Saturday, September 8, 2018

Snips and Snipes with Eric Armit

Senator John McCain (1936-2018)

It was sad to read of the death of Senator John McCain. He was a genuine war hero and twice a Presidential candidate but for myself his most relevant influence was through his work to clean up boxing through the development of what came into law in America as the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which had a huge impact on boxing in the USA. The stated purpose of the Act was, “protecting boxers from exploitation, sanctioning organization integrity reforms, and requiring public interest disclosures to state boxing commissions…….  to remedy many of the anti-competitive, oppressive, and unethical business practices which have cheated professional boxers and denied the public the benefits of a truly honest and legitimate sport." The impetus for the whole process that resulted in the Ali Act can be said to have been an IBF title fight back in 1992. The then IBF middleweight champion James Toney won a split decision over Dave Tiberi in Atlantic City. It was seen by many as a disgraceful robbery of Tiberi. His local Senator instituted an investigation and the testaments given sparked John McCain’s decision to push for changes in how boxing was run in the USA, and particularly the promoter/boxer relationship and the influence of sanctioning bodies.

I had a minor role in that I had a number of phone calls from a researcher working for the Senator asking me how the “slave” contracts between Don King and his fighters worked and on how the “options” system worked. I explained that under the contracts King put in place there was a clause that said that as long as the boxer was in the world ratings then his contract with King would be automatically renewed. That effectively meant that for the whole of a fighters peak years he could not fight for any other promoter than Don King without King’s permission. I remember an instance in my time with the WBC ratings committee when we took out a prominent King promoted African boxer on the basis of his inactivity which would have made him a free agent. However, when I presented the ratings to the Convention, King’s influence was sufficient for the rating to be overturned and the fighter returned to the ratings and back under King’s control.

I explained that with options it was customary for the promoter of the world champion to insist on options on the services of the challenger so that if the challenger won then he was under contract to fight only for that promoter unless the promoter decided to sell some or all of the options to another promoter. The usual number of options was three-sometimes less-sometimes more. In addition, the purse for each option was an integral part of the option and those purses were inevitably below market value. As an example a champion might get $100,000 for the title defense and the challenger $50,000. If the challenger won the price included in his option and instead of $100,000 that could tie him to receiving $50,000 for each of his three title defenses. If the promoter had no market for the new champion then he could sell the options to promoters who could. A typical example was when Charlie Magri unexpectedly lost his WBC flyweight title to Frank Cedeno in his first defense. The British promoter had no way of making money out of his options on the Filipino but a Japanese promoter was anxious to get his fighter Koji Kobayashi a shot at the WBC title so he bought Cedeno’s options from the British promoter.

Naturally there was some watering down of the proposed Act before it was passed but it remains an important milestone in the way boxing is administered in the USA, and had a ripple effect that led to other countries reviewing their own processes and procedures.

The Ali Act was only a small part of the work Senator McCain did in his time in government but boxing owes him a great debt of gratitude RIP Senator John McCain.

Senator John McCain (1936-2018)

Thai Boxing

This has been a memorable week for boxing in Thailand as Wanheng (Chayaphon Moonsri) won his 51st fight. He can’t yet be said to have beaten Floyd Mayweather’s record as what makes Mayweather’s total of 50 wins significant is that his record is for winning every one of his 50 fights in his career. In order to surpass Mayweather’s record Wanheng has either to retire now with 51 wins or have some more fights and win them also before retiring. If Wanheng continues to box and loses then he still has a great record but there are plenty of better records with just one or two losses on them.

