As I was about to board my flight from Miami back home to Mexico City, my phone rang. It was Dr. Margaret Goodman from VADA, and she notified me that an adverse finding was confirmed on an Alexander Povetkin antidoping test for an anabolic steroid, just 20 hours before the scheduled fight versus Bermane Stiverne for the WBC interim heavyweight title.
As I sat down on the plane and explained this to my wife, Christiane, I was feeling numb. I was shocked, and the great feeling I was enjoying just minutes before due to great success of our convention was completely overshadowed by the terrible news. Then my wife said, “What a statement this is for the WBC! This proves the greatness of the Clean Boxing Program and the commitment to protect the fighters and the sport.”
My wife helped me understand something I was not seeing, and today I stand tall as we are taking great steps and there is no turning back. The WBC lost two heavyweight fights in 2016. We have spent much time, effort and money to try to resolve the multiple problems which have risen from the Wilder-Povetkin and now Stiverne-Povetkin matters. But safety has no compromise. The WBC-VADA Clean Boxing Program is a reality, and is here to stay and change the way boxing is. There is so much to do, and we are moving forward with the cooperation of many persons in the world, especially the fighters themselves.
WBC CONVENTION OPENING CEREMONY
Our 54th annual convention at the Diplomat Resort & Spa opened on Monday, December 12, in spectacular fashion. Vitaly Klitschko, who retired as reigning heavyweight champion of the WBC and is now the Mayor of Kiev, Ukraine, joined the mayors of Miami, Hollywood, and Broward as special official guests, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin was the team captain to represent current champions, and Evander Holyfield was the convention ambassador representing former champions. The opening ceremony, attended by 1200 persons, was memorable.
Marvelous Marvin Hagler, one of the greatest middleweight champions of all time, presents current reigning middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin his trophy as “team captain” of the WBC Green Team of Champions.
Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield won the WBC heavyweight championship by knocking out Buster Douglas. Riddick Bowe relinquished the WBC title before he fought Holyfield in their rematch, so Holyfiield did not win the WBC belt in that second fight. A local New Jersey court ruled that Tyson could not defend his WBC title against Holyfield, so when Evander knocked out Tyson, he did not earn the green belt once again. In reality, Holyfield won the WBC heavyweight championship three times, so it was highly emotional to see Lennox Lewis and Vitaly Klitschko present to Evander his well deserved WBC championship green and gold belts .
Women’s boxing has been a top priority of the WBC, and our program is highly successful all over the world. 2017 will be historic for female fighters, as USA television opens their doors to feature women, and it will certainly be the new era of Women’s Boxing. The WBC awarded “The Best of 3 Generations” – Laila Ali, the greatest ever, Christy Martin, the icon of the 90s, and today’s future star, two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields.
The Fight of the Year was also awarded during the opening ceremony. Experts and members of boxing media from around the world voted to select the best action of the WBC of 2016. Fight of the Year was a difficult category with Chocolatito Gonzalez vs. Carlos Cuadras, Jorge Linares vs. Anthony Crolla, and the winner, Francisco Vargas vs. Orlando Salido. Tecate Vice President Gustavo Guerra joined me to award the special WBC TECATE belt to both warriors who gave the best fight of 2016 to fans around the world.
There were so many topics addressed during the convention, and a working plan will be in place to execute through the 9 affiliated Continental Federations, with the day to day participation of the WBC Executive Committee, committee members, and the so many members throughout the world. We will be eventually compile the complete report on the convention. Some of the top priorities are:
WBC-VADA Clean Boxing Program: Clearidium performed training to certify doping collecting agents with great success during the convention, and a full report of CBP was presented, including the plan for 2017.
Women’s Boxing: The third annual convention was confirmed, and the Diamond Belt tournament in the flyweight division was set as an example of positive action to promote women in boxing. 2017 will mark the new era, and the WBC is proud to have lead this program worldwide.
Trainers committee created: A panel of world-class trainers discussed several matters of importance, including weight control, nutrition, sparring monitoring, when to stop a fight, etc. The WBC has created the committee to be part of the WBC technical committee with the acceptance of Abel Sanchez, Eddie Mustafa, Stacy McKinley, Joe Gallagher, and Paulie Malignaggi.
Ratings and mandatories: The ratings of all divisions were discussed on the open floor, as well as the mandatories for 2017, with extensive input from the interested parties and with absolute transparency. The full report will be available with quarterly updates.
The Best of 2016 was awarded during the Champions Awards Dinner:
Fight of the Year: Francisco Vargas vs. Orlando Salido
Fighter of the Year: Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez
KO of the year: Deontay Wilder vs. Artur Spilka
Most dramatic fight of the year: Shinsuke Yamanaka vs. Anselmo Moreno
Comeback of the Year: Mikey Garcia
Revelation of the Year: Jermell Charlo
Prospect of the Year: Joseph Diaz Jr.
Event of the Year: Gennady Golovkin vs. Kell Brook
Deontay Wilder receives his trophy for the “KO of the Year” award (above left). Shinsuke Yamanaka (above right) receives his trophy for “Most Dramatic Fight of the Year” against Anselmo Moreno, which was presented by Mr. Juan Carlos Tapia (above right). Mr. Tapia who also received a Guinness World Records certificate as the longest weekly boxing program, on the air for over 42 years of service to the sport.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER A BIG HIT, AS ALWAYS
Floyd was present and the world knew it. Floyd visited the Tecate Boxing Experience during the day and arrived to the Champions Awards dinner in typical Money Team fashion. He greeted everyone, signed autographs, and took pictures with hundreds during the night and was proud to receive three Guinness World Records certificates for his many accomplishments and established world records in boxing: the record for pay-per-view sales in a boxing career with over 1 billion; the greatest success in a boxing event in PPV sales, live gate receipts, etc., and winning the most expensive belt in history as he wins the award in conjunction with the WBC for the WBC Emerald Belt won vs. Manny Pacquiao.
The WBC Cares visit was highly emotional. Our ambassadors joined Chair Jill Diamond (front row, far right) and Christiane Manzur (front row, second from right) in bringing love and hope to the kids.
The WBC Board of Governors has placed in me the confidence to continue as President of the WBC for the period of 2016-2020. I am humbled by the support, and highly motivated to continue leading the greatest boxing organisation in the world, the WBC – The World Boxing Council. My gratitude goes for the so many persons who have given me absolute support, dedication, and loyalty to continue to carry on the dreams of my dear father, my hero Jose Sulaiman.
The WBC Convention was dedicated to celebrate the life of the greatest – The King of Boxing, Muhammad Ali. It was incredible – the videos, the quotes and statements, Laila’s words, and then to have him there, in spirit through a life-size incredible statue. Long Live Muhammad Ali! He is now eternal, he belongs to no era. He is and will always be the greatest representative of boxing.