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.
The eyes of the boxing world this weekend will be on the Wladimir Klitschko vs David Haye fight. Irrespective of the outcome Haye has talked this fight up to a place in the public consciousness where heavyweight titles used to be. A combination of the ability of the Klitschko brothers, and a lack of any challengers able to even remotely contest their domination, has relegated the heavyweight title to the second or third tier of boxing events (except in Germany where the Klitschko’s have a huge following) . You can’t compare any recent heavyweight title fight to the level of interest, or money, generated by Manny Pacquiao, and the Super Six has put the super middles right up there and Bernard Hopkins has shaken-up the light heavyweights.
As a Brit I am cheering for a Haye win. It is possible, but with both Klitschko’s it is a very different matter between facing them at a press conference and dealing with them in the ring. If Haye wins then I do not believe he will retire. No way could he walk away from a fight with Vitali. If he losses then the Klitschko’s can rule for as long as they want to, as I don’t see anyone else out there to threaten them-except Father Time.
The sooner that Floyd Mayweather gets back into the ring the better. He now has three lawsuits pending, apart from legal action that Manny Pacquiao is pressing. Mayweather already faces felony charges stemming from a domestic argument and misdemeanor harassment and battery charges in separate cases. Now a Nevada man claims that Mayweather had his guards beat him up in the car park of the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas in March 2010. Mayweather's bodyguards allegedly struck the man in the face, slamming his head into the ground. The lawsuit alleges that they then kicked him repeatedly in his back and side. Why it has taken over a year for this lawsuit to be filed I have no idea.
One of the main arguments put forward for boxing as a sport is that it often provides an outlet and an opportunity for those who would otherwise just be on downward spiral to crime. However, it can not only stop someone from going down that road, but also provide a chance for redemption. The classic case is the unbeaten New Zealand cruiserweight Soulan Pownceby. Back in 1994 Pownceby was found guilty of manslaughter over the death of his five month old daughter. He served his time, but had four more convictions for violence and seemed to be on the road to somewhere bad. A combination of a conversion to Catholicism and acceptance into the world of amateur boxing turned his life around. It caused a huge furore amongst women’s groups when there was talk of him being selected for the 2004 Olympics. Despite the protest, he was selected for the New Zealand team, as it was argued that he had served his time for his crime. From there Pownceby went on to compete in the 2006 Commonwealth Games and to turn professional. He is undefeated with 18 wins and a draw. It is difficult to see how he can scale the heights, as he is already 36, but with the help of boxing he has built a life much different to the one he lived, and seemed destined to continue with in the 1990’s.
Still on New Zealand, II searched in vain for an in-depth report on Anthony Mundine’s fight there on June 5. It was not a major test for Mundine, but he is a world rated fighter and a former WBA secondary champion. The most I could find were scraps of information. However, all of the papers carried extensive reports of the fight on the same show involving one “Sonny Bill Williams”, a 25-year-old heavyweight who was having only his fourth fight. It was big news because Williams is an All-Black (for those unfamiliar with the term, rugby is the national passion in New Zealand and the All-Blacks are their national team, and arguably the best in the world). No one was remotely interested in Mundine, but any small injury to Williams would have been national news. The fight had a ridiculous side as his opponent Alipate Liava’a, a 40-year-old gospel singer, was at the time of the fight reportedly still claiming benefit from the Social Services due to suffering from tennis elbow. Was he so dumb that he thought no one would notice him fighting such a high profile rugby player as Williams, and are the New Zealand rugby authorities really worried that their star player could get hurt by a 40-year-old gospel singer?
It was alleged that Austin Trout tested positive for marijuana after his defence of WBA secondary title against David Lopez in Mexico on June 11. If this is confirmed then it will be interesting to see whether the result is changed to a no decision, and whether Trout faces a ban.
