning pro at 15 he is 36-1 with 29 wins by KO/TKO. Filipino Gesta, 30, is 31-2-2 and his only losses have been to Miguel Vazquez for the IBF title and Jorge Linares for the WBA title.
Other fights coming up will see Ken Shiro defend his WBC light fly title against Ganigan Lopez in Ota City, Japan on 25 May. Shiro won the title with a disputed majority decision over Lopez in May last year. The McDonnell vs. Inoue fight is on the same card. Two bit players in the heavyweight division Mariusz Wach and Eric Molina clash in Warsaw on the same night. On 26 May David Lemieux returns against Frenchman Karim Achour in Quebec City and in Fresno two super fly champions are in action as Khalid Yafai put his WBA title on the line against David Carmona and Jerwin Ancajas faces fellow-Filipino Jonas Sultan. On 2 June Kevin Lerena defends his IBO cruiser title against Roman Golovashchenko and on 9 June in Los Angeles Leo Santa Cruz defends the WBA feather title against Abner Mares and on the same card Jermell Charlo risks his WBC super welter crown against Austin Trout. In Manchester Tyson Fury returns against a TBA and Terry Flanagan and Maurice Hooker fight for the vacant WBO super light title. Also on 9 June in Leipzig an all-German fight sees Dominic Boesel (27-1) against Enrico Koelling (25-2) in an excellent EBU light-heavy title fight and the biggie on that night in Las Vegas sees Australian Jeff Horn defend the WBO welter title against Terrence Crawford, The goodies just keep on coming.