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.
The charge of “bringing the sport into disrepute” puzzles me as the standards seem to differ a great deal. Two of Britain’s outstanding sportsmen, Ricky Hatton and Wayne Rooney, have been getting a great deal of media attention because of their “star” status. The BBB of C have dealt Ricky a quite severe set of penalties for his misdemeanours even though his activities have nothing strictly to do with boxing. Wayne has suffered no official penalties for his misdemeanours, presumably because sleeping with prostitutes is ok, but snorting drugs is not. Some sort of differentiation there between “sinful” episodes that escapes me.
It makes me wonder if there is a league table of misdemeanours somewhere laying down what is acceptable, and what is not. Footballers do not get punished by the authorities for taking cocaine or sleeping with prostitutes, but players and managers are fined for uttering words critical of the officials, or the guys in blazers. It appears that words and not deeds are what bring football into disrepute. .
The BBB of C have been consistent in that they always take a very strong stance where the reputation of the sport is concerned, and it is realised that youngsters do look up to stars such Ricky and Wayne. However, I find it puzzling that some of the actions of David Haye such as T-Shirts sporting the decapitated heads of the Klitschko brothers, and his gang rape quote and again talk of decapitating Audley Harrison, are not seen as harming the sport, when they are more directly related to the image of the sport than what Ricky and Wayne do in their private lives. Boxing struggles to present an acceptable face to a sport that can brutal at times. David Haye is one of the brightest stars out there with the power and charisma to sell any fight without indulging in language that to my mind reflects badly on boxing in the eyes of the public, and isn’t that the same as bringing the sport into disrepute?
Newspapers usually need a headline to hang a story on. When crime is involved it does not matter if the guy has had ten different occupations, if he has been a boxer the headline will always say “Former Boxer Arrested for…”
However according to a report in the Ghana Times an investigation revealed that 72 “former boxers” were languishing in Nsawam jail in Ghana. Accompanied by Napoleon Tagoe, a former pro boxer, the newspaper interviewed many of them and the story was generally the same. That they had entered boxing full of hopes, but had found that due to there being few shows and the money not being very good they eventually either drifted away from the sport, or turned to criminal activities whilst still a boxer. Many were inside for murder or armed robbery with 15 serving sentences of 30 years hard labour or more. Those were the lucky ones. The Times were told of Emmanuel Tetteh, a 20-year-old who had fought in the televise Mortein Boxing Championships. Tetteh was also moonlighting as an armed robber, but when a robbery went wrong, Tetteh was caught by the neighbourhood watch, who dispensed their own brand of justice by lynching the youngster.
Tagoe, who founded the Will Power Boxing Gym in Accra, and challenged Juan Carlos Gomez for the WBC cruiserweight title in 1999,was concerned that the numbers of young boxers turning to crime after disillusionment with boxing would only increase. They hear of Joshua Clottey earning $1.5 million for fighting Manny Pacquiao and hope to follow the same path. When they realise that their dreams are just that then they often turn to crime. Whilst the story was a bad one for the image of boxing it certainly opened the debate on how to help young fighters with the Ghana Boxing Authority (GBA), and the National Sports Council agreeing to search for ways to change things. The GBA is stated to be working on compiling a list of licensed boxers , and Ghana is one of the leading boxing nations in Africa with a higher level of activity than many others and a better level of control, but it has work to do.
It is probable that many of the 72, were exaggerating their boxing experience, and that there were many factors other than their disillusionment with the sport that made them turn to crime. It is also probable that many had jobs other than boxing, but again the “ former boxers” tag was a useful for the paper, but it was alarming to find so many who had seen boxing as there way to fame and fortune ending up doing 30 years hard labour and blaming it on conditions within the sport. Typical WBA shenanigans. If a fighter holds the WBA title and the title of one of the other three major sanctioning bodies, then the WBA designate him a “super” champion and have a secondary champion who they call a WBA champion. That very approach is stupid, but they are not satisfied with even their own manoeuvres. Felix Sturm only holds the WBA middleweight title, but had been inactive for almost 12 months before they got around to having a fight to find an interim champion. That fight was won by Gennady Golovkin. All right up to that point by the WBA's twisted logic. However, Golovkin's management complained that Sturm had been inactive too long and that their boy should be made champion. WBA solution? Make Sturm a super champion and Golovkin the WBA secondary champion. Never mind that Sturm holds only one title, breaking your own rules is only a way of brushing aside an inconvenience.
