With Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury II only just over three weeks away Wilder has emerged as the slight favourite. The odds currently sit at 11/10 on Wilder and a spread of between 8/11 and 10/11 on Fury. Very close but Wilder’s punch seems to be pushing the smart money his way.
Boxing continues to be the mover and shaker right now. There is no clarity over who Saul Alvarez or Manny Pacquiao will fight next and although there is talk of Floyd Mayweather vs. McGregor II surely there can’t be enough idiots to be conned by that a second time so the heavyweights have the stage.
Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev have been given an extension to 14 February for the parties to come to a mutual agreement over terms for Joshua to defend the IBF and WBA titles. The likely date for the fight is end May early June in the UK. The position with the WBO is not clear but there is a strong possibility they will strip Joshua even though their No 1 Oleg Usyk looks set to fight Dereck Chisora in London on 28 March. That looks a sensible second heavyweight fight for Usyk. Joshua was to have defended against Pulev in 2017 but the Bulgarian had to pull out due to an injury and Joshua stopped substitute Carlos Takam.
In the WBO ratings for December Joseph Parker was No 2 and Adam Kownacki No 3. They will both be in action soon. Parker is scheduled to fight on the 29 February in Frisco, Texas on the undercard to the Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas/Khalid Yafai vs. Roman Gonzalez show but no opponent confirmed at this time and unbeaten Kownacki faces Robert Helenius on 7 March. Both Parker and Kownacki will be trying to position themselves in case the WBO strip Joshua. If the WBO do that then either Parker or Kownacki would look to fight Usyk for the vacant title-or each other if Usyk decides to pass up on the WBO belt.
Frank Warren has had a long working relationship with the WBO and is very much a man with influence with them so it was no surprise to see in the WBO ratings for January that Daniel Dubois had hurdled over Kownacki and is now No 3. Quite a promotion for beating No 15 Kyotaro Fujimoto and with Joe Joyce not having fought since July but suddenly jumping into the WBO ratings at No 12 that makes the Dubois vs. Joyce fight being talked about for 18 April being another contest that could be for the vacant WBO title with Parker already having said he would love to fight Dubois.
In the current EBU ratings Joyce is listed as co-challenger with Marco Huck for the vacant title but Huck is unavailable due to a hand injury. The EBU would have jumped at Joyce vs. Dubois as a great fight for them but with Dubois not yet out of a period of suspension from the EBU ratings for fighting for the WBO European title they had to pass on it. The EBU had nominated Filip Hrgovic and Joyce to contest the vacant title, another excellent fight, and given a date of 12 February for the sides to agree terms but now if Joyce vs. Dubois goes ahead, and not for the EBU title, then the EBU will have to find someone else to fight Hrgovic and the winner will have to fight Huck
In other heavyweight news French heavyweight hope Tony Yoka has joined Top Rank. I can remember the days when Bob Arum shunned heavyweights. It was a smart decision. For many years Don King had a stranglehold on the division and had a good claim to be the No 1 promoter in the world with Bob Arum his only real competition. Well in a recent edition Boxing News listed the 50 most powerful and influential people in boxing today and No 1 was Bob Arum. King was not in the top 50. King put all of his eggs in the heavyweight basket whilst Arum diversified. Along came the Klitschko brothers who totally took over the heavyweight division and turned King into a boxing dinosaur.
Finally on the heavyweights, and the Klitschko’s, EC Boxing in Germany has just unveiled the “new Klitschko” in Victor Vykhryst. The 27-year-old 6’5” 242lbs –introduced as Victor Faust I guess to make his name easier for us to remember-has twice won the European title and is a four-time Ukrainian champion as well as putting together a 6-0 score in the German Bundesliga. The crowded dance floor just got more crowded.
On 31 January the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. That has some consequences for UK fighters in that to be eligible to take part in a European Union (EU) title bout UK boxers must have a passport or ID of one of the EU member Countries and also be in possession of a license issued by the corresponding Federation. That means that according to EBU rules as from 31t January British boxers cannot be rated in EU list. Instead in February they will be moved to the EE-EU ratings (EE-EU titles are for countries that are European but not part of the EU such as Russia, Moldova etc.). As at 30 January UK fighter s Mark Heffron at middleweight and Jason Cunningham at super bantamweight were listed as co-challengers for the vacant EU titles but I guess that they will not now get that opportunity. It does not affect British boxers fighting for the European Boxing Union (EBU) tiles. So for instance the EBU title fights involving Callum Johnson challenging Igor Mikhalkin in Manchester on 7 March for the cruiserweight title and Andrew Selby meeting Mohammed Obbadi in April for the vacant flyweight title are unaffected.
