There is always space for some negativity in a sport run the way boxing is but there have been some inspirational moments too. A little while back we had the tragic passing of Craig Bodzianowski who defied the doctors and the doubters to continue his boxing career on a prosthetic leg after losing a leg in an accident. He actually managed to challenge for a world title.
Further back we had Dodie Boy Penalosa becoming a double world champion despite having one leg withered due to polio. We also had Frenchman Jerome Thomas, a truly world class amateur, who overcame the handicap of Poland syndrome which meant he had a smaller left hand and arm than his right and almost no pectoral muscle. Despite this handicap he won a World Championship gold medal and bronze and silver medals at the Olympic Games.
These guys should not have been able to box let alone achieve what they did. On Monday Daniel Jacobs continued to rebuild towards a world title shot with a win that takes him to 25-1. Just two years ago he was close to death due to a tumor on the spine and you would have bet that he would never enter a ring again. Inspirational.
Boyd Melson scored a win last week. The former West Point Graduate who was World Military Champion may never reach that level as a pro, but he again shows the caring and inspirational side of boxing. Boyd turned pro so that he could raise money and donate it to Justadollarplease.org a non-profit organisation which raises money for research into stem cell work specifically associated with spinal cord injuries. He also created Team Fight to Walk to encourage other boxers to take an interest in this research and has been joined by boxers such as Steve Cunningham, Shawn Estrada, Demetrius Andrade, Deandre Latimore and others.
A great story at the weekend was Darren Barker finding both the inspiration to get off the canvas to win a world title which he then dedicated to the memory of his brother Gary who died in car accident. The WBC Cares also does a great deal of good work with boxers again turning out to help and inspire youngsters. Sometimes our sport stinks, but sometimes you see the good side whether it is though the courage of those overcoming adversity, dealing with tragedies and triumphing, or those dedicating themselves to helping and inspire others.
For some time I have said that it was a close race between the Kameda and Morales family to see which one could set the record of having three brothers win world titles. The victory went to the Kameda’s with Tomoki winning the WBO bantam title with a victory over Paulus Ambunda on 1 August. Brother Koki has been WBA light fly, WBC fly and is now WBA bantam (secondary) champion. Bad boy Daiki was WBA flyweight champion and on 3 September fights for the vacant IBF super fly title. The Morales clan needed Ivan to get to the title before Tomoki but he has only managed to make it to the lower end of the top 15 of the sanctioning bodies. Brother Diego won the WBO super fly title in 1999 and Erik won his WBC super bantam title in 1997. Two great boxing families.
Some fighters seem to duck out of a fight even if they stub their toe, but Manny Siaca had a cast iron excuse for pulling out of his fight with Les Sherrington. The former WBA super middle champion was rushed to hospital with a heart condition and spent time in intensive care. Now that’s some sick note. Sherrington’s management are looking for another opponent for “Lock and Load” Les for September 20 in Brisbane.
Juan Manuel Marquez must have made a load of money for the WBO in his 16 fights for their world, interim and NABO titles, but greed rules. JMM is to fight Tim Bradley for the WBO welter title in October and the WBO wanted him to relinquish his light welter title so that they could grab some more sanctioning fees. JMM refused which showed he values the title more than they do. It was disrespectful to a great champion and to their own title but money is the only thing they respect.
Pole Andrzej Fonfara registered a big win at the weekend with his stoppage of Gabriel Campillo. He is lucky he is boxing. The sport takes such a weak stance towards banned substances that after testing positive for steroids in a fight in June 2009 he was fighting again in January 2010. He was out for just seven months which was no burden at all as he probably did not plan to fight in that period. If he was in International Athletics he could have been looking at a four year ban. Let’s face it there is hardly a sanctioning body, a State body or a national body with whom drug testing is either just a chore and getting caught treated as a minor offence (or ignored altogether a la IBF). There will continue to be drug cheats in boxing until drug testing is mandatory, carried out by independent bodies, and severely punished and that is pie in the sky right now.
There are the usual ratings anomalies - and that is a polite word for them. Sometimes you wonder why the sanctioning bodies even bother to manipulate the ratings. Take the case of the WBC Silver title fight between Fernando Saucedo and Sergio Medina. The WBC has trumpeted the Silver title as a major title and in fact it was even suggested it was to replace the interim titles. Well Saucedo was No 13 super feather which is not really the quality the WBC would want for this highly prestigious title, but there is a sanctioning fee out there. Ah, wait a minute. There is a problem with Medina. When we put out our August ratings he was No 36 featherweight. We can’t have that. What can we do? Simple send out corrected ratings and lo! He is No 20 featherweight in our “corrected” ratings. What a farce. If you are going to play silly games at least make it over something that justifies the ridiculous manipulation.
After the event it is obvious that matching Puerto Rican prospect Jonathan Gonzalez with Giovanni Segura was a huge mistake and did Gonzalez no favours. It reminds me of the situation when as a hot prospect Terry Downes was put in a safe match against a Nigerian called Dick Tiger. It looked a no risk fight as the raw Tiger was 6-5 in his eleven fights in Britain and that against pretty modest opposition. Terry took a beating and was stopped. When he was asked who he wanted to fight next Terry replied “the ****** who made this match”. Jonathan could be feeling the same way.
