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.
Sometimes being a great boxer is just not enough-this is entertainment. There is no doubt that Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux is one of the most skilful boxer around. That’s good enough for the purists, but does not draw the uncommitted. To be a really big attraction a fighter also needs to generate excitement. Unfortunately Rigondeaux can outbox just about anyone at his weight, but does not go in for bombs away-you hit me I hit you-blood everywhere fight, so HBO were said to be dropping Rigondeaux from their schedule. They might have changed their minds now but it is an indication of boxing dumbing down to pander to the casual viewer, but TV and Promoters are in the business of making money and there are plenty of “champions” to choose from..
It seems to be a good/bad time to be reading about former top fighters. The hospital swing door has seen Jose Napoles leave hospital after treatment for Hypertension and Anemia and Brazilian Eder Jofre going in for tests It suspected that he is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s with the loss of his wife two months ago being a contributing factor. They had been married for 52 years.
Coming up soon are the Bennie Briscoe Awards. PhillyBoxingHistory.com makes an annual award for Philadelphia Fighter of the Year, Fight of the Year, and Kayo of the Year. The awards are named after the great Bennie Briscoe. He may never have won a world title but he won the hearts of fight fans around the world and it is great to see Bennie’s name enshrined in this way. Philadelphia may no longer be the hot bed of boxing it once was, but Bennie so typifies the fighters that made it a famous fight city. Suffice to say that Marvin Hagler lost only three fights in his 67 fight career, and two of those loses were in Philadelphia against Bobby Watts and Willie Monroe. Amusingly Hall of Fame promoter Russell Peltz recounted in his inauguration speech that he was once offered rights to a fighter, but since the guy had lost twice to Philly fighters on his cards he declined. Hey, who needs some guy called Hagler when I have Watts, Monroe, Gene Hart and Bennie Briscoe!
South Africa lost one of its great names from the 1950’s / 60’s with the death of Enoch “Schoolboy” Nhlapo in Soweto on July 7. He was 80-years-old. Nhlapo started boxing in 1953 in the days of apartheid when black South Africans were only allowed to fight other black South Africans and the titles they won were classified as “non white”. He won South African “non white” titles at featherweight, lightweight, light welterweight and welterweight losing only 15 of his 119 fights and losing inside the distance only once. He was one of a range of top quality black fighters who had little or no chance of ever getting international recognition or the chance to face top overseas fighters. They also suffered from the lack of training facilities and ended up fighting each other just to keep busy. Guys such as Elijah Mokone, Sexton Mabena, Levi Madi, Joe N’Gidi and Anthony Morodi are now revered idols, but back then they had to take whatever fights they could, wherever they could. Eventually some overseas fighter did come to South Africa to fight and Nhlapo faced Paul Armstead, former lightweight champion Joe Brown, and former Commonwealth champion Percy Lewis, but by then both Nhlapo and his opponents were past their peak. There is no saying how far Nhlapo or the other top black boxers would have gone if they had lived in a free society. RIP Enoch
We also lost Lenny LaPaglia. I followed Lenny throughout his career from 1980 to 1995. He was the big draw card in Chicago winning his first 19 fights, 18 by KO/TKO, eleven in the first round, and one on disqualification. Lenny did not have a high degree of skill but his fights were always exciting. However, he had his limitations and once he moved up in class the losses started to appear. His biggest night came in August 1993 when he won the inaugural IBO light heavyweight title. He never defended the title and in his last fight in March 1955 he was stopped in one round by Tommy Hearns for the vacant WBU title. Typical of Lenny, he was floored twice and each time came up fighting actually chasing Hearns around the ring looking to trade. A third knockdown ended the fight.” The Rage” lived a pretty wild life outside the ring, and that, plus his 33 wins by KO/TKO out of 36 wins made him a favourite with Chicago fans and TV. RIP Lenny.
Next month there is an amateur boxing tournament being arranged for 12 August to take place in Tianguistenco, Mexico. It will be to mark the death of the great Salvador Sanchez who died in a car crash in 1982. What a terrible tragedy that was both for Salvador’s family and for boxing. Just 23 Sanchez had won the WBC featherweight title just a few days after his 21st Birthday by stopping Danny Lopez and went on to make ten defences beating Ruben Castillo, Lopez, Pat Ford, Juan Laporte, Roberto Castanon, Nicky Perez, Wilfredo Gomez, Pat Cowdell, Rocky Garcia and finally in July 1982 Azumah Nelson. He had achieved so much but we will never know how much more this phenomenal fighter could have gone on to achieve.
