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.
Saturday will be redemption day, if we are unlucky! On that night Antonio Margarito and Audley Harrison will seek to cancel all doubts and show us that they really are great fighters. I say if we are unlucky because Margarito does not deserve success, he should be banned from boxing, and heaven help us if 39-year-old Audley is the future of the heavyweight division. No one will ever convince me that Margarito did not know that his trainer was doctoring his gloves before the Mosley fight, or that it was the first time it had been done. If you think it through you have to ask if Margarito did not realise what was going on in the dressing room, then would certainly have realised it when the substance hardened during the fight, and you have to believe that his trainer would never have tried the criminal act unless he knew that Margarito would go along with it.
If Margarito beats Manny Pacquiao then he will have done it fair and square, and it will be a tremendous achievement-but the cheating incident will always follow him around.
If Harrison “cheated” anyone it was the BBC and the British boxing public. His performances under the ridiculously extravagant contract that some idiot at the BBC gave him effectively killed the broadcaster's interest in boxing and threw away a chance to get boxing back on terrestrial TV, which is how a boxer transcends the boxing fans adulation and becomes a household name.
Now if the BBC are given a choice between three-legged pigeon racing and boxing, bet on the birds. Redemption for Harrison has been wonderfully hyped. We are talking about a fighter who lost to Danny Williams and Dominic Guinn was stopped by Michael Sprott and beaten by ten fight novice Martin Rogan. A subsequent kayo of Sprott does not a star make, and if Audley was not British we would be rubbishing the match. On this basis a win for Harrison would again be a great achievement, but it is not something I am hoping for.
Still on the heavyweights, there are a couple of good matches coming up. Alex Dimitrenko will defend his EBU title against Albert Sosnowski on December 4, and Frenchman Jean Marc Mormeck will face Timur Ibragimov on December 2. Dimitrenko, at 6’7”, is up around the size of the Klitschko's and has a 30-1 record, losing to Eddie Chambers on a majority verdict in his only defeat. Pole Sosnowski, 31, with a 46-3-1 record, is a former undefeated EBU champion, and was kayoed in ten by Vitali Klitschko in May.
Mormeck,38, took a couple of years out after losing his WBC and WBA titles cruiserweight titles to David Haye in 2007, and has since had two useful wins, but not spectacular wins at heavyweight. Ibragimov, the brother of former WBO heavyweight champion Sultan Ibragimov, has a 30-2-1 record.
There was talk of Hasim Rahman being in the other corner, but this is probably a better match for Mormeck, who is in a set of eliminators for the IBF title. He will also promote the fight.
Brahim Asloum, the former WBA light flyweight champion is another French fighter going into the promoting game. Brahim has been awarded one of the World Series Boxing franchises. This is an international league for amateur boxers. Brahim has the Paris United team and they will compete in the European section against teams from Moscow, Milan and Istanbul. It is intended that they box ten rounds with the professional 10-9 scoring system. The aim is develop some badly missed star quality in the amateur ranks and better prepare the fighters for fighting as professionals. There have been twelve franchises awarded, going to cities in the USA, Mexico and Asia. It was reported that Brahim had beaten competition from Britain and Germany to get the franchise.
Sometimes you wonder whether a fighter is really injured or is looking for an easy way out in a hard fight. Well when Rafael Marquez complained of a shoulder injury and pulled out during his fight with Juan Manuel Lopez the question was there. However subsequent medical checks showed the Mexican had suffered a hairline fracture of his right shoulder bone, so he had good reason to pull out. He will be back, but was not a generous loser, describing Lopez as a dirty fighter. Now that does sound a bit like sour grapes.
I have seen all types of reaction from a losing fighter; Vicente Escobedo came up with a new approach. After losing a crucial fight to Roberto Guerrero last week end Vincent went back to his corner leant through the ropes and proposed marriage to his girlfriend and she accepted. You could say he had two matches on the same night, and came out a winner in one. I guess he was lucky his girlfriend didn’t say “it makes more sense for me to marry the winner”.
