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.
Money comes to “Money”. Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr just gets richer and richer. He has signed a 30 month, six fight contract with SHOWTIME PPV/CBS. This will be a profit sharing deal and will be enormously lucrative for Mayweather. The difficulty may be in finding six opponents with high enough profiles to face Mayweather in that time span. Mayweather had just one fight in each of years 2010, 2011 and 2012. That’s just three fights in almost three years. The contract calls for him to fight at approximately five monthly intervals, but whatever-it will be good just to see him back in the ring. Don’t even start to think what it might do to the deal if in the first fight in the series on 4 May Robert Guerrero emerges the winner, or if Mayweather gets into any trouble outside the ring.
New York lost out to Atlantic City, Atlantic City lost out to Las Vegas, and now it looks as though Las Vegas is losing out to places such as Macao and Abu Dhabi. It seems that a recent tax hike introduced in the USA means that someone such as Manny Pacquiao would pay almost 40% tax on his earnings. With figures such as $20 million involved that is a lot of money lost to the fighter. Under those conditions Las Vegas is not just fighting these far away places, it is fighting them plus the US IRS.
On the subject of Abu Dhabi I was shown a copy of a letter from a promotional group offering Paul Malignaggi $2.5 million to challenge Humberto Soto for his WBFederation welterweight title in the Arab Emirates late April/May. Now that is silly money and more than either of these two fighters have ever been offered before. Don’t know how serious the offer is but it’s only a fraction of the output for one day from an oil well. It now appears the Malignaggi will fight in Abu Dhabi on May 18, but defending his WBA title against mandatory challenger Diego Chaves.
Puerto Rican prospect Thomas Dulorme starts his rebuilding process with a fight against Eddie Brooks tomorrow night (21st). The talented welterweight was brought sharply down to earth last October when he was halted in seven rounds by Argentinian toughie Luis Carlos Abregu. Dulorme managed to get all the way up to No 1 with the WBC without actually beating any highly rated fighters. He has the ability to climb again, but this time assessments of his prospects may not be filled with such hysteria. Abregu is now No 1 welter with the WBC, and Dulorme is No 8 light welter, even though Dulorme has not fought in that decision since 2010. Also on the show will be DiBella Entertainment’s latest signing Patrick Day the former US and National Golden Gloves champion.
One aspect of this weeks show is that it will be held in the Roseland Ballroom in New York. Recent shows have been held at BB King’s night club and the Aviators Sports Complex, so small hall shows are making something of a small comeback in New York. A long way from when there would be 2 or 3 shows a week in places such as St Nick’s and Eastern Parkway, but still encouraging.
China is still largely untapped as a boxing money market. However, there are signs of China wakening to professional boxing, and of the boxing powers realising the potential if boxing takes off in a big way there. Top Rank has made a very smart move in signing up Zhou Shiming. After his World Championships and Olympic successes he is easily the most high profile boxer in China and is their equivalent to Manny Pacquiao. If Zhou becomes a world champion in the professional ring it could be the catalyst for an explosion of boxing there. The WBC also took there biggest step into the Chinese market when they screwed their Filipino No 1 contender so that Chinese fighter Xiong Shao Zhong could win their strawweight title. It won’t happen overnight, but Zhou and Xiong (sounds like a couple of pandas) could be the start of something big.
India could be equally as big in market terms, but, despite having a large number of top class amateurs, there has never been any significant professional impact there. Currently the Indian Board is under suspension from the AIBA, but fighters such as Dinesh Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Dilbag Singh and Vijender Singh have all won medals at major tournaments. There is talent but seemingly no commercial interest in exploiting this huge market.
The AIBA have recently been out to Cuba to try to get that nation to embrace the World Series Boxing and the AIBA Professional Boxing initiatives. You can be sure that there will be incentives offered to Cuba to get them to participate. Certainly getting fighters such as Rosniel Iglesias, Carlos Banteur, Robeisy Ramirez, Erislandy Savon etc. would be a big plus for the AIBA, and it might be the first small step of getting professional boxing back in to Cuba. That would give Caribbean, Floridian and Gulf boxing a huge boost with Cuba joining Mexico and Puerto Rico as Latino powerhouses. The only reservation I have over all this “professionalising” of “amateur” boxing is the effect on fighters who just want to fight as amateurs-and less than 1% of youngsters joining boxing clubs ever turn pro-they will see their horizon limited by a strata of professional/amateurs grabbing all the glory.
