A while ago it seemed that Deontay Wilder had only one fight to look at and that was with Anthony Joshua. That fight could have been made but Wilder had an inflated idea of his worth seeming to think that Joshua also had only one option. When Joshua’s team got tired of the back-and-forward mixture of unrealistic offers and social media trumpeting they moved on to Alex Povetkin. Not a great fight but sellable and let’s face it where Joshua is at this time any fight of his is going to be a big event for big money. Now the offers seem to be coming out of the woodwork for Wilder. The WBC has said it would not stand in the way of a return with Luis Ortiz. The elderly Cuban almost put Wilder away in their fight so some grounds for it. Tyson Fury has pitched in saying talks are underway for him to fight Wilder. Again sellable but we won’t know what Fury has by fighting guys such as Francesco Pianeta. The big German-based Italian lost in March to an eleven fight novice. One judge had it 96-94 and one had it 99-91 but they all had his opponent 22-year-old Petar Milas winning. However, for a second fight after thirty-one months out of action, the 6’5” southpaw is a reasonable choice but by no means a measure as to whether Fury will be ready for Wilder by the end of this year. The only name that never appears on Wilder’s dance card is the WBC No 1 Dillian Whyte. In his excellent fight against Joseph Parker Whyte showed his strengths and his weaknesses but he is the man that Wilder should be fighting and the WBC should be making it happen. Since winning the title Wilder has defended against Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka, Chris Arreola, Gerald Washington, Bermane Stiverne (of which the WBC should be ashamed) and Ortiz and if Wilder dodges Whyte the WBC title will be on its way to being a side show. I happen to think Wilder would beat Whyte but I would like the chance to find out if I am right.
Just when you think the WBA has hit rock bottom you find they are still digging. They are now reported to have recognised a fight between Trevor Bryan and BJ Flores as an eliminator for the No 1 spot in their heavyweight ratings. Currently Bryan is No 4 and Flores No 5 which is a disgraceful manipulation of their ratings but nothing unusual there. Bryan first entered the WBA top 15 in February 2016. To climb from No 15 to No 4 he has beaten Galen Brown (44-33-1) in July 2016, Sandy Soto (2-20) in April 2017 and Francois Russell (2-24) in December 2017. Flores lost to Tony Bellew for the WBC cruiser title in October 2016 being floored four times and stopped in three rounds. Flores made his first appearance in the WBA heavyweight ratings for February 2017 (published 17 March) for beating Jeremy Bates (26-18-1) but that victory won Flores the WBA-NABA title and you get rated for that even if you beat your grandmother. In the 18 months since that win he has fought once stopping Nick Guivas (13-6-2) but by January this year he had climbed to No 6 and now he is No 5. So 15 to 5 for beating Bates and Guivas. Not too surprising that Don King’s fingers are in this pie. It is impossible to take the WBA serious; in fact it is hard not to be disgusted by them. If Bryan and Flores is not ridiculous enough they have 46-year-old drugs cheat Guillermo Jones at No 10 heavyweight when his only fight in two years is a split decision win over Ytalo Perea (10-2-2) and after losing a court case when they tried to screw Fres Oquendo they are forced to have Oquendo in their ratings-he is No 2 –even though he has not had a fight for four years. Hold the press! He is schedules to challenge Manuel Charr for the secondary title on 29 September. Can’t see any promoter or TV outlet wetting their knickers in excitement over that fight.
So the final of the WBSS super middleweight tournament between George Groves and Callum Smith will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 28 September. Smith kicked off the tournament with a win over Erik Skoglund on 16 September 2017 so the tournament will have dragged on for over a year. It is a great pity but the delay due to the injury to Groves has taken some of the shine of the final. It is a great fight but it would have been ideal if it had happened soon after both won their semi-final now it will be a cold start to the build-up. It is also a pity that such a huge fight between two British fighters is taking place in Saudi Arabia. It is all about money so presumably someone has put a lot of money into the pot to get the fight to Jeddah when commonsense said it should have been held in the UK.
Interested in money? Well Mikey Garcia collected $1 million for beating Robert Easter who received $500,000. Both were world champions holding well respected titles but the purses reflect the respective profiles and entertainment value.
At the other end of the scale Hekkie Budler vacated the IBF light flyweight title rather than fight Felix Alvarado for a pitiful purse. Reportedly there was only one bid for the fight with a purse of $25,000. Budler would have picked up 75% so less than $19,000. Garcia was being paid more than $83,000 per round! Alvarado will now face Filipino Randy Petalcorin for the vacant title.
The purses for Jaime Munguia and Liam Smith were reported as $200,000 for Munguia and $75,000 for Smith and in the WBO super featherweight fight on the same card Alberto Machado’s take was $100,000 and Rafael Mensah’s $35,000.
Can’t get too excited over Rob Brant challenging Ryota Murata for the secondary WBA middleweight title. Brant was outclassed by Juergen Braehmer in the WBSS tournament. In fairness it was at super middle so he might do better at his normal weight. It seems that Brant was promised a shot at Murata when he stood aside to allow Murata a direct return against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam after the Japanese fighter lost a disputed decision to N’Jikam for the vacant title.The fight is out for purse offers due 13 August with a minimum bid of $200,000 set. It will be Murata’s second defence of the secondary title.
Going back to the super middleweights Jose Uzcategui will put his IBF title on the line against unbeaten Caleb Plant in Minneapolis on 24 August. Uzcategui was upgraded from interim champion to full champion when James De Gale vacated the crown. The No 1 position in the IBF ratings is vacant. Plant can’t fill that spot because he has not beaten a rated fight-but he can get to No 2 without beating a rated fighter!
