It is difficult to write about world boxing without mentioning Manny Pacquiao and about British boxing without mentioning David Haye. Both were in the news in the past week. Manny set a couple of new records from his win over Antonio Margarito, and equalled another. Winning a world title in an eighth different division was a distinction he would have enjoyed, but the other record was a mixed blessing.
Due to the size of the purses he has been earning he became the first sportsman to top the list of tax payers in the Philippines, paying more tax in the past year than any other Filipino citizen. The good news is he earned the money; the bad news is the government want their share - and without a fight.
The record he equalled was that HBO reported they had 1.15 million buys for the Margarito fight, which brought in $64 million in the US alone. That is the third year in a row that a Pacquiao fight has reached over one million buys. He drew over a million for his fight with Oscar De La Hoya in 2008 and against Miguel Cotto in 2009. This equalled the record held by Mike Tyson. The final numbers for the fight with Margarito are not in yet, so those could go higher.
To show how big a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr could go, Mayweather beat Manny on figures as his fight with Shane Mosley had 1.4 million buys. Together they would break all records, if they can come to an agreement, and if Mayweather does not implode before then.
It has not all been good news for Manny. A music company is suing him for $10 million for allegedly breaking a contract to record songs for them. Perhaps he could offer to fight them for the money.
The other side of the coin was an article in the New York Post about Iran Barkley. “The Blade” had a remarkable career winning the WBC middleweight title from Tommy Hearns in 1998. Iran was badly cut, and on the verge of losing, when he floored Hearns twice and stopped him in the third round. Ring Magazine described as the “Upset of the Year”. Iran went on in consecutive fights to lose the title to Roberto Duran, lose in a challenge to Michael Nunn for the IBF title and be stopped in a round by Nigel Benn for the WBO title. However, he was far from finished as in 1992 he beat Darrin Van Horn to win the IBF super middleweight title and in the same year beat Hearns again, this time for the WBA light heavyweight title. He lost his IBF title to James Toney and had an unsuccessful shot at Henry Maske for the IBF light heavyweight title before his last title winning effort, which came in 1997, when he beat South African Gerrie Coetzee for the WBB heavyweight title. He retired in 1999 after a run of six losses in a row.
In his career he earned over $5 million, and has exactly nothing left of it.
The Post found him in his native Bronx, homeless, having been thrown out of a family home by his niece, and down to sleeping on trains as he has nowhere else to go. It is difficult to feel sympathy for someone who blows $5 million, but it is also a pity to see someone who was such a warrior in the ring so down and out now.
David Haye was in the news as the WBA declared him to be their “Fighter of The Year”. David certainly did all that was asked of him, although in the case of the Audley Harrison fight that was very little. Let's hope that he gets a repeat reward next year for beating better opposition and unifying the heavyweight title. Tomasz Adamek has been mentioned as a possible opponent for David, particularly by Adamek.
He is not risking too much if his next fight comes off as the talk is a match with Roy Jones Jr in March. What a pity Roy did not walk away after the first Antonio Tarver fight in 2003. No matter what he does from now on he will still be a cert for the Hall of Fame, but his star would have shone so much brighter without the losses two subsequent losses to Tarver, the kayo by Glen Johnson, the points loss to Joe Calzaghe, and in particular the one round collapse against Danny Green. He had the fame, and the fortune, so you have to wonder what has made Roy keep fighting.
The WBA Convention where they honoured David Haye is being held in Managua, Nicaragua, and naturally a very fitting tribute was made to the late Alexis Arguello. Alexis had his own devils to fight after he left the ring, but I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Hall of Fame a couple of times, and you could not meet a nicer or more approachable gentleman. He deserves all the praise heaped on him.
On the subject of deceased great fighters, Luis Valero, the brother of the late Edwin, has turned pro. He won a fight in Mexico in September and was due to have another bout in Panama at the end of this month. He is not as wild or as exciting as Edwin, but then who could be?
