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.
It is difficult to know whether the career of the former WBO super featherweight champion Jorge Barrios is hanging in the balance or on the way to new glory. The 34-year-old Argentinian was back in action last month after eleven months out of the ring. Although once a big hero in his country his reception by the crowd at his comeback fight was very mixed. The reason for this was Barrios’ involvement in a car crash. The car he was driving ploughed into another car and from the subsequent shunts a young woman suffered serious injury and died. That alone would have been bad enough, but its impact was compounded in two ways. Firstly Barrios left the scene of the accident. He was recognised by some of the bystanders and only presented himself at the police station when he had a lawyer to accompany him. A much more emotional-based factor was that the woman was pregnant and her unborn child died with her. It has taken a long time, but finally at a hearing early this month Barrios was sent for trial so his future will soon be in the hands of the court. If found guilty he is likely to be in jail for as much as 25 years, which, as he is 34 would mean the end of his career. Just a week after he was indicted it is announced that he will fight Erik Morales in Tijuana on December 18. A win in that fight would put him right in the big money bracket. The prosecutor in Argentina is going for a murder charge, but it seems there is no problem with him leaving the country or getting in to Mexico as he has not yet been found guilty of any crime.
A parallel can be drawn with Harry Simon. The former undefeated WBO light middleweight champion was also imprisoned after being involved in a car crash in Namibia which resulted in the death of two Belgian tourists and their baby. Simon was charged with culpable suicide and served only 2 ½ years. He is out of prison and has had just one comeback fight against very modest quality. He will fight exhibitions in Namibia on November 5 against four boxers and is hoping for a shot at the WBO title in February. Even the WBO would have difficulty in letting a guy with only two fights in eight years fight for their title-I hope!
Cars and boxers seem to be ingredients of too many bad stories. The latest to get involved is the interim WBA flyweight champion Luis Concepción who was arrested after being involved in a car accident in Chiriquí, Panama. “La Nica” was alleged to have pulled a gun on the other driver, and the police are investigating the incident. WBO interim lightweight champion Mike Katsidis has broken training and his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez on November 27 has to be in jeopardy. Mike has stopped training due to the death of his brother Stathi, who is one of Australia's top jockeys. The two brothers were very close and have supported each other through some bad times. Stathi was there for Mike when he was jailed a couple of years back, and Mike stood by Stathi when he was going through a bad period caused by drugs and alcohol. Family comes first and sympathies go to the Katsidis family.
Still on Australia it is worrying to see that Tony Mundine Jr is going to fight eleven fight novice Garth Wood. Wood won the right to a fight with Mundine by being victorious in the Australian version of “The Contenders”. Boxing is too dangerous for fights like this to be offered as prize with no consideration of the inequality of the match. Mundine has been a world champion and has lost only three of 43 fights. Wood is 32 and has a 9-1-1 record. If it had been proposed as a match in the normal way it would have been turned down, and it should be turned down now.
Although Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck is one of four boxers nominated to take part in a tournament to find the next challenger for the IBF heavyweight title, the former WBA cruiserweight champion has decided to take a fight with Hasim Rahman in Paris on December 2. Mormeck must feel confident, and a win over the former WBC champion will boost his stock, but it is an unnecessary risk.
Former undefeated WBO light-heavyweight and WBC cruiserweight champion Zsolt Erdei has signed with DiBella Entertainment and will have his first fight since November 2009 in Atlantic City on November 20. Not too sure about his opponent, Kenyan Samson Onyango. He was massacred by Nathan Cleverly in 135 seconds in February 2009 and in February this year was stopped in five rounds by eight fight novice Konstantin Piternov. Not the sort of fight Erdei or boxing needs. Not all matches are bad. ShoBox puts on a good one on November 5 with super middleweight prospects Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez (16-0) and James McGirt (22-2-1 clashing in Fargo, North Dakota. I take the puncher Rodriguez but I am usually wrong.
Not sure how good the David Lemieux vs Hector Camacho Jr fight is as a match. The exciting young Canadian has won his 23 fights, 22 by KO/TKO. Southpaw Camacho Jr is now 32, has won last nine and has only been beaten once inside the distance in 57 fights. On paper it looks a good test for Lemieux, but we will have to wait and see. Jose Garcia Lopez announced his retirement from boxing last month at the age of 41. You will not find his name on any list of world champions and the closest he came was challenging for the IBA title and also losing to Brit Steve Roberts for the WBF light middleweight title in 2002. However, I believe that “Quirino” Garcia was unique in the astonishing way that he turned his career around. When he turned pro in April 1990 he was a nobody fighting nobodies, and losing. He proved a reliable loser and so graduated to a being a nobody losing to tougher opponents. His record was immaculate. He lost everyone of his first 18 fights and, in the mad way of boxing, the more he lost the higher he climbed, gradually working his way from losing four round fights to losing ten round fights.