Good to see Texan Troy Dorsey doing well. Dorsey first sprang to prominence as a kick boxer winning three gold medals in both semi and full contact kickboxing in amateur world championships in London and Munich. From there he went into boxing and overcame the disappointments of a hotly disputed loss (IBF feather) and a split draw (IBF/WBO feather) with Jorge Paez and persevered and won the IBF title by beating Alfredo Rangel. After losing the title he returned to kickboxing and again won a world title before returning to boxing and beating Jimmi Bredahl for the IBO super feather title. Troy is now running his own gym in Texas, doing lots of good work with kids and charities and is a committed Christian doing good work in that field also.
Manny Pacquiao is not the only ex-boxer going into politics. Former Commonwealth and Australian lightweight champion and IBF super featherweight champion Barry Michael is standing for the Australian Senate. After retiring in 1987 Barry has continued his involvement in boxing and is currently working with Australian heavyweight Lucas Browne who fights Richard Towers in a Commonwealth title eliminator on 25 July. Could be a one-two for Barry if he gets elected and Browne wins. I’d vote for him.
Ratings are so subjective, which is why they differ so much across the four main sanctioning bodies-well that and some dubious politics. However, if a result causes too much of a problem then the best thing to do is just pretend it never happened. At the end of the year Carson Jones was No 7 with the IBF (really the sixth rated fighter as the No 2 spot was vacant). However, you would have searched in vain for the name of Dean Byrne who fought a draw with Jones on December 8. Irishman Byrne is a welterweight, and he had a 17-2 record at the time, but it was too complicated to rate him and drop Jones down so the IBF ignored it and that was that. Sorry Mr. Byrne.
The WBA were very kind to Souleymane M’baye. After losing inside the distance to Ismael El Massoudi for the interim welter title in July 2011 he did not have another fight until March 2013. Despite not fighting he was never out of the top 10 of the WBA welter ratings until between June 2012 and August 2012 he suddenly disappeared from No 6 welterweight and turned up at No 4 light welterweight although inactive for over a year. Then he found his magic carpet. He actually had a fight in March 2013 beat Laszlo Haaz, a guy with a 7-11 record. Amazingly that win elevated him to No 2( effectively No 1 as the top spot was vacant). Twenty months without a fight and in all of that time he never dropped out of the WBA ratings and he beats a fighter with a 7-11 record and goes to the top. That’s the WBA straight as a corkscrew. His fight with Khabib Allakhverdiev was also for the IBO title. The IBO rated M’baye-at No 47! Their approach is to decide whether it is a good fight or not rather than where a fighter is rated-even in their own ratings. The recent fight for their super bantamweight title fight was between their No 29 Thabo Sonjica and their No 35 Sylvester Lopez. It is difficult to know which sanctioning body is worst. At the weekend Merlito Sabillo retained his WBO strawweight title with a ninth round stoppage of Colombian Jorle Estrada. The Colombian must have found the secret of the magic carpet. He went from nowhere in the WBO ratings in February to No 6 in March. Not bad when you think he had not had a fought since September! It was a similar but not quite so bad a case with Yuzo Kiyota who fought Robert Stieglitz for the WBO super middle title at the weekend. At the start of the year he was not in the WBO top 15. He made his first appearance in their March ratings at No 15. By the time he came to fight Stieglitz he was No 10, not bad since he had not fought since October 2012.
Henry Tillman made a big name for himself as an amateur. He beat Mike Tyson on his way to winning the heavyweight spot in the US Olympic team for the 1984 Olympic Games and won the gold medal in Los Angeles. After turning pro he won 14 of his first 15 fights before being halted in seven rounds by Evander Holyfield for the WBA cruiserweight title in 1987. That was as good as it got for Tillman. He lost to Dwain Bonds and Willie de Witt, who he had beaten in the Olympic final. Then came the indignity of being kayoed inside a round by past victim Tyson. Tillman retired in 1992 and has been working in youth projects ever since. He recently opened a gym in Carson, California and Leon Spinks turned out to help launch his fellow Olympic gold medalist’s gym as did the Mayor and other sports and entertainment personalities. Tillman has been working with young boxers for 20 years and plans to not just teach boxing but also life skills to troubled youngsters and to continue his work with a scheme to help reduce obesity in school through physical exercise. A good example for other former boxers.