In another change which could affect boxers the WBC has decided that in future all WBC affiliated title fights will be held over ten rounds with an option for them to be over eight rounds. This only affects WBC title such as the WBC International, WBC Latino, WBC United Sates etc but not those of the OPBF, NABF, EBU, and Commonwealth etc. which are entities in their own right.
A joint effort between TGB and Golden Boy came up with the winning bid for Nordine Oubaali’s WBC title defence against Nonito Donaire. The bid was for $401,000. Oubaali will get $216,540 and Donaire $144,360. That does not add up to $401, 00 because the new WBC “incentive payment” approach is being used whereby 10% of the total purse will be put into an escrow account and will go to the winner of the fight. That’s a much better approach than the British Navy took to encourage fighting spirit during the Napoleonic Wars. Admiral John Byng failed, though a perceived lack of fighting spirit, to relieve the siege of Minorca they shot him-to encourage the others!
It was a surprise that Top Rank were outbid for the Josh Taylor vs. Apinan Sakkreerin fight by Samson Lewkowicz’s Sampson Boxing. Taylor’s share of the $1.32 million winning bid will be approximately$860,000 and Sakkreerin’s $460,000
How long should a fighter have to wait to get paid for a fight? Well in the case of former WBC featherweight champion Luisito Espinosa last December made it 22 years and he had still not paid in full for a title defence against Carlos Rios in the Philippines in December 1997. Espinosa was guaranteed $150,000 plus $10,000 for training expenses by promoter Rod Nazario. Under the contract by October 31Espinosa would get $50,000 of his purse and the $10,000 training expenses. That did not happen. On the eve of the fight he was paid just under $30,000 and given a letter of guarantee for the balance. He did not get that money either. Nazario died in 2009 and when Espinosa took legal action to claim the outstanding money from the estate of Nazario a regional court dismissed his claim. A Court of Appeals overturned that and ruled for Espinosa but Nazario’s beneficiaries contested that decision. Finally late last year the Supreme Court found for Espinosa and has ordered the beneficiaries to pay Espinosa $130,000 plus interest at 6% dating back to 1998
Still on money. Michal Cieslak is getting $150,000 for fighting Ilunga Makabu for the vacant WBC cruiser title in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Friday night. You have wonder if that is enough “danger money” The Polish party was given an armed escort from the airport to their hotel and the show is being promoted by Ferdinand Ilunga Luyoyo who as the General in charge of the Congolese anti-riot body known as the National Intervention Legion was sanctioned by both the USA and the European Union (including travel bans and freezing of assets) for his part in suppressing opposition to the then President Joseph Kabila. Should be no trouble with crowd control at the fight that’s for sure. Incidentally this will be the first world title fight in the DRC since Muhammed Ali knocked out George Foreman in October 1974.
Naoya Inoue is back in training for his unification fight with John Riel Casimero in the USA on 25 April. Whoever wins that one will hold three versions of the bantamweight title. Inoue holds the IBF and WBA titles and Casimero the WBO. That should be a short and exciting battled between two punches.
It must have resembled an Emergency in the home fighter’s dressing room in Hamburg last weekend. Artem Harutyunyan stopped Miguel Antin but fought from the first round with a broken right thumb and German-based Cuban Jose Larduet lost to Mariano Strunz when he injured his left knee and the torn ligaments he suffered will keep him out of the ring for at least four months.
A death in the family is a tragedy at any time but two in the space of just a few days is more than any family should have to suffer. The first was the death after a long illness of Peter “Terror “Mathebula at the age of 67. Peter made history when in December 1980 he outpointed Korean Tae-Shik Kim in Los Angeles to win the WBA flyweight title becoming South Africa’s first black world champion. He only held the title for three months but he put down a marker for other black African fighters to follow. He retired in 1983 and fell on hard times having to sell off his boxing trophies. Whilst preparations were being made for Peter’s funeral his newly widowed wife Emma Gabaitsiwe Mathebula collapsed and died. A double tragedy.
There are a couple of fights coming up for South African boxers. Kevin Lerena will defend his IBO cruiser title against Firat Arslan in Goppingen, Germany on 8 February. Lerena will be making the sixth defence of his title. Arslan, won the secondary WBA cruiser title back in November 2007 and if he is successful against Lerena then at 49 he must be one of the oldest guys to win a title. There is also talk of super middleweight Rowan Campbell fighting for the IBO title but not yet confirmed.
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