Snips 'n' Snipes

About The Author

eric portraitEric 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.

23 October 2012

Quite a weekend for boxing with the big world title show in New York and other world title shows in Buenos Aires and Manila and important shows in Sheffield, Sardinia and a show in Spain, which did not feature any high profile fighters, but hopefully signposted the way to revival of boxing there.

That the New York show was not sited at the MSG but at the Barclays Centre is also encouraging. For too long New York has played very much a secondary role to Las Vegas and, at one time, to Atlantic City. Competition, whether it is between fighters, promoters, TV or locations is good for boxing and we have even seen Las Vegas lose out on a couple of big shows to the Cowboy’s Stadium in Texas.

It was sad to see someone as great as Erik Morales deteriorate to just a shadow of the fighter he was. A four division champion with 24 world title fights to his name he is a cert for the International Hall of Fame. It is a pity he made a comeback.

Garcia now has plenty of options. There is talk of a fight in Ney York with Brooklyner Zab Judah but the sticker there may be that Judah is the mandatory challenger to IBF champion Lamont Peterson, and Judah might want to go that route. A return with Amir Khan or a match with Lucas Matthysse is also being discussed.

When the details of a positive test result for Morales was released Garcia, who had insisted on the testing, decided to pull out of the fight, but then changed his mind. Naturally there were doubts over whether Morales would fight, and it is said that Paul Spadafora was a fall-back choice. Somehow, despite only having one fight in 2009, one in 2010 and one this year , all against fighters not in their top 40, the WBC have Spadafora at No 17, so it would not have needed much shuffling to put on the fight.

It is typical of the attitude that the sport takes to drug testing that the reaction to the positive test by the USADA was to criticize the release of the information instead of thanking the USADA for doing something that no boxing body is doing effectively. The sanctioning bodies all make great publicity about their anti-drug position, but they quickly sweep any bad news under the carpet or stick their heads in the sand instead of taking it as a sign that there is a problem that is obviously not being addressed.  In track and field an athlete is responsible for what goes into his system and on that basis there is no excuse for a positive test. Claims of tainted supplements or medicines may have allowed Andre Berto, Lamont Peterson and others to escape a ban but that just confirms what Victor Conte side thgat testing in boxing is a joke. The positive tests cost both Berto and Peterson big purses, but have you noticed in this litigious age neither has made any attempt to sue the supplement provider. If the packaging makes it clear what is in the supplement then there is no case for the supplier to answer-and no way out of guilt for  those using it . If the supplement omits this information then the user should be an easy target for a suit. The lack of any legal action speaks for itself. New York does not carry out pre fight testing and Texas had the same approach. It was reported that Konstantin Airich tested positive for a banned substance before his fight with Odlanier Solis in May, but no action was taken and he fought again in September. There is nothing I can see in these recent incidents that would dissuade a boxer from taking the chance of not being found out, and that is the criteria of whether to cheat or not.

I find it amazing that Pablo Cano failed to make the 147lb limit for his challenge to Paul Malignaggi. He is a natural lightweight. He went up to 140lbs to fight Erik Morales for the vacant WBC light welter title in September last year. Since then his weights have been 135lbs, 138 ½ lbs and again 140lbs, yet for this huge-and undeserved title shot- he comes in 147 ¾ lbs. It seems to be a disease recently with so many fighters not showing the basic discipline even when the rewards are high. Perhaps if they faced the possibility of a fine of 50% of their purse it might concentrate their minds.

Equally as amazing was the scoring for the fight. The judges came up with 114-113 twice for Malignaggi and a 118-109 for Cano. We seem to be quite happy to continue with the “beauty competition” approach and then criticize amateur boxing. Something to the tune of glass houses and stones springs to mind.

