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Snips and Snipes 31 May 2022: Olympics Medals No Guarantee of Success in the Pro Ranks

Amateur medals are no guarantee of success in the professional ranks but many of today’s top fighters have built on their success in the amateurs to become stars of the professionals ring. Fighters such as Olek Usyk, Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Gennady Golovkin, Joshua Buatsi, Ryota Murata, Vasyl Lomachenko, Errol Spence, Josh Taylor, Robson Conceicao, Shakur Stevenson and many more moved over with bags of medals. Winning a gold, silver or bronze medal at a world level tournament such as the Olympic Games, the World Championships, the Pan American Games or European Championships marks a boxer out as one to follow in the professionals. So how about a guy who won ten gold medals or one who won six or two who won five gold medals each or another who won six gold medals and beat hot property Keyshawn Davis four times. You would think that if any of these fighters turned professional there would be spotlights and trumpet fanfares galore for their first professional fight. But no all but one of these fighters had their first professional fights on the same night in Aguascalientes, a town in central Mexico famous for its Spanish colonial buildings and National Museum of Death, and they slipped in so far under the radar they only just registered on sonar.

Cuba had said it was going to let its boxers turn professional. I thought they meant some middle level performers or toothless veterans but no. The show in Aguascalientes featured: Julio Cesar la Cruz (Olympics: two Gold, World five Gold one Bronze, PanAmerican Games three Gold), Lazaro Alvarez (Olympics: three Bronze, World: three Gold two Silver, Pan Americans: three Gold), Roniel Iglesias (Olympics: two Gold, one Bronze. World: one Gold one Silver, Pan American Games: two Gold and one Silver), Arlen Lopez (Olympics: two Gold, World: one Gold, Pan American two Gold) and relative newcomer Yoenlis Hernandez who won a Gold medal at the 2021 World Championships. Andy Cruz was to have fought but a substitute filled in. Cruz has won six Gold medals one in the Olympics, three at the World Championships and two at the PanAmerican Games and he defeated Keyshawn Davis four times in the amateurs. Iglesias is 33, la Cruz 32, Alvarez 31 and Lopez 29 so they have left it late to turn pro but Cruz is 26 and Hernandez 24 so they have plenty of potential. Adapting to professional boxing has proved difficult for some Cubans so it will be interesting to see how these jewels in the crown perform.

We now have a date of 17 September for Saul Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin III. I can’t help feeling that as with Floyd Mayweather Jr v. Manny Pacquiao it has come a couple of years too late. Manny was still a force but not as much as he would have been if they had met each other in 2019 instead of 2022. Golovkin is 40 and stuttered at the start of his fight with Ryota Murata in April but who can tell what seesawing in weight and sixty-one fights has taken out of Alvarez.

There are still not yet enough female boxers around. It is almost a case of too many titles and too few boxers. The top strata is shallower than in male boxing but there is an upside to that. The very best have fewer big money options so unlike with the male boxers putting together the big fights is easier. We have just had the great fight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano and we won’t have to wait long for the return as neither can make anywhere near as much money fighting anyone else. It also seems that the grudge fight between Savannah Marshall and Claressa Shields will take place in the UK in September. Shields will put up her IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight titles and Marshall her WBO. There is extra incentive for Shields than the just the titles. She was 64-1 as an amateur with her only defeat coming against Marshall in the preliminaries of the 2012 World Female Championships so revenge will be right at the top of her agenda.

