It is not often that one boxer is the catalyst for the formation of a Boxing Commission, but that is what has happened in the case of Alabama. There had never been enough boxing, or enough interest in boxing, for the state to see it as necessary to have a Commission. However, the emergence of heavyweight Deontay Wilder has been enough for his home State to form a Commission.
Generally speaking, any fight held in a State without its own Commission, has had to be overseen by out of State officials to be recognized by the Association of American Boxing Commissions as an official contest. If that stipulation is not met, then the bout is registered as a no decision bout by the formal record keepers. After 14 out of State fights, Wilder had his first fight in his home town of Tuscaloosa last week, so things are up and running. What will happen if Wilder fades away is another question, but since he is still being spoon fed some no hope opposition, that could be some time away.
More years ago than I care to remember I was attending a WBC Convention in Bangkok when I had a drink with Julio Cesar Chavez. I was with my great pal, Jose Luis Camarillo, still one of the leading boxing journalists in Mexico, and with the help of Camarillo’s translation we had a chat. At the time I noticed that Julio Cesar was doing his fair share of drinking beer. It turned out that he was watching me watching him. He suddenly told Camarillo to tell me that he could see I was concerned over his drinking, but that I need not worry. His father had been an alcoholic, and that had been a lesson to him, and he would never go down that road. Well just before the Donaire-Montiel fight the Mexican papers ran a story that Julio Cesar had discharged himself from an addictions clinic. The best laid plans...Julio Cesar will get the richly deserved honour of being inaugurated into the Boxing Hall of Fame in June. I can only hope that the fantastic spirit that he showed as a fighter can help him in fighting his addiction.
Ah, if only quantity equaled quality, Tye Fields would be a shoo-in for world champion, and his recent, and proposed fights, would be potential “Fights of the Year”. Last time out the 6’8”, 280lbs Fields beat the 6’7”, 270lbs Ray Olubowale. That’s 550lbs between the two of them. Next up for Fields on March 11 in Las Vegas is 6’7”, 261lbs Mike Grant. A mere 541lbs between them. The truth is that they probably frighten the scales more than any genuine quality heavyweight. The Klitschko brothers are big, both at around the 6’7” mark, but Vitali rarely weights more than 250lbs and Wladimir weighs in at around 245lbs, and at that poundage they still have good mobility and hand speed. Two things that Fields and Grant lack. Incidentally, Fields is the No 1 contender for the Canadian title, despite being born in Montana and not having fought in Canada until 2009, in his 44th fight. Qualification rules are relaxed in Canada in enable them to fill their rankings and it has worked well in Quebec where Romanians such as Luciano Bute, Adrian Diaconu and Ionut Dan Ion are based, and are big draws. You do whatever you have to do to keep the game alive and if having guys such as Bute around helps give opportunities to local-born fighters such as Kevin Bizier a chance, then the approach works.
If boxing is largely about money, then it is a lot larger in some areas than others. The reported purses for the big bantamweight title fight at the week saw Nonito Donaire earn $350,000 and Fernando Montiel $250,000. The reported purses for Manny Pacquiao against Shane Mosley sees Pacquiao getting at least $15 million plus and Mosley $5 million. If Donaire keeps knocking them over the way he did Montiel, he will be waiting, impatiently, in line to grab the headlines when Pacquiao steps down.
Those two Filipinos have come up through different routes. Manny did his amateur and early professional fighting in the Orient. Nonito is a product of the US amateur ranks having won a US Junior title in 1999 by beating James Kirkland at 106lbs, was US championship at 106lbs in 2000, but lost in the Olympic trials for Sydney to Brian Viloria.
Back to the purses. What I find hard to understand is that Montiel got the smaller purse. He was WBC and WBO champion, whilst Donaire was WBC Continental Americas champion. If it had gone to formal purse offers then Montiel, as champion, would have received 75% of the purse. Now that is a strong bargaining position, so how he ended up getting less than Donaire only his management, who presumably negotiated the deal, know. If I was Montiel I would also want to know.
