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 prefer to look forward to 2011 rather than back to 2010, so what am I hoping for this year? Well, I hope that David Haye fights one of the Klitschko brothers, and you can be sure that if he beats whichever one he faces, then the other will want to get revenge for the family. If he loses then it is difficult to see right now who can end their dominance and it may finally be Old Father Time who catches up on them.
Ruslan Chagaev is Haye’s mandatory challenger but he would have problems being licensed in Britain due to his Hepatitis B problems, but if Haye does not have to fight Chagaev, then a fight with Tomasz Adamek would be one to look forward to. Naturally a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather is a strong wish, but it looks even remoter now than it did last year. Manny is looking for easier if smaller paydays and getting more involved in his political duties, and Mayweather seems to be looking for the road to perdition.
A light welterweight unification bout between Amir Khan and the winner of Tim Bradley and Devon Alexander would be tasty, as would a return between Steve Cunningham and Marco Huck at cruiserweight. I would like to see Andre Berto get a chance to show if he belongs with the big boys. The Fernando Montiel vs. Nonito Donaire fight is already scheduled and promises to be a war. A bombs away bout between Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa would ensure fireworks and in the land of the little guys a fight between Giovanni Segura and Roman Gonzalez would be explosive.
I look forward to a successful end to the Super Six. It has had its problem as a plan as ground breaking as this one could expect. It has produced some class displays, explosive action, some controversy, some great fights, some good fights and some not so good fights. Both Carl Froch and Andre Ward have greatly enhanced their reputations, with Froch being given the tougher road, with only one of his fights on home ground, whereas Ward has had home advantage in every fight. With Glen Johnson as his next opponent Froch can claim to have faced, in consecutive fights, a higher level of opposition than any other British fighter, including Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton.
In some ways the most important thing to come out of the Super Six has been that if the money is right then the sanctioning bodies and differing promoters will work together. The sanctioning bodies have been unable to dictate who their super middle weight champion should fight, and the promoter has had to risk his meal ticket, again with no opportunity to hand-pick the opponent. However this is boxing and so the IBF champion Lucien Bute has sat outside the circle watching his potential opposition beating each other up.
This year will also see both Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. Both deserve to be there on their ring achievements, but it makes me feel my advanced age when guys who you followed from the start of their careers have been retired long enough to get into the Hall.
Another well earned reward this one at the end of last year saw Steve Farhood get the Nat Fleischer Award for excellence in journalism. Steve, a former editor of Ring Magazine, is a first class journalist with a great knowledge of the sport, a great way of putting his knowledge and opinions over and has been instrumental in the success of Showtime and the Super Six. He is also a gentleman and to top it all is younger and better looking than me, but I am not jealous-much.
The “bad” news at the end of the year was the death of “Bad “Bennie Briscoe. Another event that made me feel old. In my youth Bennie was a star in the middleweight ranks. Philadelphia was reputed to be the toughest town in the world in which to be a fighter, and Bennie was rated the “Baddest of the Bad”. He helped to make the Blue Horizon a by-word in boxing for exciting, competitive wars with Russell Peltz Jr putting on quality show after quality show. You will not find Bennie’s name on the list of world champions because he was active in the days of Carlos Monzon and Rodrigo Valdez, but Bennie would have been a champion in any other decade. He boxed from 1962 to 1982 and in those twenty years fought just about every middleweight worth mentioning. At the expense of perhaps boring some readers I will list just some of the guys Bennie beat in his career: Percy Manning, Charley Scott, George Benton, Jimmy Lester, Jose Mono Gonzales, Charley Austin, Vicente Rondon, Tito Marshall, Joe Shaw, Tom Bethea, Charley Austin, Art Hernandez, Tony Mundine, Stan Hayward, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Gene Hart, Jean Mateo, and so may more. He drew with Monzon in a non-title fight Argentina and with Emile Griffith. He also fought world champions Marvin Hagler, Vito Antuofermo and Luis Manuel Rodriguez. He had three world title shots, losing on points to Monzon and being stopped and losing on points to Valdez. He did not have his first world title shot until his 57th fight. To many Bennie does not need a world title, he was the “Baddest of the Bad” and that says it all. Rest in peace Bennie, we will never see your like again.