The other milestone for a Thai fighter will probably be achieved by the time you read this. The 41-year-old former WBC bantam and super featherweight champion Sirimongkol Singwancha (Sirimongkhon Iamthuam) has a 95-4 record and on Saturday 1 September will have fight No 100 in a twenty-four-year career. I am not sure if any other Thai fighter has reached that total. He started out as a super flyweight and in fight No 100 will be trying to win the Thai light heavyweight title. Between losing his WBC super feather title to Jesus Chavez in 2003 and losing a fight to Uzbek Azizbek Abdugofurov for the WBC Asian Boxing Council middle weight title in February he coincidentally won 51 fights in a row. He is taking no chances in fight No 100 as his opponent is Ugandan Muhammad Nsubuga with a 0-6 record! (*EDITOR'S NOTE - Iamthuam defeated Nsubuga by KO*)

That Sirimongkol vs. Nsubuga contest is typical of many abysmal matches in Thailand. Two weekends ago, Tajik boxer Abdul Buranov lost to WBC No 3 flyweight Noknoi (Nare Yianleang). Their respective records before the fight were Noknoi 66-5 and Buranov 0-3. In his four fights Buranov’s opponents records have been 64-5 (Noknoi), 21-1, 15-2, and Noknoi again with 66-5.

Flag of Thailand

World Boxing Super Series (WBSS)

Can’t help but be disappointed that the WBSS are going to do another cruiserweight series. Let’s face it this is a competition for the also-ran or never ran. Mairis Breidis, Yunier Dorticos, Krzys Glowacki, Marius Masternak, Maksim Vlasov, Andrew Tabiti, and Noel Gevor are all good fighters. Russian Ruslan Fayfer in unbeaten but it was the knowledge that it could end up with Olek Usyk fighting Murat Gassiev that made the original so interesting and this tournament has no such star attraction.

Murata vs. Brant 

It always seemed likely that the WBA would have to stand by the results of the purse bids-or should I say bid as there was only one-for the Ryota Murata vs. Rob Brant fight for their secondary middleweight title. If they had not done so, but instead allowed Murata to fight Jason Quigley then the lawyers would have had a field day. Murata fights Brant in Las Vegas on 20 October and you can be sure that Bob Arum will be looking to get Quigley a fight with the winner or look for some other way to get the unbeaten Irishman a title shot.

Kyotaro Fujimoto

Japan has only one fighter in the world ratings and that is Kyotaro Fujimoto. The WBO have him at No 7 on the basis of his winning their Asia Pacific title. His opposition has been very modest at best, certainly not enough to be rated above Bryant Jennings or Dereck Chisora-but he is. They are not taking any chances with him. He is due to fight on 25 September with the name being bandied about of Thai Suthat Kalakek, a former OPBF super middleweight title challenger, who lost his last fight to a 6-0 novice. Hope they come up with something better than this for a world rated fighter.

Kyotaro Fujimoto - Photo

Jorge Barrios

Former WBO super featherweight champion Jorge Barrios has applied to the Argentinian Boxing Federation for a licence to fight again. Now 42, Barrios was recently released from prison after serving three years and seven months for homicide and culpable injuries. When driving his car he ran down and killed a twenty-year-old pregnant woman and left the scene of the accident. He has served the sentence that they gave him but four years for what he did seems wholly inadequate.

Jorge Barrios - Photo

August Boxing Deaths 

Boxing lost two former fighters from different countries with the deaths in the month of August of Charley “White Lightning” Brown and Argentinian Farid Salim. Brown won his first 23 fights before losing to Harry Arroyo for the IBF lightweight title in 1984. His career really faded downhill from there but he scored wins over Alfredo Escalera, the 25-0-1 Frank Newton and the 18-0 Louis Burke on his way to the title shot. He also fought Harold Brazier, Saoul Mamby, Greg Haugen, Johnny Bizzarro, and Ralph “Tiger” Jones. After more than 60 amateur fights in Salim’s first pro fight in June 1958 his opponent Santos Galvan suffered an injury and died after the contest. Despite that, Salim continued his career and went 27-0-2 including winning the Argentinian middleweight title. In his first fight in the USA, he outpointed Ted Wright and also scored a win over Joey Giambra but lost to the wonderfully named Yama Bahama, Wilbert McClure, Joey Archer, and Ruben Carter. RIP Charley and Farid.

Farid Salim - Photo

-Eric Armit

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