- NO real surprise in the WBO stripping Floyd Mayweather of their welter title. Mayweather had refused to pay them a sanctioning fee of $200,000 due from the match with Manny Pacquiao (oh come on guys he only took $200 million plus from the fight and he has home and 85 Ferraris to keep). The first question is why the WBO allowed the fight to be billed for their title if they had not been paid or promised a sanctioning fee. They also insisted under their rules that no one can hold titles in two divisions so Mayweather had to relinquish one and he had not responded to say which one he would keep so he was also stripped on that basis. Once I had recovered from the shock of someone at the WBO not only knowing they had a rulebook but also knowing where they saw it last I could only agree with them. Then again never before in his career has Mayweather fought for a WBO title so he has not been a cash cow for them in the way he has for the WBA and WBC. The WBA and WBC between them are so greedy for reflected fame and sanctioning fees that they have allowed Mayweather, and still allow him, to tie up four titles. The WBC is not breaking their rules in doing this as Clause 3.14. (b) says that the WBC may permit someone to hold titles in two divisions if the boxer is an elite champion (whatever an elite champion is and that is not in their table of definitions) or in the case of special circumstances where it is considered to be in the best interests of boxing. So they are not breaking their rules they have special weasel words in most Clauses to allow then wriggle room but how it can be “in the best interests of boxing” for Mayweather to hold title in two divisions for almost three years escapes me. In Mayweather’s interest and good for WBC sanctioning fees yes but in the best interests of boxing I just don’t see. The WBA? Good old WBA their rules, updated even as recently as last month, say that in the case of a WBA champion fighting for a second title in another division “in the event he wins the fight and obtains the other title, within five days of the fight he will choose the title he wishes to retain and relinquish the other title. Failure to comply with any of these provisions is sufficient cause for the Championships Committee to withdraw recognition from him of either title or both titles”. They allowed that rule to be broken in May last year and as long as the sanctioning fees keep rolling from “Money” the rulebook stays in the drawer.
- It has been stated by the WBC that the fight between Leo Santa Cruz, their super bantam champion, and Abner Mares will be for their featherweight Diamond title. I hope this is just carelessly worded. A few years back they introduced their Diamond belt for elite fighters. An expensive gimmick for a fight which was not even a WBC title fight (Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III for the WBO title). So now a big event again and no WBC title on the line and up pops the WBC Diamond Title. What madness. Whoever wins will be the WBC diamond featherweight champion That leaves their actual featherweight champion Gary Russell with only the WBC green belt to fight for which is an insult to their champion and disrespects their green belt. Green is good enough for Russell but not good enough for a non-title fight between Santa Cruz and Mares.
- Great news that the Wlad Klitschko vs. Tyson Fury is set for October 24 in Germany. Once again we see that despite all of the shouting and screaming from some unrealistic “contenders” Wlad is not ducking anyone. Wlad could just sit back and not bother publicising the fight as Tyson has shown he is never short of a gimmick or an outrageous quote. Together with the Miguel Cotto vs. Saul Alvarez fight close to being signed and sealed, an even money fight between Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders, Marco Huck defending his WBO title against Krzys Glowacki in Newark, Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs. Victor Ramirez in Argentina later this month, Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Brian Viloria in the works, Bob Arum talking about Scott Quigg vs. Nonito Donaire etc. etc. boxing is in a good place right now.
- I am British but the WBC is doing Anthony Joshua no favours by throwing him so high in their ratings. The standard of his opposition and the lack of a single rated fighter on his CV makes it a bandwagon-jumping farce. Back in April 2014 Joshua was rated No 29 by the WBC. He is now the WBC No 2 and that has been achieved without beating a single fighter who was rated in the WBC top 40 when he beat them. That should not be allowed to happen. I can’t think of any other sport where such a thing could happen. Can you imagine a tennis player beating the No 50 in the world and then being ranked above Roger Federer, a sprinter winning his national title and being ranked over Usain Bolt, a driver winning a touring car race and being put above Lewis Hamilton? No because there is no sense of fairness in such stupidity. Don’t get me wrong I am vastly excited by the potential of Joshua I feel he is a tremendous prospect who has brushed aside all of the opposition in impressive fashion and will be a world champion in due time. The way he has destroyed them has created its own problem in finding someone who can extend him, but he needs a lot more experience and by making him No 2 in the world the WBC have made it virtually impossible for him to have the learning fights he still needs. The WBO have him at No 3 which is equally as bad. With them Joshua came from out of the ratings gradually to No 7 in May and then jumped up to No 3 for beating Kevin Johnson! Typical for the WBO but from the composition of the WBC ratings committee I expect more sense. Life is full of disappointments!
