This has been a bad month for boxing, and British boxing in particular. A nation that once prided itself on sportsmanship has been dragged through the mud this week. Dereck Chisora’s slapping of Vitali Klitschko at the weigh-in. The scuffle with David Haye. The threat to kill Haye. Haye’s using of his TV role to put him where he could insult and provoke Chisora, and his swinging of a camera tripod in the melee.
All of this detracts from what should have been a major enhancement of Chisora’s standing after giving Klitschko a tough fight. It only got worse when the German police arrested Chisora, Haye seemingly only avoiding arrest because he had departed. The British Board does not soft pedal on matters that bring the sport into disrepute, so both Chisora and Haye will have to answer to the Board for their actions.
Haye’s totally tasteless campaign of severed heads T-shirts when he tried to provoke one of the Klitschko’s into fighting him is all part of the same pattern of yob level behavior that is being associated with British boxers and British boxing. Their behavior will now be part of their legacy, as they will be remembered for what happened in Germany every bit as much for whatever they achieved in the ring.
Chisora’s act of slapping Klitschko in the face was as cowardly as he could be - sure that Klitschko would not be able, or inclined, to respond. The WBC reportedly fined him $50,000 for his actions, but I am not sure how they intend to go about collecting it. As for his great performance it was already losing some of its glitter when it was confirmed that Klitschko suffered a serious shoulder injury early in the fight.
In both the Haye campaign before his fight with Wladimir, and the events over the weekend, the Klitschko’s have shown restraint in face of the provocation, and acted in a measured and sensible way. That’s what we used to think British sportsmen did. I guess that went out with stiff upper lips, standing for the National Anthem and giving ladies your seat on the bus. When are they next doing auditions for Grumpy Old Men?
The disgrace in Germany had been preceded by an equally disgraceful series of events in Argentina - again featuring a death threat. The riot following Joel Casamiro’s win over Luis Lazarte has resulted in the IBF banning the Argentinian for life. The Argentinian Federation has suspended Lazarte indefinitely, the Philippines have threatened to withdraw their Ambassador and there is no doubt that the Argentinian nation is outraged that such behavior should happen - join the club.
The boxing bad times continued with Costa Rican heavyweight Evans Quinn being arrested after firing eight bullets into a man in a restaurant. The killing was reportedly in revenge for an attack on Quinn’s brother.
I reported earlier that Tomas Rojas had claimed that he took money to fall in the sixth round of a fight with Jorge Arce back in 2007. This was a WBC Latino title fight. Rojas is scheduled to fight on a Zanifer Promotions fight on February 25, but the WBC have said they will suspend Zanifer if this fight goes ahead, as they want to fully investigate the allegations.
Poor cooperation between boxing bodies has caused a furore in Mexico. On February 4 Tamaulipas boxer Julio Grimaldo challenged Cesar Juarez for the Mexican super flyweight title and was knocked out in four rounds. It was bad enough that Grimaldo had a 3-26-1 record with 18 losses by KO/TKO, but he was also under indefinite medical suspension by his Fecombox. The National titles are administered by the Federal Commission based in Mexico City, and questions are being asked about how this could have been approved.
There is also a court case coming in Argentina where a boxer was the victim. Cesar Leiva was shot dead in July 2010. A minor has already been found guilty for participating, and now his elder brother has been sent to trial. Leiva apparently went to help a friend who was being attacked and was fatally wounded. Leiva looked a good prospect when he won his first 32 fights, but then went 8-11 in his next 19, including losses to Lovemore Ndou and Colin Lynes.
From Bogota in Colombia comes news that former WBA light welter champion Antonio Cervantes is in very bad health. “Kid Pambele” has spent the money he earned from boxing. Has had both drug and alcohol problems, and was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He is being looked after by relatives, as he has no access to medical treatment. Now 66, Cervantes had 106 fights, losing only twelve. In his reigns as WBA light welterweight champion, he fought in 21 title fights. He was voted Colombia’s best athlete of the twentieth century. It is just so sad that he has become such a tragic figure.
