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The WBA should be facing its biggest crisis in recent memory

WBA
But ultimately the hot water that the WBA find themselves in will likely amount to nothing, writes George Gigney as he examines stories and events within the world of boxing media

THE WBA continues to be held accountable for its questionable practices and could be facing its biggest crisis in recent memory. Or so it seems. The head of the Association of Boxing Commissions, Mike Mazzulli, sent a letter to Gilberto Mendoza, president of the WBA, threatening to take serious action if certain issues aren’t addressed. This stems from a controversial result to a WBA-sanctioned bout between Gabriel Maestre and Mykal Fox in which Maestre won a much-contested unanimous decision, despite being dropped and largely outfought. It later transpired that Gloria Martinez Rizzo, one of judges for the fight and a former WBA ‘Judge of the Year’ had apparently sent out a series of racist tweets. Mendoza, speaking to Yahoo Sports, said a “resolution” would be sent out “condemning” the tweets and that a rematch has been ordered between Maestre and Fox. In his letter, Mazzulli also explicitly criticised the amount of spurious titles the WBA has created. If the WBA do not respond accordingly, Mazzulli claimed the ABC will cease to recognise the WBA and will not allow its belts to be sanctioned in the US, which could essentially kill off the sanctioning body.

That all sounds quite encouraging until you take into account Mazzulli’s comments to Yahoo. He described this more as “holding [Mendoza’s] feet to the fire” and that he doesn’t think the ABC will need to take the steps outlined above because Mendoza has promised to make changes.

It hasn’t been made clear what exactly the ABC will accept as sufficient changes, plus the overall response to Rizzo’s alleged racist tweets – which seem to have been confirmed by the WBA as being sent by her – has been weak.

The ABC has the power to properly bring these sanctioning bodies into line but doesn’t appear willing to do so. The WBA’s response to the Maestre-Fox controversy was to order another fight between the two, which would bring with it more sanctioning fees, therefore yet more money in the organisation’s pocket.

It’s also all well and good “condemning” Rizzo’s tweets, but if they are accepting that she sent them then they need to take sterner action against her – she should never be allowed to judge a fight again.

Mendoza will apparently meet with Rizzo this week to discuss what happened, after which a decision will be made on what action – if any – will be taken by the WBA. A more public and transparent inquiry would be ideal, but this is boxing after all.

The Yahoo report ended with another alarming revelation; that numerous sources within boxing claim Mendoza directly manages certain Venezuelan fighters, including Maestre. Mendoza denies the accusation, though openly admitted that he has paid them money out of his own pocket and “pointed them in the right direction” with regards to their careers.

That sounds mightily suspicious and is another factor that needs to be thoroughly investigated by the ABC.

The BBC reported on a 64-year-old man winning a “world title.” In fact, a grandfather from Nottingham picked up the ‘World Legends Championships’ cruiserweight title on a card that wasn’t governed by the British Boxing Board of Control. The BBC were reporting on this unironically and treating it as if the man had won a legitimate world title. Boxing fans will, obviously, know what’s what but those not as accustomed to the sport who come across this story could easily be swayed into thinking this 64-year-old man is an actual world champion. The sad thing is, that wouldn’t even be that surprising in this sport.

Broadcasts

It was a real shame to learn that Errol Spence will no longer be fighting Pacquiao this weekend after doctors discovered a retinal tear in his left eye during a pre-fight medical check. The show will go on with Pacquiao facing Yordenis Ugas instead, a capable if not underwhelming replacement. For what it’s worth, Spence has since had surgery on his eye though there has been no update on when he can expect to return to training, let alone an actual fight. Sky Sports picked up the UK broadcast rights to the bout, an interesting development in their new journey without Matchroom. Sky have their international deal with Top Rank, though clearly are keen to pick up other big shows from the US and abroad and have the freedom to do so. That’s great news for UK fight fans.

This past weekend Sky, in conjunction with Top Rank, also staged what was billed as the “first ever all-female broadcast team” for boxing when Crystina Poncher and world champion Mikaela Mayer provided commentary and analysis of a card topped by Joshua Franco vs Andrew Moloney.

It was another positive step for the sport and a welcome one as both Poncher and Mayer did an excellent job on the broadcast. Mayer, at times, appeared a little stiff but that’s understandable given this was her first ever commentary role.

This, coupled with DAZN’s deployment of Maya Jama and Laura Woods on their UK broadcasts, is bringing about some much-needed parity on boxing shows and will hopefully continue.

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