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.
To complete a quick review of what might happen in the division from light welter down in 2013 Juan Manuel Marquez is not retiring, and neither is Manny Pacquiao, so that is always a possible for later in the year. Below that it is really about what Danny Garcia, Brandon Rios, Lucas Matthysse and Amir Khan decide to do. None of them are ready to step up to the Marquez-Pacquiao level. Garcia should have no trouble beating Zab Judah next month. Matthysse should punch too hard for Mike Dallas at the end of this month and we might see a unification match later in the year. Khgan wilkl needed to be matched carefully, but his career is far from over.
Adrien Broner just looks such a beast that I can’t see anyone beating him at lightweight, but then I have consistently underestimated Ricky Burns. The Scot would be an outsider against Broner, but then he has been the underdog before and won convincingly. IBF champion Miguel Vazquez is very much the forgotten man. He does not excite and 8 of his last 9 fights have gone the distance, with Vazquez only scraping through on a split decision in two of them. The division is devoid of additional talent unless Yuriorkis Gamboa decides to fight at 135lbs. If so a fight with Broner would be spectacular.
There has been talk of a Gamboa challenge to WBA super feather champ Takashi Uchiyama, which would be a good match, but outside of that Uchiyama looks by far the best in the division. It will be interesting to see what happens to unbeaten Diego Magdaleno who should be ready for a shot at one of the titles this year.
On 19 January Orlando Salido defends his WBO feather title against unbeaten Miguel Angel Garcia. It is really a case of whether Garcia can compete at this level and just how much the grizzled 32-year-old Salido has left in the tank. A hard one to call. WBA champion Chris John is 33 and unbeaten in 50 fights, but still lacks that win over a star name (yes he beat Juan Manuel Marquez but that was almost seven years ago) and will see out his time with defences against medium contenders in Singapore or Indonesia. Jhonny Gonzalez is looking for a return with Daniel Ponce de Leon after a technical decision cost him his WBC title in September. Last time De Leon sprang a surprise by outboxing Gonzalez, but Gonzalez will be looking to go to war in the return. IBF champion Billy Dib looks vulnerable, and unless he is carefully matched I will be surprised if he is still champion in December. Cris Mijares, a returning Juan Manuel Lopez, and unbeaten Javier Fortuna should all figure in world title fights this year.
The on/off Nonito Donaire vs. Memo Rigondeaux fight would be the big attraction at super bantam. It should come off, but is not signed. Abner Mares should hold on to his WBC title with former WBO champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, a back on track Fernando Montiel, Hugo Cazares and Brits Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton, all on the verge of title fights, although 2013 may be a bit early for Frampton. Donaire will dominate.
The bantams are wide open with champions Leo Santa Cruz (IBF), Anselmo Moreno (WBA), Shinsuke Yamanaka (WBC) and Pungluang (WBO) looking capable of holding on to their titles to the end of the year. Former champions Koki Kameda, Tomas Rojas and Suriyan are the main opposition with experienced Malcolm Tunacao, Mexican Julio Ceja and Brit Jamie McDonnell all knocking on the door.
This may be the year that Omar Narvaez finally loses a title. He was unbeaten WBO flyweight champion and still holds their super fly title. At 37 he can’t go on forever setting the exhausting pace that is his trademark. On the other hand there are no shinning lights waiting to take over from him. IBF champion Juan Carlos Sanchez defends his title against former champion Rodrigo Guerrero later this month, but neither of those two is, or is likely to become, a big name. WBC champion Yota Sato will fight only in Japan and will still be champion at the end of the year. Despite veteran Kohei Kono’s kayo of Tepparith he is vulnerable and likely to lose his title. The main contenders are likely to be Carlos Cuadras, Marco Demecillo, Petch Sor Chitpattana and Arthur Villaneuva.