Despite his run of 18 losses, he did not quit, and someone saw something in him and took over his management. He was given time to prepare properly for bouts and went on to be unbeaten in his next 16 fights, in fact had a run of losing only one of his 25 from the time that he turned his career around. He won Mexican national titles at light middleweight (kayoing former WBC welterweight champion Jorge Vaca for the title, Vaca took the WBC title from Lloyd Honeyghan), middleweight and light heavyweight, and went the distance in twelve round fights with Simon Brown and Meldrick Taylor. He also won the WBC International title before retiring as undefeated Mexican light heavyweight champion. I do not believe that any fighter in the history of boxing has lost his first 18 fights in a row and then turned his career around in the way that Quirino did.
Another Mexican with a unique factor was in action this moth as Isidro Garcia was kayoed in four rounds by Francisco Arce for the vacant NABF title. His fourth loss in a row and his third in a row to a member of the Arce family, his second to Francisco and one to brother Jorge. Isidro holds a unique claim to fame that I hope is never repeated. He must be the only fighter to have paid to get in to watch himself fight for a world title. In December 1999 Isidro had gone along to watch a fight between Spaniard Jose Luis Bueno and Puerto Rican Jose Lopez for the WBO flyweight title in Indio, California. Champion Bueno was pulled out at the last minute and the show and the TV transmittal was in danger of collapsing. Isidro was pulled out of the crowd, was kitted out and went into the ring to challenge for the title-and won. A farcical situation that must have broken a few WBO rules, but I never learned if Isidro got his entrance fee returned. The sort of question that only a Scotsman would ponder on.
My daughter Alison claims that I have a terrible sense of humour. She usually puts forward this opinion after I have escaped from the old folks home disguised as someone like Cheryl Cole. I feel this judgement is unfair. What has this to do with boxing you may ask. Well I am about to give you an example of my humour which is both topical and boxing related. Just last week the Haitian prospect Evens Pierre was in action and won impressively. My thought when writing up the report was “Evens Pierre” that’s the sort of thing that a French bride might say on seeing her husband naked for the first time on their wedding night. Evens Pierre! My daughter is right, where’s the Susan Boyle wig.
Back in February 1996 a couple of light flyweights clashed in Mandaluyong City in the Philippines. One was an unbeaten 18-year-old, who was using eight ounce gloves to the six ounce worn by his opponent. This was a penalty for coming in 2lbs over the agreed weight. His opponent was a 24-year-old with an 11-4-4 record. The winner was the older boxer who's name was Rustico Torrecampo. The loser was Manny Pacquiao who suffered his first loss as a pro. We all know what happened to Pacquiao, but what of Torrecampo. Well he sunk without trace after challenging unsuccessfully for the Philippines title in 1996 and retired in February 1997 after losing three of his last four fight. Well Mr Torrecampo is back. At the age of 38 he has said he intends to apply to the Games & Amusements Board for permission to box again, and claims to be training hard. It is surely no coincidence that he is current in deep trouble after stabbing a man to death in the street and is negotiating with the mans family to get them to agree to compensation. For that he needs money-and right now a man who can claim to have knocked out Manny Pacquiao in three rounds might just have some novelty value.
A few years back it was impossible to pick up a boxing paper without reading about the domination of American heavyweights. Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Holmes, Tyson, Holyfield. The heavyweight division was about American fighters and all others were just bit players. Although the Klitschko brothers are the epitome of how things have changed, the rot set in when Lennox Lewis came on the scene.
I don’t claim to have answer as to why the American heavyweight production line went to some elephant graveyard, but they did. It is not that America does not continue to produce heavyweight, they do, it is just that those they produce are barely above ordinary. It is not that guys such as Eddie Chambers, Chris Arreola, Ray Austin and Tony Thompson are not good fighters, they are, but they are not good enough, and neither would they have been good enough in any other era.
Looking over the horizon is just as depressing with guys such as Seth Mitchell, Skyler Anderson and Travis Kauffmann not really setting America alight. Deontay Wilder, the Olympic bronze medallist, was looked upon as hope for the future, but after “opponent” Harold Sconiers put a big question mark over his chin, and Wilder will probably go backwards to another selection of soft touches before any mild risk is taken with him
The Klitschko’s cannot go on forever, but when you look over the horizon in Europe and see Denis Boystov, Robert Helenius, Francesco Paneta, Oleg Platov, Ondrej Pala, Andrzej Warwrzyk, Andriy Rudenko, Vyacheslav Glazkov, Murad Khalidov, David Price, Tyson Fury, Sam Sexton and Dereck Chisora etc. all in their early or mid 20’s, you get a different picture, and if Italian amateur star Robert Cammarelle ever turns pro, then watch out.
It’s my opinion that heavyweights are history in American and that they will never again produce another one who will dominate the division, or if they do by then I will be too old to worry about having this opinion thrown back in my face.
I failed to mention German-based Manuel Charr in the above list because he was born in Lebanon, but he is one I hope succeeds. I admire any fighter who can come back from a torn cruciate ligament and a broken knee cap and “Diamond Boy” has done so He has 14 wins, having beaten Cuban Pedro Carrion, the then unbeaten Gabriel Olounka, Sherman Williams and Owen Beck so has good credentials for someone with so few fights.