Mauricio Sulaiman Column: Boxing ‘the black sheep of sports’ – Perception v Reality

Mauricio Sulaiman 25/10/2016

Boxing is a unique sport. It has so many differences in comparison with all other mainstream sports and, unfortunately, most differences are often to the detriment of our beloved sport. Boxing, as I see it, is the “black sheep” of sports, the “ugly duckling.” This is how I reached the title of this week’s column – Perception vs. Reality.

NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, WWE, and UFC are the leagues of the mainstream sports in the USA (but are the same all over the world). These “leagues” are, in essence, MultiDollar Corporations which own the business side of their corresponding sport. They control TV rights, sponsorship, gates and all sources of income while at the same time regulating the sport. Boxing is a completely different story. The WBC, which regulates the sport, has no intervention in the business side of the sport. Independent promoters are the ones in charge of the business and commercial activity; each boxing show is, in fact, a completely individual event.

Boxing is regulated by an authorized local governmental organization, which serves as the local boxing commission responsible to administer the events whenever a promoter registers to stage a boxing card within their jurisdiction. Boxing, unlike any other sport, is subject to the “Muhammad Ali Boxing Act,” a set of laws that were implemented to target the “black sheep.” Why? Because perception says boxing is corrupt and dirty.

MMA is not under the Muhammad Ali laws. To promote an MMA fight is 1,000 times easier than promoting a boxing event. Boxing has done a great job keeping the principles of administration clean. If the “league” controls the business, then the conflicts of interest would turn our sport into what Perception says it is but, in fact, Reality is different. Boxing is honorable, it is regulated and is not corrupt.

I watched last night a fight between a former WBC world champion and an 18 year-old “rookie.” Wow! The rookie, Eduardo “Rocky” Hernandez (pictured left) knocked out Victor “Vikingo” Terrazas in just two rounds. This made me think of another unjust fact that happens in our sport. If a fighter is not featured on TV, he is usually absolutely ignored and disregarded. How many times have I seen fans and press ignore a tough, good fighter simply because he or she is unknown?

Let’s recall Manny Pacquiao’s history. Manny was WBC flyweight champion, then moved up to super bantamweight and was WBC International champion and was very highly-regarded in the Philippines and Asia, but completely disregarded in the world market until one day, by pure luck, he was contracted to fill in as a replacement on a pay-per-view show headlined by Mike Tyson. Julio Cesar Chavez was unknown to the world until he knocked out Mario “Azabache” Martinez to win the WBC super featherweight title with a 44-0 record, or Azumah Nelson, who came into Madison Square Garden to face Salvador Sanchez and gave him the fight of a lifetime.

This is not coincidence. It is merely Perception vs. Reality. These three fighters are just an example of what happens all over the world. It is the WBC world structure that works silently through its platform; the countries affiliated to the Continental Federations execute the plans put together by all of the members of the boxing world. Affiliated championship committees set a platform for developing regional talent, competition with championship rules, and a higher level of competition. The Perception was that “this fighter doesn’t deserve a title shot, he is unknown.” The Reality was that these three warriors were ready to make it big in the world stage. There are so many out there just waiting for that opportunity to enter the elite world of TV exposure. Eduardo “Rocky” Hernandez might be the next one in line .

This past week was special. Luxury Swiss watchmaker Hublot presented the new WBC Champions watch in Mexico City. Roy Jones Jr., Roberto Duran, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, and Julio Cesar Chavez were the ambassadors joining me, as well as some great champions from Mexico, to witness Ricardo Guadalupe in this memorable event. Hublot’s vision and generosity set the platform to comply with my father’s dream to have a fund to aid fighters in need, and today the Jose Sulaiman Champions Fund is a reality and is administered by the Nevada Community Foundation in Nevada.

On Friday, Mauricio Pintor, nephew of the legendary Lupe Pintor, returned to the ring after a year inprisonment. The same card featured Oswaldo Razon, a former inmate who spent 2 ½ years in prison, and Juan Jose Rivera, who spent 10 years in a prison cell. This card is an example to show the world how boxing is a direct way to find a new life, to search for a second opportunity in life. The WBC program with the National Security Bureau is a reality and will be of great importance for years to come.

I would like to congratulate Francisco Valcarcel, who has been reelected as WBO president. We continue to prepare for our annual convention and the so many great things that will happen in Florida during our annual gathering.

And as a finishing note … our super middleweight world champion Badou Jack visited the WBC office in Los Angeles. This photo needs no words of explanation. This is the WBC FAMILY.