The “unification fight between Tim Bradley and Devon Alexander will only be a unification if Alexander wins. Devon was stripped off his IBF title for refusing to go through with a mandatory defence against South African Kaizer Mabuza, and Tim, a former WBC champion, refused to cough up the sanctioning fee to the WBC, so that title will not be at stake. However, if Alexander wins then he will be WBC and WBO champion.
The silly rule brought in by the WBC must be one of the most unjust on the books. I am talking about the one that says that if there is a clash of heads and a fighter gets cut, then they one who is not cut gets deducted a point. How can that be fair? What part of “accidental” did they not understand? A typical example was the fight at the weekend in the Philippines where two unbeaten lightweights Al Sabaupan and Arnel Donal literally clashed. They banged heads three times in three different rounds, they were all ruled accidental, and each time it was Sabaupan who came out with a cut, and each time, under the stupid ruling, Donal was deducted a point. In the old days if you were susceptible to cuts it was looked upon as a weakness, now it could be the factor that makes you a winner. To make it more stupid, Sabaupan hit Donal with a very low punch which put Donal down writhing on the floor, but there is no automatic points deduction for a deliberate foul, where is the justice in that. The incident turned bizarre. Donal was being given time to recover but stayed on the floor and showed no inclination to get up. His second then climbed into the ring and pulled him to his feet and he fought on. No disqualification for his second entering the ring. It's a mad world.
One of the items discussed at the recent WBC Convention was an international licence. It has been talked about for years. One reason why it will not work is that many of the States in the USA resent any attempt to tell them how to run boxing in their State and would simple not participate. Another problem is the differing medical standards. The Commonwealth Council recently saw a title fight fall through when James Toney failed his medical here and the fight with George Groves had to be cancelled. Yet it is my understanding that Toney came complete with a letter from his home Board saying he was fit. A similar problem arose a while back over Brahim Kamoko. A Doctor in Ghana alleged that Kamoko had serious eye defects and should not be fighting. The then Ghana Board threatened the Doctor and the paper that carried the story with legal action, but to the best of my knowledge no one was ever sued, and Kamoko is still fighting. The point is that unless there are common medical standards then the international licence is just a piece of paper with no value. Another occurrence at the WBC Convention had me smiling about the good old, bad old days. We used to bet on how long Jose Sulaiman's speech would last, and if you picked any time less than half an hour you were throwing your money away. Much better was the betting over how long into his speech it would be before Jose would resign, and then allow himself to be talked out of it. It always happened, but the knowing it would happen and when were two different things. It appears Jose resigned again at the Convention in Cancun. This time it was in a fit of temper over the mandatory defence for Vitali Klitschko. However, he “relented” and is still there. To be honest Jose is the WBC, and has a difficult task in controlling the uncontrollable and does it in a way that any politician would envy. He recently got into the Guinness Book of Records as at 35 years and counting the longest serving head of a sports organisation. Hell! I only lasted about four as Chairman of the Commonwealth Council, but in that short time I came to realise some of the dilemmas he faces.
Showtime have been smart and signed up IBF super middleweight champion Lucien Bute. He has a three fight contract with them. He is not taking part in the Super Six, but you feel that the reasoning behind it would be to try to get Bute to fight the winner of the Super Six being run by Showtime, and unify all of the titles, for a short while.
Another gripe I have is over the Youth and Regional titles some of the sanctioning bodies have. Apart from my dislike of the proliferation of titles, I find they way these are structured ludicrous. For instance a man of 40 can fight in a contest billed as being for the Youth title, provided his opponent is 23 or under. The 40-year-old could not win the title if he won the fight, but the younger man can. How can it be a Youth title if a man of 40 is fighting for it? It is the same with some of the Regional titles. Shawn Cox from Barbados fought an Italian for the Mediterranean title and a Hungarian fought for the Baltic title on the same basis that is that one of the contestants must be from the Region. If you must have a proliferation of tiles for financial reasons(we need the sanctioning fees) then don't apply farcical rules, boxing has enough of an image problem with so many champions without trying to explain how a 40-year-old can fight for the Youth title and a guy from the Caribbean can fight for the Mediterranean title.