Eric Armit, who is a Director of the CBC and its former Chairman, is renowned worldwide as an authority on boxers records and also as a satirical and cynical observer.
Eric Armit writes in his capacity as a boxing journalist and not as a director of the CBC. His views and comments are his own and have not been the subject of prior discussion or consideration by his fellow directors, nor form official CBC policy.
I am sitting in a McDonalds over the road from the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Sitting two tables from me is Ron Lyle. The door opens and in walks Buster Douglas! Not “Only In America”-only in Canastota during inauguration weekend. The good thing is that both of them were customers-neither of them was reduced to working there. Also in Canastota it was touching to see the respect and care Nino Benvenuti showed for his old adversary Emile Griffith. Emile is in poor health, and Nino was never far from his side supporting and helping him. That sort of respect for past opponents gives the game dignity. Next year both Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez will be on the ballot and are sure to get elected, so book early, for that will be some occasion.
I have never seen before the tone of press previews such as those regarding the fourth fight between Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez. The universal view was it will be another great fight, but I just wish it was not going to happen, as they have both taken enough punishment already. The only other fight that comes close to this for generating such a pre-viewpoint was the Thriller In Manila.
I loved a note about one of the seminars for judges at the IBF Convention which would address “moral character and appearance of impropriety”. I guess you could sum it up as don’t take bribes and if you do don’t get caught. The ghost of Bobby Lee stands in the wings. Boxing would be better if spent more time sorting out a scoring system and getting rid of judges such as the one who scored a recent fight in Mexico involving the former WBC featherweight champion Cesar Soto 120-111 when the other two scored it 116-114 and 116-116. As long as scoring is a beauty contests these idiots will find a spot round the ring.
So much of what goes on in the politics of boxing can leave a bad taste in the mouth, so it is important now and then to focus on the good side, and there are good things in boxing. The Daniel Geale vs Kariz Kariuki show on June 2 was a benefit show for a young girl suffering from a brain tumor and through the Make-A-Wish Foundation Floyd Mayweather Jr paid a visit to one of his biggest fans, 17-year-old Armando Carral who is suffering from Hodgkin’s disease, and posed for photos and signed autographs for the family.
In a different, but related cause, a charity baseball tournament was held in the Philippines to provide funds to help defray the costs associated with the rehabilitation program for boxer Z Gorres who suffered a brain injury incurred in his winning fight against Colombian Luis Melendez last November.
The Boxing Writers of America held there annual awards dinner recently with Joe Frazier, George Chuvalo, Joey Gamache, Tomasz Adamek, and Iran Barkley in attendance. Amongst the awards Manny Pacquiao was named Fighter of the Decade; the Fight of the Year Award went to Juan Manuel Marquez vs Juan Diaz. Alexis Arguello was given a posthumous Good Guy Award. Jack Hirsch and his staff did sterling work in staging the event.
No surprise in the news from Puerto Rico that Miguel Cotto has changed his mind about retiring on his 30th birthday in October. Now he is a champion again the song has changed from Happy Birthday to Money, Money Money. Cotto’s win over Yuri Foreman made him the sixth Puerto Rican to win titles in three divisions after Wilfredo Gomez, Felix Trinidad, Wilfredo Benitez, Wilfredo Vazquez Snr. and Hector Camacho. Must be something in the holy water when they christen a baby “Wilfredo”.
I did not get a fair deal! How often we hear that from a beaten fighter. However New York light welterweight Jonathan Cuba may be justified in complaining. In his June fight against Chris Martinez Cuba was floored near the end of the third round. Martinez was so sure of victory he was up on the turnbuckle celebrating his win. Cuba just made it to his feet as the bell sounded. However for some inexplicable reason the referee allowed the round to continue and Martinez landed more punches on the poor Cuba. Finally the referee broke in and ended the round. However, for the one minute interval the timekeeper was working on the basis of when he first rang the bell, and about 20 seconds after Cuba returned to his corner the bell rang for the fourth round. Still badly dazed, He was promptly flattened by a left hook. Somehow he got up, aimed an obscene gesture at the fans and was floored again by a right and stopped-and this was in his own home town!
