Saturday, July 30, 2011

WBC Gets Handsy Again, Strips Bradley

Photo: AP/Carlos Osorio

The idiocy and self-serving shadiness of alphabet organizations in boxing isn't only nothing new, but it's been beaten into our routine so steadfastly that their weekly press releases describing ratings maneuvering don't garner much more than shrugs.

When we forget to dole out the kudos and pats on the back to presidents, ambassadors and notary boys of alphabet sanctioning orgs, they remind us with updates from conventions and celebrations at resorts in places like Cancun, Manila and Panama City. 

Journalists and boxing heads jot down their lists of issues in boxing that demand attention quite frequently. And when they do, the blood-sucking sanctioning organizations are somewhere near or at the top much more often than not. 

They're like a monarchy ruling over an ocean of serfs who occasionally stage the odd uprising - sometimes the peasants are able to sting the ruling class with small rebellions, but by and large, their will be done.


It's not as if anyone familiar with boxing is unaware of its checkered past and muddy present. If the addiction to the superb highs boxing affords weren't so strong, these groups of organized hobgoblins would have chased many of us away long ago. 

An abridged list of offenses:

     - The World Boxing Association's constant pandering to Don King and his promotion outfit, Don King Productions - especially as it pertained to face-clawingly abhorrent heavyweight John Ruiz.

     - The World Boxing Council (prodded along by Golden Boy Promotions) staging a mock trial to argue whether or not Saul "Canelo" Alvarez deserved a shot at the WBC 154 lb. title, a blatant finger to fans disguised as folly.

     - The WBA double-dipping by sanctioning a defense of a "regular" title held by Celestino Caballero against Elvis Mejia, and a fight between Luis Perez and Ricardo Cordoba for an interim version of the same belt, on the same night...on the exact same card. That's balls. 

     - Creating new interim champions to keep the sanctioning fees a'flowing, even though established champions have met mandatory requirements (e.g., WBC sanctioning Toshiaki Nishioka vs. Napapol Kiatisakchokchai for the interim 122 lb. title, despite the fact that champion Israel Vazquez had just bled all over the ring to retain it less than 4 months earlier in a rubbermatch with Rafa Marquez).

     - An apparent European bias from the WBO.

     - WBC arbitrarily deciding to enforce rematches for controversial fights like Sam Peter vs. James Toney I, but not Andre Berto vs. Luis Collazo. 

     - The Internation Boxing Federation being outed by the feds for extortion, accepting money in exchange for rankings throughout the 1980's and 1990's. Every major promoter at the time was implicated, from Main Events and Cedric Kushner, to Top Rank and Don King.

     - The WBA allowing a situation where super flyweight Rafael Concepcion stopped AJ Banal for the interim title, yet sanctioning Nobuo Nashiro vs. Kohei Kono for a vacant version of the same belt 2 months later.

     - The IBF being headed by the inept Marian Muhamad, ex-wife of swindling promoter Murad Muhammad, whose checks are bouncier than a Baywatch episode.

     - Constantly creating new titles, such as the "champion emeritus," "super champion" and "silver belt" positions, clearly to harvest sanctioning fees from guys who want nothing more than to be known as a top fighter.

And so on.

Every so often though, they do something that's pathetic enough it merits serious attention. 

Perhaps most pertinent to our current situation is the WBC backstabbing light heavyweight Graciano Rocchigiani by taking away the title he won against Michael Nunn, citing what they called "typographical errors" in referring to Rocchigiani as a champion. Instead, the 'BC basically gave the more marketable Roy Jones Jr. his belt back, despite having vacated the belt not long before the sanctioning organization collected a sanctioning fee for Rocchigiani-Nunn. 

Rocchigiani was awarded a $31 million judgment for the incident. 

But as if the initial hoodwink weren't enough, the WBC then avoided having to pay out by filing for bankruptcy one day before payment to the ex-champ was due - a proper mess.

Earlier this week, the WBC stripped 140 lb. champion Timothy Bradley of its trademark green belt. 

In relieving Tim "Desert Storm" Bradley of his title, the WBC have created a quandary that's difficult to sift through - and it's not the first time Bradley has had the pleasure of playing victim to the Mexico-based gang. 

August of 2009 saw Tim Bradley, 27-0 (11 KO) and 1 No Contest, elect to face former lightweight champ and drama magnet Nate Campbell rather than his mandatory WBC challenger Devon Alexander, a decision generally appreciated by hardcore fans of the sport. Jose Sulaiman, president of the WBC, promptly sent out angry press releases, declaring that Tim Bradley would never fight for a WBC title again. 

Fast forward to Bradley's last fight against Alexander in January of this year, and it was "forgiven, forgotten." At least as long as a sanctioning fee was involved. The two tangled (literally) on Jan 29th to unify the same WBC and WBO titles that Bradley had already unified against Kendall Holt prior to fighting Campbell. 

As convoluted as we've already gotten, the WBC have gone and thrown us a loop by announcing that the newly-looted title will be up for grabs in what should be an absolute head-smash between Erik Morales and Jorge Rodrigo Barrios - the ultimate irony being that while the aggravating WBC made the wrong call with Bradley, it's making the right call in allowing a guaranteed bloodbath like Morales-Barrios to be made, simply by attaching its name. 

Further, and in all fairness to the rest of the division, Bradley has been "inactive" at best, fighting at junior welterweight only three times in the last two years. And Timmy's insistence on chasing the Mayweather and Pacquiao paydays haven't earned him any new fans, unfortunately. 

The abysmal crowd showing against Alexander at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan showed that new fans is exactly what he needs. 

Conversely, popular, crowd-pleasing character Erik "El Terrible" Morales will be granted the opportunity to become the first Mexican fighter to have won world titles in four different weight divisions as a result of the WBC's decision to sanction the bout - an obvious motivation by an organization that has been a favorite of Mexican fighters for years. 

That's a lot of unnecessary sketchiness for a supposed "non-profit" organization. 

One would think half-a-century's worth of nonsense from the WBC would be plenty.


In a surprising show of solidarity, junior welterweight pseudo-contender Mike Alvarado dropped his WBC Continental Americas title in the wake of the WBC's decision to strip Bradley.

Alvarado's act should be respected and appreciated, much as Marco Antonio Barrera's refusal of the WBC belt after winning a rematch with Erik Morales in 2002 was at the time. But while gutsy, it's simply a small ripple in a big pond. 

Barrera's refusal of the WBC title was a legitimate concern to the organization, as the Mexican was a bona fide ticket-seller at the time, and still a pound-for-pound level player. Alvarado is a solid guy whose status is hovering at the less-than-world-class level. 

The grim reality of boxing is that there will always be a fighter willing to sell souls for a chance to be called "champ," and not just as a pugilistic formality. 

In this case, souls are manifested in the form of exorbitant sanctioning fees, rules and, in some cases, imposed conduct.  

And the worm-ridden zombie band of fight-organizing thieves plays on. 


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