On the subject of female boxing I was at the Glasgow show on 13 May where Hannah Rankin retained her WBA and IBO Female titles with a tenth round stoppage. It was a fiercely competitive but not overly punishing fight and her challenger Alejandra Ayala only came apart in the tenth with the referee making a timely stoppage. As it was the last fight I was collecting my things and realised that in those few seconds whilst I did that Ayala had shown signs of distress and with admirable speed was already fitted with an oxygen mask and was receiving medical attention. After a few minutes she was on her feet and receiving the applause of a relieved crowd and left the ring. Later we learned she had been taken to hospital and operated on for a bleed to the brain and was put in an induced coma but was subsequently out of the coma and beginning her recovery. This was an WBA and IBO title fight in Britain and I was astounded and angered to read that at a press conference in Mexico WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman announced that the WBC would be “carrying out a formal investigation into what happened to Alejandra Ayala”. The whole incident had nothing whatsoever to do with the WBC. It was not a WBC fight. The WBC have no jurisdiction in Britain other than for a WBC fight and as far as I know although there are a number of British in senior positions in the WBC Mr Sulaiman did not have the courtesy to inform them or indeed the British Board of his intentions and the Board only found out through a posting on the internet. That is a disgraceful discourtesy and an arrogance to feel he has a brief to police boxing around the world if it involves a Mexican boxer. Concern is understandable and admirable but there is a right way and a wrong way and even by suggesting an investigation he is giving birth to the idea he does not trust those who actually had responsibility of care for Alejandra Ayala before during and after the fight to do the job properly. Disgraceful and insulting to the BBB of C and to the promoter.

Since I am on my WBC high horse-it makes a change from kicking the WBA a dead horse-I see that the WBC are labelling George Kambosos vs. Devin Haney as a WBC unification fight. Haney holds their title and Kambosos is their Franchise champion although it was originally stated that a Franchise champion is "a special designation and status" which the WBC may bestow to a current WBC world champion…… Kambosos has never been a WBC champion!
Poor Mahmoud Charr. At one time he was holder of the WBA secondary title but Don King engineered his administrative loss of that title and he was then designated “Champion in Recess” and now it turns out the recess had a trapdoor and he has disappeared all together. There is another Don King/Worst Boxing Association racket being engineered. On the undercard to Trevor Bryan vs. Daniel Dubois for the WBA secondary heavyweight title King is putting two of his heavyweights together. Jonathan Guidry who the WBA conspired with King to get a shot at Trevor Bryan, against King’s latest bad joke on boxing Dacarree Scott the WBA No 15 who is 7-0 and rated No 127 by BoxRec. If Scott beats now unrated Guidry King will push for him to fight the winner of Bryan vs. Dubois and don’t be surprised if it happens. The WBA have hit the bottom but still have their spade handy.

I was surprised to read of Alexey Tischenko outpointing Nehomar Cermeno but thankfully it turned out to be an exhibition-I hope. Russian Tischenko is now 38 and has not fought for eleven years. He was one of the most successful amateur boxers of the early 2000’s winning Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008, World in 2005 and European in 2006. Let’s hope it is just a brief flirtation
Some fights coming up. June 18 in Houston Pole Maciej Sulecki will challenge Jermall Charlo for the WBO middleweight title. Former WBO bantamweight title holder Zolani Tete will return to action on 2 July in London in a challenge to Commonwealth super bantamweight champion Jason Cunningham.

In the show in Washington DC topped by Anthony Peterson the bell was tolled for Gary Russell Snr who died on May 23. Gary trained his four sons and they all won gold medals at the Golden Gloves National Championships-a unique achievement. His legacy to boxing are his sons Gary Jr the former WBC featherweight champion and Gary Antonio and Gary Antuanne both unbeaten as pros. RIP Gary. The show was actually promoted by 34-0-1 Dusty Hernandez Harrison who is hoping to revive boxing in the capitol.

Mexican super lightweight Omar Aguilar, 23, has an impressive looking record at 24-0 with 23 wins by KO/TKO. No big names but he has got the job done and is now aiming to campaign in the USA. Just from a record without any real measurement of his worth it is a question along the lines of “Is it Grenada I see or only Asbury Park?” Will he be another Julio Cesar Chavez or will his bubble burst whichever happens it will be interesting and worth following. There is that contrast between the medal laden Golden Boys you see coming a mile off and the little known small hall fighter who pays his dues and makes it the hard way. I love them all.

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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