It’s good to be able to focus on some really top notch fights which don’t include the elephant in the room known as Floyd Mayweather Jr. For too long Floyd has been such a big influence on the welter and super welter divisions. Some fighters have ducked fights in case they lose the chance to be on Floyd’s dance card and others have taken risky fights to try to jostle their way into the queue whilst a third bunch have not fought at all in the hope that not losing will get them there. Floyd has been a great boxer and great for boxing. No fight has captured the public’s imagination in the way that the fight with Manny Pacquiao did and even if it disappointed in the end it was still a huge event. Floyd has fallen away a little from his best in recent fights but he is 38 and he should be assessed on when he was at his peak. Let’s face it if we judge Roy Jones on his efforts over the last six years he would have to buy his way into the Hall of Fame.
But as I started to say we can now focus on Miguel Cotto vs. Saul Alvarez. Puerto Rico vs. Mexico. The Old Master against the king in waiting. For me it is a 50/50 fight. Then there is the battle of bangers between Gennady Golovkin and David Lemieux. Golovkin with a 91% “kayo” record and Lemieux at 86%. The only other fighter in the division with a comparable % rating is Daniel Jacobs with 87%. You have to feel that one of those two is going to add another knockout to their record but it could be down to who lands first and it may not even get out of the first round. Don’t blink. We have a great all-Mexican battle between Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz which can’t help but be a thriller. Throw in Andy Lee vs. Billy Joe Saunders as a huge battle on our side of the Atlantic, Badou Jack vs. George Groves and further down in the weights Nonito Donaire and Scott Quigg, Roman Gonzalez vs. Brian Viloria and so many others. Boxing will miss Floyd of course and although we may not see the sort of money that his fights have generated in the game for a long time-if ever-boxing will roll on with great fights year after year if not month over month and who knows perhaps the greatest fighter in the history of boxing is at this time some small unknown kid wondering into a gym somewhere for the first time and catching the bug.
Nice gesture from WBA secondary light heavy champion Juergen Braehmer who has auctioned a signed pair of his gloves to raise money for Denis Boystov who I still recovering from a serious accident and will never be able to box again.
Marco Huck has put his loss to Krzys Glowacki down to his team. He claimed that he had not been guided to do enough conditioning work and paid for it by tiring so badly. The rumour is that he will take on former IBF super middle and WBC light heavy champion Graciano Rocchigiani as his trainer. Rocchigiani has his own gym and is already training some young fighters but he is not yet considered one of the top trainers in Germany.
Going back to Braehmer’s gloves it reminds me of a story that could only happen in boxing. Don Elbaum was one of those characters that boxing produces now and then and they just don’t seem to be around now. Way back Don was promoting a fight for Sugar Ray Robinson at a time when the greatest ever was a bit past his best. The show coincided with the date when Robinson first turned pro and the highlight of the press conference was when Don announced that after an exhausted search he had managed to find the gloves Robinson wore for that first fight and he presented them to a very moved and grateful Sugar Ray. The press went away with a great story-and Sugar Ray found he had two left gloves!!
The late Baby Jake Matlala one of South Africa’s all-time great fighters has a Foundation named after him which is helping not just young boxers but other children in need of help and is doing great work. When Floyd Mayweather Jr went to South Africa back in 2014 he visited the “Jake Matlala Boxing Academy in Soweto to pays his respects to the family of the late boxer and to help raise funds for the Baby Jake Matlala Boxing Academy. A lovely gesture from Mayweather. Matlala was WBO fly and light fly champion and the scourge of Scotland’s lighter men. At just 4’10 ½” (148cm) must have be one of the smallest world champions in boxing history. He died in December 2013 at the tragically young age of 51.
Still on Africa look out there is another Nelson out there. Azumah Nelson, for me the best fighter to come out of Africa, was working the corner of his 19-year-old son Junior Nelson at an amateur tournament last week. Junior won his lightweight contest with proud dad Azumah declaring “I see in him a great potential to rule the world soon”. May be a bit of parental bias in there but if Junior does turn pro he will be worth watching.