It was announced that Gennady Golovkin will fight Colombian Milton Nunez for the “secondary” WBA middleweight title, as they have designated their current WBA champion Felix Sturm as a super champion. The usual rubbish you might say. However they only have a secondary title in a division where they have designated their champion as a “super” champion for also winning one of the other sanctioning bodies titles in the same division. Only problem is that champion Felix Sturm has not fought for over a year and has not won one of the other division titles, but then you can’t let the rules ruin a good sanctioning fee.
The WBC are not much better when it comes to spreading confusion. I had some vague understanding of the meaning of an interim champion (although it is obvious that none of the sanctioning bodies do), but what is a World Silver Belt champion? That is totally meaningless excuse for a sanctioning fee. Poor old Andre Berto, the WBC give Manny Pacquiao a Diamond Belt for winning the WBO title, give Justin Savi a Silver belt for winning-um-eh-um the Silver Belt welterweight title, and for actually being the WBC champion Andre gets-a plastic belt!
There is still super middleweight life outside the Super Six. Golden Boy Promotions have announced an eliminator between unbeaten Frenchman Jean Paul Mendy and the reality show winner Sakio Bika with the winner to challenge Lucien Bute. It is a good, even match, but again it leaves me wondering who, apart from Bute, will be around to challenge the winner when the Super Six finishes. The piece I did on losers getting title shots is still in vogue. Hugo Cazares will defend his WBA super flyweight title against Everardo Morales. Morales has lost in challenges for the WBO and WBC flyweight titles and for the interim WBC super flyweight title, but he has won his last two fights-against opponents with combined records of 9-11-4. Just right for the WBA.
I have seen various comments with regard to the WBA strongly pushing their version of the European title (EABA). On one hand the quality of their title fights has so far been abysmal, with good fighters being matched with second rate prelim fighters, that there is very little chance that anyone will take them seriously. However, over time that may change, just as the WBO went from a second rate sanctioning body to be accepted as one of the “big four”. However the EBU will always have more respect because they have been the accepted authority in Europe for more than 50 years, have active participation of all of the European national bodies and the quality of their title fights has been, and remains high.
On the other hand the EBU has brought this situation on themselves. They have always been in the WBC fold and at best paid lip service to the WBA, so you reap as you sow. It just remains to be seen how happy Jose Sulaiman is to watch sanctioning fees for the EABA flowing into the WBA coffers whilst he collects nothing from EBU title fights, but then the WBC have Mediterranean titles and could bring in North Sea South Basin, South Sea North Basin, Up Channel, Down Channel, North Irish Sea and Loch Ness ( a monster one that) titles and award tin, copper, brass, lead belts etc.
Strange how a fighter’s record can suddenly be turned upside down and how some fighters seem happy to spend a long time getting nowhere. Take the case of Nigerian heavyweight Gbenga Oloukun. Between 2005 and 2008 he won his first 16 fights, ten by KO/TKO and looked a real prospect. Since then he has lost five of his last six fights and looks to be on his way to an early end to his career.
In the other category you have Hungarian Vilmos Balog (h). He was an outstanding amateur competing in the World championships and the Olympics and beat fighters such as Paul McCloskey, Willie Blain, Nigel Wright, Ricardo Williams and others. He left it until he was 30 to turn pro, so you would think he would be in a hurry. He now has a 29-0 record but only five of his opponents have had positive records and he is still unknown and at 35 going nowhere, and seems content to be doing just that. Another is German light heavyweight Guido Fiedler. Since turning pro in 2006 Fiedler has run up a record of 21 straight wins but only three of those fights have been scheduled for more than four rounds and only one opponent has had a positive record (2-0). Now 37, he is again not interested in going anywhere. They will never know if they “coudda been a contender”.