The WBC decision to let Saul Alvarez and Matthew Hatton fight for the vacant title was a real injustice. Very cynical. It was stated that the fight had been approved because the top 5 or 6 in the WBC were not available. Even if that is true, there was no reason for the fight featuring the WBC No 5 welterweight to be approved. The right thing would have been to say to no to Golden Boy and insist that those guys who had earned their place in the light middleweight ratings should be given a chance. Waiting a couple of months for that to happen would not have broken the WBC. The driver however was not justice; it was the chance of a quick sanctioning fee, and mending bridges with Golden Boy (Oscar De La Hoya) after a falling out. Of course none of the other rated fighters were available-at such short notice.
The sanctioning bodies, in the scramble for fees are making a mockery of the sport. You recently had two Argentinians fighting for the WBC Caribbean Federation title and an American fighting for the WBC Baltic title. The latter case is this stupidity where as long as one boxer, in this case Pole Maurisz Wach, is eligible, the other opponent could be a Martian and it would still be a fight for the Baltic title, except that the other guy can’t actually win the title. It is this sort of rule that also allows a 40-year-old to fight for a Youth title, except that he is not fighting for the Youth title, because even if he wins the fight, he can’t be champion. What a crock of something.
The cynicism just gets worse. The WBA invented their Super Champion so that they could have both a Super Champion and a WBA champion, and two lots of sanctioning fees. Their “reasoning” for doing this was that they considered that if one of their champions won the title of another organisation then he was more than just the WBA champion, he was a Super Champion. The result was that we had a whole lot of guys who called themselves “world” champions when they won what I term the WBA secondary title.
A classic example was Bernard Dunne. A great little fighter who scored a stunning victory over Ricardo Cordoba to win the WBA (secondary) title. A world champion? Not when Celestino Caballero is the real world champion. That is the madness that we had to bear. Now it is worse. The WBA have abandoned any pretence of a cause for having a Super Champion. They have elevated Felix Sturm to Super Champion even though he holds no other title. It was daft enough before, but at least you had some understanding of why someone was designated a Super Champion. Now it seem to be at a whim, or more accurately when there is a sanctioning fee to be made by having two “world champions” in every division.
It sounded cheering when the WBC decided to scrap their “interim” champion because the term was causing confusion. Now they have replaced it with their Silver Belt, which is totally meaningless as you are champion of nothing. Again the cynicism creeps in, alongside the additional sanctioning fees, with there now being an International Silver Belt champion, to give us meaningless version of a meaningless title! Sanctioning bodies need fees to survive and additional titles is the easiest way to realise this need, but every time you add yet another title you devalue the original, and if you also apply the rules for eligibility in a senseless manner than you make the whole process a senseless scramble for any excuse to raise a fee and so create a farce, that goes beyond need and into greed.
Things do not look good for Genaro Hernandez. The former WBC and undefeated WBA super featherweight champion is fighting a battle against cancer, but the signs are not promising. The cancer is spreading with tumors now throughout his body. He is still upbeat and fighting, but all of the money that he earned in the ring has gone on medical bills. Genaro retired in 1998 after losing his WBC title to Floyd Mayweather Jr, one of only two losses in his 41 bout career, the other being to Oscar De La Hoya in a challenge for the WBO lightweight title. He made eight defences of his WBA title and four of his WBC. He is looking to try other treatments, and we can only wish the best.
Former IBF light middleweight champion Roman Karmazin has announced his retirement. He will now go into training boxers. The 37-year-old Russian suffered a shock defeat when he was halted in twelve rounds by Australian Daniel Geale in October, and after giving it some thought, has decided to exchange his gloves for the pads. Karmazin twice held the European title, which he never lost, and showed his punching power in the way that he destroyed David Walker in three rounds in 2003. He won the IBF title by beating Kassim Ouma in July 2005, but lost it a year later to Cory Spinks in his first defence. He came close to winning the IBF title at middleweight when drawing with champion Sebastian Sylvester last May, but then lost to Geale.
Former Commonwealth champion Ali Nuumbembe has also announced his retirement. The Namibian started boxing at the age of 14 and was Namibian amateur champion from 1994 to 2000. He turned pro in Britain in 2003 and won the Commonwealth title in 2007 with a split decision over my fellow-Fifer Kevin Anderson and I had the dubious pleasure as a Fifer, of putting the belt around his waist myself. He lost the title to Craig Watson ten months later and returned to Namibia. There he won the National title and the WBO African title, but kayo loss to South African novice Gerald Nekhubvi eventually convinced him it was time to retire with a 23-5-1 record. He said that his proudest moment was when chosen to be flag bearer for the Namibian team at the 2000 Olympics. He is planning to open his own gym and to carry on with the extensive charity work that he does.
Still in Africa, the Zambian professional Board were dealt a blow when it was announced that there was to be a ban to stop the members of the Zambian armed forces teams turning professional. Many of the best fighters produced by Zambia, such as Lottie Mwale, have developed their skills whilst in the armed forces and in a country where boxing in struggling to survive this is quite a blow. There is a contrast with Ghana where the Vice President John Dramani Mahama announced that the Government will do all it can to help professional boxing. The occasion for this speech was a ceremony where Braihma Kamoko presented the Vice President with the trophy he received for winning the interim WBO African title, which was referred to as a “world” title, which again shows the confusion a multitude of titles can cause. Kamoko made a little speech thanking the Vice President for the promise of logistical and spiritual support and added a bit which Eric Cantona (he of the 'when seagulls follow a trawler' fame) would have been proud of. He welcomed the support for “When you see a snake in the bush, you cannot turn into a python and swallow it”. I am still trying to work that one out. No amount of titles will remove the uncertainty over Kamoko who allegedly has serious eye defects, but continues to be licensed in Ghana.
I have said before that I feel that Tomoki Kameda could achieve the unique feat of becoming the third Kameda brother to win a world title. However, he is the laggard of the family. He is 19, and has already had 18 fights. Brother Koki won the WBA light flyweight title in his 12th fight at the age of 19, and brother Daiki won the WBA flyweight title at the age of 21 in his 18th fight. Tomoki is currently rated No 7 by the WBA and No 10 by the WBC, but he has no time to lose if he is to keep up the family tradition of winning a world title before the age of 22.
Australian fighter Peter Mitrevski is recovering after having been shot in the leg in Sydney. Peter lost to Martin Murray for the vacant Commonwealth title in July. His dad Peter Senior was Australian champion at flyweight, super flyweight and bantamweight. No reason for the shooting is apparent at the moment.
Looks as though French super flyweight Malik Bouziane is going to get a second shot at winning a world title. The former undefeated European bantamweight champion looked unlucky to only get a draw with champion Simphiwe Nonggayi for the IBF super fly title last April. Now he is set to face the new champion, Cris Mijares, in April, probably in Ciudad Obregon. A big ask for the 33-year-old Frenchman who has had only 15 fights, but in beating Ian Napa on a unanimous verdict when he won the title, he showed he can fight away from home.
Some very good fights to look forward to. WBA and WBO light fly champion Giovani Segura has a return match with Ivan Calderon, but is already looking past the Puerto Rican at a possible match with Ramon Gonzalez, the Nicaraguan who relinquished his WBA strawweight title to move up to light fly, and is now interim WBA champion at that weight. First Segura must get past Calderon who he halted in their fight in August; the only defeat that 36-yewar-old Calderon has suffered in his 38 fight career. Gonzalez also has a defence of his interim title against Manuel Vargas, a Segura victim in November, to negotiate. If they both emerge unscathed the scrap between two of the hardest punchers in the lower weight is one to savour. Segura won 22 of his 28 fights by KO/TKO and Gonzalez has won 23 of his 27 by KO/TKO. It is a light flyweight equivalent of Nonito Donaire and Fernando Montiel.
Also on the Pacquiao-Mosley undercard, Wilfred Vasquez Jr puts his WBA super bantamweight title on the line against experienced Mexican Jorge Arce and Humberto Soto defends his WBC lightweight title against Urbano Antillon who he just edged past in December when a points deduction meant that Antillon missed out on a draw.
I may have been harsh on Mickey Bey Jr in my report of his draw against Jose Hernandez at the weekend. It appears that Mickey fractured his right hand in the third round, and his left hand in the fourth, so he did well to even stay in the fight. It was his first fight since injuring his right hand in a contest in November, so he may need yet another lay-off. The 27-year-old from Cleveland, who is trained by Jeff Mayweather, had a sterling time as an amateur winning the US Under-19 championships, the Police Athletic League title and the National Golden Gloves. But it was not all plain sailing. He was selected to face Ireland min an international match in 2003, but was in jail at the time as a suspect in an armed robbery. It was a case of wrongful arrest and Mickey was released from jail just two days before the match with Ireland and went on to beat Pat Hyland for the USA team.