WITH the Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev and Srisaket vs. Roman Gonzalez fights producing disputed verdicts (by me anyway) it is good to see that we will get a rerun of both of them. I thought Kovalev edged Ward and that Gonzalez was a clear winner against Srisaket which just goes to show that whilst two people watch the same fight they will often both see a different fight. Hopefully we get a clear and decisive outcome in both contests. No matter how good a fight is I hate to see it develop into a series as it shuts out other fighters going for the title. Despite how I saw the first one I think Ward will win the return and Gonzalez will get his revenge-so bet on Kovalev and Srisaket!
The WBC don’t want to have to wait until Gonzalez’s injuries heal so they have ordered an interim title fight between Juan Francisco Estrada and Carlos Cuadras which is a great little fight. The WBC has said that whoever wins the respective fights must then meet each other in their next fight. Too often we get the recurring farce of both a real champion and an interim champion defending their titles at the same time. Which part of the word interim do the sanctioning bodies have a problem understanding?
The uncertainty over Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent has been settled and it turns out to be who it was supposed to be in the first place. Jeff Horn gets the chance of a lifetime in Brisbane on July 2 in what is arguably the biggest fight ever held in Australia. Boxing badly needs a profile boost Down Under. Today’s newspapers in Brisbane listed sports sections covering “Rugby, Football, Cricket, Racing, Motor Sport, Tennis and Basketball. Boxing came in under “others”. Some publicity drum thumping needed I feel. The 29-year-old Horn, the WBO No 2, is 16-0-1. Despite not taking up boxing until he was 18 Horn won the Queensland State title in only his second amateur fight .He then had extensive amateur experience including being Australian champion and competing at both the World Championships and the 2012 Olympics. He has wins over good level competition in Viktor Plotnykov (32-2), Ahmed El Mousaoui (22-1-1), Randall Bailey and Ali Funeka. None of those are even remotely in Pacquiao’s class and the odds against a Horn win are huge but who knows? Upsets happen and sometimes fighters seem to grow old overnight, but a win for Horn would be one of the greatest upsets in boxing history. Oh unless we forget one of Pacquiao’s team said that a fight with Amir Khan later in the year is a possibility. Don’t hold your breath.
It is still not clear who will be in opposite corner when Miguel Cotto fights in New York on June 24. The latest suggestion is Japanese fighter Yoshihiro Kamegai but nothing is set. Cotto’s team have said it will not be a PPV match and in view of the names coming up of possible opponents that’s the right decision. Austin Trout has put his name forward but that is not a likely option. Young Puerto Rican prospect Alberto “Explosivo” Machado may also be on the bill. He impressed at the weekend with a first round dismissal of Juan Jose Martinez. His last nine wins have taken a total of less than twelve rounds and Martinez was a very respectable 26-3 going in.
Juan Manuel Marquez is back in action. No not in the ring. The Mexican great has declared war on JP Morgan Chase & Co. Marquez is suing the bank alleging they did not carry out their fiscal duties with regard to a conspiracy to steal $2.3 million from him. His past tax accountants opened a false account in his name at the bank and then transferred Marquez’s tax refunds into that account and stole the money. Marquez is suing for return of the money plus significant damages claiming the bank failed in their duty and did not train their personnel sufficiently. The Bank denies the allegations.
With Thai boxer Wanheng going to 46-0 with a win last week in a non-title six round fight there has been some talk over whether if he gets to 50-0 he beats the current record for a world champion of 49-0 held jointly by Rocky Marciano and Floyd Mayweather Jr. If you think it would not count then you need to come up with some criteria that shows why. Right now it is simple. Get to 50-0 no matter what title you hold, what opposition you face or what nationality you are and you beat the record so right now there is no reason to ignore his claim if he gets there.
Ricardo Mayorga returned to the ring last week. He was fatter, slower and heavier but his disgraceful attitude and crass mouth have not changed one little bit. Representatives of women’s rights movements in Nicaragua picketed the show asking people to boycott it. They were rightly incensed by Mayorga’s behaviour at the weigh in. He slapped his Mexican opponent and shouted “shut up you bitch, that is how I shut up bitches”. He then pointed at his opponent’s shaved head and said it made him look like a fat woman with cancer. Disgraceful. In the past Mayorga has been accused of rape and assault against women but none of the allegations have stuck.
Dierry Jean is another boxer in trouble. The Haitian-born Canadian, who lost to Terrence Crawford for the WBO super light title in 2015, has been sentenced to 15 months in jail. The crime related to an incident back in 2014. Jean was with a group of guys when they decided to rob a complete stranger, a woman selected at random. Jean was tasked with undertaking the robbery. He approached the woman and threatened to stab her before punching her in the face and robbing her. The case took some time to come to court and Jean pled guilty to the charges. Despite the support of those around him the 34-year-old Jean has struggled for some time with alcohol and drug problems.
The WBC is planning to have its Convention in Kazakhstan this year. Although there is very little professional boxing in the country they certainly have some good exports. Apart from Gennady Golovkin there is also WBA and IBO champion bantam Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-1), Beibut Shumenov, light Heavy Issa Akberbayev (18-0), super welter Kanat Islam (23-0) and welter Zhankhozh Turarov (20-0). They also have some top flight amateurs about to launch themselves into the pros but there is no sign of any significant growth of professional boxing locally.
