ESPN+ to air Boesel-Fornling on Saturday

Top Rank and SES Boxing have inked a deal to bring the SES shows in Europe to the U.S. market. The first telecast is Saturday with the WBA interim light heavyweight title fight between Dominic Boesel (29-1, 11 KOs) and Sven Fornling (15-1, 7 KOs) at the Messe Arena in Halle/Saale, Germany. Commentators at ringside will be Sky Sports’ Andy Clarke and Ben Davison, trainer of Tyson Fury.

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Benedict Poelchau, Bob Arum, Ulf Steinforth and Carl Moretti (left to right)

The telecast also features Rio bronze medalist and amateur world champion Mohammed Rabii (9-0, 5 KOs) against Jesus Gurrola (27-14-3, 14 KOs) in a super welterweight clash, heavyweight hopeful Peter Kadiru (5-0, 1 KO) against Perdo Martinez (7-10, 3 KOs), and super middleweight Stefan Haertel (18-1, 2 KOs) against David Zegarra (34-3, 21 KOs).

The next German show on ESPN+ will be in January.

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98th WBA World Convention: Day Three

By Tracy Morin

The 98th WBA World Convention’s third day kicked off with the WBA Global Boxing Summit on Saturday, November 9, in Fuzhou, Jiangxi, China, at the Grand New Century Hotel Fuzhou. 

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Photo: Sumio Yamada

After a brief welcome, Cai Qing, vice mayor of Fuzhou, introduced her city, which has 4 million inhabitants and thriving arts, culture and business sectors. Now Fuzhou looks to develop sports facilities and events; a recent televised boxing match broke viewership records, and boxing has a high market value in China overall. Qing expressed her desire to work together with the WBA and the forthcoming WBA Academy to train more talent and encourage development of the city. 

Next, Jorge Ramirez, director of development for the WBA Academy, discussed the concept of the new facility, which will provide education to trainers, boxers, physicians, promoters, officials—those who are involved at every level of the sport. The first goal is to certify coaches, and the overall threefold focus for the academy will be certification, training, and ongoing education and development. Ramirez showed a video that showed what the finished complex would look like, with classrooms, training spaces, a library and more. 

Longtime trainer Pedro Diaz then took the stage for a talk titled The Path to the Championship. After applauding China’s strong boxing presence and competitors, he outlined the need for trainers to possess medical, pedagogical and psychological knowledge. They must be able to teach young people properly and understand everything from nutrition to biology, taking social, cultural and functional angles into consideration. 

Lu Xiaolong, CEO of the local Max Power Promotions, noted that China’s boxing scene has enjoyed rapid development over the last few years but still can progress much further. With 18% of the world’s population, Chinese boxers represent only 1.8% of the world’s participants, and Xiaolong would like to see those numbers grow. Currently, he said, Chinese boxers usually require side jobs to survive, and coaches often spend their own money helping injured boxers, without much professional medical assistance. However, Xiaolong is dedicated to help cultivate more local talent and make China a leader in the boxing world in the next five to 10 years. The WBA Academy, he believes, will help make that happen and represents a new start for the Chinese boxing industry. 

Next door at the medical seminar, a special video from the WBA’s oldest official (and 2019 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame) showed 88-year-old Guy Jutras thanking the WBA and the Mendoza family for all their years of support. Then boxing officials reviewed real-life cases of boxers’ injuries, such as a serious cut, hematoma or broken jaw, to determine whether the fight should be stopped to preserve the long-term health of the boxer. The WBA urged officials to consult with the ringside physician for determinations—and, if necessary, use common sense to stop a fight even when not mandated by the ringside physician. 

Dr. Paul Wallace, esteemed California ringside physician, also pointed out that, due to the arteries present in that area, blood loss from the face would never be to the extent that a transfusion is required or cause a long-term health threat; instead, fighters have to be protected when, for example, they cannot see to protect themselves. Raul Caiz Jr., vice chairman of international officials for the WBA, suggested that officials can familiarize themselves with cutmen and their experience levels, as well as a boxer’s own history of injuries when possible. 

Finally, a very important topic was addressed, that of recent boxing deaths—a total of four this year so far. Even with preventative measures, the sport remains high-risk for participants. To help prevent tragedies, international officials chairman Luis Pabon advised officials doing their homework and asking questions of every boxer, understanding the following: the fighter’s record; how he performed his last fight and how he won or lost (i.e., what punishment he received); if he has ever been suspended; if he needs to shed pounds at weigh-in or is moving two weight classes up or down, plus his day-of-fight weight; and if he has been knocked out during workouts. Caiz also recommended that during the fight to check in with the boxer—not the trainer or others in the corner. 

WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza took the microphone to commend the officials who attend these seminars worldwide to improve their knowledge and raise the safety of the sport. He vowed to help prevent mismatches through quality control of fights, as well as help elevate education via the WBA Academy. 