Anyone who questions how Guillermo Jones managed to go over two years without a title defence is overlooking the fact that he is in the Don King camp. King may not be the force he once was, but his influence is still there. It showed on the big bill in Panama where there were some good matches, but the two total mismatches featured two Don King fighters, Hasim Rahman and Francisco Palacios. Back to the bad old days when the Don King cards always featured at least a couple of cringe-making mismatches to pad the records of his fighters.
Don't rule King out of the heavyweight picture. He has contracts with both Ray Austin and Odlanier Solis, who are No 1 and 2 in the WBC ratings. What a farce. Austin has not fought for over a year and seems to have won his No 1 rating for beating DaVarryl Williamson. Solis has never met a really credible opponent with wins over Monte Barrett and Carl Davis Drummond apparently making a fit No 2. I can't see Vitali Klitschko being too worried. Brother Wladimir destroyed Austin in two rounds in 2007 and the biggest fight Solis has is getting his trunks over his ever expending waistline.
The WBC were caught with their ratings down for the Krzys Wlodarczyk vs. Jason Robinson cruiserweight title match. Robinson had gone from outside the top 40 to No 22 for beating another unrated fighter and then from No 22 to No 15 without fighting to make him eligible to fight Wlodarczyk. He was probably dizzy from career vertigo by the time he got to Poland. Boxing is not all mis-matches. The bantamweight version of they Super Six has thrown up the proposed pairings of Vic Darchinyan against Abner Mares and Yohnny Perez in a return with Joseph Agbeko. There is a great deal of controversy over TV acting like promoters, but if it was not for TV the matches we are seeing on the Super Six and these bantamweight matches would not be happening, as promoters do not like their fighters to be in a competitive match every time they climb in the ring.
It was good to see Glen Johnson get a place in the Super Six. He has competed at the top level for years and rarely gets the breaks. He might lose more than just pounds coming down to super middleweight, but he is rarely in a bad fight and is capable of running anyone close on his night. Whilst it is a pity that Nat Cleverly has given up his European title it is also obvious that a world title shot is worth going after. The proposed match between Lolenga Mock and Lorenzo De Giacomo may not feature two world class fighters, it is nevertheless an excellent match. With very few exceptions the EBU title fights consistently produce excellent matches and as a result an EBU title match is easy to sell to TV. That is a circle that builds on itself and it is mainly down to the people at the top in the EBU running a straight ship, with no WBA type convolutions, and they give their excellent ratings committee a level of freedom from interference that is denied to the major sanctioning bodies. If the EBU ran world boxing it would not be perfect, but it would be much better than the farcical political reality we have now.
Argentinian banger Lucas Matthysse missed out on his chance to make an impression in the USA when his fight with Rogelio Castaneda ended early on a cut resulting in a no decision. Matthysse gets another chance, and a big one when he faces Zab Judah in Newark on November 6. A real crossroads fight this. A Big win would put Matthysse into the mix in what is currently the biggest money spinning division. Judah would also be in with a chance of a title fight if he wins, but it is the slippery slope for Judah if he loses.
Former WBC bantamweight champion Hozumi Hasegawa is also chasing another chance. Crushed by Fernando Montiel when losing his title in April Hasegawa is in line to fight Mexican Juan Carlos Burgos for the vacant WBC featherweight title in Nagoya in November. Burgos is unbeaten in 25 fights but has not really been tested. You have to ask how Hasegawa can go from a kayo loss at bantamweight into fighting for the vacant featherweight title, vaulting over the rated contenders, and never having fought in the division. Then you have to remember that THE Japanese Boxing Commission refuses to allow any IBF or WBO title fights to be held in Japan. That greatly benefits the WBC and WBA and there is a price to pay for this. Giving priority to Japanese fighters is the payback.
It was almost funny to read of Oscar De La Hoya saying that what boxing needed was a National Commission in America and that the sport would benefit from there being only one promoter with the best fighters fighting each other. Naturally when Oscar said there should be only one promoter he meant only Golden Boy, and any body who thinks that it would be a bad thing for there to be genuine competition between promoters for the service of boxers has more money than sense-don't you Oscar?
It is not often that the British Embassy gets involved in boxing, but it happened in Caracas. They have what the term “Street Fighting” out there, but that does not mean it is bare fists on cobbles, but in rings set up in popular public open spaces. The British Embassy supported the recent series of bouts in Caracas because the aim is said to be to find possible stars for the 2012 Olympics and beyond. The show was attended by former world champions Rafael Orono, Jesus Rojas, Antonio Cermeno and Bernardo Pinango, and featured bouts from children to seniors.