Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Snips and Snipes with Eric Armit

By Eric Armit

It takes a lot to upset me but I am really disappointed. I have realized that everyone else has been mentioned as the next opponent for Saul Alvarez except me. I threw my hat into the ring but it seems it was just too much trouble to dig through the 999 other hats to find mine. What have I done wrong? How hard can it be to pick out an opponent who is no threat and cheap? I qualify on both of those criteria so came on “Canelo” make your choice before it become a bore and we lose interest in who you are going to face next.

Boy it has been a depressing couple of weeks. We have Mike Tyson talking about fighting; we have Oscar De La Hoya “training” for a fight. We have Floyd Mayweather Jr apparently ready to fight again and Michael Nunn at 47 appearing in a MMA exhibition and in the ultimate exhibition of hypocrisy we hear the poor WBA whinging that it is so very difficult to cut down the number of titles. That’s like some guy driving whilst using his mobile phone complain about the number accidents caused by people driving and using their mobile phone. If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. Here’s a hint WBA try to stop inventing more. That would be step in the right direction. Lock down madness rules, OK!

Jarrell Miller will hear his fate on 5 August when he is called in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission to explain his latest positive test. After his positive tests before the Anthony Joshua fight I was surprised Top Rank gave him another chance to save his career but Bob Arum has made it clear that Miller betrayed the trust they placed in him so even if his career is not over finding someone else to trust him is not going to be easy and if his career is over he only has himself to blame.

To be honest boxing does not need Miller. If there is one thing there is no shortage of it is heavyweights. Putting aside such as Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Dylan Whyte etc. there is a huge list of unbeaten heavyweights active right now. We have Joe Joyce, Daniel Dubois, Filip Hrgovic, Efe Ajagba, Tony Yoka, Agit Kabayel, Jermaine Franklin, Junior Fa, Frank Savage, Guido Vianello, Petar Milas, Cassius Chaney, Jared Anderson, Darmani Rock and Viktor Vykhryst all unbeaten so the future of heavyweight boxing is in safe hands.

Both Joyce and Dubois have matches coming up as they look towards one of the biggest heavyweight fights in the history of British boxing. In two Britain vs. Germany bouts Joyce faces Michael Wallisch on Saturday and Dubois takes on Erik Pfeifer on August 29. If they both come through those bouts then Joyce and Dubois are paired in a fight for the vacant European title with the winner mandated to fight Marco Huck. I can’t see the winner being interested in a Huck fight. Whilst there is plenty bubbling up at heavyweight with the talk of two or three fight series featuring any two of three from Fury, Joshua and Wilder and with Dillian overdue a chance those guys have a stranglehold on the four titles and boxers such as Joyce, Dubois and Oleg Usyk could find themselves still waiting for a title shot this time next year.

Boxing is slowly shaking off the effects of the COVID-19 virus. Top Rank has led the way. Golden Boy re-launches on Friday with Vergil Ortiz vs. Samuel Vargas in Indio. German promoters are continuing action there with a clash between Jack Culcay and unbeaten Abass Baraou set for 28 August in Berlin and Tyron Zeuge tackling Giovanni De Carolis on 27 November. Culcay vs. Baraou is a real 50/50 match. Another big fight will see Jeff Horn and Tim Tszyu exchanges punches in Brisbane on 26 August. There are signs all over that the sport is stirring. Queensberry staged the first show in Britain, Miguel Cotto has asked for clearance to stage a show in Puerto Rico on 22 August. Gyms are scheduled to reopen in South Africa on 1 September. European title fights featuring French fighters will see Samir Ziani making a voluntary defense of the super featherweight title against Alex Dilmaghani on 22 August in Redditch with the winner to face mandatory challenger Martin Joseph Ward and Maxime Beaussire challenging champion Matteo Signani in Caen on 10 October. There will be a show in Aarhus, Denmark on 19 September. It will be mainly amateur matches with on professional fight. There was a small show with spectators in attendance in Okinawa on Sunday and Oleg Usyk is reported to be staging his first promotion on 1 August.