We complain in Britain about there being no major boxing on terrestrial TV. Well, down in South Africa leading promoter Branco Milenkovich has taken the IBF flyweight title defence of his fighter Moruti Mthalane against Andrea Sarritzu to Italy, giving Sarritzu the home advantage. Milenkovic has four IBF champions under contract but is angry that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) do not seem to be supporting his efforts. He has a contract with the SABC giving them exclusive rights to his tournaments in South Africa. However, they declined to televise his show on June 11, where female boxer Noni Tenge won an IBF title, and which also featured an IBF eliminator. The SABC have refused to give Milenkovic any guarantees that they will televise the Mthalane fight and he says that this now leaves him uncertain as to whether they will cover future fights for Takalani Ndlovu and Nkosinathi Joyi. Whilst it is possible to go without TV for some lower level fights, if Milenkovic is going to continue to bid for and stage these IBF title fight in South Africa, he needs to know he has the backing of TV-if not then he has to look to his own interest, even if it means these fighters having to go to the challengers backyard.
The IBF recently awarded Milenkovic their “Promoter of the Year award for the third time in a row. He has promoted 50 IBF title fights and was voted International Promoter of the Year by the WBC in 2008. When there are genuine concerns over the decline in popularity of boxing in South Africa, he deserves help and co-operation from the SABC, and he does not seem to be getting it.
Still on South Africa, I hear that Dingaan Thobela, “The Rose of Soweto” is planning a comeback. Thobela had a great career. Starting out as a super featherweight, he won the WBO and WBA titles at lightweight and sprang a major surprise when he kayoed Glenn Catley in 2000 to win the WBC super middleweight title. He retired in 2006 after losing seven fights in a row, the last which was to be for the South African light heavyweight title, but Thobela failed to make the weight by 5lbs. Now 46, he is planning to comeback as a heavyweight. He weighed 127lbs for his first professional fight -what else do you need to about his possible fitness?
I saw a note to the effect that Gaspar “Indio” Ortega attended the International Boxing Hall of Fame looking fit and well at the age of 75. The amazing Mexican is a member of the Californian based World Boxing Hall of Fame, and had a remarkable career. Turning pro at 17 in January 1953, by the time he retired in 1965 he had taken part in 176 fights, winning 131, losing 39 and drawing six. In the list of fighters he beat were Isaac Logart, Tony DeMarco, Kid Gavilan, Rudell Stitch, Benny Paret, Stan Harrington, Armando Muniz and Charley Scott. He also fought Emile Griffith, Ralph Dupas, Florentino Fernandez, Carmen Basilio, Nino Benvenuti, Sandro Mazzinghi, Brian Curvis and Charley Shipes. He only failed to last the distance twice in his 39 losses. Emile Griffith stopped him in twelve rounds in a fight for the world welterweight title in 1962 and Mazzinghi halted him in 1964. He was one of the busiest fighters of the era. He had 16 fights in 1961, 22 in 1962, 23in 1963 and 29 in 1964. Ninety fights in four years! A truly remarkable career.
Boxing, and the broadcasting industry suffered a huge blow recently with the death of popular broadcaster Nick Charles. Nick was the first sports anchor for CNN and also worked for Turner Broadcasting. In 2001 he joined the Showtime team and became a familiar face and voice for them. For the excellence of his work he won three CableACE awards, the Boxing Writer's Association 2007 Broadcaster award and in 2008, he won the Sam Taub Award for excellence in boxing broadcasting journalism. From 2009 onwards he fought a brave fight against bladder cancer, but in the end the disease won. My deepest sympathies go out to his wife Cory, his four children and three grandchildren, and to all of his friends and co-workers.
Argentina lost one its outstanding trainers with the death recently of Carlos Tello. He died in Cordoba, also of cancer, at the age of 62. Tello trained Omar Narvaez, Hugo Garay, Pablo Chacon, Mariano Carrera and many others.
Former WBO bantamweight champion Julio Gervacio was arrested recently for illegally entering Puerto Rico. The Dominican held the WBO briefly between November 1987 and February 1988. He lost to Kenny Mitchell for the inaugural WBO super bantam title in 1989 and also challenged for the WBC super bantam title in 1995.He retired in 1997 and in 2002 was convicted in New York for distribution of narcotics, and deported. He has made a number of attempts to enter the US illegally since then.
