By Tracy Morin
The 98th WBA World Convention continued on Friday, November 8, in Fuzhou, Jiangxi, China, at the Grand New Century Hotel Fuzhou. The morning’s opening ceremony hosted local politicians, WBA directorate members and representatives from around the world, as well as legend Roberto Duran and a handful of Chinese champions. After introductions and a warm welcome, a local boxer from Fuzhou, Xu Can, who is now a WBA featherweight champion, gave an inspirational talk about fulfilling his father’s prediction and his own dream of becoming a champion.
Following a Chinese dance performance, WBA China chairman Li Yidong addressed the crowd and expressed optimism for boxing’s future in China. He explained that WBA China was established in 2016 and has since made significant strides in the sport, boosting development in the region and now planning the first-ever WBA Academy for better education of coaches, boxers, officials and more.
WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza thanked the attendees, Fuzhou locals and especially the current and former champions in attendance, then declared the 98th WBA World Convention officially open. A traditional Chinese performance culminated in Mendoza’s unveiling of a dedication for the new WBA Academy planned for Fuzhou.
The WBA’s Jorge Ramirez then outlined the academy’s vision and purpose: to usher in a new era of boxing through technology and education; to develop and improve trainers and boxers, and their relationships with each other; to address pressing issues like boxing-related injuries; and to facilitate communication at various levels of the sport. Ramirez showed a video presentation on the WBAcademy, or World Boxing Academy, which is designed to improve the performance of everyone in the sport, from trainers and physicians to promoters and officials, and offering certifications and accreditation for those who attend—with the ultimate goal of better protecting boxers. The complex will host classrooms, a training area, a library, event space, office rooms, self-study rooms and more.
In the afternoon session, the championships meeting was overseen by Carlos Chavez, chairman of the championships committee, and Julio Thyme, vice chairman of the championships committee. By the end of 2019, they reported, the WBA will have conducted 82 title fights around the world.
During the rundown of current champions in all weight classes, promoter Sampson Lewkowicz confirmed super middleweight champion Julian Williams will fight Jeison Rosario on January 18 in the Dominican Republic for the WBA and IBF belts. In the super welterweight division, Erislandy Lara is in negotiations to take on Michel Soro.
Each month, wbaboxing.com posts updated information on rankings, mandatories and defenses for review. In the ratings meeting, George Martinez, chairman of the ratings committee, heard requests from promoters on altering ranking positions, or entering the rankings, for boxers worldwide, and Roberto Duran made a surprise appearance to witness the debate. The opinions voiced will be taken into consideration for the next publishing of rankings on December 1.
After a late afternoon break, attendees were shuttled to a cocktail party and an outdoor Chinese opera performance at the nearby Peony Pavilion in Fuzhou, combining a jaw-dropping setting and entertainment for an unforgettable nightcap to wrap the day’s activities.
Day three of the convention will continue with the WBA Global Boxing Summit, Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony.