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.
Word has it that HBO have started putting things in place for the Adonis Stevenson vs. Sergey Kovalev unification match later in the year. Both will have title defences before then and meet in late autumn. If HBO want it to happen it will which is why they and Showtime are good for boxing. The sanctioning bodies can huff and puff but money talks and those two have the money.
So we get Pacquiao vs. Bradley II on April 12 in Las Vegas. To be polite I guess I should have put the winner of their first bout first. However, with Pacquiao guaranteed $20 million and Bradley $6 million I guess the Filipino is the key man. Both have agreed to random testing by the Association of Voluntary Testing for Doping Agency AVDA. It was testing that was supposedly the reason we never got Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, but suddenly it is not a problem. Bradley signed-up to it for both the Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez fights and Pacquiao for the Brandon Rios fight, so that proved to be no stumbling block.
Pacquiao could do with the money as he is still being pursued in the Philippines for back taxes. Allegedly he owes 2.2 billion Philippines pesos but his $20,000,000 purse only equates to about 900 million pesos so he needs all the money he can get.
Former WBO super feather champion Ramon “Rocky “Martinez has a spot on the Pacquiao vs. Bradley show and it is said he will be fighting at lightweight.
Whilst the Pacquiao vs. Bradley fight is agreed there is no meeting of minds on the return between Jhonny Gonzalez and Abner Mares. Golden Boy, Mares’ promoter, has a return clause in the contract with Gonzalez but they are talking about a fight in May. Gonzalez does not want to wait until then as it will mean nine months without a fight and he is talking about a defence of his WBC title on March 29 with no opponent in the frame yet.
The WBA staged 66 “world” title fights last year. When you break it down it highlights how ridiculous things have become with all sense lost. Eight of those were “Super” title fights (the real WBA champions), 30 were “regular” title fights-that’s for WBA world champions who are not WBA world champions ( which is why I call them secondary titles because that’s exactly what they are), 19 were “ interim” title fights. That’s where the real, or even the secondary champion are not injured, not inactive, but are out for a lunch break so the WBA can sneak in a dishonest sanctioning fee, and nine were unification fights which means there were just 17 real title fights (8 Super and 9 unification) and 49 lame excuses for a sanctioning fee. Good old WBA you can trust them to uphold the finest traditions of the sanctioning bodies.
The Board of Governors of the WBC will meet in Mexico City on February 11 to elect a new chairman. With Mauricio Sulaiman having back-tracked on his “I don’t want the job” he is the obvious choice. I could understand his reaction just like any son he needed time to grieve before clearing his mind to think of the future. He has been standing in for his late father for some time and did a good job of chairing the Convention in Bangkok. The WBC has an extensive organisation in Mexico City and Mauricio went to lengths to assure the employees that their jobs were safe. The only way he can be sure of honouring that commitment is if he is chairman and I can’t see any other candidate.
Mexico City saw a Race of Champions which was both a tribute to Don Jose Sulaiman and a fund raiser for a charity which helps children suffering from cancer. Over 4000 runners took part with many past and present champions running. The charity work through WBC Cares has raised huge amounts of money for similar causes as have both the WBA and WBO.
If I was James DeGale and Beau Jack I would be asking the WBC for some clarification. They are waiting for purse bids for their WBC eliminator for a chance to fight Sakio Bika for the super middleweight title. However, in this months ratings the WBC have downgraded previous No 1 Marcos Periban to No 4, quite rightly for pulling out of purse bids for a fight with DeGale. The bad news is that they have moved Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. up from No 2 to No 1 making Chavez the mandatory challenger. Chavez has said he fancies a fight with Carl Froch, but in this crazy boxing world the IBF do not rate Chavez in their top 15. Let’s hope that the WBC don’t let Chavez get first shot at Bika because whoever is going to bid for DeGale vs. Jack will doing so on the understanding that the winner gets the title shot. Hopefully they won’t get screwed that way but we are takling about the WBC and Julio Cesar (can do no wrong) Chavez Jr.
Brother Omar Chavez is moving up to middleweight and will face Daniel Sandoval on March 29 with no venue named but probably Culiacan. However, like Chavez, Sandoval is really just a pumped-up welterweight, but a dangerous one. He is 34-2 with 30 wins by KO/TKO and 6’1” (185cm) to the 5’8” (173cm) of Chavez, so it does not look a smart move for “El Businessman”.
