What a difference a day makes…Well so the song goes. It took more than a day but in less than two months the heavyweight landscape has gone through a seismic change. Suddenly there are new champions in Tyson Fury and Charles Martin, a reigning champion in Deontay Wilder showing devastating power and a former champion in David Haye looking impressive in his comeback. When you add Cuban Luis Ortiz looking a real threat and young fighters such as Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker coming through there are interesting times ahead. Of course Wlad Klitschko can’t be written off. Alex Povetkin is a danger, Vyacheslav Glazkov deserves another chance, Artur Szpilka fought a good fight against Wilder, Bermane Stiverne and Kubrat Pulev are looking to revive their fortunes, Lucas Browne could throw his hat into the ring if he beats Ruslan Chagaev and still unbeaten and untested are Andy Ruiz, Dominic Breazeale and Gerald Washington.
It is all thanks to Fury’s win over Wlad Klitschko. It was not the Ukrainian’s fault that he was too good for a whole string of challengers but his dominance killed the division as an attraction. The dominance might not have had such a negative effect if he Klitschko had provided thrills and spills but that was not the Ukrainian’s style so there was little to engage the neutral fan to whom watching a Klitschko fight was boxing’s version of Groundhog Day. The fact that he was dominating three of the four titles was an added burden.
Fury was never going to be able to hold onto all three belts but by beating Klitschko he became “The Man” and his title has more credence than the WBC or IBF titles.
No matter what they may say sanctioning bodies do not like unified titles. It just complicates a straight forward sanctioning fee issue. It is quite comical to see the representatives of the sanctioning bodies scrambling to get into the ring and get their belts draped over the champion’s shoulders or around his waist. I hate to think where they would hang a fourth belt (ladies in the audience please look away).
My brief reflections on the weekend were that Wilder looked ordinary until he landed that thunderbolt. Szpilka never saw it coming but Wilder never saw it going. If you watch the tape Wilder had his head down and threw the punch wildly but it would have put any heavyweight out. Martin did not have enough time to show us how good he is so it is a wait and see situation. Haye looked hot but against an opponent that he should have look hot against anyway but his speed and power were impressive.
Another who had a great weekend was Anthony Joshua and he did not even have to fight. He was already a ridiculous No 2 with the WBC and therefore assured of the No 1 spot after a Wilder vs. Povetkin fight. If Wilder tries to dodge Povetkin then the WBC will have to strip him to retain any credibility but they look to be doing the right thing by giving the parties 30 days to come to an agreement. However Joshua was also No 2 with the WBO behind Martin so as Martin is now IBF champion Joshua should go to No 1 with them and he will almost certainly be the top rated challenger with the IBF. In their ratings issued 3 December Joshua was down a No 8 with Glazkov No 1, No 2 vacant, Klitschko No 3, Martin No 4, Erkan Teper No 5, Artur Szpilka No 6 and Steve Cunningham No 7. In their ratings issued 4 January it was Glazkov 1, 2 vacant 3 Martin, with Klitschko removed due a return match with Fury, Teper up to 4, Szpilka removed because he was challenging for the WBC title and Joshua jumping over Cunningham to No 5 due to his win over Dillan Whyte. In their next ratings Nos. 1 and 2 slots should be vacant (as an outcome of the Bobby Lee scandal in order to fill the No1 or No 2 spot a fighter has to have beaten another rated fighter) the IBF will have a choice of either making Erkan Teper their top rated fighter at No 3, even though Teper is currently under suspension by his home Federation and the EBU over alleged use of banned substances, or elevating Joshua into their No 3 spot.
I have said before that Joshua is a fantastic prospect but by ranking him so highly the sanctioning bodies are making it difficult for him to have the time to develop and learn.
Dereck Chisora is not in the mix as he needs a big win to rebuild his status. It won’t help his cause now that Robert Helenius has reportedly relinquished the EBU heavy title scuppering a fight in which a win would have gone quite a way towards that goal.
Final word on the heavyweights. Fury must be the greatest self publicist in the heavyweight division since Muhammad Ali. The difference is that Ali always had his tongue in his cheek whereas Fury too often has his foot in his mouth.
So the drums have started to beat for the Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley fight. It is a good quality fight between two top class fighters with Pacquiao being the favourite but with Bradley usually finding a way to beat the odds. No matter how hard they beat the drum I can’t see the fight drawing as well as their first two fights. Bradley’s win in their first meet was controversial but Pacquiao was a clear winner in the return so not a strong argument there for a third match. Although Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jnr have been/are great fighters it’s time to find out who will pick up the mantle when they are both off the scene just as the Klitschko loss had shaken up the heavyweights.