- It looks as though Vitali Klitschko has put boxing behind him. The former WBC heavyweight champion is running again for the post of mayor of Kiev. He has done a good job and is popular so get your bets on now-if anyone will give you odds.
The situation in the Ukraine was highlighted to an extent with Stanyslav Kashtanov, a Ukrainian citizen from the pro-Russian city of Donetsk fighting for the Russian title but what was also controversial is that Kashtanov is on an EBU list of suspended fighters. As far back as 2013 his Donetsk-based Union Box Team had allegedly reported that he was suffering headaches and vision problems and recommended retirement.
- Okay, time for me to come out of the cupboard and admit that I admire Tim Bradley. I love the way that he just gets on with the job. He finds a way to win against even the toughest opposition. He has been in 12 world title fights and one interim title fight and has scored wins over Lamont Peterson (27-0 at the time), Luis Carlos Abregu (29-0) Devon Alexander (21-0), Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1), Juan Manuel Marquez and Jesses Vargas (26-0) and won and lost against Manny Pacquiao so why do I feel so lonely in this fan club? What more do we want out of “Desert Storm”. He certainly has done enough to earn a place in Canastota one day.
I could bet that Meldrick Taylor would have been looking at the controversial end to the Tim Bradley vs. Jesse Vargas fight and murmuring “I wish the referee had made that kind of mistake in my fight with Julio Cesar Chavez”. In 1990 in the last round Taylor was 7 points and 5 points ahead on two cards and just two seconds from victory when the fight was stopped and awarded to Chavez. If Richard Steele had “heard the bell” eight seconds earlier it could have changed boxing history instead the dramatic stoppage is boxing history. Such a small margin.
- I recently learned that Denis Bakhtov tested positive for a banned substance after his fight with Arnold Gjergjaj on June 6. However my understanding is that the positive test arose from a substance that appears in some drinks and many boxers are unaware of, so there appear to be extenuating circumstances to be taken into account. He will be the second opponent in successive EBU-EE title bouts who has tested positive after a fight with Gjergjaj as Adnan Redzovik reportedly gave a positive test in October.
- The news that Vijender Singh had turned pro met with very mixed reception in Indian boxing circles with the Indian amateur body not being at all happy. I have been saying for a long time that with China dipping its toes in the profession game that the sub-continent is the biggest market as yet untouched in any significant way by professional boxing. In a “cart before the horse” situation after Singh signed pro an Indian Boxing Council has been set up to sanction boxing matches and award national and subordinate championships. It will be a not-for-profit organisation. Well that’s what the publicity blurb says. I don’t like the sound of “subordinate championships” and not-for-profit is about as practical as a snowball in New Delhi but if they walk the talk OK. Let’s wait and see. The potential is there as they have produced outstanding amateur boxers such as Ahli Kumar who won gold medals at the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games and was a quarter finalist in 2010 and in the 2008 Olympics, Dinesh Kumar who has competed at the Olympics Games, World Championships and Commonwealth Games, Manoj Kumar another Commonwealth gold medallist and Olympian, Suranjoy Singh a Commonwealth gold medal winner and World Military silver medallist and Shiva Thapa a silver medallist at the World Youth Games and World Youth Championships and 2012 Olympian plus many more. The big difference is that these top amateurs were financed and supported by the Government and that will change when they turn pro so there is only the green shoots peeping through and a long, long journey for pro boxing to get off the ground there.
- Istvan Szili, one of Hungary’s most successful amateur boxers is scheduled to have his first fight in the US on July 17. “The Prince” will face a tough test as he goes up against unbeaten Antoine Douglas in Bethlehem and Douglas (17-0-1) has a draw against new European champion Michel Soro. Szili did not turn pro until he was 26 and is currently 18-0-2 as a pro. It is good to see that both teams have the confidence to put their man in a fight as competitive as this.
