Mauricio Sulaiman column: Boxing belongs to the fans!
After a memorable month of September in which boxing provided tremendous fights all over the world, we can only look towards the future and expect to see those special fights be made a reality, because that is what the fans of this great sport deserve. The fans must get what boxing can provide. I trust all involved parties will work together and make then happen.
On September 10th, two boxing cards took boxing to the highest levels as four undefeated champions fought in sold out arenas. GGG defeated Kell Brook in London´s O2 Arena, and Chocolatito conquered his fourth world title in a great fight against Carlos Cuadras at The Forum in Los Angeles. On September 16th, a doubleheader in Osaka, Japan, saw Hosumi Hasegawa win his third world championship against Hugo Ruiz, and the longest reigning champion of today – Shinsuke Yamanaka – got up from the canvas to knock out former champion Anselmo Moreno in a highly anticipated rematch. On September 17th, Canelo Alvarez fought in front of 50,000+ fans at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium, and on September 24th Jorge Linares had to win the last two rounds to defeat Anthony Crolla in Manchester, England.
Each of these fights has a story behind it, with many things leading to secure them, but in the end, boxing was the winner. The fighters, who are the ones who put everything on the line, conquered the glory, made very good money, and the fans – who are the ones that own the sport – got to see great action fights. It took promoters to work with each other to make them happen – K2 with Matchroom, K2 with Teiken and Promociones del Pueblo, Teiken with Promociones del Pueblo, Matchroom with Golden Boy Promotions and Teiken. It took sanctioning organizations to work together with exemplary cooperation, flexibility and reciprocity. The British Boxing Board of Control worked with the WBC and IBF, The California State Athletic Commission and the Japan Boxing Commission worked with the WBC in an exemplary manner, and then again the BBBC worked with the WBC and WBA.
GGG has been facing a difficult situation for some years. Many fighters have taken a different route, for whatever reason, and Golovkin has been avoided by countless fighters. The fight the world is waiting to see if obviously GGG versus Canelo, and I am certain it will happen eventually. GGG has several open options for important activity, and this is yet another time to show unity and reciprocity within boxing organizations. The WBC has proposed a series of fights to find a common mandatory contender for the unified champion. It will be a matter of time and for each organization to try to handle each one’s mandatory commitments.
Chocolatito and Carlos Cuadras – wow, what a fight! Chocolatito becomes the first fighter from Nicaragua to win world titles in four different weight divisions. They have opened the interest for the lower weight classes just like Chiquita Gonzalez and Michael Carbajal did 20 years ago! I have spoken to both of them and there is only one thing they both want – a rematch. They both want it and the fans want it.
Yamanaka is the longest reigning champion of today: he has defended his WBC bantamweight title 11 times in his five-year reign as champion. He is looking for a major fight , a major challenge. Hasegawa became the first Japanese fighter to ever conquer world titles in three different weight classes, and has his mandatory challenge next.
Jorge Linares won in spectacular manner against WBA champion Anthony Crolla. Linares was signed to fight his mandatory title defense against Dejan Zlaticanin, but sustained an injury which required surgery and was placed as champion in recess. Zlaticanin signed to fight for the WBC lightweight title and after several postponements finally won by spectacular knockout against Franklin Mamani. While there were those postponements, a great opportunity was presented for Linares and for boxing fans to see a great match. The WBC fully supported to sanction the title unification between Linares and Crolla and we all witnessed a sensational match. Now Linares and Zlaticanin will fight for the WBC undisputed lightweight championship next.
It is the obligation for all those involved in the administration of boxing to fully cooperate and to be proactive and make things happen. Boxing needs to eradicate mismatches. Boxing needs to see the great fights happen. Promoters, managers, organizations, TV networks, and boxers need to get it right and do everything in their power to make the best fights happen. There are great fights to be made, and 2017 will be as exciting as can be.
Boxing is a great sport, the greatest noble art that gives opportunities to those who have to endure very difficult times to become someone in life. Long live Boxing !!!