With regard to Mayweather I see he has put out a price list for anyone wanting to breathe the same air as him on his visit to Britain. A payment of £1,000 will be enough to get your photo taken with him and for £2,000 you could actually get to ask him a question. Something wrong with his priorities there. He will flush money down the toilet or throw it at almost dressed showgirls but boxing fans have to pay just to be in his presence. Obviously he will eventually be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canastota (you have to have been inactive for five years to get on the ballot paper). On one occasion when I was there Larry Holmes wanted to charge for signing his autograph but Ed Brophy put a stop to that letting Larry know that the IBOF would not allow the fans to be charged and Larry had to fall in with that stipulation. It will be interesting to see if Mayweather expects to charge when his turn comes.
Going back to Bradley where sanction bodies are concerned is not case of things will get worse before they get better its things will get worse and keep on getting worse. With the WBO now realising the WBA has long since stolen a march on them over sanctioning fees they are putting this right by introducing super champions. So Bradley goes to super champion even though he only holds one title, and the WBO world title now becomes a secondary title with Jessie Vargas and Sadam Ali contesting the suddenly vacant title. You can be sure they won’t stop there, the lure of all of the addition sanctioning fees for elevating others of their champions will be too strong. More confusion. Yes but who cares as long as the sanctioning fees roll in and there are plenty more title fights up for grabs by promoters.
The WBA is up to their tricks again. In their ratings issued on 10 December Kiko Martinez did not appear anywhere. It is announced he is to fight Leo Santa Cruz for their feather title and suddenly in their ratings on 19 January he is their No 9 featherweight. He did have a fight on 12 December so could that be the reason for this sudden promotion from nowhere?
I don’t think so. His opponent Miguel Gonzalez had lost his last two fights to guys with 8-0 records and Martinez weighed 127lbs, but if you do know of an honest reason for this manipulation please enlighten me.
I warned Top Rank that they would have to dig deep to win the bidding for the Arthur Abraham vs. Gilberto Ramirez title fight and so it proved with Team Sauerland bidding $1.56 million and Top Rank $1.5. However you could say that Top Rank lost the battle but won the war as they agreed with Team Sauerland to make the fight the main support to the Pacquiao vs. Bradley fight and with Oscar Valdez vs. Evgeny Gradovich also on the show it is shaping up to be a good night for boxing fans.
Team Sauerland have signed Swede Erik Skoglund to a four-year extension of his contract. There is talk of Skoglund fighting South African Ryno Liebenberg in April but nothing confirmed yet.
At a recent show in El Salvador the WBA put into practice electronic scoring with the judges entering their scores round by round in real time. In addition they also had several other judges watching and scoring the rounds simultaneously so they could evaluate the performance of the ringside judges. I can’t believe that the ringside judges would have enjoyed that much almost having someone looking over your shoulder. Scoring is so subjective that even the best judges find themselves odd man out with their fellow judges and that is not due to incompetence or dishonesty. If there is incompetency then that can’t be judged on a round by round basis or even a fight by fight basis but by a pattern of cards constantly out of synch with their peers. The electronic scoring had me thinking that if the technology gets complex then referees may have to rethink their long term strategy. In the past if a referee found the physical demands of refereeing finally beyond him he could always get a nice ringside seat as a judge. However if the technology gets too complex then l can see my old friend Stanley Christodoulou being replaced by my ten-year-old grandson.
Still on the WBA I find it incredible how they shuffle their titles just to create sanction fees and confusion. At super bantamweight they moved Guillermo Rigondeaux to “Champion In Recess” which really does mean he is stuck away in a little corner with nowhere to go. After all he can’t defend his recess title because if he does by definition he is not in recess so he does not have a title. They elevated Scott Quigg to super champion which means they get a bigger sanctioning fee when Quigg fights Carl Frampton. That left their “regular” title vacant. No problem you would think because they have an interim champion in Moises Flores so Flores just moves up to “regular “champion because by definition he is interim regular champion. Well that would make sense but this is the WBA so instead of doing the logical thing they have nominated two other fighters to fight for the now vacant “regular” title in China’s Qiu Xiao Jun and Raymond Commey from Ghana. Stay with me readers-it gets worse. Did they pick the two highest rated fighters to fight for the vacant title? This is the WBA remember. Jun is rated No 9 and Commey No 11! It doesn’t help their case that Commey came in at No 15 in July and has climbed to No 11 with his only fight in the intervening time being a victory for the second time over a guy with a 1-10 record. What a farce. I used the term “regular” title here since that seems to be in common use but they way I see it there is nothing in anyway regular about having two world champions so to me the WBA “regular” title is their secondary title and ever will it remain so.