- An interesting clash between two former amateur stars sees Juan Carlos Payano making the first defence of his real WBA title against Rau’shee Warren in Florida on 2 August. Both are unbeaten and both are southpaws. They were both permanent fixtures in their respective national teams and were competing at the same time in a whole host of tournaments such as the Olympics, World Championships, Pan American Games etc but as far as I know the only time they ever actually fought each other was in a dual international in 2008 when Warren representing the USA beat Payano representing the Dominican Republic 32-15. This time they will get paid for their efforts. Also on the show Yudel Jhonson faces Jorge Cota and John Jackson tackles Dennis Laurente in what is described as a WBC super welter tournament. Can’t think what position is on offer to the winner as Jhonson is No 12, Cota is No 24, Jackson is No 7 and Laurente is No 11 in the current WBC ratings it can hardly be to find a mandatory challenger and even if it is Floyd Mayweather will laugh it off and the WBC will let him.
- A couple of former boxers are now running gyms in Germany. Graciano “Rocky” Rocchigiani is just setting up and building a team with his brother Rolf as the trainer. Rocky will be remembered as the man who nearly put the WBC out of business when he sued them for trying to rob him of their middleweight title. A US Judge awarded Rocchigiani $31 million which would have bankrupted the WBC. There was even a plan in the event of forced liquidation for the WBC to cease to exist and reform as the Universal Boxing Council. Naturally Rocchigiani did not want to force liquidation as he would get nothing so in the end he reached a settlement which left a huge hole in the WBC finances but showed that they were not a law unto themselves.
The other gym owner is Alex “White Tiger” Petkovic who has built a team that he intends to expand to 12 boxers and put on 6 shows a year. The 35-year-old Petkovic lost a majority decision to Johnny Nelson for the WBOI cruiser title in 2003. Now up at heavyweight he is unbeaten in his last 19 fights. Petkovic staged one of his promotions last Saturday in Munich where two of brightest young prospects Toni and James Kraft boxed.
- A real time of mixed grief and joy for Olga Boystov. Husband Denis is showing some slight improvement after his serious injury in what now appears to have been an accident and not an attack but there is a very long way to go. However on July 1 she gave birth to a baby daughter and the hope is that someday soon Denis will be able to appreciate the wonderful gift he and Olga have been given.
Magomed Abdusalamov is showing signs of improvement. His wife said that there had been progress on the right side of his body and he has been trying to talk; now the specialists will be working to see if they can achieve any improvement on the left side
Nice to hear that the Ghana Boxing Authority made a generous donation to Teddy Lamptey who suffered an amputation last year due to an infection. Lamptey was influential in the careers of former world champion David (Poison) Kotey, Azumah Nelson and Ike Quartey.
- Good to see great boxers from the past being honoured. In Castanera Sur, Argentina they have unveiled a bronze statue to the “Mendoncino Lion” Pascual Perez. The great little flyweight was an outstanding amateur compiling a record of 125 fights and winning the Olympic gold medal at the Games in London in 1948. He turned pro in 1952 and was 51-0-1 in his first 52 fights becoming the first Argentinian world champion when he won the title from Yoshio Shira, Japan’s first world champion, in Tokyo in November 1954. He made 14 title defences some of which were not billed as defences but since both boxers were within the flyweight limit the title was at stake. His unbeaten streak of 52 fights was broken when he lost a decision to Sadao Yaoita in Japan in 1959 but knocked out Yaoita in a title defence the same year. He lost his title to Pone Kingpetch in 1960 and failed in a challenge to Kingpetch the same year. He kept boxing and won 29 fights in a row and was 82-3-1 before falling away in his last year and being 2-4 in six fights. Only 4’11” (150cm) tall he scored 57 wins by KO/TKO and I can still remember the doom and gloom in the Valleys when he knocked out Welsh hope Dai Dower in one round in a title defence in 1957. Dower was thought to have a good chance as he was 33-1 going into the fight but the “Mendocino Lion” ate him up in one bite. Perez died tragically early in 1977 at the age of 50. A true “Little Giant”
- A show is being staged in East London South Africa in celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela who boxed a bit in his early days. It features two IBO title fights with Lwandile Sityatha defending the super fly title against fellow South African Gideon Buthelezi who is a former IBO minimum, light fly and super fly champion. Buthelezi must be the least known three division champion in boxing. He is also the only fighter to have beaten Hekkie Budler and in his last fight beat Namibian Immanuel Naidjala for the WBO African bantamweight title. Another all-South African affair sees Ali Funeka defending his IBO welter title against Tsiko Mulovhedzi No 31 in the IBO ratings.
Eric Armit reacts to the latest news from around the boxing world