I am in Riga, Latvia, and still feel the great joy of Saturday night’s event at Riga Arena, where Alexandr Usyk dethroned local hero Mairis Briedis.
It is, without a doubt, the best cruiserweight championship fight in the division’s history.
The fight card was organized by the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) with extraordinary production, making this ‘an event.’
The world-class arena was packed and the atmosphere was electric throughout the 12 rounds.
Usyk won by majority decision: 114-114 and 115-113 twice. The WBC judges wore noise reduction headphones, which is a WBC initiative to maximize the ability to concentrate and to limit the influence that noise may have in the subconscious of a judge during the fight. This was one of the loudest crowds I have ever experienced.
Instant replay was also available through the WBSS production, but it was not used, as it was an extremely clean fight which only had three clinches in the whole bout.
This fight made me cherish our sport and its global nature. We are the “WORLD” boxing council, 166 countries affiliated, and here I was sitting in Latvia, watching a fight between a Latvia national vs. a Ukrainian. It was great to see our new protocol in place in which fighters exchange flags of their countries and of BoxVal (Boxing with Values) in the middle of the ring, and the fight proved to be a great one.
Usyk is now going to the finals of the Muhammad Ali trophy and also will earn the WBC Diamond belt.
I am flying Tuesday to Sochi, Russia, as I was invited to be part of an International Boxing Forum.
AIBA, the international federation authorized exclusively by the International Olympic committee to administer amateur boxing and Olympic competition, is now going through a severe crisis. It is unfortunate, as this has a direct impact in the sport overall. Even though amateur boxing and professional boxing are two completely different sports, they have a direct relationship.
Olympic boxing was, for decades, a sensational attraction during the Olympic Games and many of the boxers participating would move on to professional boxing to become world champions. Many legendary champions came from the Olympics, such as Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Oscar de la Hoya.
After a long reign by Mr. Anwar Chowdri, a new President, C.K. Wu, was elected 11 years ago and made changes in amateur boxing that were creating important problems in the sport, especially with the scoring system and the huge scandals with results in competitions.
Wu’s administration brought AIBA to its worst level in history, and is still challenging the survival of the federation.
Seven years ago, my father led the WBC to challenge AIBA’s policies and began a world campaign against the practices which have placed amateur boxing in the verge of disappearing. Wu instituted programs which are intended to eliminate amateur boxing and make all boxers professionals. AIBA created a system in which they would become the promoters and managers of boxers, and tried to have professional boxers compete at the Olympic Games!!!!!
The WBC created the WBC Amateur committee and has served as a platform to several countries to revive amateur boxing. At first the national federations from those countries were against our amateur committee, as their affiliation with AIBA seemed to prohibit any amateur boxing activity in their territory. The WBC amateur activity has been sensational, with community programs, boxing competitions, awareness programs, and family-oriented activities, all combined to create a very positive atmosphere for the kids in countries like the United States, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Panama, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago, just to name a few.
Today, AIBA faces extreme difficulties. Wu was ejected and they are in the process of finding a new President to lead an effort to establish its credibility and take on the task of organizing the Olympic competition for 2020 in Tokyo.
Amateur boxing is the basis for professional boxing, and we can only hope that AIBA gets on the right track and goes back to basics and concentrates on what their duty is, which is exclusively AMATEUR BOXING worldwide.