There’s an old saying “if you are not part of the solution then you are part of them problem”.  I am starting to wonder where Boxing South Africa (BSA), the sports governing body down there, is on that statement. Their most recent action almost beggars belief. They granted, for free, the TV rights for a world title fight in East London to the South African TV without any discussion with the promoter, or any compensation to the promoter. It is BSA’s contention that they, and not the promoters, own the broadcasting rights to a fight. Not surprisingly promoters down there are up in arms. I can’t think of any major boxing country where the promoters do not own the TV rights. Any other system is a recipe for disaster. BSA chairman Mgconde Balfour was reported as saying “It is BSA’s responsibility to look into fairness, justness, equal distribution for promoters in this country and for boxers as well”. On this basis for a promoter there is no certainty of any TV coverage, no certainty of any income out of the coverage, no compensation if his live gate is hurt if the BSA decides to again grant the rights to TV free of charge. Before any major promoter puts on a big show he goes to the TV and negotiates a deal with them to ensure that he maximizes his income, and that that income in guaranteed. Out of that money the promoter has to find 10% the amount stipulated by BSA as a sanctioning fee (which is higher than most countries charge). Negotiating TV fees are just part and parcel of the normal job for a promoter. They have the experience, they know the market, and they know what constitutes a good deal and what does not. Now BSA is currently negotiating sponsorship with TV. If a promoter gets it wrong he goes out of business. If BSA gets it wrong-well that’s no problem, they get their money from the Government. They were proud of showing a R1.3 million surplus in their last report. That follows a previous loss of R 6.2 million and a money injection from the Government of R10 million. A Governing body has no place in commercial negotiations. Boxing is not a democracy. It is capitalism in action and surviving needs entrepreneurial skills which is the field of excellence provided by promoters not time serving civil servants. There has been a substantial drop in those applying for licenses in all areas of boxing in South Africa and if they are not careful BSA will not have anything to regulate.

Still on South Africa, British fans would find it difficult to sympathise with heavyweight Osborne Machimana. The former South African champion did South African boxing no good when he showed up for his fight against David Price. He had somehow managed to pack almost 300lbs on to his 6’3 ½” frame. He was grossly overweight and pitiful. Price stopped him in three rounds. He was 244 ½ lbs when he turned pro. However, when he went back to South Africa, he had trouble finding fights and was persuaded to give up his South African crown. He has not had a fight since that February 2011 farce against Price and recently claimed that he was near to starvation. That probably means he is down to 299lbs. When he was down around the 250lbs mark he beat the current South African champion Wiseman Dlomo, he made seven title defences and kayoed the late Corrie Sanders in one round. He is better than the Price fight made him look, but he has to prove to promoters that he can lose those 50lbs.

Nathan Cleverly’s next opponent Ryan Coyne was nearly lost to boxing. Coyne was an outstanding American football player in high school and was recruited to the University of Missouri with an eventual promotion to the NFL or AFL as his aim. Unfortunately Coyne suffered injuries which ruined his chances there and he eventually wandered into boxing. I remember Jim Watt telling me that he got into boxing when a particularly hard winter caused a cancellation of football games and he also ended up in the gym. It’s not too late to follow that dream Jim; the way our national team is playing you might have a chance of getting a game-alongside me( I had a trial for Stoke City when I was in my teens, but at the end of the trial period they thought I might just be good enough to make the tea).

A beer company in Panama have come up with a good selling gimmick. Atlas brewing have named a beer “The Champion of My People” in honour of Roberto Duran. There are collectibles featuring Duran given out with the beer that can be saved to get a full set. I hope they gave old “Hands of Stone” a fee and did not pay him in product. The “Robert Duran beer” reaches the parts other beers do not reach-Kenny Buchanan would have to agree on that as the thought of that Duran final punch must still bring tears to his eyes.

If any brewer in the Philippines decided to name a beer after the new WBO bantam champion Pungluang they would have to put a health warning on the bottles. It would say that “Pungluang is bad for your health”. The Thai has fought 17 Filipino’s and beaten them all. The win over AJ Banal was his seventh victory over a Filipino in his last seven fights.

Still on drink and boxing a wine maker in Japan has named a brandy “Satsuma King Kong” this is in honour of the OPBF middleweight champion Makoto Fuchigami and it is his nickname. His home city of Akune has made Fuchigami “the civil Ambassador” for the city for the good work he has done locally and for his achievements in boxing. A portion of the proceeds will go to aid the victims of the 2011 tsunami. There are plenty of positive boxing stories out there.

Going back to Pungluang I tend to use only the first name for Thai fighters as often the rest of the name is that of their gym or their sponsors, and they change their latter names if they change sponsor or gym. Examples are Kwanpichit Onesongchai Gym (was Kwanpichit 13 Rien Express), Termchok Twins Gym and Yodchanchai Nakornloung Promotion. It was original suggested to me by former Boxing News editor Graham Houston and it was such a sensible suggestion that I considered claiming it for my own. However it does not always work. I have difficulty following that style with guys whose first names are given as Pigmy, Knockout, Rambo and Sod, but I am working on it.

