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.
There have been a number of media stories linking the WBA bantamweight champion Anselmo Moreno and Golden Boy Promotions. A tie-up would certainly give the classy Panamanian a much higher profile. Since winning his title in Germany in 2008, “Chemito” has made seven defences, three in his native Panama, two in France and one each in Germany and Venezuela, so the USA would be a next logical choice to build his reputation even further. Golden Boy already has Abner Mares and Eric Morel in their team, and so there are some good in-house matches to be made. However, this being boxing, the manager and legal representative of Moreno said that no offer had been received from Golden Boy-so who knows.
Bantamweight and Golden Boy are controversial right now anyway. Golden Boy recently announced that they had signed Filipino bantam Nonito Donaire to a contract. However, Bob Arum stated that Top Rank still has a valid contract with Donaire. In the first court appearance on the case an arbiter ruled that Golden Boy had violated an agreement between the two companies not to poach each others boxers and supported Top Rank’s claim. In a previous case, with regard to Manny Pacquiao, the same arbiter had ruled that Pacquiao was under contract to Top Rank, but that Golden Boy was entitled to a percentage of the profits from Pacquiao’s fights.
The sanctioning bodies continue to play the “lets invent more stupid titles, and even more silly qualification requirements”. Ryan Waters, an Australian, fights Gairy St Clair, a Guyanese based in Australia, the fight takes place in Australia, and it is for the WBO Pan Africa title! My Christmas present list will include an atlas for the people at the WBO. Mohammed Azzaoui, who has dual Algerian/ New Zealand citizenship has fought for the PABA, WBO African, WBA Fedlatin, IBF Pan Pacific titles, so look for him next to be renamed Paddy Azzaoui and fight for the Irish title, WBO version of course.
At featherweight the WBA now have a super champion, Chris Johns, a unified champion, Yuriokis Gamboa and a world champion, Jonathan Barros (it was four, but Gamboa beat the interim champion Jorge Solis, so I guess now Gamboa is both unified champion and interim unified champion). Knowing the WBA, it is a surprise that they do not also have two other interim champions. The WBA also have three champions at middleweight with Felix Sturm as a super champion, Gennady Golovkin a world champion and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam as a world champion. Titles enough to go around.
The WBC trumpeted their decision to abandon interim champions due to the confusion they caused, and replaced it with their Silver Belt, which is a championship of- a belt! But they have now also accepted Silver Belt International titles. So they have added confusion to their attempt to reduce confusion. The IBF have an East/West European title, and you have to ask where that will end. A European North/South, Nor-Nor-East or South-South West, the possibilities are endless. Just to add to the confusion, that only boxing suffers from, many countries have more than one Board claiming some form of legitimacy. Canada, Tanzania, Germany, Philippines and many others are in this position. Something that would not be tolerated, or possible in many countries. Despite the nature of these spurious titles, they can be important. Not just because the sanctioning bodies need fees to exist, but also due to the actions they take to encourage fighters to go after the titles. The WBA rate Russian Alex Ustinov No 4 heavyweight because he holds their version of the European title, Rachid El Hadak is No 6 cruiserweight for the same reason. Gayrat Amedov is No 2 light heavyweight because he is WBA International champion, Les Sherrington is No 6 super middleweight as he is PABA champion and Server Emuralev is No 8 in the same division as European champion and Leonard Bundu is their No 3 welterweight because he is Inter Continental champion. If anything the WBO are even worse with Australian Joel Brunkner No 7 featherweight as he is their Youth champion, Russian Ed Trojanovski No 12 lightweight as WBO Europe champ, Mike Miranda of Brazil No 5 light middleweight as their Latino champ, Gennady Martirosyan their No 1 middleweight, again as European champion, Soulan Pownceby as No 2 light heavyweight as Asia Pacific champ, Nuri Seferi No 5 cruiser, again European champ, and David Tua No 2 heavyweight as Asian Pacific champ (no sign of Monte Barrett who drew with Tua last year). Some of these are good fighters, but none of them earned their place by the quality of opposition they beat, but as part of a policy of encouraging boxers to fight for these area titles and accumulating sanctioning fess. The outcome of this bad policy is potentially dangerous or poor quality “world” title fights and a black eye for boxing. Sanctioning bodies need fees and boxing needs losers and unfortunately there is no sense of proportion, with too many third rate title fights and too many deceptive mismatches.