Venezuelan Lorenzo Parra put up a dismal show in his challenge to Anselmo Moreno for the WBA bantamweight title. Back in Venezuela he put his loss down to having been doped, but no one is interested in investigating his claim, or believing it.
The practice of weighing-in the day before a big fight is there for safety reasons to prevent boxers dehydrating by trying to lose weight on the day of the fight, and if they have had a struggle then it gives them a chance to recover. However, the other side of the coin saw both Tavoris Cloud and Yusaf Mack make the light heavyweight limit the day before their IBF title fight. A check weigh-in before the fight saw Cloud weight 190lbs and Mack 181lbs. That just makes a mockery of the whole process and makes division weight limits pointless.
Ghanaian light-heavyweight Brahim Kamoko recently won the WBO African title and is currently (over)rated a No 2 by the WBO. Naturally after his recent win, and in view of his ranking, he is talking up a fight with Nathan Cleverly. There may be a potential big fly in this ointment. A couple of years back a Doctor in Ghana, who had examined Kamoko, gave a press interview where he alleged that Kamoko had serious eye defects. The then Chairman of the Ghana Board, and Kamoko’s management, threatened to sue the newspaper and the Doctor, but as far as I know that did not happen. It was also alleged at the time that Kamoko had been to Britain sometime back to apply for a license, but that after a Harley Street examination he went home without any application being made. These are allegations that would have to be cleared up before Kamoko came to Britain. There may be no truth in the allegations, or if Kamoko has had any defects, then action may have been taken to have the defects corrected, but you can be sure if he is aiming to come to Britain, he will have to undergo the same rigorous medical checks that apply to all fighters coming to Britain.
What a strange weekend of boxing last weekend. It veered from first class matches to fights which in my opinion should not have been sanctioned. On the up side we had Logan McGuinness (14-0-1) vs Daniel Ruiz (22-3-1), Arsen Martirosyan (17-4) vs Franklin Teran (30-3-1), Mauricio Herrera (17-1) vs Mike Dallas (17-1-1), Daniele Petrucci (28-0-1) vs Leo Bundu (24-0-1), Roberto Ortiz (18-0-1) vs Antonio Lozada (23-0), and the Kell Brook vs Lovemore Ndou, Devon Alexander vs Lucas Matthysse, Fernando Montiel vs Nehomar Cermeno and Dawid Kostecki vs Lolenga Mock, were all good matches on paper.
The same can’t be said for Kali Meehan (42 fights, 31 KO’s and IBF No 7) vs Mike Kirby (9-3-2), Tye Fields (6’8” tall, 281lbs , 48 wins 43 KO’s) vs Dave Whittom( 6’1”, 207lbs and just one win in his last eleven fights), James Kirkland (27-1) vs Dennis Sharpe (lost his last seven fights), Ryan Coyne (16-0,1ND) vs David McNemar (13-0 inactive for almost four years and going straight into a 12 round fight), Cory Spinks( former double world champion) vs Shamir Ashanti (42 years-old and lost five of his last six fights). In addition the Kevin Johnson vs Harold Sconiers, Andrzej Wawrzyk vs Andreas Sidon and Damian Jonak vs Mamadou Thiam fights were terrible matches.
For me the base criteria is-if something goes wrong, and a fighter gets badly hurt then can the match be defended-if not it should never have been made.
A couple of strange WBC rulings. According to reports the winner of the fight between Bermane Stiverne, rated No 7, and Ray Austin No 4 becomes mandatory challenger to Vitali Klitschko, but Nos 2 Chris Arreola and No 3 Denis Boystov are ignored.
How did Motoki Sasaki qualify to challenge for the WBC lightweight title. Since 2001 the lowest he has weighed is 138lbs. He won the Japanese welterweight title in 2001 and the OPBF welter title in 2008 and challenged for the WBA title in that category in 2009. In 2010 he moved down and won the OPBF light welterweight title and in April this year he defended his OPBF title weighing 139 ½ lbs. Despite all of this the WBC had him rated as a lightweight, a division in which he had never fought.