The way things are shaping don’t be surprised to see the AIBA as another professional boxing sanctioning body in the future-near or far.
The storm surrounding the farcical behavior at the Sonny Bill Williams vs. Frans Botha shows no signs of abating. There is talk of a return over twelve rounds-or less if Williams gets tired. The alleged positive test for Botha just adds to the confusion. It would not be the first time Botha has tested positive for PED, but that does not make him guilty.
However, the shambolic way this matter of a “positive” test was handle is typical of how boxing faces up to the subject of PED’s. South African Keith Nkosi tested positive for nandralone after winning the ABU lightweight title in December. This was based on the A-sample and it was stated that if the B-sample also showed as positive Nkosi would be stripped off the title and be banned for two years. The refreshing thing is that Nkosi’s trainer, former world champion Brian Mitchell, accepted the evidence on the basis of the A-sample saying that the testers knew their job and there was no point in protesting.
Compare this with the WBC who have again criticized the USADA testers. Erik Morales gave a positive test for a diuretic when in training for his fight against Danny Garcia. The WBC pointed out that Morales tested clean at the fight. However, having given a positive test Morales would have been stupid to then take something that would not have cleared from his system by fight time. Where he was caught out was in being tested earlier than he expected, and thus having the banned substance still in his system. Instead of accepting the possibility that there might be a problem the WBC prefer to shoot the messenger. A knee jerk reaction to a truth they don’t want to acknowledge (a la Antonio Margarito and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.) and even more so when it is obviously a Yankee slur on a nice clean Mexican, who would never do wrong. When you take high profile cases such as Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto it is obvious that the sanctioning bodies have there head in the sand, and when you have your head in the sand it leaves your butt sticking right up in the air, and that is where boxing is on the subject of PED’s right now. To show the problem exists at all levels not just world championship, Mickey Bey Jr tested positive for very high testosterone after his fight with Robert Rodriguez on 2 February. It is there. It is a problem. Boxing needs to deal with it.
Going back to the Williams vs. Botha show, it was an early night as four of the fights ended inside a round. Dangerous that. I can imagine an Aussie husband getting home hours before he is expected and catching his best friend in bed with his wife. Like any normal Aussie he would then rush to kitchen, throw open the fridge and scream “Your rotten bastard you’ve drunk my last beer”. Better quality matching can avoid these tragedies.
A sadder note for Australia was the death of Jack Rennie. Jack was a major force in Australian boxing. He guided Lionel Rose to a world and Paul Ferrari to a title shot against the legendary Carlos Zarate, and handled the careers on many other top Australian fighters. He was just as influential in his administrative work being a founder member of the Australian National Boxing Federation and influential in getting the ANBF accepted by the OPBF, WBA and Commonwealth Boxing Council. RIP Jack.
Another important boxing man died on Monday. Jerry Buss was best known as the owner of the LA Lakers. However, in his deal to buy the Lakers he also became owner of the LA Forum which as a venue became a major player in world boxing. Madison Square Garden bought the Forum last year and is renovating it, but it will always be associated with Buss. A self made, larger than life character with a great heart. RIP Jerry
Tomasz Adamek has stepped out of his IBF eliminator with Kubrat Pulev saying the he saw better paydays for himself in other fights. Rumour now is that he will fight Albert Sosnowski in late April (a better payday-I don’t think so), but first Sosnowski has to come through the Prizefighter unscathed. With Adamek stepping out Tyson Fury will now fight Steve Cunningham in New York on 20 April in an eliminator to see who takes Adamek’s place against Pulev
A spot of musical chairs between trainers. Unbeaten Cuban heavyweight Mike Perez has taken Jameel McCline as his new trainer. The 27-year-old Perez has not fought since December 2011. A proposed fight with Ruslan Chagaev fell through when Perez was injured. Heavyweight Manuel Charr has taken on Brit Scott Welsh as his trainer. “The Brighton Rock” Welsch beat guys such as Joe Bugner, Julius Francis and Mike Sedillo, but lost to Francis for the British heavyweight title and to Henry Akinwande for the WBO title.