Another danger to watch out for is misleading records. Some countries/ areas have a very large number of sub-standard fighters and impressive records from these countries are, or can be, very misleading. It applies to most countries in South America, a great deal of the American Mid-West and Southern States and areas in Europe such as Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia and to a lesser degree Hungary and Romania. Certainly these countries/areas do produce very good fighters also, but those ones do not get exported to lose. A recent example was Dzmitry Lubachkin, a fighter from Belarus. He faced a top quality fighter in Selcuk Aydin, and came in with an impressive record of 18 wins, 17 by KO/TKO, most of those in the first round. He lasted less than a round against Aydin!
If you check you will find that where the “exported to lose fighters” from Brazil, Colombia, Georgia and the Mid West etc, have impressive records, a closer examination will show that they have never won a fight outside their country/area and that most of their opposition was made up either of novices, or no hopers-who are even worse than they are. This is just a warning before you spend your money seeing some of these guys with inflated records not to spend your money, or, if you do, then it is your own fault and don’t get over excited over your local favourite blowing them away. Of course it can go the other way. Spanish champion Karim El Ouazghari, with a modest record, and never having fought outside Spain, gave WBO No 1 and European champion John Murray a good fight at the weekend, which proved me wrong. Looking at their respective ratings I assumed it would be easy for Murray, but El Ouazghari was better than I gave him credit for. In the circumstances the nice note from a senior member of the EBU Executive pointing out that they knew what they were doing, was better than I deserved for my lack of faith. There were other better than expected performances by underdogs at the weekend with Georgian-born Karlo Tabaghua (4-3 in his last seven fights) beating world rated former European champion Jackson Osie Bonsu, German novice heavyweight Michael Wallisch (6-0) beating Turk Yakup Saglam (27-0), Lithuanian Sergej Rozvadovskij (4-0-2) stopping former world title challenger, and twice EBU champion, Thomas Ulrich (32-6), Mexican feather Robinson Castellanos (10-9) winning the WBC Silver Belt by stopping Alberto Garza (23-4-1) and Mexican light welter Roberto Ventura (6-6) stopping Brazilian Antonio Mesquita (35-0). All of those were supposed to be easy fights for the favourites, so it restores your faith in the unpredictability of boxing. However, some things do go the predictable way. Down the undercard of the Marco Huck title defence WBA No 8 heavyweight Kali Meehan stopped Estonian Valeri Semiskur in two rounds. Meehan had a 36-4 record going in, Semiskur had lost 16 of his last 18 fights, 13 of them by KO/TKO and seven of those in the first round. It is frightening to think that someone in authority thought this was a “match” and approved it. If anything had happened to Semiskur there would have been nowhere for the people who approved this to hide, and boxing would have received a shower of well deserved adverse publicity for toleration such abuses.
Boxing suffered another small blow when the Australian Medical Association of Western Australia (AMA) resigned from the State’s Professional Combat Sports Commission. A spokesman stated that “it is inappropriate for the Association to remain part of the commission because it opposes the sport of boxing”. Western Australia is not exactly a hot bed of boxing, but it is where the IBO cruiserweight champion Danny Green has his base, and presumably boxing will not be allowed to continue if there are no Doctor’s at ringside. I won’t bother to go into the dangers of other sports injuries, but it seems to me that it has taken the AMA a long time to come to their conclusion, and it is strange that boxing is the only combat sport they find unacceptable.
Boxing lost one of its most respected senior citizens with the recent death of Gil Clancy at the age of 88. Gil was probably best known for training Emile Griffith throughout Emile’s career, but there was so much more to the man than that. Gil, who fought as amateur whilst in the Army, was also matchmaker at the Madison Square Garden and also won awards as a journalist and broadcaster, and had a master’s degree in teaching from New York University. He also worked at various times with Ralph Jones, Rodrigo Valdes, Johnny Persol. Harold Weston, Tom Bethea, Jerry Quarry, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Oscar De La Hoya, Gerry Cooney, Kenny Buchanan and many others, and was inaugurated into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993. A great boxing man. It has been said before that cars and boxers do not make a good mix. Well recently it has been guns and boxers. A while back the husband of Christy Martin was arrested for wounding the famous female boxer. Last weekend the IBF and IBA female lightweight champion Rola El-Halabi was shot and wounded whilst in the dressing room preparing for a fight. Her stepfather, whom she had sacked as her representative, entered the dressing room, forced everyone else out, and then shot her three times, wounding her in the hand, foot and knee. He also shot two security guards before being overpowered.
