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.
We no longer have the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao saga. That has been replaced by the Marquez vs. Pacquiao saga. The scene is almost as foggy and studded with pitfalls as the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao one. The current plan is for Marquez vs. Pacquiao V late in the year. To complicate it is the suggestion that both Marquez and Pacquiao have tough warm-up fights. Marquez to face the winner of Tim Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov and Pacquiao to fight the winner of Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado. Just too complicated so don’t buy any tickets for Marquez vs. Pacquiao V just yet. Something that will change if the meet again will be the purse split. Last time Pacquiao reportedly received $23 million and Marquez a paltry $6 million. If they fight again Marquez is said to be demanding $20 million.
Once again we have positive tests as a thorny subject. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr tests positive for marijuana and is fined $900,000 and is given a nine month suspension. Both the WBC and Bob Arum are adamant that this is totally unfair, but for different reasons. Arum considers the level of fine to exceed what is reasonable and it is therefore unconstitutional. It may be that since this was not the first time Chavez had tested positive for a banned substance, the fine needed to be higher than would normally apply. Jose Sulaiman seemed to believe that marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug. The plain fact is that in Nevada marijuana is a substance on the banned list. Chavez tested positive for a banned substance and therefore contravened the rules in Nevada. Marijuana is banned in many States and countries, and if those who are tasked with drawing up the list of banned substances say it is, then who are we to argue. There have been countless cases of bans for testing positive for marijuana, but suddenly because it is a Mexican and specifically Chavez, Sulaiman, who has been unconcerned over this is the past, suddenly sees it as a major issue. The WBC makes great play, rightly, of their campaigns against drugs. Life is going to very complicated in their literature if they have to say we are against drugs “with the exception of marijuana etc etc etc…………. and any taken by high profile Mexican boxers”. Being overlooked in all this is that Chavez is someone who seems to be going down a bad road with this positive test and a previous DDI. He needs help and blaming the nasty Yanqui will not help him one little bit.
We also have Australian Sam Solomon allegedly testing positive after his fight with Felix Sturm and British boxer John Donnelly reportedly testing positive after his British title fight with Paul Butler in November. It begs the question as to whether the use of drugs is on the increase or whether it has always been wide spread but the testing is now more rigorous, leading to more positive test. One thing for sure is that it is a problem and is not going to go away until the certainty of getting caught becomes a believable deterrent.
I certainly got egg on my face over the Paulus Ambunda vs. Pungluang fight. I heavily tipped Pungluang to retain his title WBO bantamweight title, perhaps even stopping Ambunda. In the event the Namibian won a close decision in what was arguably the best performance ever by a Namibian boxer. Having landed the fight the promoter had trouble raising the funds and in the end the Namibian government chipped in with just over US $220,000 so that the fight go ahead. Ambunda certainly rewarded their faith.
Looks as though Wladimir Klitschko’s next challenger for his IBF/WBO/WBO titles will be the German-based Italian Francesco Pianeta, with the bout going on in Magdeburg, Germany on 4 May. The unbeaten Pianeta once worked as a sparring partner and claimed that he had learned of the chinks in Klitschko’s armour in those sessions. He fails to realise that Klitschko also may have learned something. The 28-year-old Pianeta, a former European Union champion, has a 28-0-1 record, with the draw coming against Albert Sosnowski. His record lacks any high quality names. However, he is at least doing his bit to keep boxing’s senior citizens off the streets. His last five wins have been over 42-year-old Robert Hawkins, 39-year-old Zach Page, 47-year-old Oliver McCall, 44-year-old Frans Botha and young 35-year-old Argentinian Nelson Dominguez, who lasted just over 2 ½ minutes. Since Klitschko is 36 he must also count as a senior citizen in boxing terms, but I don’t think he needs a hand out. Not so much a case of living on the street as owning the street.
It will be interesting to see how the IBF approach this fight. Pianeta in not currently in their ratings, so can’t fight for their title. In the past that has easily been put right by an “adjustment” to the ratings to salvage the sanctioning fee. However, right now the IBF is under a very big microscope. A former employee, William James, who worked for the IBF for two years as chairman of the IBF ratings committee has filed a suit in a New Jersey court alleging that he was sacked by that body for reporting to the IBF Board irregularities with regard to the rating of Luis Franco. James alleged that this rating of Franco, which James claims was illegal under the Muhammad Ali Act, was undertaken by consultant Anibal Miramontes. James alleges that promoter Gary Shaw was providing money to Miramontes’ business Fight Fax, and implies that as Shaw promoted Franco, this may have influenced the action of Miramontes. James further alleges that when he reported this to the CEO Daryl Peoples no action was taken, and that again no action was taken when he reported it to the IBF Board. Allegedly James was told “if you don’t keep your mouth shut, we are going to fire you”. Subsequently James was fired by the IBF on the grounds that he “lived too far away”. All of those named in the suit by James deny any wrongdoing.
A shameful part of the IBF’s history, which does not involve anyone named above, saw the FBI carry out a covert operation to investigate allegations of corruption within the IBF. As part if the investigation and plea bargaining the chairman of the ratings committee was fitted with a wire and recorded conversations between himself and President Bobby Lee Senior discussing bribes. A federal grand jury investigated the charges. That resulted in a 32-count racketeering indictment against Lee, with Lee subsequently being convicted on numerous of the charges. It was a terrible blow to the credibility of the IBF, and boxing, particularly as it also revealed that some of the biggest promoters in boxing were paying those bribes.
