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.
Former WBC super featherweight champion Genaro Hernandez finally lost his long battle with a rare fourth stage cancer of the head and neck. On June 3 it was announced that Genaro was stopping chemotherapy and he died on June 7 at the age of 45. A well-deserved inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, “Chicanito” boxed as a pro from September 1984 until October 1998, when a blood clot and a torn cartilage convinced him to hang up his gloves. He was unbeaten in his first 32 fights. He won the WBA super featherweight title in 1991 and made seven defences before vacating the title to fight Oscar De La Hoya for the WBO lightweight title, losing in six rounds. He challenged Azumah Nelson for the WBC feather title in 1997. A Nelson punch, which landed after the bell at the end of the seventh round, caught Genaro on the throat. He was given time to recover, but Jose Sulaiman came to his corner and told Genrao that if he was hurt too badly to continue then he would be declared the winner by disqualification. Genaro refused the easy option and fought on to win a split decision. He lost his title in his fourth defence in October 1998 being stopped by Floyd Mayweather Jr and retired with a 38-2-1 record. His medical insurance did not cover his condition, but there were many friends and admirers willing to help with the costs, and in an excellent gesture the WBC held a gala dinner to raise money. In the end he lost his brave battle and boxing lost a great warrior.
Juan Manuel Marquez must be taking the biggest gamble in boxing history. He is to fight Colombian Likar Ramos in a non-title ten round fight on July 16. Southpaw Ramos, 25, a Pan American champion who represented Colombia at the 2004 Olympics, is a former WBA interim champion at super featherweight, but recently has weighed as high as 140lb. He should not be a danger. However, anything can happen in boxing, and a loss or even a cut, could see Juan Manuel blow a huge payday against Mayweather. It appears likely that brother Rafael Marquez may also appear on the same show. That would be the first time the two brothers have been on the same bill for five years.
Boxing throws up more than its share of characters. One such is the legendary Johnny Bos. A larger than life figure, Johnny has filled about every role in boxing over the years. In Britain he was best known as an agent supplying boxers to our major promoters. He had a difficult balancing act to perform as a promoter wants an opponent for his draw card who will stand up for at least a few rounds, but must lose. If Johnny sent over someone who won he was not doing his job. If he sent someone over who lost too easily he was not doing his job. Sometimes Johnny got it right and sometimes he got it wrong, but he was always there to help a promoter out of a hole. He is still very active and did the matching for the show in Hollywood Florida on June 4. The fights: Cedric Boswell vs Kirtson Manswell, Richard Hall vs O’Neil Bell, Dominique Dolton vs Donatas Bondoravas and Daniel Attah vs John Trigg were all good matches, so Johnny is still the man to go to. My own memory of Johnny was at the WBC Convention in New York with his ankle length fur coat. On the serious side my phone rang in my room and there was Johnny on the line with a wonderfully entertaining Joey Gamache so that I could do an interview. My kind of guy.
Boxing’s profile differs from country to country. Earlier this month Anthony Mundine Jr. had a fight in New Zealand. It was almost impossible to track down any reports of the fight in the New Zealand newspapers. This a former WBA super middleweight champion. However, it was easy to find pages covering the six round fight on the bill featuring Sonny Bill Williams, an All-Black rugby player trying his hand at boxing. The novelty of a rugby player boxing was news-the boxing was not. Williams won, but the New Zealand rugby guys are monitoring his progress, as they do not want the 6’4”, 240lbs player injured.
I am old enough to remember the days when Mundine Snr was fighting. In those days Australia was enjoying a boxing boom. Guys such as Hector Thompson, Rocky Mattioli, Paul Ferreri, Barry Michael, Trevor Thornberry, Steve Aczel, Wally Carr, Ross Eadie, Brian Roberts and so many others seemed to be fighting every week. Thompson had 16 fights in 1970 and 14 in 1971 and did not fight for the Australian title until his 37th fight. Mundine Snr did not fight for the Australian title until his 33rd fight. Guys such as Eadie were constantly in action with Eadie fighting 20 times in 1974 and 16 times in 1975.
Oh how the world has changed. On the show in Queensland on May 21 two fighters with records of 5-3-2 and 1-12-3 fought for the Australian feather title and one with a 12-2 record lost to a Filipino for the Australian light welterweight title. Boxing has changed. Not for the better, and not only in Australia.