South African Isaac Hlatshwayo has announced his retirement. In a career from February 2000 to March this year he won numerous titles. He was South African lightweight champion from October 2002 until 2004 making five defences. In 2005 he won the vacant IBO lightweight title and in 2007 moved up to welterweight, again winning the vacant IBO title. In 2009 he won the vacant IBF welterweight title, but lost it in his first defence and then his career went down hill. He lost 5 of his next 6 fights before announcing his retirement at the age of 35. His record was 30-6-1,1No Decision. He lost only one of his first 31 fights and beat a host of good South African fighters such as Kaizer Mabuza, Lucky Lewele, Ben Dlamini, Irvin Buhlalu, Sam Malinga, Pet Malinga, Philip Ndou, Cassius Baloyi and Joseph Makaringe. He also registered wins over Nate Campbell and drew and beat Delfino Rodriguez . Let’s hope he stays away from the ring.
You have to wonder how serious some bodies are about tackling drugs in boxing. In March 2012 the German BDB suspended Alex Khal until May 2013 for testing positive for a banned substance. The national bodies in Europe rarely act together so Khal was able to box in Switzerland in September ignoring the BDB ban. No action was taken by the BDB and last week Khal fought in Germany-for the BDB heavyweight title, so obviously a positive test does not stop you going straight into a title fight when the ban ends. What is even worse is that the hugely overweight Khal had lost his last two fights inside a round, so it seems ability does not matter either. To no ones surprise Khal was knocked out in 47 seconds. Sometimes I really wonder about the way this sport is mis-managed.
It is depressing to see the state in which some heavyweights climb into the ring. Anywhere between 250 to 300lbs is not uncommon and just looking at the fighters before the first bell makes you cringe with embarrassment that a fighter should climb into the ring in that state and that a promoter should think they are worth employing. Some seem not to have heard of the word obese or if they have they think O’Bese is the name of an Irish heavyweight.
Plenty of good fights to look forward to: July 27 in Macao Juan Francisco Estrada will have the chance to break more Filipino hearts when he puts his WBA and WBO flyweight titles on the line against 29-0 Milan Melindo. Estrada won the title with a split decision over Brian Viloria in April in Macao, so Melindo is seeking revenge for his countrymen. Later on in the year in Macao Vanes Martirosyan and Demetrius Andrade will clash for the vacant WBO light middle title vacated by Zaurbek Baysangurov due to injury. That is on November 23. August 1 in Bangkok will see Kompayak defending his interim WBA fly title against Japan’s Koki Eto and on August 23 former WBA fly champion Denkoasan meets another former champion Nobuo Nashiro for the interim super fly title. For British fans the David Haye vs. Tyson Fury fight in Manchester on 28 September is huge and is an intriguing bout. Experience and power against height and youth. I have called against Fury before, and have to do it again, mainly due to the fighters who have put him down. None were in Haye’s class as punchers. There again every time I have thought Fury might lose-he has won, so make your own mind up on this one. Mexican fans have Mayweather vs. Alvarez and Marquez vs. Bradley to look forward to, but there is another big fight before that when Abner Mares defends his WBC feather title against former WBO bantam and WBC feather champion Jhonny Gonzalez. Jhonny lost his WBC title to Daniel Ponce De Leon and De Leon lost it to Mares, but that is no form line and the sparks should fly on August 28 in Carson. Also on the bill is Victor Terrazas putting his WBC super bantam title on the line against former IBF bantam champion Leo Santa Cruz. A great double-header. Another good double header sees Javier Fortuna face Luis Franco and Jonathan Batista against Kermit Cintron in Miami Oklahoma on August 2. A match between Shane Mosley and Anthony Mundine looks to be a done deal. They will clash in Australia in October at 154lbs. Also in the works is a Robert Guerrero vs. Victor Ortiz match with both coming off losses. One that I won’t be rushing to see is the proposed fight between two former WBC heavyweight champions Oleg Maskaev and Oliver McCall in September. Maskaev is 44 and McCall 48 and they are both a long way past their best. There is no truth in the rumour that the loser will get to fight Deontay Wilder. Big show coming in Tokyo on August 12 as Shinsuke Yamanaka puts his WBC bantamweight title on the line against Puerto Rican Jose Nieves, Akira Yaegashi defending his WBC flyweight title against Mexican Oscar Blanquet and former WBC bantam and feather champion Hozumi Hasegawa keeps busy with a match against Mexican Genaro Camargo. Marco Huck will chance his luck again as he defend his WBO cruiser title against Firat Arslan in Stuttgart on 14 September. In his last three defences Huck has drawn with Ola Afolabi, beaten Arslan on a hotly disputed decision and just held onto the title with a majority decision over Afolabi.
Names,names,names. Boxers make some strange choices when it comes to nicknames. How about Ahmet “Pattycake” Patterson or Larry “Slow Motion” Smith. Hardly inspiring. The reason I usually use only the first name of Thai boxers is that they adopt the trade name of their sponsor or their gym such as super flyweight Petch Sor Chipattana who boxes as CP Freshmart . To add to the confusion his real name is Tassana Sanpattan and if he changes his sponsor or his gym he will change his ring name again. So Petch it is. I make an exception in the case of Pigmy Kokietgym. Just doesn’t seem right just calling him Pigmy.
Eder Jofre: This weeks name from the past is the greatest fighter ever produced by Brazil and in due deference to Carlos Monzon arguably the best ever South American fighter. In a career of 78 fights he only lost twice, and 50 of his 72 wins were by KO/TKO. After failing to win a medal in the 1956 Olympic Games the “Golden Bantam” turned pro in 1957 and was fighting ten round fights by his second pro fight. He had early draws against Ernesto Miranda twice and Ruben Cacares, both of who he beat in return matches. He had to climb of the floor to stop then unbeaten Jose Smecca in 1958. He broke into the world ratings with a win over Filipino Leo Espinosa in 1959 and climbed the rankings with Italian Gianni Zuddas, Danny Kid, Joe Medel (KO10) and Ricardo Moreno (TKO 6) . He won the NBA version of the world title by knocking out tough Mexican Eloy Sanchez in six rounds in November 1960 (you can see this one on You Tube). The big fights continued as he beat Billy Peacock (KO2), Piero Rollo (TKO 9) in a title defence, Sadao Yaoita (KO 10), Ramon Arias (TKO 7) and then Johnny Caldwell (TKO 10) to unify versions of the world title. He continued with wins over Herman Marques,(TKO 10), Medel again (KO 6) billed as a WBA title fight, Katsutoshi Aoki (KO 3) for the WBA and WBC titles, Johnny Jamito (TKO 12) for the WBA/WBC titles and Bernardo Caraballo (KO 7), in a defence of both titles. As they went into that fight Jofre was 46-0-3 and Caraballo 39-0-1. Two fighters with 89 fights between them and not a single loss. At that point Jofre had a run of 15 consecutive wins by KO/TKO against the best bantamweight in the world. His run came to an end in fight No 51 as he lost his titles on a split decision against Fighting Harada in Japan in 1965. Six months later he fought a draw against Manny Elias. It was a ten round fight using a 20 point scoring system. Jofre actually came out on top on all three cards with scores of 198-193, 197-195 and 196-195 but under Brazilian rules to win a fight you had to be four points ahead on two of the cards to win. Jofre lost to Harada in a return match in 1966. This one was again in Japan with Harada winning on scores of 71-69, 71-68 and 69-68 under the five point scoring system. Jofre retired after that loss. However, he was far from being finished and he returned in 1969 and scored wins over world rated fighters Nevio Carbi, Elias in a return, Giovanni Girgenti, Jerry Stokes, Domenico Chilorio and Tony Jumao-As. In May 1973 he won the WBC featherweight title by outpointing Jose Legra and knocked out Vicente Saldivar in his only title defence. The WBC stripped him off the title in 1974 for not defending against their nominated challenger and Jofre retired in 1976 after beating Mexican Octavio Gomez. He took up training and was a successful businessman, and unusual in a boxer in those days, was a vegetarian. Over his career Jofre fought every major bantamweight in the world and lost only twice, and then on razor thin decisions to a fellow Hall of Fame fighter Fighting Harada in Japan. A true giant of the ring