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SNIPS AND SNIPES 18 January 2023


PhilBoxing.com





It has been a sluggish start to boxing this year. There was the big show in Washington on 7 January with Gervonta Davis sweeping aside Hector Garcia in a WBA lightweight title defence and the sanctioning body madness of an IBF interim welterweight title fight with Jaron Ellis winning that even though with Errol Spence is active and there was no valid reason for having an interim champion. The choice of unknown Karen Chukhadzhian to fight Ennis was more of the same with a typical sanctioning body ratings shuffle which Chukhadzhian entering the IBF ratings in August 2020 at No 8 then climbing to No 4 without ever fighting anyone remotely near being rated. The ghost of Bobby Lee still seems to haunt 899 Mountain Avenue, Springfield. Never heard of Booby Lee? Google him and see a story from the past on the sordid under belly of boxing.

The Top Rank show on 14 January saw fringe heavyweight contenders Efe Ajagba and Stephen Shaw clash with the undercard featuring some of Top Rank’s future stars.

This weekend in Manchester will see Chris Eubank Jr vs. Liam Smith, Joseph Parker vs. Jack Massey, Richard Riakporeh vs. Krzys Glowacki and unbeaten Ekow Essuman defending his British and Commonwealth titles. Again, that is the only big show at the weekend. I certainly don’t rate Jonathan Guidry vs. 44-year-old Bermane Stiverne. How the mighty have fallen. From Muhammad Ali to Bermane Stiverne-Don King is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

There are some promising signs with the IBF drawing back from trying to force Oleksandr Usyk to fight the totally underserving Filip Hrgovic, negotiations for Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia almost completed and confirmation Anthony Joshua will fight again on 1 April with lots of names being thrown about but no announced opponent. Davis vs. Garcia may depend on the outcome of the current charges against Davis for domestic violence.

The show in Wembley Arena on 28 January will be topped by Artur Beterbiev defending his IBF/WBC/WBO light heavy titles against Anthony Yarde with Artem Dalakian putting up his WBA flyweight title against Costa Rican David Jimenez. Other fights to look forward to include Emanuel Navarrete defending his WBO Featherweight title against Australian Liam Wilson in Glendale on 3 February, Rey Vargas defending his WBC super featherweight title against O’Shaquie Foster in San Antonio on 11 February and also Jeremias Ponce (30-0) vs. Subriel Matias (18-1) for the vacant IBF super lightweight belt in Minneapolis on 25 February and Lawrence Okolie puts his WBO cruiserweight title on the line against unbeaten New Zealander David Light.

Sad to read of the death Gerrie Coetzee “The Boksburg Bomber” from lung cancer at the age of 67. Gerrie became the first South African to win a world heavyweight title when he knocked out Michael Dokes in the tenth round of their fight in Ohio in September 1983 for the WBA title. He had failed in two previous title shots against John Tate in Pretoria-a fight that drew a crowd of 86,000-and Mike Weaver in Sun City. These were all WBA title fights as this was the era of apartheid in South Africa and South African boxers were barred from fighting for the WBC titles- the only other active sanctioning body at the time. Coetzee lost the title to Greg Page in his first defence in December 1984. His career tapered off after that with Frank Bruno knocking out Coetzee in one round in 1986 and he retired in 1997 after losing to Iran Barkley. He faced a plethora of rated heavyweights including Leon Spinks, Renaldo Snipes, Scott Ledoux, Stan Ward, Pinklon Thomas, James Tillis and his domestic wins over Kallie Knoetze and Mike Schutte were huge draws in South Africa. He had a 33-6-1 record and after retiring was a successful promoter. RIP Gerrie.

In the same vein condolences to the great Azumah Nelson who lost his mother Comfort Atwei Quarcoo earlier this month.

The WBC’s Bridgerweight division just seems to stagger along the latest blow to its struggle for recognition is the injury to title holder Oscar Rivas who suffered a detached retina in training. It is strange that whilst sanctioning bodies tend to jump at any chance to invent or copy new titles none of the other bodies have adopted the division. With the old eight weight divisions having extended in male boxing to seventeen you might feel that the IBF, WBA and WBO have missed an opportunity.
Interesting to hear rumours that the World Boxing Super Series may be resurrected. They certainly produced some interesting fights and helped to make Naoya Inoue’s name but the last series at cruiserweight just dragged on and any titles it unified the sanctioning bodies quickly split again. With Inoue relinquishing the four belts there is a vacancy there but the sanctioning bodies will quickly fill the void and the division is short real quality to fire the intertest of the WBSS.

