LAST week’s big fights were a mixed bag. We had two very good fights in California with Daniel Roman vs. TJ Doheny an exciting scrap all the way through which unified two titles and also a brilliant exhibition of quality boxing from Juan Francisco Estrada against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. In addition when we thought it was dead in the water but the World Boxing Super Series tournament came back to life with semi-finals in the super-lightweight and bantamweight categories. It was predictable that Regis Prograis and Nonito Donaire would win but it was important how they did it and they both showed power and class. Let’s just pass over Robert Easter vs. Rances Barthelemy as it showed that two good fighters could put up a bad fight.
I seem to have a talent for being in the wrong time at the wrong place. The WBSS card was held in Lafayette. I worked in the oil industry and Lafayette was the first town I visited in the USA. I returned there just a few years back to visit with my long time and close friend Beau Williford who has his Ragin’ Cajun gym there and met up with Kerry Daigle who subsequently did all of the media and publicity work for the WBSS show. So how come I was slogging away at a computer on the East Coast of Scotland instead of sitting at ringside in Lafayette – wrong time wrong place.
Of course tomorrow night in Las Vegas we have Saul Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs with a good supporting cast including John Ryder vs. unbeaten Bilal Akkawy and in Stockton Jerwin Ancajas and Artur Beterbiev defend their titles. I think Jacobs is going to be a much tougher test for Alvarez than many anticipate and I would not be surprised to see Jacobs pull off an upset victory.
Congratulations to Andy Ruiz he is going to get the fight that will pay him more than he has ever been paid for a fight by a factor of ten or fifteen more than he has ever received or probably ever will receive. Life and boxing are unpredictable so those that turned down the chance to fight Anthony Joshua may well live to regret it. There are only three fighters in the heavyweight division against whom seriously big money can be made – Joshua, Deontay Wilder and to a lesser extent Tyson Fury. In the Wilder vs. Fury fight Wilder reportedly got $14 million and Fury $10 million and neither Wilder nor Fury will earn nearly as much against their next opponents. Ruiz will reportedly get $7 million but that was an exceptional case due to the need to offer a big enough incentive to get someone to take the fight at such short notice.
Of course Ruiz is not an opponent to get the juices flowing but he will be close to fighting condition having won recently. He has lost only once and for my money was very unlucky not to get at least a draw against Joseph Parker. No it is not a great fight but let’s not get hysterical it is no worse than Wilder vs. Dominic Breazeale and better than Fury against untested Tom Schwarz.
I find it incredible that the WBA should have given Miller a derisory six month ban. He failed three tests, lied about it until it was obvious that the evidence that he had cheated was confirmed and some even praised him for confessing. What else could he do? Lie again!
The WBA ban is just posturing. They have no jurisdiction over Miller. All they can do is ban him from fighting for the WBA title. The New York Board withdrew his licence but cannot ban him and since there is no central authority governing boxing the USA in theory he could box next week if he could find a State to give him a licence. We could learn something from the German approach which has Felix Sturm in its sights.
Even in Germany the wheels of justice sometimes grind slowly but it can be satisfying when they do get there in the end. Last month former middleweight and super-middleweight champion Felix Sturm decided that it was safe for him to return to Germany having moved out of the country a few years back to avoid some growing legal problems. He was wrong. The authorities in Cologne quickly arrested Sturm to face tax evasion charges. Sturm appealed to a local court to be allowed bail and the court agreed. However a higher court overturned that ruling deciding that due to the amount of money involved in the charges Sturm was a flight risk and the bail application was denied. Then came the action that will interest boxing as new indictments have been raised under the German Anti-Doping in Sports Act relating to Sturm’s fight with Fedor Chudinov in 2016. The irony of that will strike Sam Soliman who beat Sturm for the IBF and WBA super middleweight titles in 2012 only to be denied the titles due to a positive test which after years of going through the courts finally proved Soliman was innocent. It is interesting that through this law in Germany it is a crime to use performance enhancing drugs in sport. In most countries it is a breach of the rules dealt with by the sporting organisation involved and is not a criminal offence. Under the German law brought into force in 2017 athletes who test positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) or are found in possession of PEDs can face a prison term of up to three years. Those who provide them with the substances can face sentences of up to ten years. Whilst criminalising the use of performance enhancing drugs would be very strong deterrent I can’t see many countries following the lead of Germany and boxing’s approach will continue to be flawed, fractured and weak. It is hard to think of a single boxer who has been given a suspension of more than a year and there are plenty such as Luis Ortiz, Tony Yoka, Alex Povetkin and yes even Saul Alvarez of the tainted Mexican meat who have been allowed to slip though the net.
Plenty to look forward to on May 11 with two return matches. In Tucson Miguel Berchelt defends his WBO super-feather title in a return match against Francisco Vargas, the man he won the title from in 2017 and Emanuel Navarette is offering Isaac Dogboe the chance to win back the WBO super-bantamweight title he took from the Ghanaian in December.
On the same night in Fairfax Jarrett Hurd puts the IBF and WBA titles on the line against Julian Williams
It seems a case of one out-one in as far as Argentinian former world champions are concerned. Marcos Maidana has abandoned his plans for a return blaming parts of the contract for his return as opposed to any boxing reason for changing his mind. On the other hand Sergio Martinez is training with a view to a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr in September or October. Now 44 “Maravilla” has not fought since losing to Miguel Cotto in June 2014. It is a pity he has taken that decision as in June this year he will have been inactive for five years which would have made him eligible to go on the list of candidates for the Boxing Hall of Fame.
Zab Judah continues his stuttering return with a contest against Cletus Seldin at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona on 7 June. Seldin is 23-1 so there is some risk in the venture for the 41-year-old former light welterweight and welterweight champion.
So now the WBO have a Global title. When it comes to inventing another sanctioning fee it is a basic rule not to let commonsense get in the way. According to my dictionary global means “world-wide” so we have a world-wide title that is not a world title and to think they actually debated about what to name this new title!
It angers me the way that the sanctioning bodies hand out a place in the ratings to fighters who win their minor titles irrespective of the quality of the fighter they are or the stature of the opponent they beat for the title. Apart from skewing the whole principle behind ratings they then put themselves in the position of what to do if the fighter then relinquishes that minor title. The only reason he was rated has disappeared so does he do the same?
Badou Jack has scotched any rumours of retiring. The former holder of the WBC super-middleweight and secondary WBA light-heavyweight titles has said he intends to fight again once the horrific cut he suffered in his loss to Marcus Browne in January heals. A return with Browne is one aim but he has also hinted he might try fighting at cruiserweight to become a three-division.
Any thief who is dumb enough to steal a motor bike from Roberto Duran’s son must be really dumb. Duran quickly went on social media asking for help and in response units of the National Police Force and the Public Ministry were quickly mobilised and the thief abandoned his prize realising he has kicked over a hornets’ nest and the bike was very quickly back with the Duran family. Never steal from a local hero.