WBA/WBO fly champion Brian Viloria seems to get better as he gets older. The 32-year-old Hawaiian Punch” has won his last six fights, beating Julio Cesar Miranda, Giovani Segura, Omar Nino Romero and Hernan Marquez, with only Miranda lasting the distance. South African Moruti Mthalane had only one fight in 2012 and that was in Panama. The state of the fight game in South Africa almost certainly means he will be fighting overseas again in 2013, With the Nos 1 and 2 spots in the IBF ratings vacant he may again find himself out of action whilst a challenger appears, but he has the talent to hold onto his title. WBC champion Toshiyuki Igarashi only just held on to his title with a majority verdict over Nestor Narvaes in November, but home advantage should help him hold off challenges in 2013. With Viloria now “unified champion”, Juan Carlos Reveco holds the WBA secondary title and he, along with former light fly champions Edgar Sosa and Ulises Solis, Hernan Marquez, Milan Melindo and Rocky Fuentes will all be scrambling for title shots.
The big fight at light flyweight will be Roman Gonzalez against Kazuto Ioka. Gonzalez was shifted up to “super” champion to let Ioka win the WBA “world” title. The fight between these two, already mandated by the WBA, would be huge in Japan. WBC champion Adrian Hernandez has a rubbish defence in a couple of weeks against an obscure Panamanian, but he could be vulnerable against a legitimate contender. I expect Filipino Donnie Nietes to retain his WBO title when he fights WBO strawweight champion Moises Fuentes next month, and he may then finally get the recognition he deserves. Another Filipino, John Riel Casimero should retain his IBF title with a win over Panamanian Luis Rios. It would be nice to think that a unification between the two Filipino’s was on the cards, but don’t hold your breath.
There is very little to get excited about at strawweight. New WBC champion Zhong is largely unknown, and has shown some very ordinary form in the past. IBF champion Mario Rodriguez has good wins over Gilberto Keb Baas and Nkosinathi Joyi, but could be beaten by Joyi, or any other top challenger without it being a shock. New WBA champion Ryo Miyazaki only just lifted the title on a split decision over Thai veteran Pornsawan and WBO King Fuentes is trying his hand against Nietes at light fly. It really is an-anybody could beat anybody else-division with Joyi, Denver Cuello, Hekkie Budler, Wanheng, Carlos Buitrago Merlito Sabillo and Juan Hernandez all callable of winning a title on their night.
For sure 2013 will see the proliferation of titles continue, will see some upsets, some more positive tests, there will be controversy and hopefully there will be some great fights. Oh and a lot of what I have said above will prove to be wrong so I hope you all have short memories.
There is already rumblings about another Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Manny Pacquiao fight. Talk is of a fight in Mexico City in September to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. When you see the figures from their December fight you can understand why. The live gate is said to have brought in over 16,000 who paid almost $11 million. HBO reported approximately 1.15 million PPV buys bringing in around $60-$70 million.
Filipino Nonito Donaire was named Boxer of the Year by some sites and he certainly had a good year with wins in high profile fights over Wilfredo Vazquez, Jeff Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka and Jorge Arce. The 30-year-old is unbeaten in 30 fights stretching back to 2001. He has beaten just about every top fighter in each divisions as he has progressed from flyweight to super bantamweight. He is No 2 behind Pacquiao in terms of Filipino fighters, but despite his wins, and his attractive style, he will never match the multi-million dollar appeal of his fellow countryman. If there had been a young Marco Antonio Barrera or Erik Morales around it might have been different for Donaire. The curiosity is that his only loss was on points in his second pro fight to Rosendo Sanchez in 2001. Going in Sanchez was having his first fight in four years, but won a unanimous decision over five rounds. Sanchez retired after only one more fight with a 4-1 record. Strange that he did not continue.
