THE retirement of Miguel Cotto sees one of the modern greats move to the wings leaving a secure legacy behind him. His achievements have been outstanding, They started 20 years ago with a gold medal at the Pan American Championships in 1997 and in 2004 he won his first world title, the WBO light welter crown. Since then has gone on and on with the WBA welter title in 2006, the WBO welter title in 2009, the WBA super welter title in 2010, the WBC middle title in 2014 and the WBO super welter title in 2017. Six world titles in four different divisions. He is 20-6 in world title fights and 16-5 against former, current and future champions. He lost only twice inside the distance to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao. In the fight after Cotto’s loss, Margarito was found using a substance to harden his hand bandages and there has to be a high probability that Margarito use the same dangerous material when stopping Cotto. Yes he lost his last fight but it seems likely that was influenced by a bicep injury suffered in the seventh round. He had won rounds six, seven and eight on all three cards but after that his work rate dropped dramatically; he rarely used his left arm and lost all of the remaining rounds on all three cards. Hopefully he won’t feel he needs to have one more fight to try to end on a winning note. He does not need to do that his legacy is already written in stone – and he never ducked anyone. He has his other life as a promoter so let’s hope that keeps him busy.
The last decade saw the “Four Kings” Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran. This decade has given us Cotto, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao. Being around at the same time has helped each of them to establish their greatness. Do we have a fourth? Juan Manuel Marquez perhaps, a seven-time champion across four divisions being 1-2-1 in four fights with Manny Pacquiao but a loser against Mayweather is a good candidate. There’s Tim Bradley who was 1-2 against Pacquiao and beat Marquez. His title defence against Ruslan Provodnikov was voted Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine, the Boxing Writers Association of America and Sports Illustrated. Shane Mosley a five-time world champion across four divisions but he did not beat any of the other three “Kings” and lost to Cotto, Mayweather and Pacquiao. I also have severe reservations over Mosley with regard to the BALCO scandal. You choose.
Heavyweights are very much in the news with Tony Bellew vs. David Haye on and Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker near to confirmation. Bellew vs. Haye will be on May 5 at the O2 arena in London but no venue yet for Joshua vs. Parker. If Joshua wins he will turn the clock back to when Wlad Klitschko simultaneously held the IBF, WBA and WBO titles. It would be a massive fight if Joshua won and went on to fight Deontay Wilder which would give us a universally recognised champion. There have been universally recognised champions in the past but since the WBO title was introduced in 1989. No heavyweight has ever held the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO titles simultaneously
The International Hall of Fame Class of 2018 has been announced and it includes Vitali Klitschko, Eric Morales and Ronald Wright in the Modern category fighters and German promoter Klaus-Peter Kohl and broadcasters Steve Albert and Jim Gray in the Non-participants and Observers categories. Every fight fan should visit the Hall at least once. I remember finishing a conversation with Ruben Olivares (through an interpreter) and when I looked around there were the now sorely missed Alexis Arguello and Aaron Pryor with another much missed Angelo Dundee sitting signing copies of his book. A fans fantasy land
Once again the sport shows that it is incapable of dealing strongly enough with boxers giving positive tests. Luis Ortiz tested positive for a banned substance for the second time. The WBA removed him from their ratings. The WBC had Ortiz medical background examined in detail and declared “The WBC Board of Governors hereby ratifies the Prior Ruling’s finding that Mr. Ortiz` failure to disclose his ingestion of prescribed high blood medication constitutes a violation of the WBC CBP Protocol, and confirms the $25,000 USD fine.” So Ortiz was taking medicine to deal with high blood pressure. The VADA, the WBC’s partners in the testing States in its Eligibility, Requirements, and Results Management Policy Section IIB: “It is each athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his or her body. Athletes are responsible for any prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers found to be present in their biological samples. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, fault, negligence or knowing use on the Athlete’s part be demonstrated in order to establish a doping violation”. On that basis failing to declare he was taking the medicine is the offence the WBC have addressed. The far more important doping violation is one they have failed to address. They have failed to act in accordance with the VADA Policy and Ortiz has been allowed to slip out from under with a slap on the wrist. Ortiz fights on Saturday so he will get his $25,000 back and remains in line for a million dollar plus purse for fighting Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua. The only approach that will work is stringent testing and a zero tolerance stance based on Section IIB.