Box Rec’s heavyweight rating show five of the top spots filled by British fighters: Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Joe Joyce, Dillian Whyte and Daniel Dubois. After that it tails off with Derek Chisora at No 11 the only other British fighter in the top 20. Fabio Wardley at No 24 looks certain to climb but there is another British fighter, Moses Itauma, being tipped to have a big part to play in the future of the division. The 18-year-old southpaw won both the World and European Youth titles in 2022 and before that was also English and European champion at both Schools and Junior level. He is quick with good movement and fast hands to go with serious power. He is of Slovakian antecedents and his brother Karol is an unbeaten light-heavyweight. Moses will have his first pro fight on the previously mentioned undercard to Artur Beterbiev vs. Anthony Yarde at Wembley Stadium on January 28.

Irish fight fans are on edge. It seemed a cut and dried case that the much anticipated return between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano would take place in Croke Park, Dublin in May. However, whilst Eddie Hearn recently confirmed the bout would be in Ireland, he did not confirm the 82,000 capacity Croke Park would be the venue. It shows how far female boxing has evolved, how big a star Taylor has become and how massive the demand for a return match with Serrano is. Serrano has to get past 15-1 Erika Cruz in Madison Square Garden on 4 February by which time Croke Park may have been confirmed as the venue for the Serrano fight. Serran’s fight in MSG will see five titles on the line Serrano’s IBF/IBO/WBC /WBO titles and the WBA belt held by Cruz. Mexican Cruz deserves respect as she has twice beaten Canadian Jelena Mrdjenovich. This is a “title heavy” show as Alycia Baumgardner puts her five super feather belts up for grabs against France’s Elham Mekhaled.

Another clash with female titles on the line will see Californian Seniesa Estada defending her WBA and WBC minimum titles against German Tina Rupprecht in Fresno on 25 March.

Some boxing history will be made by the fight in Auckland New Zealand on 27 May when New Zealanders Lani Daniels and Alrie Meleisea clash for the vacant IBF female heavyweight title. There have been three previous female title holders from New Zealand two of the of Māori descent but this will be the first time two Māori boxers have met in world title fight. Both are relative novices with Daniels having a 6-2-2 record and Meleisea 6-1-1. There is also a contrast in past fight weights with the 5’6 ½” Daniels being a former New Zealand middleweight champion whilst the 5’7” Meleisea’s lowest recorded weight is 196lbs. Whoever wins will make history for Māori boxers.

The WBA leave me speechless (again). How can they possibly rate 47-year-old Sergio Martinez No 2 in their middleweight ratings. After being out of the ring for six years he suddenly appeared in their ratings for November 2020 after beating 15-6 Jose Fandino. Since then, he has faced modest opposition and in his two fights last year beat fighters rated Nos 350 and 748 by Box Rec.


Yet another twist to the different versions of boxing tournaments is scheduled to be launched in Germany later this month. Master Boxing will be for boxers over 40 or for first- time fighters, male or female over 30 who are not or no longer allowed to take part in normal boxing. They have to belong to a member club of the German DBV body and have a current medical clearance. Currently the format is 3 x 2 minute rounds,12oz. gloves, head protection and if a boxer is knocked down twice the fight is stopped. It is difficult to see any attractions in over 40’s fighting 3 x 2 minute rounds but then people will pay to watch Jake Paul so in the words of ColePorter-Anything Goes!

About the Author



Born in Scotland, Eric Armit started working with Boxing News magazine in the UK in the late 1960’s initially doing records for their Boxing News Annual and compiling World, European and Commonwealth ratings for the magazine. He wrote his first feature article for Boxing News in 1973 and wrote a “World Scene” weekly column for the magazine from the late 1970’s until 2004. Armit wrote a monthly column for Boxing Digest in the USA and contributed pieces to magazines in Mexico, Italy, Australia, Spain, Argentina and other countries. Armit now writes a Weekly Report covering every major fight around the world and a bi-weekly Snips & Snipes column plus occasional general interest articles with these being taken up by boxing sites around the world. He was a member of the inaugural WBC Ratings Committee and a technical advisor to the EBU Ratings Committee and was consulted by John McCain’s research team when they were drafting the Ali Act. He is a Director and former Chairman of the Commonwealth Boxing Council. Armit has been nominated to the International Boxing Hall of Fame the past two years (2019 and 2020) to which he said, “Being on the list is an unbelievably huge honour.”


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eric Armit.


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