Former IBF super middleweight and WBC light heavyweight champion Graciano Rocchigiani is still around. Once known for his hell-raising behavior, which saw him spend time in jail, he is now working for a charity that works with children. Rocchigiani, also a former European super middleweight champion, made unsuccessful challenges for the WBO super middle title (losing to Chris Eubank) and WBO and IBF light heavy titles. His very name must send shivers down the spine of people at the WBC. The German sued the WBC after they refused to recognize his victor over Michael Nunn for their vacant light heavyweight title in 1998. Rocchigiani won his case and was awarded $31 million in damages, and the judge retroactively declared him champion. The award would have finished the WBC but instead they reached an agreement for a smaller amount paid in installments over a period of time. He appears to have blown the money as his stipend for working with the charity is EURO 374 a month and he lives in a small flat, but he seems also to have a much more settled life.

For all the money floating about in his division Cornelius Bundrage gets very few fights and none of the big purses. He had one fight in 2009, one in 2010, one in 2011 and just one so far this year. What really must have added insult to injury was the bid of just $51,000 for the second Cory Spinks fight. Bundrage has beaten current WBO champion Zaurbek Baysangurov, Cory Spinks twice and Sechew Powell. Floyd Mayweather Jr, Saul Alvarez and Miguel Cotta would not even spar for a share of $51,000. At 39 time is running out for Bundrage.

When Jamaican Nicholas Walters fights Daulis Prescott for the WBA title in Kingston, Jamaica on December 13 he will be looking to break the jinx of Jamaican fighters challenge for world titles on the island. Former Commonwealth champion Bunny Grant was the first, losing to Hall of Fame fighter Eddie Perkins for the WBC and WBA light welterweight titles in 1964. Next up was another former Commonwealth champion Percy Hayles. He was kayoed in three rounds by hard-punching Venezuelan Carlos Hernandez in 1965, again for both the WBC and WBA light welterweight titles. The third was Richard “Shrimpy” Clarke who lost to Thai Sot Chitalada for the WBC flyweight title in 1990. “Shrimpy” was also a former Commonwealth champion (are you seeing a pattern here?). I think Jacques Deschamps had as hard a fight getting the match in Jamaica for Shrimpy as Shrimpy did in facing Chitalada. For Walters there are a couple of good omens. If things go in threes then three unsuccessful challenges may mean it will be fourth time lucky and Walters has never been Commonwealth champion.

Mehdi Bouadla will challenge Arthur Abraham for the WBO super middle title on December 15 in Nuremburg. The promoters jumped the gun by announcing the fight before the WBO had time to change their ratings. Its ok, you can relax, despite having done nothing of note since losing in six rounds to Mikkel Kessler in June 2011 he suddenly flies into the WBO ratings for October at No 15.

Usually stupidity with the WBA ratings. Their No 13 Suguru Muranaka when first rated had never boxed in anything more than eight round prelim fights against modest local opposition. How can a fighter who has never even fought a ten round bout be rated? He finally had a ten round fight earlier this month, but against a guy with a 9-2-1 record who was 2-2 in his last four fights. Should get him No 1 with the WBA. Do I see a title fight coming up for him?

More madness in our sport. Mounir Toumi wins the vacant Global Boxing Union title by stopping Bruce Rumbolz. Toumi had a 13-11 record going in. The 39-year-old Rumbolz, a pro since 1994, had won just one of his last 17 fights. A double farce as Rumbolz had fought for the GBU middle weight title in his previous fight. Farcical.

I must admit to having a soft sport for Romanian/Spanish flyweight Silvio Olteanu. He lost his first three fights, but persevered. Nine fights later he won the EU title and then defended it against Bernard Inom. From there he was pitched into a fight with Daiki Kameda for the WBA title in Japan. With his 11-3 record he looked an easy touch for Kameda, but in the end was unlucky to lose on a split decision. The one down on him is his inconsistency. Two fights after that great performance in Japan he lost an eight round fight to a guy with an 8-1-1 record. Two of those early losses were to Belarus fighter Valery Yanchi, and Olteanu struggled to get by Yanchi again in fights for the vacant EBU title, drawing in their first fight and getting a split decision in the second. Since then he has defended against Giuseppe Lagana and at the weekend Andrea Sarritzu (IBF No 12/WBC & WBO No 13). I bet they could not give his contract away when he lost those first three fights

When it works at all my memory usually plays tricks on me. What was I just saying? Oh yes my memory. I seem to recall that back in 1999 Isidro Garcia actually climbed out of the audience to win the WBO flyweight title. He was there as a spectator but when the champion was unable to fight Isidro was thrown in. It would have been interesting if either Leif Larsen or Jason Gavern had had to pull out of their October 12 fight in Madrid. They could have gone into the audience and pulled-out “Mr. Terminator”. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the city publicising his book and attended the fight. If he lost and wanted a return match we could catch that famous phrase “I’ll be back”.