In contrast Roberto Duran seems to thrive and has aged well. The former wild man is a regular at his son’s restaurant “La Tasca Duran” and you can’t keep him away from the microphone at the Friday night karaoke (who would dare?). Even the Panamanian President has dropped in. They seem to appreciate their fighters in Panama with Celestino Caballero recently presented with the keys to Panama City.
The WBC Cares Organisation really does some great work. They get world class boxers to visit youth centers, hospitals and orphanages. Recently Carlos Zarate, Sugar Ramos, Lupe Pintor and Cesar Bazan paid a visit to the Foundation for Internal Rebirth, which helps those with addiction problems to find a way back. Zarate was able to relate to them his twelve year battle with alcohol as an example of how “rebirth” could happen.
We don’t need at this time to hear that James Toney is to fight Bobby Gunn for the IBA heavyweight title in April. The 43-year-old Toney lost every round and took a bad beating against Denis Lebedev in November. He is not even a shadow, more of a fat parody, of the fighter he once was. As for Gunn, he has not 'boxed' since losing to Tomasz Adamek in 2009. I say not boxed because he has been taking part in bare knuckle bouts. What does it say about the IBA that they sanction such a travesty?
Usual sanctioning body ducking and diving. Antonio DeMarco will defend his WBC lightweight title against fellow-Mexican Miguel Roman. Roman is currently rated No 17 super featherweight by the WBC. However he will now be shifted to the top 15 at lightweight to 'legitimise' the fight, even though Roman lost his last fight in December to a guy who is not rated in the WBC top 40 in any division!
It also puzzles me how they can rate the young Puerto Rican prospect Jose Pedraza in the top 40 at super feather. There is no doubt that Pedraza is a top prospect, but so far he has had just six fights. Five at six rounds and one at eight. The combined records of the fighters he has beaten add up to 13 wins and 16 losses.
The IBF are not much better. The fight between Adonis Stevenson and Jose Gonzales was an eliminator to find a No 2 as the first two spots in their super middle ratings are vacant. So Stevenson, rated No 15, goes to No 2 for beating Gonzales, rated No12, and jumps over Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Anthony Dirrell and others. Make sense of that if you can.
Guillermo Jones is to defend his WBA cruiser title against Leteef Kayode. A good fight, but again it should not be happening. Since winning the WBA title in 2008 Jones has made only two defences. He beat Valery Brudov, who was rated No 6, in 2010, and last November beat Mike Marrone, who had never fought at the cruiserweight limit, but suddenly jumped into the WBA ratings at NO 14 even though the only fight he had before jumping into the ratings was a win over a guy with a 2-8 record. So, no mandatory defence in almost four years, and only two defences in that period. No mention of an interim champion as has happened in other divisions. Jones is Panamanian, the WBA offices are in Panama and Don King is the promoter of Jones. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
There is also some shifty work going on at lightweight. Brandon Rios will fight Yuriorkis Gamboa for the vacant WBA title. A great fight on paper. One to savour. It is obviously no problem that these two are only rated No 3 and 4 by the WBA, with Nos 1 and 2 ignored, or that the last time Gamboa weighed over the super feather limit was when he weighed 132lbs in 2007, or that Rios was nowhere near the weight for his title fight with John Murray. I want to see Rios fight Gamboa. I just wish it could be done without all of the manipulation that so characterises the sanctioning bodies.
The position with regard to Julio Cesar Chavez just seems to get more tangled by the day. The WBC have ordered him to defend against Sergio Martinez (You remember him. He was the guy they stole the title from to ease the path for young Chavez). However Ricardo Mayorga claims that he is preparing for a Don King Productions fight with Chavez at 168lbs. All we need now is a suggestion that the winner of a Chavez vs. Mayorga fight should be the next opponent for either Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr and we can all have a good sob.
Out of the ring Pacquiao has recently been giving a deposition relating to his civil suit for defamation against Mayweather regarding the alleged use of banned substances. Pacquiao has also said that he intends to run for President of the Philippines. He will have to wait a while before he can do that as there is a lower age limit, which would prevent him for running in the near future.