There is plenty of talk about Bernard Hopkins’ age but lets not over look the long levity of Italian Silvio Branco. Twice a WBA champion at light heavyweight now at the grand old age of 47 he sits at No 5 in the WBC cruiserweight ratings with a title shot not out of the question. The team behind Russian Rakhim Chakhkiev, the WBC No 1, are angling for a fight with Branco on March 15 for the vacant WBC Silver title. Nothing signed yet but a win there would see Branco, probably after his next birthday in June, fighting for a genuine title at the age of 48.
The Marco Huck vs. Firat Arslan WBO title fight at the weekend turned in good figures with a live audience of around 11,000 and TV audience of almost four million. Huck has said he will have one more fight at cruiser and be fighting for the heavyweight title in 2015. Huck’s fights have drawn well on TV with over 6 million for the Alex Povetkin fight and over 5 million for the first Ola Afolabi fight. The Arslan bout was not without controversy with Arslan’s team alleging that the gloves Huck was to use had been tampered with, but that was resolved.
Enzo Maccarinelli has really bounced back. The Welsh former WBO cruiser champion was being urged to retire after his sickening kayo by Alex Frenkel in 2010 and again after being halted by Ovill McKenzie in two rounds for the Commonwealth title in 2012. Maccarinelli ignored the well-intentioned urgings and rebounded in 2013 with three wins by KO/TKO, including reversing the loss to McKenzie, to become Commonwealth champion. Talk is that on April 5 in Germany he will fight Juergen Brahmer for the interim WBA light heavy title, something that seemed impossible 13 months ago. There will be some who will have their fingers crossed for a win but I guess some others who will have their fingers crossed that he escapes unscathed.
This modern world certainly puts pressure on the macho male. At one time a boxer could get away with just a so-so career and still be a hero with his family for winning a national title. Those days are passed. Take poor Jorge Reynoso. “Otokani” fights Ivan Bautista for the vacant Mexican bantamweight title this weekend. If he wins he can go home a national champion but won’t be bragging too much-his wife Anabel Ortiz is the WBA female world strawweight champion. She may only be 5’0” (53cm) tall but her nickname is the “Wasp”. He might even have to cook his own celebratory dinner as Anabel will probably be down the gym. It’s tough being a man today.
Danny Garcia will defend his WBA light welter title against Mauricio Herrera in Bayamon, Puerto Rico on March 15. Danny’s parents were born in Puerto Rico and this will be the first time he has fought there. It comes at a time when there is not one reigning Puerto Rican world champion so they will be pleased to see him. It is something of a dilemma for the WBC. Garcia is also their champion, but Herrera is currently No 35 in their ratings. Look for someone to press the up button in the ratings elevator-there is a sanction fee to be had here and what’s a jump of 20 places without a fight anyway. Respect your ratings or get a sanctioning fee-a no brainer.
This weekend in Mexico City Romanian Silvio Olteanu will take on Mexican Armando Santos for the IBF Inter-Continental title. Last year the Romanian was the mandatory challenger to IBF fly champion Moruti Mthalane but the fight never came off. Now it never will, at least not for the IBF title. For Mthalane, one of the best flyweight in the world, the sequence of events shows what can happen when you get greedy. Mthalane turned down an offer of $50,000 from his long time promoter Branco Milenkovich which would have allowed him to fight Olteanu in South Africa. Mthalane turned the offer down not wanting to sign a long term contract with Milenkovich and preferring to let the fight go to purse offers figuring he would get more money that way. It was Milenkovich’s good relationship with the IBF that landed Mthalane a big money fight against Nonito Donaire and maneuvered him into fighting for, and so winning, the vacant title when Donaire moved up. Mthalane’s tactics blew up in his face as the purse offers produced just one bid-from a Germany promoter-for $12,500. With Boxing South Africa(BSA) threatening to bring in rules that said that a boxer only had to commit himself on a fight-by-fight basis rather than a multi-fight contract no South African was interested in laying out money for no guaranteed return. That meant that Mthalane would have to settle for just under $11,000 (poor Olteanu would find himself fighting for a world title for a purse of less than $2,000). I don’t think the German’s ever expected to win the purse bidding and now found themselves with a fight they could not afford to put on and could not sell to TV. Eventually Olteanu decided he did not want to fight for such a ridiculous purse and dropped away. Mthalane’s “mandatory” challenger then became the IBF No 7 (No 7!!!) Amnat Ruenroeng. Again there was no South African bid and the fight was won by the Thai’s promoter. Mthalane signed for the fight but just days before he was due to fly to Thailand withdrew from the fight prompting the IBF to strip him of his title. Mthalane’s trainer reckoned that once all deductions were taken off Mthalane would have been left with about $5,500. Now the former IBF champion is to fight for the vacant IBO title, against the IBO No 36 Jether Oliva, they don’t have mandatory challengers, for a purse claimed to be about $90,000. Since Mthalane has not fought since September 2012 he needs the money, but where was this promoter when the two IBF mandatory purse bids were called for? To return to Olteanu the Santos fight will be his first since October 2012 and the purse will not be big, so he is the most innocent and most injured party in this farce.