For my own part, in those days I did a weekly column for Boxing News on news from around the world. I also did the Boxing News World Ratings so kept my eye on the ratings of the sanctioning bodies. It was obvious that there was something very suspicious going on at the IBF. Every time I spotted an unexplained ranking I highlighted it in my column. Eventually Boxing News printed a letter from Lee complaining bitterly about my “lies” and ended with the threat “we are watching you”. What Lee did not know was that the FBI was watching him.
However, in boxing there is a “the show must go on” approach, so, if a challenger has to pull out of a world title fight, a substitute has to be found. If the replacement is not in the ratings-then he soon will be, although some times with a late substitution the sanctioning body does not have enough time to change their ratings, so they just break their own rules. For “the show must go on” substitute “the sanctioning fees are sacrosanct”. This is what happened with Ishe Smith. Not having fought since September he did not appear in the IBF ratings posted mid December 2012, but suddenly got slipped into the ratings posted on 11 January 2013.
Who took the stake out and opened the tomb. Suddenly Don King is back in the limelight. The veteran promoter won the purse bidding for both the WBO cruiserweight fight between Marco Huck and Ola Afolabi and the WBA cruiserweight title fight between Denis Lebedev and Guillermo Jones. King bid $1.5 million for the WBO title fight, with Huck getting 80% and Afolabi 20%. He won the WBA title fight with a bid of $712,000. Even though Lebedev is the WBA champion, it is the “champion in recess” Jones, who mis promoted by King, who is getting $391,600 and Lebedev $320,400.
Brazilian heavyweight Adilson Rodrigues is on the sick list. The 54-year-old is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Adilson fought Evander Holyfield, George Foreman and twice beat Johnny Nelson for the WBF heavyweight title in 1995. He first won the South American heavyweight title in 1986, and never lost it, making his final defence in 1994. He had a 77-7-1 record with 61 wins by KO/TKO. He is being well looked after by his family and is physically quite well.
Marco Antonio Rubio is another fighter being trained by Robert Garcia. The Mexican middle weight is preparing for a fight with Marcos Upshaw on 23 March in Uruapan. With his recent successes Garcia is becoming the “flavour of the month” as a trainer, just as Freddie Roach has been for a long time.
Former WBA flyweight champion Herman “Tyson” Marquez is in training and is due to return to the ring in a bout on March 23, which could be on the same show as Rubio. It will be his first fight since dropping his title to Brian Viloria in November.
Joan Guzman and Vicente will fight for the vacant interim WBA light welterweight title on 31 May. No venue chosen as yet. This is a good fight between two class fighters which could go either way.
March 16 in Panama local Roberto Vasquez fights Filipino John Mark Apolinario for the inter WBA bantamweight title.
Big show in South Africa sees two old enemies, Takalani Ndlovu and Jeff Mathebula, clash in an IBF super bantamweight title eliminator. This will be the third meeting between these two. Ndlovu beat Mathebula on a split decision in an IBF eliminator for this title in 2010, and Mathebula beat Ndlovu in March last year on a split decision to take away Ndlovu’s title. Ndlovu lost a hotly disputed decision to Alejandro Lopez in an IBF eliminator in October, and Mathebula is having his first fight since suffering a broken jaw when losing his IBF title to Nonito Donaire in July. Yet another major show by Branco Milenkovic who was three times IBF Promoter of the Year, once WBC International Promoter of the Year, and in South Africa recipient of most prestigious Life Achievement Award from the Minister of Sport. With guys such as Milenkovic, Rodney Berman, who has a big show coming up in Monte Carlo, and other good promoters down there you have to wonder why the Boxing South Africa is trying to dictate how contracts between promoters and boxers should be for one fight only , getting involved in allocation of TV money etc.. Do they really think Milenkovic, or any other promoter, would put on a show of this magnitude if they knew that fighters involved could walk away and find another promoter whenever they wanted to.
Chris John will defend his WBA title against Satoshi Hosono in Jakarta on 14 April. John has his eyes on a couple of records. This will be his 19th defence of his featherweight title which will equal Eusebio Pedroza’s record for the division. He is also looking at the record for the greatest number of wins for an unbeaten world champion and aiming to retire undefeated once he has reached these targets. John’s record is 48-0-2, so 48 wins. Joe Calzaghe retired with 46 wins, Rocky Marciano retired with 49 wins and Ricardo Lopez with 51.
Former IBF bantamweight champion Joseph Agbeko returns to the ring on March 22. The former IBF bantamweight champion fights Colombian Luis Melendez for the vacant IBO bantamweight title. This fight was postponed from March 8. Melendez qualified by being floored three times and stopped in six rounds by Julio Ceja in November. The IBO do not tie themselves in knots over who has to be rated where to fight for their titles. Melendez is No 48 in their ratings.
Cuban heavyweight Odlanier Solis has the second fight on his comeback when he tackles Norwegian Leif Larsen in Berlin on 22 March. The 6’4” “Viking” is totally untested, but no one can say he is not versatile. He competed at the shot put in the World Junior Athletic Championships, placing 4th and was 8th in the European Under-23 Championships. He then went on to play college football for the University of Texas and in 2000 and 2001 played in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills. OK, but can he fight?
During the preparations for the Donnie Nietes vs. Moises Fuentes WBO light fly title fight at the weekend, the WBO Kontra Drugs organisation sponsored a baseball event to raise money for the poor street kids in Cebu City. Something that the kids can relate to out there.
The WBC Cares had a number of prominent boxers visiting hospitals and giving out gifts under their WBC Cares programme. The WBC have an excellent and very proactive team working on this aspect of their work.