Filipino Eumir Felix Marcial has been signed to a professional contract by Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions. He won a gold medal at the World Youth Championships and a silver medal at the World Championships and had qualified for the 2020 Olympics. He has reportedly received a $200,000 signing bonus and the intent is to still have him compete at the rescheduled Games as well as fight as a professional.

The last few weeks have seen some tragedies hit boxing. Three promising members of the Kazakh amateur team who had recently advanced from the Youth squad to the Senior level died in a car accident, and unbeaten American super welterweight Travell Mazion was killed in another car accident this one outside Austin, Texas. The 24-year-old Mazion was 17-0 and had won the NABF title in January. Javier Gonzalez was another unbeaten young fighter to pass away recently. The 21-year-old from Gomez Palacio was 15-0 and was ready to move up to eight rounds when cancer ended his young life.

Let’s hope the outcome is better for retired Nigerian heavyweight champion Ngozika Ekwelum who is fighting cancer of the bladder and is about to start another series of chemotherapy. He faced British heavyweights Billy Aird and John L Gardner in the UK in the 1970’s.

From a personal point of view I was so very sorry to learn of the death of Dickie Cole. Dickie was a great referee and was the head of the Texas Commission, but for me he was a much loved friend who was head of the WBC Ratings Committee when I was a member. Dickie would often attend the Ring Officials and leave me in charge of the Ratings. Later Dickie would catch up with me and say “Jose wants to see me-what have you done to the ratings I can’t leave you alone for a minute." He was such a lovely man and any time I met with him was a good day for me. My thoughts go out to his family. RIP Dickie, the world is a poorer place without you.

South Africa’s former WBA featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka, who saw his career ended in 2018 when he was hit by a passing vehicle, has made a successful return as a trainer of amateur boxers and has already produced some local champions.

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Sunday, July 19, 2020

WWE Extreme Rules 2020

By Steve Ward

The latest pay-per-view installment of the Quarantine Era aired live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida as we were presented with Extreme RulescorrectionThe Horror Show at Extreme Rules. Yes, you read that correctlythe WWE decided to rename the event by prefacing the normal Extreme Rules moniker with The Horror Show. While I understand this is likely tied to the main event where Bray Wyatt challenged Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship, this name certainly could open WWE up to some ridicule. For instance, if this show doesnt deliver, well, it will be considered a horror show - just not for the reason WWE intended. After last nights Impact Wrestling Slammiversary show saw the debuts/returns of Gallows & Anderson, Eric Young, EC3, Heath Slater, Alex Shelley, and Chris Sabin, WWE had a lot to live up to in the eyes of the less than casual fan. Tonights show featured six matches and was headlined with the aforementioned Wyatt Swamp Fight between Bray Wyatt and Universal Champion Braun Strowman.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship Tables Match

Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (c)
Winners: Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura

An ongoing feud between these teams culminated this evening in a Tables Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. Following a rather pedestrian match, the ending came in spectacular fashion. Two tables were stacked on top of each other outside the ring as Cesaro found himself jockeying for position with Kofi on the top turnbuckle. As it appeared that Kofi was going to escape disaster, Nakamura met them on the ring apron and delivered a brutal kick to Kingstons back. This allowed Cesaro to power bomb Kofi through both tables solidifying their victory.

Smackdown Womens Championship
Nikki Cross vs. Bayley (c)
Winner: Bayley via pinfall

Riding the heels of a 282 day stretch as the Smackdown Womens champion (and currently half of the Smackdown Womens Tag Team Champions with Sasha Banks), Bayley put the title on the line against the underrated Nikki Cross this evening. Bayley was in dire straits late in the bout after she received a neck breaker to the arena floor. After the women returned to the ring, Banks handed her Boss ring off to Bayley who viciously punched Cross in the stomach and followed it up with a face plant to retain her title.