Filipino boxer Denver Cuello was reportedly going to sue the WBC. After winning a final eliminator at strawweight by beating Ganigan Lopez in May (No 1 vs. No 2) and going to undisputed No 1, you would think that when the title became vacant Cuello would naturally get a shot at the title. However, seeing an opportunity to break in to the Chinese market with a title fight, the WBC decided that their Silver light flyweight champion should fight a Mexican with a 13-3-2 record, who had only one fight in 14 months, and owed his rating to beating another Mexican with an 9-11-2 record. To “legitimise” it the WBC shifted Zhong down to No 5 strawweight, even though he had never registered a weight within the 105lbs limit (we’ll also overlook Zhong losing a unanimous decision to a 12-5-2 fighter in April 2012-the WBC certainly did). That was screwing No 1 for Cuello. Then it got worse. The WBC did not order Zhong to fight Cuello. Instead they decided the Chinese fighter should have a voluntary defence first. Cuello was refusing to accept that and I can’t blame him. The WBC did actually ask him to stand aside again to allow this voluntary defence so that “history” could be made. What a ridiculous excuse. For that read money came before justice. Cuello has suffered insult (not getting the title shot he deserved) and financial injury. He would have had the upper hand and at least pay parity in any fight for the vacant title. No if he wants a title shot he will probably have to go to China for the fight. Jose Sulaiman initially said the voluntary defence was agreed at the WBC Convention and could not be changed. That is rubbish. In the past, when the WBC has wanted to squeeze out of something, they take a vote of the Governors and hey presto-there is a change in the unchangeable. Cuello’s management is now backing off suing as it appears that Jose Sulaiman finds that it is possible to change the decision of the Convention, and get Cuello his chance at the title first. Fine, but after the way he was screwed over the vacant title his promoter should be able to bid for the title fight with Cuello getting a 50-50 split on the purse. Anything except that still screws him, just not as much.
Still on Filipinos, Jon Riel Casimero is to defend his IBF light flyweight title against his top contender Panamanian Luis Rios on March 13. Samson Boxing submitted a winning bid of $132,000 for the fight, outbidding the Panamanian promoter. However looks likely the fight will be held in the US or Panama due to lack of sponsors in the Philippines. Counting interim and full titles Casimero has been in five title fights-none of them in the Philippines. Still he won’t be scared. He survived a dangerous riot in Argentina when winning the title.
Going back to the WBC, they have been playing with their ratings again. This weekend Adrian Hernandez defends his light flyweight title against Panamanian Dirceu Cabarca. The Panamanian had two fights in 2012. In March he beat a guy with a 10-1 record on a split decision over eight rounds to win the Panamanian super fly title. In October he beat a guy with a 4-2 record-again at super fly. He was No 26 at super fly in the WBC ratings for November. However at the WBC Convention he suddenly finds himself at No 20 light fly, even though he has not fought since October, and has weighed between 112 and 115lbs in his last six fights. Of course No 20 is not high enough. He needs to be in the top 15 for a title fight. All it needs is a new set of ratings with Cabarca going to No 15, or a vote of the Governors which changes all. What a farce. They list 40 contenders than instead of respecting their own ratings they screw around like this.
What goes around comes around. The recent show in Luxemburg where Ashley Theophane and Nick Klappert won Global Boxing Council (GBC) titles was not supervised by the Luxemburg Board but by a German Board. It appears that the promoter was in dispute with the Luxemburg Board so he invited another Board to supervise the fights. A case of having done to you what you have done to others. Why don’t I feel sad for the Luxemburg Board I wonder?
The GBC would take it as a complimented if you described their titles as worthless. The two mis-matches lasted less than six minutes between them. Rubbish matches for rubbish titles.
Still on Boxing Boards, the Ghana Board headed by Samir Captan has been dissolved effective January 9, 2013. According to a letter from the National Sports Council, signed by the Acting Director-General, the current 7-member GBA has been dissolved and were directed to hand over the administration of the fistic sport in Ghana to Secretary General R.O. Lamptey this week. No reason was given, but there have been rumblings of dissatisfaction from promoters. Activity has increased in Ghana, but the shows staged have featured some terrible matches. On one show last year the eight losers had
combined records of 3-55, and on the other side of the equation you have fighters with anything between 10 and 20 wins, all scored against this level of opposition. I spoke briefly to Azumah Nelson in Cancun and he added his concerns over the way boxing is being run there. It will be interesting to see how things progress. There are quite a few promising boxers in Ghana-or at least boxers with impressive statistics if you don’t look too closely.