At the end of last week 25-year-old Tijuana boxer Humberto Tapia was shot and killed by a local wrestling promoter. There was an argument at the gym and the promoter left then returned with a gun and shot Tapia. Although of modest talent, Tapia was a busy fighter as he had a great chin, so usually went the distance, and gave more talented boxers some good grounding fights. He had a 15-16-1 record and had fought undefeated fighters such as Brandon Rios, Hector Sanchez, Rock Allen, Danny Garcia, Hylon Williams, Carlos Molina and Danny O’Connor. The other incident took place down in Argentina where Pablo “Pokemon” Farias was shot in a drive-by shooting. The unbeaten (18-0) light heavyweight, rated No 6 by the WBC and No 8 by the IBF, was wounded, but is expected to recover. Despite what the West Australian AMA might say, sometimes boxers are safer in the ring.
I have a feeling that Argentinian Cesar Rene Cuenca must be unique in boxing history. So far the 30-year-old Argentinian has won 40 of his 41 fights, there was one no decision, and of those 40 wins, only one has been on a TKO. I can’t think of any other fighter who has won that many fights with such a low KO percentage. To begin with he had the nickname of “Fred Astaire”, but they changed that to a more macho “Uppercut” but that did not increase his KO percentage so now he is “The Distinct One” or the Different One”. The WBO have him rated No 2 challenger to light welterweight champion Tim Bradley, so he must be doing something right, even if he can’t punch. Fights to watch out for include old rivals Roy Jones Jr and Antonio Tarver in action far from home. Tarver will challenge Danny Green for his IBO cruiserweight title in Sydney on July 20, and Jones faces Denis Lebedev, again at cruiserweight, in Russia on May 22. Also Australia sees a make or break fight for Anthony Mundine as meets conqueror Garth Wood in Brisbane on April 13. This is a return match as Wood, the winner of the Australian “Contenders” series, scored a shock five rounds kayo win over Mundine in December. On April 23 is the finals of SHOWTIME’s bantamweight tournament with IBF champion Joseph Agbeko facing Mexican Abner Mares and with the losing semi-finalists Vic Darchinyan and Yohanny Perez fighting in the support. On Thursday in Montreal middleweights David Lemieux and Mexican Marco Antonio Rubio clash in a WBC title eliminator. This should not go the distance as Lemieux has finished 24 of his 25 bouts by KO/TKO and 42 of Rubio’s 49 wins have come the same way. South African promoter Rodney Berman is putting on a good show featuring some good South African fights such as Tomas Oosthuizen against William Gare and Chris van Heerden against Bongani Mwelase. It is advertised as featuring all South Africa fighters, but the other “big” fight will feature unbeaten Congolese fighter Flo Simba (perhaps he has taken South African citizenship) against Frans Botha. It will be by far the biggest test so far for 21-year-old Simba, but Berman went way over the top in describing this as the biggest fight held on South African soil since Hasim Rahman kayoed Lennox Lewis. Whoever wins this will not have advanced his reputation much as Simba is a relative novice and Botha is a 42-year-old who has not won a fight since May 2009.
Promoter Don Elbaum was recently inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. Don was the first promoter to bring fights to Atlantic City. He is a unique character. When promoting Sugar Ray Robinson in Ohio, this was in the later stages of the great Robinson’s career; Don sprang a huge surprise at the press conference. The date of the fight was almost exactly 25 years since Ray first turned professional. Don suddenly announced that after an extensive search he had located the pair of gloves the Sugar Ray wore on that first night in October 1940, and he presented the battered pair to Ray. It was the highlight of the press conference, and Ray was very moved, until after the conference was over and he realised he had two left gloves! On another occasion Don was promoting one of the Bizzarro boys against a world rated fighter. The world rated fighter lost and then told the local press that Elbaum had offered him two purses, one if he won the fight, and a higher one if he lost. The press swooped on this as an attempted bribe, but Don explained that if the guy won then his reputation and earning power would still be high, but if he lost then his bargaining power would be reduced and his purses would drop-so Don was offering to compensate him in advance! You have to love the guy and be glad that boxing has characters such as Don.