Again on my age. They say you know you are getting old when the policemen seem to be getting younger. Never mind the police, boxing is making me feel older. Here are some of the more promising young boxers around: Jason Pagara-pro at 14, now 18 with a 27-1 record. Andres Gutierrez-just 17, turned pro at 15 record 18-0. Roberto Gonzalez-20, turned pro at 17 record 18-0. Genesis Servania-18, turned pro at 16 record 11-0. If they are good enough then they are old enough, but it makes my bones creak. Pagara, Gonzalez and Servania are all Filipino, so don’t think that the Philippines will fade from the scene when Manny Pacquiao retires.
With the exception of Congressman Pacquiao, politics seems to be a heavyweight business. We have had Vitali Klitschko trying his hand, and Joe Mesi getting elected up in Buffalo. The latest to get involved is the former WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev. The big Russian is going to run for either the State Duma of for a spot on the St Petersburg Legislative Assembly, and is said to have a good chance of success. Vitali seems a sensible guy. There was a proposal to put up a statue to the Klitschko’s in Kiev, but Vitali dismissed it saying that too many excellent architectural monuments were being demolished in the city, and efforts should be concentrated on preventing that, rather than building new ones. Pacquiao is managing to turn his fame to the advantage of those he represents. Manny is scheduled to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for a new 200-bed hospital in the Sarangani area which he represents in the Philippines assembly. It helps to be famous, but it also shows that Manny takes his responsibilities very much to heart.
Juan Diaz also seems to have head screwed on the right way. The former IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight champion has announced his retirement and now intends to study for a law degree. On the other hand how intelligent is that choice? Who would want to go from being a popular boxer to being a lawyer?
Boyd Melson is another boxer with his heart in the right place. The White Plains light middleweight donates a large slice of his purses to help stem cell research. Boyd has a friend who is paralised and sees the work going in the field of stem cells as an important way to fight these injuries. Boyd, a West Point graduate and a US Army, US Inter Services and World Military champion competed in the US Olympic trials for the 2008 Olympics. Now he is 4-0 as a pro and fighting both for his pro career and for a cause. He has also signed up other boxers to donate part of their purses to the cause.
At the time of writing this the Allen twins are in intensive care after being involved in a car smash. Rock and Tiger are the sons of trainer Naazim Richardson and were both outstanding amateurs. The two boys were airlifted to separate hospitals after the crash and were in intensive care units. As an amateur Rock was US champion in 2000, 2001 and 2002, won the 2003 Police Athletic League tournament, and qualified for the 2004 Olympics, and, although beating Devon Alexander and Lamont Peterson on the way, he went out in the first series. Tiger never reached the same heights, but he did collect medals at various tournaments and beat future WBO feather champion Steve Luevano. The twins had a black mark against them as amateurs arising from the 2000 Olympic trials where Tiger failed to make the weight for his 125lbs category and then they were both disqualified when Tiger tried to weigh in for Rock, who was having trouble making his 132lbs division.
Both fighters are unbeaten as pros, but neither has been continuously active.
Boxing lost a good young prospect with the death in Puerto Rico of Juan Gonzalez. The 21-year-old lightweight was shot dead whilst riding with a friend on his motorbike. The shooting appears to have been a case of mistaken identity. Young Juan, a member of Miguel Cotto’s team, had won all of his eleven fights, ten inside the distance, and was considered a good prospect.
IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane was luckier. As he was driving in Johannesburg in the early evening his car was forced to the side of the road by another car. Three carjackers hauled Mthalane out of his car at gunpoint and drove off with his car. Livid but alive.
The stupidity of these multiple titles was again illustrated in the WBA’s treatment of Yuriorkis Gamboa. Now concentrate because this is not going to be easy to explain-or to follow. Chris John has been the WBA feather champion since 2004. Naturally the WBA also need to have an interim champion so they gave that interim title to Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa when he beat Jose Rojas. They then elevated John to super champion, which allowed them to upgrade Gamboa to WBA champion when he beat Whyber Garcia. However, when he beat the IBF champion Orlando Salido the WBA already had a super champion, so they invented a new title of “unified champion” which is the definition previously used for super champion. I hope you are still following me, as even I am having trouble working my way through the murky WBA “reasoning”. Gamboa then fought and beat WBA interim secondary champion Jorge Solis in a unification match. Both Gamboa’s WBA Unified title and his IBF titles were on the line. However,the IBF stripped Gamboa of his title because he refused to take the IBF secondary weight check.
The WBA already have John as super champion, Gamboa is no longer a unified champion, and the WBA have a WBA champion in Jonathan Barros so now there is no place for Gamboa. He goes from a double champion to no champion at all-without losing a fight. That’s boxing today!
