Inquiring minds want to know… What has happened to that promised WBC super tournament?
Boxing pundits accustomed to the monthly Friday Night Fights, an initiative of President of the Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC), Peter Abdool, would have noted that there was a lapse in the monthly feature and the signing ceremony for the September edition of the programme that was supposed to have taken place at the Banks DIH Thirst Park Boardroom was cancelled leaving fans speculating of the future of the initiative.
When the card started some three years ago, the idea was to provide constant activity for local pugilists which in turn would have served as a launching pad for international acclaim. Indeed the card proved to be useful for the local pugilists who, before its advent, were starving for regular activity; the initiative removed those barriers.
It was indeed refreshing to note that quite a few boxers emerged out of the programme with the Caribbean Boxing Federation (CABOFE) title which, according to the organizers, was the catalyst to the acquisition of prestigious world accolades. Initially, the boxers earned just about $50,000 for a four round encounter and many of them enjoyed substantial increases after they would have won CABOFE titles. By dint of that, the initiative was indeed serving a good purpose.
The crowd support was somewhat disappointing but the promoters were able to cushion this blow through the support rendered by several corporate entities the likes of Hand in Hand Insurance, Courts Furniture Company, Castrol, Ansa McAl and a few others whose financial input reduced the burdens from the promoters shoulders. Such a concerted effort resulted in the heightened and qualitative activity for the boxers.
Undoubtedly, the emergence of Simeon Hardy, Edmond DeClou, Elton Dharry, Kwesi Jones and Clive Atwell among others, endorsed the view that our boxers only needed the requisite fights to be able to make the necessary conversion to the international scene.
The most notable achievement of the initiative had to be the grand news that the boxers that had distinguished themselves after winning CABOFE titles would have earned lucrative world ratings and subsequently move on to engage opponents from among the many confederations, under the auspices of the World Boxing Council (WBC), in a tournament, specially arranged in commemoration of the WBC 50th Anniversary.
We were told that this tournament was scheduled for sometime this month and since there have been no further releases from the subject organization, one would have imagined that the boxers are preparing for such engagements.
Instead, the nation was greeted with the ‘news’ from another section of the media that the boxers have clinched world rankings among the top 40 boxers in the world. Surprisingly, they have been rated by the very WBC, the body that is supposedly celebrating its 50th anniversary and under which they were supposed to have been battling among their counterparts of the other confederations. Confusion reigns!
Ages ago, when Guyanese pugilists were in the doghouse battling unsuccessfully for that coveted world title a number 10 ranking was a highly prestigious feat. Even then, securing such a lucrative spot hardly guaranteed the boxer a title shot since those were the days of undisputed champions where one fighter ruled the roost under the WBC, World Boxing Association (WBA) and the then lesser, International Boxing Federation (IBF).
Lennox Blackmore, Patrick Ford and to a lesser extent, Terrence Ali could attest to the challenges associated with being among the top ten yet unable to clinch a world title fight.
For the record, all three pugilists hung up their gloves after suffering losses to top fighters the likes of Salvadore ‘Baby Face Assassin’ Sanchez, Aaron Pryor and in the case of Ali, Julio Caesar Chavez, Jose Luis Ramirez and Harry Arroyo. Boxing buffs would remember, oh so well, the many stumbling blocks that precluded Guyanese boxers from achieving a world title.
Andrew ‘Sixhead’ Lewis’ 2001 world title victory over James Page netted him the WBA welterweight crown and effectively broke the jinx to the extent that several other locals were able to emulate his feats. For the record those locals are Wayne ‘Big Truck’ Braithwaite, Vivian Harris, Gary St Clair and Gwendolyn O’Neil. This signaled a new era in the sport.
Just when the local fighters managed to change the status quo, something else was happening; the world title was then miniaturized and a boxer’s prowess was gauged in several departments including the best pound for pound fighter and most exciting among others. Lewis was literally bulldozed to defend against Ricardo Mayorga after an initial no contest decision with the former fighter and a fall out with Don King.
That verdict is now history. Vivian Harris was offered a highly paying fight against Ricky Hatton but after botched negotiations over the purse, he opted for a bout against the lesser known Carlos Mausa. The result of that bout is history and it could be reasonably assumed that it was Harris’ swan song. All of the other fighters, except O’Neil have since lost their titles and once again the acquisition of the accolade is posing numerous challenges.
At any other time the news that our boxers have broken into the top 40 rankings would have triggered celebrations but in this day and age of 6 times champions in different divisions, a low spot among the top 40 world beaters is hardly something to gloat about. Instead, the ‘news’ should have prompted serious queries of the promised lucrative rating in the WBC, while officials should explain away the stony silence of the promised ratings and subsequent lucrative fights and purses that these very boxers were promised after engagement in the WBC 50th Anniversary Boxing Extravaganza.
The boxers should have demanded an explanation but in their reticence ‘Sports Microscope’ begs an explanation of the relevant authorities.