The WBC named Argentinian Sergio Martinez as their Fighter of the Year with Manny Pacquiao as the Fighter of the Decade. Fight of the Year was Jean Pascal against Bernard Hopkins and Sergio's finish of Paul Williams was Kayo of the Year. Martinez had been ordered by the WBC to defend his middleweight title against interim champion Sebastian Zbik (more of this later) but it has now been announced that instead he will defend against WBO light middleweight champion Sergyi Dzinziruk in Atlantic City on March 12.
Two Latino countries had very different outcomes from each other in 2010. If you count interim titles and WBA secondary titles then Mexico fished the year with 15 “world” champions, Humberto Soto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Vazquez, Jorge Solis, Fernando Montiel, Rigo Alvarez, Alfredo Angulo, Julio Cesar Miranda, Hugo Cazares, Tomas Rojas, Cris Mijares, Giovanni Segura, Gilberto Keb Baas, Ramon Garcia and Raul Garcia. The USA could only muster seven and Japan six. On the other hand 24 Colombians fought for versions of titles in 2010 and only two won, with 17 failing to last the distance.
I guess that if Juan Manuel Marquez cannot get Manny Pacquiao back in the ring then he has to go for the best fight out there for him. From a Mexican stand point he has achieved that through his match with former world champion Erik Morales. Erik has been competing at light welterweight, but will come down to lightweight to challenge Marquez for his WBA and WBO titles at the MGM on April 16. Both are getting to the veteran stage, but they are still big enough names to make this a major attraction.
One of the other versions of the lightweight title will be up for grabs in Las Vegas on February 26 when Miguel Acosta defends his secondary WBA title against Brandon Rios.
What a mess the sanctioning bodies are making of boxing. If some of their machinations resulted in better fights, or better fighters getting rated, it would be excusable, but inevitably it leads to poorer fights and poorer fighters as “champions”. In Bennie Briscoe’s days the middleweights competed with the heavyweights for attention, but now the division would be more accurately labeled the muddleweight division.
With the interim and super champions thrown in there are seven boxers in the four major sanctioning bodies who call themselves a “world” champion. The WBC had Sergio Martinez as their champion and Sebastian Zbik as their interim champion. The WBA has Felix Sturm as their super champion ( this designation is now even more meaningless as it is open to anyone. The WBA now no longer require their champion to also be the champion of another sanctioning body to qualify as a super champion. So how do you qualify? The simple criteria is, if there is money to be made by the WBA from making you a super champion, then you will be made one.). The other WBA champions are Gennady Golovkin, the WBA secondary champion and Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam the interim champion. The IBF champion is Sebastian Sylvester and the WBO champion is Dimitry Pirog.
Things could get even more complicated as Martinez is not going to fight Zbik, but instead will defend against Dzinziruk and Zbik is to defend against an as yet unnamed challenger who will promptly be rated as soon as his name is announced.
Sturm is taking a defence against Ronald Hearns as there is no pressure on him to fight Golovkin or N’Jikam, and Golovkin and N’Jikam are not interested in fighting each other as they would rather defend their own portions of the title than unify their separate bits. Once again it is the WBO who set the standard for the others to stoop low enough to match. Their No 1 middleweight challenger is Gennady Martirosyan. He was not in their October ratings. In October he beat 37-year-old, unrated, Vitor Sa and appeared at No 10 in their November ratings. He has not fought since then but is now No 1. I would challenge the WBO to explain that, but they are answerable to no one, so it is a waste of time.
Sturm vs. Hearns is not much better. Hearns was not in the last published WBA ratings and has not fought since October, but if a promoter wants to make the fight, then Hearns will be rated well within the top 15 next time their ratings come out. The WBC have done the same in the past, taking Gary Lockett from outside their top 40 to No 15 by a vote of the Governors, so that they could collect a fee from the Kelly Pavlik- Lockett fight.
They say boxing is a business, but the way the sanctioning bodies are run is not like any business I ever worked in. Where there is big money involved there is always the possibility of a company or an independent auditor walking through the door and checking your compliance with procedures and business practices.