A couple of weeks back I wrote about the death of Langton Tinago. Langton actually lost his Commonwealth lightweight title to Australian Barry Michael in 1981.Barry made two defences before losing the title to former WBA lightweight champion Claude Noel in 1982. Barry rebounded from that loss and went 10-0-1 in his next eleven fights regaining the Commonwealth title and winning the IBF title with a victory over unbeaten fellow-Australian Lester Ellis in July 1985. He then made three defences before losing the title to Rocky Lockridge in 1987. They say a picture paints a thousand words but words can hide a fascinating story. Barry had trouble getting approved for the challenge to Tinago because he had lost to British fighter Najib Daho, What is hidden in those words is that before the Daho fight Barry had an eardrum grafted into his left ear and went into the fight with a fractured left hand. Barry fought Daho again in 1986 and retained his IBF title with a unanimous decision. He lost his IBF title to Rocky Lockridge in his last pro fight in 1987. Behind those words is the story of a brutal attack on Barry in a nightclub. Four months before the fight with Lockridge Barry was attacked in an Australian nightclub by local gangster Al Gangitano, now deceased, who had at one time been with the team looking after Lester Ellis. Gangitano bit a chunk out of Barry’s cheek and with the other members of his crowd beat Barry up and broke his nose with a large glass ashtray. In the first round of the Lockridge fight Barry had his nose broken again. The story behind the words but there may be a picture to follow as there is a script in preparation for a film covering both Barry and Ellis and revealing the underworld figures who were involved in Australian boxing at that time. Barry, now 63, is a successful promoter so still very much part of the Australian fight scene.
It is a pity to hear that Sergio Martinez is contemplating a return to boxing. It appears that in doing fight scenes for a movie “Maravilla” got the itch again. Hopefully he will get talked out of it. Sergio is now 43 and has been out of the ring since losing to Miguel Cotto in June 2014. Please don’t Sergio.
Some exciting fights scheduled for 8 September. In Inglewood the super flyweights are at it again with Donnie Nietes defending his WBO super fly title against fellow Filipino Aston Palicte, Juan Francisco Estrada taking on Felipe Orucuta and the un-retired Kazuto Ioka vs. McWilliams Arroyo. On the other coast in Brooklyn Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter fight for the vacant WBC welterweight title and over in Birmingham Amir Khan will face Sammy Vargas. Khan should win but he can’t afford any banana skins at this stage of his career. Best fight in Birmingham could be the British middleweight title fight between Jason Welborn and Tommy Langford.
Roman Gonzalez will make his return to the ring on the undercard of the Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez fight in Las Vegas on 15 September. It seems incredible that at the start of 2017 Gonzalez was right up there at the top pound-for-pound lists and two fights later he is seen as a shot fighter. He will face Moises Fuentes in Las Vegas and a loss to the former WBO minimumweight champion might spell the end of his career. No opponent named yet but Jaime Munguia is pencilled in for a defence of his WBO super welter title on the Las Vegas card as a taster for a fight with the winner of Golovkin vs. Alvarez and the presence of Gary “ Spike” O’Sullivan on the show might signal an alternative route for Golovkin or Alvarez.
Looks like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr will return to action 7 September in Los Angeles against Sergio Mora. It will be Chavez’s first fight since losing to Saul Alvarez in May last year. Mora returned to action in April with a win over Alfredo Angulo. It has been suggested the fight will be at a catchweight of 171lbs but Mora, although described now as a super middleweight, was only 162 ½ lbs against Angulo and Chavez 164lbs against Alvarez so they should both be comfortable at 171lbs.
Nice gesture in that money from the Rodney Berman and Jeff Ellis “Reach for the Stars” show in Kempton Park South Africa on 10 August will go to the Reach for a Dream charity that works with children with life threatening illnesses. The show will also honour outstanding South African journalist and ring historian Ron Jackson. The main event on the show will see unbeaten 7-0 Rowan Campbell face Renson Hobyani 8-2 for the vacant South African super middleweight title. At all levels boxing does great work for charities but that doesn’t make for headlines so it is very under appreciated.
Plenty of action surrounding already scheduled and still to be scheduled European title fights. Purse offer for Vincent Legrand’s defence against Andrew Selby are due 9 August, James Tennyson’s defence of the super featherweight title will be held either 21 September in Belfast or 22 September in London, Kevin Lejarraga’s welterweight defence against Frankie Gavin will be in Bilbao on 17 November. Unbeaten Pole Kamil Szeremeta 17-0 is to defend the middleweight title against Spaniard Ruben Diaz 25-1-2. No date or venue for that yet. Both super middleweight champion Robin Krasniqi and heavyweight champion Agit Kabayel have voluntary defences in Leipzig on 27 October and then face mandatory defences against Juergen Braehmer and Swede Otto Wallin respectively.
Still on Europe it is planned to have an Italian Boxing Hall of Fame set up in Romagna by October and there are plenty of candidates in both Italian born fighters and in fighters with Italian antecedents. Let’s hope it does get up and running.
We keep hearing that men can’t multi task. Rubbish! During the third round of the fight on Friday between Luis Lebron and Milner Marcano in Barranquilla, Colombia, Marcano slipped on some water that had somehow found its way to the centre of the ring and he went down. The referee stopped the fight and looked around to see who was going to deal with the problem. The answer came in the form of a towel thrown at him from one side of the ring and a broom from the other so he did the job himself.