Still on Ghana Joseph Agbeko is scheduled to return to the ring in Ghana on February 22. Agbeko’s promotion team will be staging the bout. It will be for the vacant IBO bantam title against Colombian Luis Melendez. This will Agbeko’s first fight since his loss to Abner Mares in December 2011. Melendez is a decent first back opponent.
Mexican Reyes Sanchez scored another win at the weekend. The arena owners must pray that he wins every fight. The fan club for Sanchez is made up of bikers, so no trouble if he wins. If he losses it’s every man for himself.
Irma Garcia, the WBA female champion at bantamweight is another Mexican boxer with a specific fan club. Irma is in the Mexican police. Let’s also hope that she and Sanchez are not on the same bill. Bikers and Police in the same hall at the same time. One to miss.
On the same Mexico City show Edgar Puerta made it 13 wins in his last 14 fights. Puerta’s is a sad story. He fought to a good level as an amateur in California with no real thought of turning pro. He then suffered the tragedy of having his daughter killed in a traffic accident. Puerta admits that he was so low that he seriously considered suicide. He needed something else to focus on to drive away the memories that will never leave him. He found that refuge in professional boxing and it is good to see him doing so well.
A third boxer on the show also caught my eye. Josue Vega just did not have the quality to get past world rated Ganigan Lopez. His overall record is 15-11 but he has turned his career around. Vega lost 9 of his first 10 fights but persevered. Before the loss to Ganigan had won 12 out of his last 13. Some change.
Thailand also has a fighter who has turned his career around. Super flyweight Petchbarngborn was 4-5-1 in his first nine fights but has won 15 of his last 16 with the only loss being a close decision to new WBA champion Kohei Kono. I guess the moral is never give up.
Japanese bantamweight Tomoki Kameda will almost certainly fight for a world title this year. If he wins it will be the first time that three brothers have won world titles. Looks like he will beat Ivan Morales to the chance. Morales “is hoping to become the third Morales brother to achieve that fame.
Kameda’s chances are much brighter after the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) indicated that it will allow its fighters to fight for the IBF and WBO titles. The JBC have previously worked only with the WBA and WBC and their fighters have received preferential treatment from those bodies. The original decision was partially based on some poor IBF title fights in the East which saw the Koreans also ban IBF title fights. It remains to be seen whether this gives boxing in Japan a boost, but if TV does not like what it sees the barrier could come down again.
“Pacquiao mania” has had a variety of impacts in the Philippines. One of the positives is the Philippines Senate is currently considering a bill to create a Philippines Boxing Commission (PBC). Currently boxing is supervised by a sub-division of the Philippines Games and Amusement Board (GAB), although there is also a Philippines Boxing Federation which has its own champions. There appears to be no heavy criticism of the GAB, but it is felt that in view of the importance of boxing in the Philippines, a dedicated Commission, working under the Office of the President, would help implement improvements in areas such as uniform rules, health care benefits, financial guidance for boxers, life insurance, the appointment of a dedicated medical advisory board etc. The aim is for promoters to provide these and other benefits, which is where it becomes tricky. Insurance and other benefits will not come cheap and the added cost could drive a lot of promoters out of business.
A positive test was given by a world rated boxer in November, but this was not a high profile one. Panamanian Alberto Mosquera tested positive for marijuana after his fight with Fidel Monterrosa Munoz on November 17. The test results were not announced until almost a month later. The WBA must have had advance notification as they dropped Mosquera from their November ratings.
Young Japanese sensation Kazuto Ioka won the WBC strawweight title in only his seventh fight which is an outstanding achiuevement. However, that is sloth-like in comparison to Thai Saensak Muangsurin. He won the WBC light welter title in 1975 in only his third fight. He lost the title in his second defence (which was his sixth fight) on a disqualification. He regained it in his seventh fight and made seven successful defences before losing the title in his eighth defence. Of course Muangsurin was a star in Muay Thai (kick boxing) before turning pro.