The IBF are also guilty in the ratings game. They have accepted an eliminator between Yusaf Mack and Otis Griffin to find a mandatory challenger for their light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud. In their last ratings Griffin was No 7 and Mack was No 8. Hold your hand up if you thought that a fight to decide a mandatory challenger should be between the two highest ranked fighters. Okay, all of those who put their hands up come and join me in the corner I have plenty of pointy hats. If No’s 7 and 8 don’t seem too bad then you have to realize that Griffin was No 8 and Mack No 10 in the November ratings and they have both been promoted even though Griffin has not fought since August and Mack has not fought since being stopped by Glen Johnson in February.
The one division that runs the middleweight close is the light flyweight. The Puerto Rican President of the WBO indicated that he expected Giovanni Segura to relinquish their title and challenge Julio Cesar Miranda for the WBO flyweight title. If that came off then their two interim champion (yes two-don’t ask!) Ramiro Garcia and Jesus Gels will fight each other, but not for the vacant title. The winner will then have to face Ivan Calderon, a Puerto Rican naturally, for the vacant title. If Segura does not relinquish then they are looking for him to fight a return with Calderon and the two interim champions will……um…still be interim champion(s).
The ratings game really does not stand up to scrutiny. The WBO have David Tua at No 2 heavyweight. In his last fight Tua was held to a draw by Monte Barrett who the WBO rate-nowhere! The WBO No 2 light heavyweight is Alex Lakatos who after drawing with novice Emmanuel Feuze and losing to Viacheslav Uzelkov in 2008 took two years off and has since beaten.....um....Roberto Martins and Abdel Derghal. His next fight is supposed to be with Brahim Kamoko for the interim WBO African title-and Lakatos is Romanian!
Somehow the WBA make Brad Solomon the No 1 welterweight. Now I am a big fan of Solomon as a prospect but in October the WBA had him rated No 8 and since then, without beating any rated fighter he has jumped above Matthew Hatton, Saul Alvarez and Mike Jones. He is promoted by Don King, but surely that can't be the reason! Sometimes the sanctioning bodies do get it right, and it was good to see the IBF throw out Zab Judah’s claim that he should be paid the lion’s share of the purse for the vacant light welterweight title fight with South African Kaiser Mabuza. That meant that it would be a 50-50 split even though Main Events and not Mabuza’s promoter Branco Milenkovich won the purse bidding. I understand that the fight is now to go on end February or early March in Newark. Mabuza may not have home advantage, but at least he knows he is getting a fair deal on the purse.
It looks like things are set for Miguel Cotto to fight Ricardo Mayorga in Las Vegas on March 12. Cotto is being trained by Manny Steward for this one. If Cotto wins then there is talk of a return with Antonio Margarito in New York in June. First though Margarito will need another operation on the injuries he suffered against Manny Pacquiao which damaged his cheek bone and his eye socket. Personally I though that Margarito deserved a much longer suspension, perhaps even a lifetime suspension, but nevertheless it would be interesting to see whether he has the power to beat Cotto, or whether when he was caught trying to cheat against Mosley it was not the first time he had cheated, but only the first time he got caught.
Boxing is suddenly big at the cinema again. The film “The Fighter” about that great scrapper Mickey Ward opened in the States recently and reportedly took $12 million at the box office in its first week end. The film stars Mark Wahlberg and is already up for several awards.
Troubles just seem to keep piling up for former WBO super featherweight champion Jorge Barrios. He is already facing serious charges relating to a fatal car crash, and now his ex-wife has reported him to the police for beating his son. I guess next he could find himself asked if he was ever near a certain grassy knoll.
There are plenty of young boxers with their sights fixed on London 2012. One who will already have won his hardest battle before he even gets to London is young Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez. Emmanuel won the silver medal at the 51kgs division in the World Youth championships last year. Later in the year he was struck down with a mysterious illness that saw him lose 60% of his already small body weight and be swathed in bandages. He is on the road to recovery with the bandages coming off and has started very light training. It will be a long road to fitness and a tough qualification through the Americas, but it would be nice to think he could make it.