Two fighters with 263 fights between them will box an exhibition in Argentina on September 7. It is to honour Jorge “Locomotora” Castro who was 46 this month, and his opponent will be Roberto Duran. Castro, a former WBA light middleweight champion had 144 fights in his 20 year career scoring 90 wins by KO/TKO. He was only beaten inside the distance twice. Once when he was a fat cruiserweight and was halted by Juan Carlos Gomez in a WBC title fight and in 2007 and later as a 38-yearold having his 143 fight. Castro hardly ever trained but had an iron chin, a great punch and limitless stamina. When asked about his opinion of whether a fighter should have sex before a fight Jorge said “of course and I sometimes have it in the dressing room”! Duran is paying Castro a great compliment by participating. They fought each other in 1997 in Panama and Duran took the razor thin decision in his hometown by scores of 97-95 from the three judges. The great Roberto is 62. He had 119 fights and 70 wins by KO/TKO, but I don’t what his opinions are on sex and don’t intend to ask him.
Another fighter recently honoured was the great Mexican warrior Gaspar Ortega. They don’t make them like the great “El Indio” now. Gaspar had 176 fights and he fought anyone anywhere. As an example he had 29 fights in 1964. The fights took place in five different countries and in 15 different towns. Every one of those fights was a ten round fight and in many he faced world class opposition such as Sandro Mazzinghi, Stan Harrington, Gene Bryant and Domenico Tiberia. Incredibly he had eleven fights in the month of May 1964 alone. Don’t think 1964 was unusual for Gaspar; he had 23 in 1963 and 22 in 1962. Yes, there were some small town, easy nights in there, but Ortega did not care who he fought or how long he had to prepare for the fight. At just a few days notice he would climb in with world champions/ former world champions/rated fighters, and beat most of them. He fought Isaac Logart three time being 1-2 , Tony Demarco three times in less than three months winning in two of the fights, Kid Gavilan twice with one win each, Mickey Crawford twice, winning one and drawing the other, Don Jordan twice losing both, Denny Moyer twice, Rudell Stitch twice, beat Benny Kid Paret twice, fought Florentino Fernandez twice, Stan Harrington three times, lost an unpopular split decision to Emile Griffith which was booed by Emile’s own home crowd and then lost inside the distance to Emile in a title fight, Luis Thompson, Reybon Stubbs, Charley Scott twice, Charley “Tombstone” Smith three times, Nino Benvenuti and Sandro Mazzinghi. Most of those names may not mean much to younger boxing fans but to put it in context a look at the world ratings for any of his most successful and active years would have shown that Gaspar fought every single one of the top ten fighters in his division and most of those in the next division up. The sport has changed since Gaspar’s day and there will never be another fighting gypsy like “El Indio”.
It has taken a long time but Meldrick Taylor is close to seeing the story of his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez made into a film. Appropriately enough it will be entitled “Two Seconds from Glory”. The story of how in a 1990 unification bout with 68-0 Chavez Taylor had an unassailable lead of five points and seven points on the cards of two judges in the last round only for the fight to be stopped with just two seconds to go. It was voted “Fight of the Year” and sparked huge controversy. Taylor is now promoting and doing well.
Upcoming fights. A show in San Antonio on 2 September will see former WBA welter champion Luis Collazo take on Alan Sanchez. The 22-year-old Sanchez has won his last seven fights. September 7 in Indio Chris Arreola and Seth Mitchell face up in a postponed match with the WBC International and WBO NABO titles on the line. Much more important for Arreola is the Mitchell is WBC 2/ WBA 4 and Chris is nowhere. On the same show Rafael Marquez returns to action with a fight at featherweight against Efrain Esquivias. Marquez is coming off a loss to Cris Mijares in October and you have to feel that another defeat would end his career. Esquivias is 16-2-1 but has two losses and a draw in his last three fights.
Former IBF welter champion Joshua Clottey says he will return to the ring in New York on September 14 against Dashon Johnson. Clottey’s last fight was a win over Calvin Green in November 2011.
September 21 in New York will see two State titles fights as Leon Moore faces Rafael Vazquez for the vacant super bantam title and unbeaten Frank Galarza takes on Rich Neves for the light middle title. September 27 in Istanbul Ignacio Mendoza gets his reward for an upset win over Ramon de la Cruz Sena with a fight against local hero WBC No 4 Selcuk Aydin
European title fights will see Stephane Jamoye make a voluntary defence against Ivan Ruiz in Herstal on September 28 and Andrea Sarritzu will take on Valery Yanchy for the vacant flyweight title in Sardinia on September 9. If Sarritzu wins it will be his third spell as European champion and his tenth European title fight. Mohammed Ali Ndiaye will defend his European super middle title against Frenchman Chris Rebrasse. Ndiaye retained his title on a split draw against Rebrasse in June.