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.
I have never known such a bad period for boxing. Starting with the death of Mexican Francisco Leal after his fight with Raul Hirales on October 19 we have then had on November 2 Herman “Tyson” Marquez stretchered out of the ring after his fight with Giovani Segura, but thankfully recovering, and on the same night Magomed Abdusalamov in a induced coma after brain surgery following his fight with Mike Perez. This weekend was a horror story with Daniel Mackinnon and Colombian Jose Carmona both being rushed to hospital and now recovering from brain surgery. None of these fights were mismatches and neither was either one a case where it was felt the fights should have been stopped much earlier. With the exception of Leal there was no reason to think they were “accidents waiting to happen”. Brain injuries are unavoidable in a sport that does not just allow, but actively celebrates, hard blows to the head. A kayo is the big prize a fighter seeks and the crowd loves. All we can do is ensure that the very highest safety standards are applied and that those involved in ensuring that safety are educated in, aware of, and tuned into and trained to deal with the dangers. There is a natural feeling in view of these events that fights should be stopped too early rather than too late, but that is a fine line to tread. The onus is put on the referee and that is a very thin line they must tread. They are dammed if they do intervene without a fighter being helpless and pounded and dammed if they leave it too late even by as much as just one or two punches. We even highly criticize a fighter if he chooses not to fight on with a fractured jaw. What do you want- blood! Yes. What a wimp. This is a man’s sport. We have to do everything we can to prevent death or injury, but it will never be enough to keep death out of the sport.
The Leal cases is the most worrying and illustrates all that is bad about the dysfunctional way boxing works. Leal was stretchered out of the ring and taken to hospital after his fight with Evgeny Gradovich in San Antonio in March 2012. There is very little in the way of interchange of information in these instances unless they prove fatal. If Leal had no boxing passport his home Commission may have known nothing about this or if the information and hospital reports were made available may have taken no action. Unlike other sports there is no overreaching body ensuring communication and cooperation and a suspension in one country/State will not necessarily be honored by another with Edwin Valero being banned in New York but fighting in Texas as just a classic example.
Follow ups from the above involves the New York State Office of the Inspector General launching an official enquiry to examine the circumstances surrounding the Abdusalamov injury. There are questions over why he was allowed to leave the venue as he had to subsequently be rushed to hospital. Another example of the attitude that pervades the sport is the British Boxing Board facing legal action over their refusal to license some boxers who they view as being at increased risk. Some doctors disagree with that assessment so the Board are dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t. If they refuse the license they are sued but if they issue the license and some tragedy happens they will be dammed for issuing it and the sport will suffer. Can we be too cautious? It appears so.
Again on the above basis it was probably as well that Tomasz Adamek pulled out of his fight with Vyacheslav Glazkov. The Pole was complaining of dehydration, nausea and headaches and the last place we wanted to see him was in the ring-and perhaps on another stretcher.
It remains to be seen how much of his purse Edwin Rodriguez has too finally forfeit for his disgracefully unprofessional inability to make the weight for the Andre Ward fight. Initially Rodriguez was to pay $200,000 with half going to Ward and half to the Californian Commission (why? what did they lose-it should have been the TV guys who got that they paid for a title fight involving both men). However the WBA stepped in and under their rules, since Rodriguez made no additional attempt to make the weight, he could be fined up to 45% of his purse. Ward got $2 million and Rodriguez $800,000. I make that $365,000 of a penalty. Bring it on. I am sick of guys who know they can’t make the weight but go through with the pretence knowing that the most they will get is a slap on the wrist. Ironic when Rodriguez went into a lot of detail while telling a boxing magazine just how closely he worked with his nutritionists.
Two fighters on the German scene considered until recently to be good prospects have decided to hang up their gloves. Light heavyweight Dustin Dirks, 24, won 27 fights in a row before losing to Olek Cherviak and drawing with Czech Tomasz Adamek. Those results seemed like setbacks rather than career finishers, but Dirks made his decision. Edmund Gerber is a very similar case. The German heavyweight won his first 22 fights, but after a majority decision loss to Michael Sprott and a stoppage by Dereck Chisora he too has announced his retirement. It remains to be seen how permanent these decisions are.
I was sorry to see that David Haye may have to retire. He has been a double world champion and deserved a chance to erase the Wlad Klitschko fight from memory with another shot but now that won’t happen. For me he has easily been the best British heavyweight since Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno. As one door closes…now we look like getting Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder. Get there early as this won’t go past round three.
On the subject of the Klitschko’s, Vitali again gave a class performance at the WBC Convention in Bangkok and the brothers project a good image for boxing. They have their big charity gala in Kiev on 5 December. Their previous galas have raised over $2.7million for their sports and education Foundation. A large slice of that was the $1 million paid for Wlad’s 1996 gold medal. Here’s some trivia on brother Vitali: He was 6 times an amateur kickboxing champion and twice won professional titles in that sport. As an amateur boxer he was halted in two rounds by Oleg Maskaev, and beaten by Frenchman Christophe Mendy and Alexei Lezin (twice). Wlad won a gold medal in Atlanta in 1996 but Vitali did not compete as he was serving a two year ban after testing positive for Nandralone which he claimed he was using to treat a leg injury, but was thrown off the Ukraine team and missed the Olympics.
Still on the Klitschko’s it looks like Don King is the big road block to Bermane Stiverne getting his title shot against Vitali. The Klitschko’s are refusing to deal with Don King and King is saying he has a contract with the Canadian and if Stiverne does not fight for him then he fights for nobody. Stiverne is going to court to get King out of the way-easier said than done, but the least he should be able to do is get his fight with Vitali in February with some of his purse withheld until the King matter is settled.
Going back to the WBC Convention it was interesting to see how well Mauricio Sulaiman slotted into his father’s chair. It was the first big test for him and he handled it well. At times it was just as though Don Jose was in the chair.
Anthony Mundine Jr suffered a big blow with the fire-bombing of his Boxa Café. Mundine lost most of his boxing and Rugby League trophies and with the premises not being insured it must have been a real blow to him. Jeff Fenech was one of those questioned by the police in the course of their enquiries as Fenech had lost AUS $460,00 on the aborted Mundine vs. Shane Mosley fight and he accepted that it was natural that they would want to talk to him. With his purse lodged in an escrow account Mosley is back in Australia for the fight.
With Gennady Golovkin having completed five successful defences he has now been elevated to Super champion by the WBA. That means that Brit Martin Murray is now the full (secondary) champion. Murray is due to fight a non-title ten rounder against Sergey Khomitsky in Manchester this weekend.
There is confusion over the situation between the World Anti-Doping Agency(WADA) and the Russian equivalent. There has recently been controversy with Wlad Klitschko refusing to be tested by the Russian’s and Guillermo Jones disputing a positive test. There were rumours that the WADA had suspended the Russian’s but they are denying it.
The Mikey Garcia vs. Roman Martinez WBO super featherweight fight put up some good figures for HBO. The average on viewing was 1,118,000 with a high of 1,220,000. Great figures for two fighters who are not sky high profile, at least not yet in the case of Garcia who continues to grow in stature.
Top Rank are said to be working on putting together a IBF lightweight title fight between champion Miguel Vazquez and Russian Denis Shafikov for Macau in February or March. By then it will have been at least 14 months since Vazquez defended his title. They stripped Jamie McDonnell after just 6 months !! I am glad Shafikov is getting his chance. Little Djingis Khan, he is 5’5” (165cm) to the 5’10” (178cm) of Vazquez but is 33-0-1 and is a tank who just keeps rolling forward and killing the body. I hope it comes off and I hope he wins.
Home advantage very often means the difference between winning and losing so Italian middleweight Domenico Spada must be a happy camper. His promoter OPI2000 won the bidding for the European title fight with champion Max Bursak. The bids were EUR 42,317 ($57,295) by OPI 2000 against Euro 41,146 by K2 Ukraine ($55,713). Less than $2,000 separating the bids. With Spada at No 3 and Bursak No 10 in the WBC ratings the winner will be in line for a big money fight down the line and $2,000 could be the difference between that money going to Spada or Bursak with K200 eventually wishing they had shaken the piggy bank a bit harder.
The small difference between the bids shows that both parties were experienced enough to know approximately where to pitch their bid and what the fight was worth. This is again where the stupidity of the Boxing South Africa’s(BSA) intention to get their grasping hands on the broadcasting rights for fights will have a big effect. If they decide to award the rights to a promoter without the type of experience illustrated above then they will never land any meaningful title fights in South Africa. It also puts a promoter in an impossible situation if the rights belong to BSA. Will he have to bargain with them to get money to make his bid-or even worse do they intend to actually take the money raised by the broadcasting rights for their own-or retain a large portion of the money. That will hamstring their promoters-large or small. There is not a country in the world where the Board or Commission hold the broadcasting rights because it does not make any commercial sense for them to do so. What makes it worse is that BSA, as a government appointed body, are going to use taxpayers money to fight the legal case against the promoters. Meanwhile there is stagnation. Under the present uncertainty no South African promoter was willing to bid for IBF flyweight champion Moruthi Mthalane’s defence against Silvio Olteanu. The German bidder-the only bidder-is unable to sell the fight so Mthalane has been inactive for 14 months. Vusi Malinga is fighting Stuart Hall for the vacant IBF bantam title in Leeds next month. He was in a strong position as the IBF said it had to be Malinga in one corner no matter who was in the other. Malinga had no choice but to fight in Leeds as the position in South Africa made it impossible for his promoter to stage any big fight.
Perhaps a symptom of this situation is Rodney Berman’s increasing use of Monte Carlo as a venue. He show there on 1st February will see WBC 3/IBF 5 Ilunga Makabu take on Pole Pawel Kolodziej the WBA top rated and IBF No 2. With three bodies rating then highly the winner should be able to get a world title fight pretty soon after.
The AIBA are starting to flex their muscles in a very unpleasant way. In Spain they have a system whereby fighters hoping to turn pro can fight four round fights which are not considered full pro fights. The Spanish Boxing Federation held a tournament along these lines only to have the AIBA threaten to ban all of their boxers who took part. The pressure from the AIBA was so heavy that the Federation is said to have backed out of both the EBU and the WBC to show their commitment to amateur boxing. Now the AIBA are threatening to ban English boxers from major competitions unless the English Association sign up to new articles of agreement by November 24. That would exclude fighters from England competing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year. It is time the Olympic Committee took a look at what this organisation is doing as it is the Olympic medal which are the AIBA’s biggest threat in their box. Without that they would be a much wreaker force and might have to adopt a much more democratic rather than autocratic approach
What a stupid sport the sanctioning bodies make out of boxing. Alex Ustinov-a Russian-beat David Tua-a Samoan for the WBA Pan African title!!
Stupid matches seem to crop up too regularly. Afghan boxer Hamid Rahimi, the WBO No 7 middleweight (that’s stupid enough in itself) fights a 46-year-old journalist who was having his first pro fight. It was for charity but it was a genuine-well as far as possible-ten round fight. There would have been nowhere to hide if that had turned into a tragedy.
The ratings game goes on. In July Japanese fighter Hofumi Mukai was WBC No 33 super flyweight. In August he slipped to No 34. On August 23 he beat Korean Bun-Young Lee (8-5-2 and not in the WBC top 40) and in September he is No 15 and eligible to fight for the title against champion Srisaket who gave him a hammering for nine rounds. How would that bit of machination been explained away if Mukai suffered serious injury?
Boxing is spreading into new areas. We have regular shows in the Yemen, Dubai entering the arena, China showing huge potential and now there is the likelihood of the first pro boxing show in Pakistan. The two rival bodies there have merged and the first show can’t be far off. For me the last great market, with China already open, will be India. They have outstanding amateur boxers such as Alhi Kumar, Dinesh Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Dilbag Singh and Vijender Singh and are usually a force at the major amateur tournaments but there seems to be no inclination to get professional boxing off the ground there.
Future fights: Jhonny Gonzalez and Abner Mares meet again in February. End of this month in New York Victor Ortiz clashes with Luis Collazo. December 7 in Humacao, Puerto Rico in a Puerto Rico vs. Philippines night McWilliams Arroyo gets a big test against Rocky Fuentes with brother McJoe fighting Eliezer Aquino and Jose “Cheo” Gonzalez taking on Mark Acub. Hamburg December 20 sees Christian Hammer against Kevin Johnson.