Former WBO fly and super fly champion Omar Narvaez will return to the ring on 2 October against Dominican Diego Luis Pichardo Liriano. Narvaez was to have returned on September 18 but the money was not there for the fight and Narvaez also suffered a hand injury.
Italian Michele Di Riocco has been nominated as challenger to Jose Benavidez for the American’s interim WBA super light title and negotiations are on-going. Di Riocco has relinquished his EBU title and his long-time mandatory challenger Lenny Daws will face Spaniard Ruben Nieto for the vacant title with purse offers due on 10 September unless there is an earlier agreement.
Typical bit of rubbish from the WBA who have appointed Luis Ortiz and Matias Vidondo to contest their vacant interim heavyweight title. Ortiz was caught cheating when he tested positive for steroids after his win over Lateef Kayode in September 2014. He was able to box again after a derisory ban and in June beat Byron Polley (27-18-1) and is now WBA No 8. Having not been rated in the WBA ratings of 8 July – Vidondo suddenly appears in the WBA ratings of 12 August at No 15 despite not having fought for 10 months! His nickname is “Matador”. In his last fight in October last year he weighed 262 ½ lbs (119kgs) if the matadors are that big how big are the bloody bulls! A farce all round how can they justify No 8 fighting No 15 for the vacant interim title. Just more WBA rubbish.
On the subject of farces the South African Sports Ministry have finally handed down their “proposals” for live broadcasting by TV of tournaments in South Africa. I say the Ministry because the proposals came from the Ministry with Boxing South Africa (BSA) the body supposed to be running boxing in South Africa just acting as a post office passing on the dictate from the ministry. It is a political document put together by people who have no idea of how the boxing business works despite there being some good people at BSA. The document says the nine provinces in South Africa will be allocated one date each (even if there is no promoter active in the province?). The provinces will “fund” the tournaments and South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) will “showcase the entire province in its promotional material” So the National TV gets the shows for free which makes it obvious that the SABC has no money for boxing. Promoters will be invited by the province to make bids for the one show in their jurisdiction but there is no guidance on how those bids will be assessed and it leaves room for BSA, SABC and the government department to get involved in the process “if requested” which means when they want to. A cronyism charter. When you cut away all the weasel words it will be South African boxing promoters who will fund boxing and actually pay the SABC to cover their show. The best thing that could happen to a promoter is that he does not get a TV date because if he does he will have no money from TV and a lot of his potential customer will just stay home and watch his show for free. Madness. You have to admire the way the promoters are continuing to put shows on down there. And don’t forget that there a whole slew of South African boxers and officials who have not been paid their purses and prizes and Filipino boxers who have suffered the same fate but the Sports Ministry obviously feels that sorting those sort of matters out is someone else’s responsibility. What bit of the title Sports Minister don’t you understand Mr. Mbalula?
WBO light fly champion Donnie Nietes has his first American appearance for five years when he defends his title against Mexican Juan Alejo in Carson, California on October 17. Plans are for brothers Albert and Jason Pagara to also feature in bouts. The 33-year-old Nietes is undefeated in his last 28 fights and has made 11 title defences over the two divisions so he will get some well-merited exposure in America.
Current WBA super fly champion Kohei Koni will be making his first appearance in American when he defends his title against No 2 challenger Koki Kameda in Chicago on 16 October. First time two Japanese fighters have faced each other for a world title in America. Kameda has not fought in Japan for over two years as relations between the Kameda clan and the JBC have gone through a rocky period.
Some interesting eliminators coming/being discussed. Canadian Kevin Bizier vs. Frederic Lawson in an IBF eliminator looks a good fight. Bizier is No 6(4) and Lawson No 7(5) so the winner could position himself for a shot at Kell Brook as there is no mandatory challenger for Brook. For the WBC the Isaac Chilemba vs. Eleider Alvarez is a quality fight with Chilemba No 1 and Alvarez No 3 the winner would jump ahead of No 2 Andrzej Fonfara who fights No 12 Nathan Cleverly on 16 October. On 6 September Anthony Dirrell and Marco Antonio Rubio clash in Corpus Christi. Both badly need a win. Dirrell will be climbing in the ring for the first time since losing his title to Badou Jack in April and Rubio since being destroyed in two rounds by Gennady Golovkin in October.