Back on Ghana they lost one of their outstanding trainers in the form of Godwin Nii Dzanie “Alloway” Kotey who died reportedly from typhoid. Alloway trained many of Ghana’s greatest boxers including Azumah Nelson and Joseph Agbeko. He also trained Joshua Clottey who has stated he is considering retiring having lost his mentor.
Young Ghanaian Isaac Dogboe is continuing to make progress he will defend his WBA Pan-African and WBO African title on February 20 at the Azumah Nelson Sports Stadium, in Accra against fellow-countryman Patrick Ayi. Dogboe was English ABA champion and represented Ghana at the 2012 Olympics.
French heavyweight Johann Duhaupas is looking for a new opponent for the show in Monaco on February 5. It was announced that he would be fighting Denis Bakhtov which surprised me as Bakhtov is under a two year suspension from the EBU after testing positive for a banned substance after his June 6 fight with Arnold Gjergjaj for the EU-EEU tile but now he has been dropped.
Sill on bans for a positive test and the alleged failure by Erik Teper. The BDB have not helped their case by revealing that they do not actually use the National Anti Doping Agency for testing as their members did not want them to. It’s a mess.
Former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito returns to action on March 5 against Jorge Paez Jr. Margarito has been inactive since losing to Miguel Cotto in December 2011and has had surgery to repair a torn retina in his right eye.
Frenchman Souleymane M’Baye is another former champion coming back. The 40-year-old former WBA super light champion is scheduled to face fellow countryman Alex Lepelley in Calvados on March 26. It will be his first fight since losing to Khabib Allakhverdiev in July 2013.
Former WBO double world champion Omar Narvaez will continue his comeback on February 19 in Puerto Madryn, Argentina reportedly against Mexican Martin Casillas. Second fight for the 40-year-old Narvaez since losing his WBO super fly title to Naoya Inoue in December 2014.
A career comes to an end on Saturday night in Butte Montana as Mexican Luis Ramon “Yori Boy” Campas, now based in Montana, has his last fight. He faces Anthony Bonsante in what will be fight No 126. “Yori Boy”, now 44, was IBF super welter champion back in 1997/98 but had been reducing his level of activity over recent years, but has been 5-0 2 technical draws in his last seven fights. Hopefully “Yori Boy” will go out with a win.
After that amazing spate of world title fights in Japan a few weeks back thing have quieted down but they will pick up again in March in Kyoto with Shinsuke Yamanaka defending his WBC bantam title against No 2 challenger Liborio Solis and Yu Kimura putting his WBC light flyweight title on the line against No 6 Ganigan Lopez. Solis is 2-0 in title fights in Japan but lost his IBF super fly title on the scales before beating Daiki Kameda in what was to have been a unification match. Waiting for a venue is former Solis victim Kohei Kono who is to defend his WBA super fly title against Hong Kong’s Rex Tso with either Macau or Shanghai being mentioned as possible venues.
There are no doubts over date or venue for Thailand’s Pungluang’s first defence of his WBO bantam title as he is scheduled to face Filipino Jetro Pabustan in Nakhon Ratchasima on 12 February. It is Pungluang’s second reign as champion and he will be trying to make sure history does not repeat itself as he lost his title in his first defence last time.
Brit Kevin Mitchell gets a chance to revive his fortunes as he is the mandatory challenger to Finn Edis Tatli for the EBU light title with a tentative date of March 19 for the contest. No venue confirmed yet but Helsinki probably the favourite.
Plenty of class fights to look forward to: Danny Garcia vs. Robert Guerrero this weekend, Sergey Kovalev vs. Jean Pascal 30 January, Terry Flanagan vs. Derry Mathews 13 February, Carl Frampton vs. Scott Quigg 27 February, Terrence Crawford vs. Hank Lundy also 27 February, Ola Afolabi vs. Marco Huck IV 27 February, Kell Brook vs. Kevin Brazier 26 March and many more, and these shows will all have strong undercards.
Good to see Frank Bruno, one of the most popular British boxers, getting an award. Frank will be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Lycamobile British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards ceremony next month. The award is to a sportsman who has had a major impact on the world of sport and charity in their lifetime. Frank already has an MBE presented to him by the Queen.
Russian heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov is making slow progress in his recovery but is not forgotten. Alex Povetkin and IBF super light champion Eduard Troyanovsky paid a recent visit to Abdusalamov along with Russian promoter Andrew Ryabinsky who has played a big part in getting help for Abdusalamov. The big Russian has a very long way to go but I wish him all the best.