Every time I think the WBO can’t get any lower I see a man appear with a spade. Another example. The new WBO European champion is Rafael Bejaran-from the Dominican Republic! Boxing today.
French boxer Jerome Thomas has announced his retirement. Probably the most successful French amateur boxer in terms of tournaments won, Jerome left it late to turn pro. He won the French title in March, but at 32 had a limited future. The brother of former European featherweight champion Cyril, Jerome won his first French major title in 1996 and just went on winning the French title year after year. He won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, losing to Gamboa in the final, and all of this despite being born with a genetic disease, Poland syndrome: this means that his left hand is smaller than the right one, his left arm is shorter than the right one, and he has almost no left pectoral muscle. A remarkable achievement. Jerome now aims to open a gym in Saint Quentin and work with Brahim Asloum and the Paris World Boxing Series team.
It can be a different world out there. Down in Argentina at the weekend Nestor Narvaez, the brother of WBO champion Omar, was fighting Ariel Alassia. The fight was not going well for Nestor, but in the third round a body punch put Alissia down. In the follow-up attack Narvaez landed a very low blow and Alissia collapsed on the canvas rolling in agony. It was about five minutes before he got up and in the meantime the referee had disqualified Narvaez for the low punch. However, the Doctor wanted to establish if Alissia was really badly injured. Even a Doctor can’t establish that for sure in a ring with a few thousand watching. “Drop your shorts, its ok I am a Doctor”, just would not cut it. As a result Alissia was taken back to the dressing room and the Doctor subsequently examined him (mmm let’s see, two of those and one of those-looks ok to me) and as a result it was decided that Alassia was not too badly hurt, and the result was changed to a kayo win to Narvaez. This an hour after the disqualification was announced and even though the referee had never counted over Alissia. Insult to injury.
Sometimes failed tests get reported and sometimes they do not. For instance a Ukrainian paper alleged that welterweight Valentyn Kuts was under suspension as he had tested positive for a banned substance after his fight against Azad Azizov in Germany. If that is so then the result should be changed to a no decision and Kuts should lose his IBO Inter-Continental title. There were allegations a while back that a South African heavyweight had tested positive for a fight in Germany, but the result of that fight was not changed, so who knows. In any sport positive tests for banned substances should be made public knowledge.
It is different with medical tests where a degree of Doctor/patient confidentiality can come in. The fight at the weekend for Australian heavyweight Mark de Mori was called off after his proposed opponent from Ghana firstly refused to take a blood test, and when he did take it subsequently, failed. That is all we are entitled to know. It is the same if a fighter from abroad wants to take out a license in Britain. He must take a searching medical, but if no license application is received the cause could be a failed medical, or it could be something else. I just wonder whether, if the medical condition could endanger other boxers, whether it should be publicised, but I guess the confidentiality would be the ruling element. I just love it when things don’t go the way they are supposed to. June 10 in Sonnino Italy unbeaten local boy Valter Fiorucci (5-0, 4 KO’s) gets fed Romanian Robert Cristea (2-21-1, no wins in his last twelve fights). In the third round a right and a left from Cristea put Fiorucci down and out. Silence in the house, but a win for the underdog.
Cruiser BJ Flores returns to action July 23 against Nick Iannuzzi. It will be BJ’s first fight since losing to Danny Green in November.
A good support on the undercard of the Saul Alvarez vs Ryan Rhodes fight sees Jason Litzau taking on unbeaten prospect Adrian Broner for the USBA super featherweight title.
Japan’s Kazuto Ioka will defend his WBC strawweight title against No 1 Juan Hernandez on August 10.
IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez will defend against Nicaraguan Marlon Aguilar June 18.
Fernando Montiel returns after his crushing loss to Nonito Donaire and faces a tough test in Venezuelan Nehomar Cermeno.
Filipino Donnie Nietes has relinquished his WBO strawweight title to move up to light flyweight where he hope to face Mexican Ramon Garcia for the WBO title. Jean Pascal has been stripped off his IBO title for not paying the sanction fee for his fight with Bernard Hopkins.
In San Luis Potosi on July 1 the former WBC light fly champ Edgar Sosa faces Julio Paz as a warm-up for his challenge to Thai Pongsaklek Wonjongkam for the WBC fly title. On the same show Giovanni Caro will fight South African Simpiwe Vetyeka in a WBC eliminator. They are Nos 1 and 2 in the WBC super bantam ratings.
Love that nickname. Vietnamese-born featherweight Dat Nguyen-“Dat Be Dat”
That’s all folks.