MVP was scheduled to challenge Apollo Crews for the United States Championship, however, Crews failed a pre-match physical. The announce team cited this was from an injury sustained a month ago at the hands of MVPs cohort Bobby Lashley, however, one has to wonder if perhaps he entered the venue with a fever or other Coronavirus symptoms. Nonetheless, MVP proceeded to walk down to the ring, pick up the newly designed United States Championship, and proclaim himself the new champion by forfeit.

Eye for an Eye Match
Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins
Winner: Seth Rollins

This had to be one of the most ridiculous stipulations Ive ever heard ofat least when Abdullah the Butcher was electrocuted at the conclusion of the infamous Chamber of Horrors Match in WCW back in the early 90s, they made it appear somewhat realistic albeit comedic at the same time. Anyway, Rollins pressed Mysterios face into the corner of a ring stair allegedly inflicting an eye injury a few weeks back. That coupled with the ongoing inclusion of Reys son Dominic being targeted by the Monday Night Messiah, we have arrived at this match. The announce team actually said the winner would be declared by removing one of his opponents eyes - really??? This match was one of the worst Ive ever seen. The two men spent the majority of the bout trying to puncture out the others eyes with various tools, pens, and edges of ring stairs. The conclusion finally came after Rollins pressed Mysterios eye into the edge of a ring stair until after the referee put it, it was hanging out. Following this I personally hope the rumors are true that Reys contract is up because it would be nice to see such a legendary competitor used in a promotion like AEW where his talent would be respected and he would be utilized as something more than a sideshow attraction.

RAW Womens Championship
Asuka (c) w/ Kairi Sane vs. Sasha Banks w/ Bayley
Winner: No contest

In what was looking to be a nice recovery to the preceeding shit show of a match, a very competitive title bout ended in ludicrous fashion. As Banks stood with a title belt in hand poised to strike Asuka when she returned to her feet, Asuka sprung up and spewed the green mist - the only problem was Banks ducked and left the referee to receive the full brunt of it in his face. Bayley then proceeded to remove the referees shirt and put it on herself. After Banks took down Asuka and covered her, Bayley counted the pinfall and Sasha stole the title proclaiming herself champion.

WWE Championship
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Winner: Drew McIntyre via pinfall

Ziggler found himself in this match after he promptly confronted the champ following his trade to RAW along with Bobby Roode for AJ Styles. Ziggler told McIntyre that he was owed a match based on their extensive history and that he would keep the stipulation for the contest a secret until the night of Extreme Rules. Before the bell rang, Ziggler announced that the match would be contested under extreme rulesfor him only. Ziggler also stated that if McIntyre were disqualified or counted out, he would also relinquish the title. Ziggler put forth a solid effort despite the fact he stacked the deck against McIntyre, however, the defending champ took everything he had and finally closed the contest with a brutal Claymore kick to successfully retain his title.

Universal Championship Wyatt Swamp Fight
Bray Wyatt vs. Braun Strowman (c)
Winner: Bray Wyatt???

After Wyatts attempts to awaken Strowmans dark side from his early days as a member of the Wyatt family to no avail, Bray revived his original cult leader persona in the fashion of Waylon Mercy. This set the stage for another cinematic pay per view main event in the form of a Wyatt Swamp Fight. Sadly, this did not come anywhere close to reaching the bar established by the Undertaker vs. AJ Styles clash at Wrestlemania - in fact it was just plain bad. The conclusion found Wyatt and Strowman fighting on a pier as Braun kicked Bray into the water thinking the fight was over. Next, a hand emerged from the water, grabbed Strowman by the throat, and dragged him into the swampy abyss. After the two struggled for a few moments, the face of The Fiend emerged from the water as the broadcast ended. Apparently, there was no winner - at least not in the traditional sense.

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Friday, July 10, 2020

Tony DeMarco's Living Room

Check out my latest boxing story on "Atlas Obscura": 

Tony DeMarco's Living Room

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