Last weekend showed just how misleading records can be. Some records are worthless as any guide to a fighter’s true ability. A 20-0 record is just a number and it recalls to mind the title of an old TV comedy “Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width”. And that‘s how it is with many records. Never mind the quality-look at the numbers. Last weekend “The Comanche Boy” George Tahdooahnippah went into his fight with Delvin Rodriguez unbeaten in 34 fights. However, because the level of his opposition was low, the numbers were meaningless. In Tijuana Hanzel Martinez went into his fight with Alejandro Gonzalez with 19 wins, 15 by KO/TKO, and was kayoed in two rounds. The best example was Argentinian Matias Gomez who had a 29-0 record with 28 wins by KO/TKO against South African Thompson Mokwana who was 17-6. Mokwana won a wide unanimous decision. Argentina has many good fighters, but you have to wait until they fight outside Argentina to find out whether they can fight or not. It is the same with countries such as Brazil, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and even with States such as Texas and some in the Mid West. Just numbers without substance.
European fighters seem to be a falling apart with three prominent fighters either having or needing surgery. Former European champion Grzegorz Proksa broke a hand in his win over Norbert Szekeres earlier this month and it is being assessed to see whether surgery is required. French light heavyweight Tony Averlant aggravated an old injury to his right hand when losing to Mounir Toumi last month and after carrying the injury through a few fights he has finally gone under the knife and will be out for 3-4 months. Danish heavyweight Brian Nielsen has delayed any thoughts of a comeback as he is having a second operation on his hip. Nielsen is 47-years-old. You have to expected this sort of thing Brian. As my old mother used to say “old age does not come on its own”.
The undercard for the WBO bantam title fight between defending champion Pungluang and Paulus Ambunda in Windhoek, Namibia on 2 March has some good fights lined up. Former WBA secondary light champion Paulus Moses faces the former IBF super featherweight champion Mzonke Fana, Bethuel Ushona defends his WBO African title against Ghana’s Emmanuel Clottey and Vikapita Meroro fights Swedish-based Ugandan Hamza Wandera for the vacant WBO African light heavyweight title. Also on the show will be flyweight Japhet Utoni. He was one of the most successful amateurs produced by Namibian winning the African title and a gold medal at the 2006 and a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Unfortunately Utoni has left it very late to turn pro as he had his first paid fight last November and is now 33-years-old.
IBF bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz has relinquished his title to try his luck at super bantam. In the IBF ratings for January Brit Jaime McDonnell was the IBF No 1. The No 2 spot was vacant and then came a very mixed bag. No 3 was the 20-year-old Mexican Jorge Ceja who is 24-0 with 22 wins by KO/TKO (and yes there is some substance in those figures), No 4 Sergio Perales who is 22-1 (no there is no substance ion those figures). Since losing in two rounds to Caril Herrera in 2011 he has had two fights in 2012 against fighters with a 4-4 and a 9-13-1 records, and on the basis of those wins climbed from No 14 to No 4!!!. Next in line was South African Vusi Malinga, who lost to Santa Cruz in June, his only fight since October 2010!! However, in their February ratings suddenly Japanese fighter Tomoki Kameda gets promoted from No 13 to No 4. I thought IBF stood for International Boxing Federation, but it now looks like Its Been Fixed.
The WBA are no better. For winning the PABA middleweight title in a fight between unrated fighters Jarrod Fletcher leaps into the WBA ratings at No 7. No sign of Billy Joe Saunders who destroyed Fletcher in two rounds in September.
Upcoming fights: Saul Alvarez will fight Austin Trout in a unification match involving the WBC and WBA light middle titles. This is a support to the Mayweather vs. Guerrero fight on 4 May. It looks like a huge fight for Montreal could be on the cards with former IBF super middle champion Lucien Bute facing former WBC light heavy champion Jean Pascal on May 25. It is not a done deal yet, but there is no bigger fight out there for either of them. Abner Mares, after having relinquished his WBC super bantam title, will challenge Daniel Ponce De Leon on 4 May for the WBC feather title in an attempt to become a three division champion. Richard Abril and Sharif Bogere will fight for the vacant WBA lightweight title on March 2 in Las Vegas. A good welterweight match will see Argentinian Marcos Maidana tackle Josesito Lopez on 20 April. One we won’t get to see is Roman Gonzalez (super champion) against Kazuto Ioka (secondary champion) to clear up the situation over the WBA light flyweight title. Purse offers were cancelled with both fighters looking for a