The WBA also came up with a strange recipient of the “Prospect of The Year”. The named the Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez. This is a guy who has already won their strawweight title and is their interim super flyweight champion. I wonder when he ceases to be a “prospect” as he has already won two “world” titles.
The WBA also continued their cynical, approach to creating world titles from which they can garner sanctioning fees. They have now designated Anselmo Moreno as their bantamweight super champion. In the past to achieve this “distinction” a fighter had to hold the WBA title plus one other sanctioning body title. However, if their champion did not fight for other bodies' titles that meant they were stuck with just one “champion” in that division (and an interim champion of course). That does not earn enough sanctioning fees, so now they seem to promote guys to “super champion” on a whim. On this basis there is nothing to stop them making David Haye a super champion and muddying the waters by having a couple of guys fight for the WBA heavyweight title (and of course a interim super champion and an interim WBA champion, and an interim interim champion and........).
The Super Six is still a great competition even with the changes to personnel. However, you have to wonder if some of the participants are risking burn out. Normally a world champion is allowed a couple of voluntary defences and his promoter and manager can select opposition that is not too demanding. However, with his pre-Super Six title fights, and the Super Six, Carl Froch will in successive fights have faced Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler and this week Arthur Abraham. There is no way that any champion, with the possible exception of Manny Pacquiao, would have elected to have that tough a schedule, and you have to wonder if it will start to catch up with those that go on to complete the series. It is great for TV and boxing fans, but the boxer’s manager has actually lost control of his fighter’s career.
If you like nicknames then you’ll like the one for Australian middleweight Benny Horra, known as “Rocky Horra” (show). At least it shows a little imagination over the Dynamites, Hurricanes etc).
You have to wonder where southpaw Paul Spadafora's career might have gone if he had not imploded in 2004 and ended up in jail for shooting and wounding his girlfriend. The then undefeated IBF lightweight champion could have been in the mix for matches with Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Edwin Valero etc., but instead at the age of 35 his best days are behind him and he is fighting modest opponents for modest purses and is not rated in the top 15 by any of the major sanctioning bodies. He may have shot his girl friend, but for his career it was also a self inflicted, probably fatal, wound.
Boxing does not have a great reputation for being hard on drugs cheats. Take the example of Polish light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara. In June 2009 he outpointed Skyler Thompson to win the WBF United States super middle weight title. The result was changed to a No Decision after Fonfara tested positive for steroids. In some sports he would be facing a two year ban at best and possibly even a lifetime ban. He was back in action seven months later. That's not even a slap on the wrist.
On the sane subject, Shane Mosley has dropped his $12 million action against Balco founder Victor Conte. Mosley's claim was that Conte had misled him when he sold him steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in 2003. Some legal experts had questioned Mosley’s decision to press this suit, pointing to sworn statements that Mosley had previously made which undermined his own suit. No reason was given for Mosley withdrawing.
It used to be said that if you wanted to see the world you should join the army. That seems a dangerous way to become a world tourist. Judging by the experience of Uruguyan Ruben Diaz it should be “If you want to see the world be a boxer, but be a losing one”. Ruben has fought in Australia, Argentina, Hungary, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Cameroon and most recently Ghana-and lost in all of them.
Scoring in boxing is the equivalent of a beauty contest and I find it hard to believe that we just accept it. Take two recent examples. In the fight for the Italian middleweight title one judge had the score 100-89 for Adriano Nicchi and another had it 95-94 for Francesco Di Fiore and in the fight for the interim WBA super bantamweight title one judge had it 117-109 for Memo Rigondeaux and another had it 114-112 for Ricardo Cordoba. That’s is a twelve points difference between the two judges in the first fight and ten points difference in the second. No other sport would countenance a system which can throw up discrepancies like that, and yet we just shrug and say they saw the fight differently. It is more like saw different fights!
The amateurs took action when some of the results in the Olympics seemed widely biased. The WBC decided that open scoring was the remedy. They found the wrong answer, but at least they recognised there was a problem. The method of scoring a boxing match has not changed in 100 years, and we go on week after week getting scoring that makes no sense whatsoever. That's boxing.