The Mthalane situation is just typical of the impact of the BSA “war” on promoters is having. Rodney Berman’s big fights now are being held in Monte Carlo and Milenkovich is battling the BSA’s in the courts. To make things even worse the South African Government has declared war on promoters with the Minister for Sport using Jacob Matlala’s funeral as a platform to attack promoters and to say that they will fight them though the courts-with tax payer’s money of course. Meanwhile the BSA are still paying the wages of a top official who is suspended after admitting his failure to declare a conviction in his job application. More tax payer’s money.
WBC light fly champion Adrian “Confessor” Hernandez will defend his title against Puerto Rican Janiel Rivera on February 8 in Mexico. Rivera is currently the WBC No 6 strawweight. That flatters him. He has a 10-1-2 record and is No 6 despite the fact that in his only two fights in 2013 he lost on points over 8 rounds to Miguel Del Valle (8-19) and outpointed over 6 rounds Joel Collazo (3-1, with two judges having Rivera winning by just 57-56). That’s the form of a guy who should not be in the top 100 let alone No 6. Hernandez has been training under Aussie Jeff Fenech. Former IBF title challenger Julio Ceja will be on the same show.
French boxing handed out its annual awards this month with light heavyweight Nadjib Mohammedi getting the coveted Golden Glove. He had five fights in 2013, winning them all and collecting the French title. He ended the year as the IBF No 2(1) and official challenger for the European title. The Silver Glove went to Karim Guerfi who after a very mixed year ended it with a victory over WBC No 1 Stephane Jamoye to win the European bantamweight title. Bronze Gloves went to middleweight Karim Achour and heavyweight Johann Duhaupas.
The double disqualification in the pro debut of Brazilian Olympic bronze medallist Yamaguchi Falcao was one of the most stupid actions I have seen from a referee. Yes, both fighters were using their heads in mild attempts at butting and there was a lot of holding and wrestling. The problem was the awkward, low stooping, leaning back style of his opponent Martin Rios which led to lots of holding. Tempers flared and they briefly scuffled at the end of the second round but there was no indication of what was to come. Both fighters were up and ready to start the third round when the referee just stood in the middle of the ring, waived his arms and said he was disqualifying both fighters. It was just a messy, bad tempered fight with no extreme fouls from either fighter. Falcao actually carried a big axe into the ring before the fight and I am surprised he did not try to find it after the finish. I could imagine Harry Greb spinning in his grave. This referee would have disqualified Harry on the walk to the ring.
Some fighters come out of the amateurs immediately they reach the top. Some wait until after the Olympics. Some wait until they see that they can go no further as an amateur. I don’t know of too many who have taken the path of cruiserweight Giocchino Mocerino. The Italian turned pro in Madrid at the weekend losing on points over four rounds against novice Gabriel Enguema. Mocerino was Italian amateur champion in 1995 beating Giacobbe Fragomeni, runner-up in 1996, champion again in 1997, 98 and 99-when he beat Roberto Cammarelle-and a semi-finalist in 2000. Now almost 14 years later he pops up in Madrid and has his first pro fight. Go figure!