The WBC have clashed with HBO over the Orlando Salido vs. Miguel Roman fight with the WBC having agreed it as a fight for the vacant WBC interim super feather title and HBO saying for their schedule they want it to be over ten rounds. Rightly the WBC refused to sanction a ten round “world” title fight so the fight still goes ahead with HBO but as a ten round non-title fight. This is the real world where he who pays the piper calls the tune so HBO get their way. The puzzle now is what happens to the WBC interim title. They can’t give any recognition to the winner so will have to sort out another interim title pairing but it shows that in a money vs. title (particularly an interim title) money wins all the way.
No sooner had Germany finished celebrating that in Manuel Charr they had their first world heavyweight champion since Max Schmelling beat Joe Louis in 1938 than the embarrassment kicked in. Turns out that the Syrian-born Charr does not have a German passport and is not yet a German citizen. Oops!
The undercard to the December 13 WBO title fight between Jeff Horn and Gary Corcoran is naturally going to have a very Australian flavour. Rohan Murdoch (20-1), Nathaniel May (18-1), former world heavyweight title challenger Alex Leapai (OK he was born in Samoa but let’s not worry about that), former IBF champion Leonardo Zappavigna and Paul Fleming (24-0) and Shannon O’Connell will all be facing imported fighters.
Despite all of the publicity surrounding Horn’s victory over Manny Pacquiao boxing is still not a very high profile sport in Australia. Finding fight reports even in leading papers can be hard and in many big newspapers boxing can be found only after slogging through cricket, Australian Rules football, rugby, horse racing, netball etc.
Good to see the dates being rolled out for the cruiserweight semi-finals of the WBSS tournament. On January 27 Mairis Breidis will have home advantage in Riga against the tournament favourite Alek Usyk but don’t rule out a Briedis win. The other semi-final will be in Sochi, Russia on February 3 where Murat Gassiev will be the one with home advantage against Cuban Yunier Dorticos. I expect a Usyk vs. Gassiev final. With Dorticos being Cuban he will have to wait a while before he ever has the chance of a home fight but it can only be a matter of time before professional boxing returns to Cuba.
So sad to read of former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe in such dire straits. He has been declared bankrupt a couple of times and has now published an appeal for money as he is in danger of losing his home. He needs to find $100,000 but has already sold all of his boxing trophies to get out of previous financial difficulties There are plenty of trainers to teach you to box but very few people to teach you how to look after your money and the number of your friends often decreases in direct proportion to your declining finances. There are some out there who try to help such as the Retired Boxers Foundation led by Alex Ramos but Bowe is in too deep for even their help.
Better news for another heavyweight champion as filming has begun about the life of former WBA champion Gerrie Coetzee. The South African recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hollywood and African Prestigious Awards in California. Coetzee actually had the last fight of his career in Hollywood in 1997 when he lost to Iran Barkley.
Former IBF super-feather champion Steve Forbes is running his initial show in Portland, Oregon on Sunday. It will be the first show in Portland for more than twelve years and Steve is hoping it will be the first in a series of shows. I have good friend Fred Ryan who runs a great gym in Portland, Steve if you are looking for quality fighters… No charge for the plug Fred!
I see that Eleider Alvarez has accepted step-aside money so that Adonis Stevenson can defend his WBC light-heavy title against Badou Jack. Step-aside money used to be a regular feature in the fight game.
Zab Judah is in the picture again. The former three-division world champion is working in partnership with a Western Canadian boxing promotional outfit DEKADA. Judah will fight on their first show in Calgary on January 27 with the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino hosting what they hope will be the first of a series of shows.