Alex Povetkin’s fight with Mariusz Wach in Kazan on 4 November is covering all of the bases. Pole Wach is 6’7 ½” (202cm) so if Povetkin gets his mandatory shot at Deontay Wilder then that is good practice for the 6’7” (201cm) WBC champion and if by some chance he has to face Wlad Klitschko at 6’6” (198cm) or Tyson Fury at 6’9” (206cm) well that is covered too. Wilder’s next opponent Johann Duhaupas is not a bad choice but nor a very good one either. He was not in the WBC top 40 after losing to Erkan Teper in March but arrived at No 15 after outpointing the No 9 rated Manuel Charr so a valid rating but there is nothing in his record to indicate he should be a danger to Wilder. Once this fight is over the WBC need to get tough with Wilder and insist he makes his mandatory defence against Povetkin without having another fight. With the Eric Molina fight he has had one gift of an easy voluntary defence and if he gets past Duhaupas the WBC has to insist he fight Povetkin. I hope!
“Golden” Jack Culcay defends his interim WBA light middle title against Ireland’s Dennis Hogan on 26 September in Berlin. Other fights coming up will see IBF No 4 light heavy Erik Skoglund defending his IBF Inter-Continental title in Nykoping Sweden against Ukrainian Olek Cherviak, super light prospect Anthony Yigit facing Frenchman Chaquib Fadli and unbeaten Heavy Otto Wallin taking on Russian Vlad Goncharov. Good to see professional boxing back in Sweden. A circus tenet in Leipzig will be the venue for the next fight for unbeaten German light heavyweight Dominic Boesel and also on the show Felix Lamm fighting Phillip Schuster for the German International title at welterweight.
Roy Jones next fight has been postponed. Jones was to have fought Danny Santiago on St Maarten in the Caribbean on August 28 but Tropical Storm Erika could swing that way so the fight is off with a new date to be advised.
Vyacheslav Senchenko’s retirement was short-lived and he returned with a win in July. Now he wants only one fight-a return with Paul Malignaggi to get revenge for the ninth round loss in 2012 which cost the Ukrainian his WBA title. Could be a possibility if Paulie wanted it.
Good to see some activity in Nigeria as the country has produced such great boxers. There was a show in Lagos on 23 August which I was not able to cover in my report (yes it is possible!) so I will give brief details here. World rated cruiser Olanrewaju Durodola took just 48 seconds to kayo Ghanaian Paakwesi Ankrah, unbeaten Nigeria Jude Ilo took just 51 seconds to kayo Ghanaian Tricky Commey to retain the West African Boxing Union light heavy title, former WBO super middle title challenger and former undefeated CBC champion Isaac Ekpo halted Gabriel Adoku in three rounds and former CBC super fly champion Yakubu Kareem outpointed Akeem Muri. All the losers were from Ghana. It was good to see Durodola and Ekpo going back home for fights.
Durodola’s next fight could be a much tougher proposition as he is down to face big punching Dmitry Kudryashov in Kazan on 4 November. “The Russian Hammer” has won all 18 of his fights inside the distance whereas Durodola has only lost inside the distance once way back in 2012 so I guess they are hoping the Nigerian can give Kudryashov some ring time.
Former world champion Ilido Julio has been arrested in Colombia. The 44-year-old former IBO super fly champion is alleged to have links to a drug cartel. He was arrested back in 2012 for allegedly manufacturing, and possessing drugs but the case was thrown out due to inconsistent evidence. Julio fought in the USA, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Bahamas and Colombia facing Nonito Donaire, Jose Miguel Cotto, Dominic Salcido and in his last fight in November 2010 Adrien Broner.