The win for Rances Bethelemy over Arash Usmanee provided the first controversial decision of the year. Punch statistics from CompuBox make interesting reading. They show that Barthelemy landed more punches than Usmanee in rounds 1,2,4,5 and 10, but that Usmanee landed more in rounds 3,6,7,8,9,11 and 12. In addition the Canadian landed more power punches in total 282/238, Barthelemy landed more jabs 49/24, and Usmanee was way ahead on punches landed at 258/189. Usmanee won clearly on the computer, and lost a unanimous decision according to the judges. However, the figures become meaningless as no one will ever agree to the use of computer scoring in professional boxing.
On the show we also had a fighter, Derrick Ennis, come in 6lbs overweight. I think the Commission should give anyone who fails to make the weight a saw and invite them to saw a leg off. Only (just) joking.
A result I missed had former European lightweight champion Yuri Ramanau losing a points decision to former top amateur Jerry Bryan in Miami. The Minsk fighter was world rated back in 2008 after successful European title defences against Stefano Zoff and Jon Thaxton. After stopping Thaxton in 2008 he did not fight again until he popped-up in the US in 2011. He was then inactive again until last weekend. My understanding is that he is under a contract and administrative suspension from the Belarus Commission. Ramanau is 30, and irrespective of the cause one fight in almost five years is not something he can afford.
Two of the greatest all-time amateur boxers died recently. On January 1 Russian Yuri Alexandrov died from a massive heart attack. He was only 50. Alexandrov was world amateur champion in 1982, champion of Russia in 1982, 1984, 1986 and 1987 and won the European Championship gold medal in 1983. Politics and injury prevented him ever gaining an Olympic medal. In 1989 he was the first Russian boxer to take part in a professional fight in Moscow when he beat Tony Cisneros. However, he had only five fights, and very little success, and retired in 1992. He was still interested in boxing and used his own money to build a boxing facility on the ruins of a factory. The great success of the school of boxing he created caught the attention of those running professional boxing in his country and in 2001 accepted the post of vice-president of the Russian Professional Boxing Federation. A post he held until his death.
Cuban Arnaldo Mesa was the other former top amateur to pass away. He died at the age of 46 after suffering a stroke on18 December. Mesa was Cuban champion in 1987/88/89/90 and 92 and runner-up in 1995 and 1997. He won a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, won bronze medals at the 1986/89 and 91 World Championships, and gold medals at the 1991 and 1995 Pan American Games. Quite a record.
May they both rest in peace.
In each column in future I will try to find some positives to report as there are many in our sport.
Jamaica has embraced the new WBA featherweight champion Nicholas Walters in a big way. Next week he will be presented with the keys to the City of Montego Bay and the TV company that covered the Axe Man’s win over Daulis Prescott is now seeing boxing as an important sport which can only help other Jamaican boxers. Walters’ father was also a pro. Job also fought at feather but with less success than his son. He had 19 fights between 1986 and 1991 and ended with a 12-7 record facing fighters such as Bernardo Pinango, Rafael Ruelas, Ray Minus and Kevin Kelley.
The excellent WBC Cares outfit arranged for Denzil Washington to visit a Fisher House in the USA. The establishment caters for wounded US soldiers and also provides accommodation for the families of those wounded so that they can be near and visit.. Reportedly Washington was so impressed with the facilities for the families that he enquired into the cost of providing additional facilities, and signed a cheque for them right there. The WBC Cares does some great work.
Some kids in a home in Mexico City had a Christmas surprise as three wise men turned up with presents. The “wise man” were IBF super feather champion Juan Carlos Salgado, WBC super feather No 1 Sergio Thompson and Dante Jardon in disguise. The Three Kings Day is an important celebration in Mexico.
Boxers do a mountain of charity work, very little of which gets reported.