The WBO have also been at it. The Ricky Burns vs Nicky Cook fight may be a good domestic bout, but it is only made possible by some “shuffling” by the WBO. Cook was inactive from March 2009 until May this year. In his return to the ring he weighed 136 ¼ lbs which is over the lightweight limit. However, this month, he suddenly appears in the WBO ratings at No 11 super featherweight, allowing them to sanction a fight that was already set before they even changed the ratings.
Some boxer’s nicknames seem to be attempts to convince the fighter that he is better than he really is. Some examples from the past couple of week are Saturnino “Explosivo” Nava (two wins by kayo in 18 fights, should be “Dynamitenot”), Antwan “Lil’Superman” Robinson (six wins in 13 fights, must be a lot of Kryptonite around) and Eric (Golden Boy)Garduno (nine wins in 24 fights, I guess he is 24 carrot). I did like one for the EU light middle champion Lolenga Mock “Mock the Knife”. Real names can also stir a small streak of humour. Take the Chilean Oscar Bravo, his father must be a pilot.
There seems to be no end to the proliferation of titles. The IBF have now introduced Atlantic Coast titles, presumably to be followed by Gulf Coast, Pacific Coast, etc. etc.. We have Baltic titles from the WBC, Africans fighting for “European” titles etc etc. These have nothing to do with providing opportunities, they are to produce sanctioning fees. Any idiot knows that a glut of oil leads to the value of oil going down (or it should). The same applies to titles.
The Penalosa dynasty shows no sign of fading out. Last Saturday in Cebu City young Dodie Penalosa Junior won his fifth professional fight. Dodie Jr gave up a chance to compete in the London Olympics to follow his father Dodie into the professional side. Dodie Snr. overcame the handicap of a withered leg from childhood polio to win the IBF light fly and flyweight titles. Two of Dodie’s brothers, Gerry and Jonathan, also fought as pros. Gerry won WBC titles at super flyweight and bantamweight and Jonathan challenged unsuccessfully for the WBA flyweight title. However, the tradition goes back even further to Grandfather Carl Penalosa, who was Philippines lightweight champion. Looking forward, July 2 has Herman Marquez defending his WBA flyweight title against Edrin Dapudong, July 9 in Atlantic City Chris Arreola returns against Friday Ahunanya, July 16 in Honolulu sees Brian Viloria challenge Jorge Miranda for the WBO fly title, if Viloria wins it will be his third spell as a world champion, July 16 sees Marco Huck defend his WBO cruiser title against Hugo Garay even though Garay has only had an eight round fight and a six round fight since being blown away inside a round by Chris Henry in March last year, much better fight on the show in Munich sees Eduard Gutknetch defend his European light heavy title against Italian Lorenzo Di Giacomo, Juan Carlos Salgado and Argenis Mendez fight for the vacant IBF super featherweight title in Guadalajara on July 23, Daniel Geale will make the first defence of his IBF middleweight title in Tasmania non August 31 with Anthony Mundine and Sam Solomon being mentioned as possible opponents, on July 23 in Ciudad Obregon Orlando Salido will defend his WBO feather title against Mike Oliver in a poor match, Oliver has only been fighting prelim fights since suffering crushing three round losses to Rey Lopez and Antonio Escalante, and is not in the WBO ratings-yet.
Provisional plans have Julio Cesar Chavez Jr making the first defence of his WBC middleweight title against Peter Manfredo in November and Miguel Cotto having a return match with Antonio Margarito in December. The aim is then to have a Cotto-Chavez fight in spring 2012.
On Chavez, my long time (don’t want to call him old) friend Bob Yalen has been down in Mexico researching boxers records by going through newspapers in the Mexico City library. He tells me that there are errors and omissions in most of the old records, including the early record of the great Julio Cesar Chavez. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with.