Shumenov’s next fight will be a defence of his secondary WBA cruiser title against WBA interim champion Yunier Dorticos in Las Vegas on 29 April. The plan is for the winner of that fight to challenge the real WBA champion Denis Lebedev. The next proposed step is for the winner of that series to face IBF champion Marat Gassiev to unify-partially-the cruiser titles. Not sure how the WBA are going to be able to tell Gassiev who to fight.
It has been announced that Alex Povetkin will fight again on July 1 in Moscow. That’s one day after his suspension ends and only six months since he last fought. That shows just how weak and derisory the action taken against positive tests is,
Some boxers have problems when they retire but Sergio Martinez is not one of them. Now 42 the former WBC super welter and WBC/WBO middleweight champion has been a busy man. He still manages a team of boxers but has involved himself in music, literature and theatre and is now moving into the cinema. “Maravilla” is playing the part of a rural bandit in a western “Pistoleros”. In a recent interview he stressed how important the mental side of boxing was and admitted that he did not see sparring as being that important. He was asked about his defensive skills and whether he had tried to copy the great “Untouchable” Nicolino Locche but Martinez said that that was not possible as Locche, who at one time had a run of just one loss in 113 fights, was from another galaxy-praise indeed.
Manipulation of ratings is an incurable disease for some sanctioning bodies. Take the case of Japanese fighter Toshiyuki Igarashi. He is currently the WBO No 1 at flyweight so the mandatory challenger to Zou Shiming. In May 2016 he was rated No 10 by them. Up until last weekend when he fought a technical draw with Martin Cartagena he had had only one fight since that No 10 rating. In September 2016 he beat Thai Weerachai who was having his first pro fight. So from No 10 to No 1 by beating a guy having his first fight. There is no honest answer for manipulation that blatant.
Golden Boy prospect Diego De La Hoya will be moving up to ten rounds to top the bill in a Golden Boy/ESPN show. The 22-year-old cousin of Oscar is 17-0.
Russian Magomed Kurbanov’s big fight has faded away. Although he is just 10-0 the 21-year-old “Black Lion” was to have faced Shane Mosley in Yekaterinburg where a win would have boosted his profile to new heights. However, Mosley pulled out with an injury. In comes Lithuanian Virgilijus Stapulionis who is a fairly good fighter (27-4-1) but no Shane Mosley. And so fame passes one by. Welter Dmitry Mikhaylenko (22-1) is also on the show.
At 45 Mosley should hang his gloves up but like many other he just can’t stay away. The same could be said for Tomasz Adamek. The 40-year-old former WBC light heavy and IBF cruiser champion returns to the ring on June 24 in Poland. No opponent named yet. Former European cruiser champion Mateusz Masternak is also on the show. Masternak gave Tony Bellew a hard time in their December 2015 fight before losing a very close decision. He won his two fights last year and is still rated in the top 15 by all four sanctioning bodies but I can’t see him landing a title shot.
I can live with Mosley and Adamek still fighting but James Toney is just so sad. A great boxer now a parody of a boxer. On May 13 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Toney fights Mike Sheppard for the vacant WBFoundation heavyweight title. Now 48 Toney is just a fat lump who used to be a great fighter. Sheppard is 41 but has at least been active. There are no redeeming features about this fight and the WBFoundation should not be lowering themselves by being involved.
Plenty of action coming up in Germany. On April 22 Arthur Abraham and Robin Krasniqi clash in a WBO super middle eliminator. Not sure of the value of that. If Abraham wins it will be a hard sell for him against the champion Gilberto Ramirez as the Mexican won every round when they fought for the WBO title in April last year. If Krasniqi wins it will be Robin who? So an even harder sell. In a supporting bout German heavy hope Tom Schwarz (18-0) fights Adnan Redzovic (17-1) for the WBO Inter-Continental title. Not quite as tough as it looks on paper as Redzovic is 40 and has had only two fights, both against novices, in the past 30 months.
On May 13 in Karlsruhe big puncher Vincent Feigenbutz defends his IBF Inter-Continental title. The original opponent was to be Andrey Sirotkin but that is now in question. On 19 May in Hamburg a dinner/boxing show sees unbeaten Mario Daser face former IBO cruiser champion Ola Afolabi, This will be the London-born Afolabi’s first fight since losing to Marco Huck for the WBO cruiser title in February last year. Christian Hammer, Karo Murat and former European champion Igor Mikhalkin are also booked to appear against opponents yet to be named.
A show in Lagos, Nigeria on March 26 saw local fighter Otto Joseph win the West African lightweight title with a first round knockout of late replacement Ghanaian Ayitey Mettle. There were four other unbeaten fighters on the show. Additionally there was a show on 2 April in Lagos. It is good to see some action in Nigeria. They have produced so many good fighters but it is a struggle. There is no real money to be made, it can be a struggle to raise sponsorship and there is always the possibility that if a fighter does shine he will head for the bright light and bigger money. It is remarkable that the local promoters and the Board keep things going.