French boxer Jerome Thomas has formally announced his retirement. The 33-year-old Thomas, brother to former European featherweight champion and IBF title challenger Cyril Thomas, was certainly one of the most successful amateur boxers ever to box for France. He competed in three consecutive Olympics, 2000 when he won a bronze medal, 2004 when he won a silver medal, and 2008. He won a gold medal at the 2001 World championships, was French National champion in every year from 1998 to 2004 and then again in 2006 and 2007. He won a hatful of tournaments beating future world champions such as Vic Darchinyan on the way. All of this would be remarkable enough, but Jerome was born with the disease Poland syndrome. This meant that his left hand was smaller than the right one, his left arm was shorter than the right one, and he had almost no left pectoral muscle. He did not turn professional until he was 29 and, although he won the French bantamweight in March last year, a kayo loss to Hassan Azaouagh in January convinced him to retire with a pro record of 12-1-1. It is amazing he ever became a boxer, let alone such a successful one, so I wish him well.
Nikolai Valuev has formally confirmed his retirement. The Russian giant, a former WBA heavyweight champion, is now in the Russian Duma as a representative for the United Russia party.
Australian heavyweight champion Mike Kirby is also reported to have retired. The “Iron Rhino” drew with Ben Edwards for the vacant title in May last year. He then had a disastrous attempt to win the WBFoundation title against Kali Meehan in June, but only lasted one minute. Undeterred he beat Colin Wilson for the vacant title in October, but an eye injury has forced him to retire.
Another example of boxers and cars not being a very good combination. WBO No 2 super bantam Jonathan Oquendo crashed his car last week. He needed eight stitches in a facial cut and damaged ligaments in his elbow. Oquendo was lucky as his girl friend suffered a fractured skull in the accident.
Boxing continues to be a family business. Down the card at the Jorge Arce vs. Lorenzo Parra fight in Mexicali appeared Oscar Arce and Adam Mares. Oscar, a flyweight, is the nephew of Jorge and is 5-0, all five inside the distance, four in the first round. Lightweight Adam is the younger brother of Abner Mares. This was the first pro fight for Adam and he won on a first round stoppage.
I have problems with any rule that allows a guy weighing 192lbs to fight a guy weighing 177lbs. Shawn Estrada initially tipped the scale at 196lbs for his super middleweight bout with Terry Woods in Texas. It appears that the Texas Commission has some sort of rule that says that if there is a 15lbs difference then the fight can go ahead. Estrada got down to 192lbs and Woods weighed 177lbs. If you also add that Estrada, a former top amateur who competed in the 2008 Olympics, had won eleven of his 13 fights by KO/TKO, ten in the first round, and that Woods had a 9-3 record and weighed 167lbs in his last fight, then you have to wonder what would be unacceptable as a match in the Lone Star State. You also have to wonder about Estrada’s discipline as he never before weighed more than 174lbs.
Nice to see someone doing their bit for the senior citizens. Demetrius Andrade’s last three opponents have been Grady Brewer (41), Saul Duran (39) and Joey Hernandez (36). At least they are heading in the right direction, and you can’t claim he is being rushed.
I intend to report four boxers to the “Nicknames Dignity Preservation Society”. At the weekend we Jose “Bankruptcy Cup” Alfaro, Bismark “Cupcake” Alfaro, David “Tweety” Morales and Rick “Chocolate Hills” Sismundo. What happened to good old Rocky, Terrible, Basher etc? Chocolate Hills?
Italian statistics for 2011 showed that there were 195 registered professionals in the country. The highest number for quite a few years. The Branco brothers seem to have their own “Fountain of Youth”. Silvio tops the list of the active Italian fighters with the longest career. He turned pro in 1988, and after over 23 years he is still right up there at No 4 in the WBC ratings. Brother Gianluca is equal third as he turned pro in 1995. Italy does not seem a happy place for Hungarians. A total of 46 Hungarian fighters took part in 95 fights in Italy in 2011, and they batted 0-95!