Dr. Karanjeet Singh, sports medical consultant with the Indian National Boxing Team, tackled dehydration in boxing. He discussed causes and signs of dehydration, the function of proper hydration in the body, and why it’s so important within boxing. As little as 2% water loss in the body (only 4 pounds in a 200-pound boxer) can decrease ring performance by 5%, but 5% loss (10 pounds in a 200-pound boxer) can decrease performance by as much as 30%. Dehydration affects boxers through decreased alertness and concentration, increase of fatigue, and slower reaction time—ultimately affecting the brain. Dehydration also has links to high blood pressure and kidney failure, and even increases levels of cortisol, which decreases sensitivity to pain. 

But how can dehydration be prevented? Singh recommends education and discipline from day one of training, avoiding rapid weight loss, monitoring weight pre- and post-training, and avoiding losing 3% to 5% of one’s hydrated weight. 

After a lunch break, Wallace continued the topic with a discussion on weight cutting and dehydration in boxing. In addition to detailing the effects of dehydration, he pointed to a study of more than 1,500 boxers over several years that found 26% of boxers changing their weight by 8% or more. Now in California, if a fighter has gained more than 15% of his body weight since the weigh-in, the fight will be called off. Wallace wants this to be adopted by the major boxing organizations like the WBA, and advocates for eliminating the window of time allowed for boxers who don’t make weight to cut further. With proper education and regulation, Wallace believes, weight cutting can be reduced across the sport.

Judge Roberto Torres then reviewed proper conduct for judges, both inside and outside the ring. After reviewing scoring criteria, various hypothetical situations were offered and judges in attendance scored accordingly on an oversize card in front of the meeting room so that Torres could explain the correct score and why. Then a series of videos were shown so attendees could vote on whether the episode showed a knockdown. 

At the evening dinner and awards banquet, several past and current champions and boxers joined the festivities, including Mary Kom, Bernard Hopkins, Erislandy Lara, Roberto Duran, Hanna Gabriels and Xu Can. The WBA recognized journalists in the sport, while Gabriels offered a special dedication for Kom, a trailblazer in women’s boxing. Duran thanked the people of China for a warm welcome, and Hopkins took the stage to discuss the importance of dedication in boxing. 

The 98th WBA World Convention will host its final day on Sunday, November 10, with a city tour, six-fight boxing card and closing farewell.

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Shocker: “Monster” Inoue suffers eye socket fracture

By Joe Koizumi
Photo by Boxing Beat

While this reporter stays in China to attend the 98th WBA convention, there has come a shocking news from Japan that the ultimate WBSS bantamweight winner Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs), still 26, had suffered a couple of fractures at the eye socket and the nose through his hard-fought battle with Nonito Donaire in Saitama on Thursday.

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Naoya “Monster” Inoue and his manager/promoter Hideyuki Ohashi

It was disclosed at the Korakuen Hall today (Friday) by Naoya himself along with his manager/promoter and ex-WBC/WBA titlist Hideyuki Ohashi. “Monster” Inoue took a solid left hook from Donaire in round two, and he confessed that he had a double vision since. He also suffered a nose bleeding unlike in his previous bouts midway in the slugfest. Naoya yesterday consulted a doctor and was diagnosed that he had sustained fractures on the eye socket and under the nose as well.

Naoya said, “The doctor said there would be no need for surgery, but I’ll have a re-examination after a month. Then I will decide my training schedule thereafter.”

Ohashi, 54, also said, “Despite his fracture and pain from the second round on Naoya displayed such a great performance with the Filipino Flash. It must become the new chapter of the Monster legend that proves his heart.” Although Naoya announced his promotional agreement with Top Rank just after the invaluable victory, his new-year campaign next spring will have to be delayed.”

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Boesel-Fornling now for WBA interim title

It was just announced that the November 16 clash between world-rated light heavyweights Dominic Boesel (29-1, 11 KOs) and Sven Fornling (15-1, 7 KOs) has been upgraded to a WBA interim world title fight. The bout will take place at the Halle Messe Arena in Halle/Saale, Germany. Boesel is rated WBA #1, Fornling is rated WBA #3.
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Photo: SES promoter Ulf Steinforth poses with WBA President Gilberto Jesus Mendoza and WBA General Advisor José Oliver Gomez at the 98th WBA World Convention in Fuzhou, China.

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98th WBA World Convention: Day Two

By Tracy Morin

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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.

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Inoue-Donaire Full Report

By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Naoki Fukuda

Unbeaten Japanese prodigy Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs), 118, defeated five-time champ Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs), 117.5, by a unanimous decision over twelve hard-fought rounds, and won the WBSS bantamweight final and unified the WBA/IBF belts before a full-packed crowd of 22,000 on Thursday at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

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The knockdown punch in round eleven.

“Monster” Inoue had Donaire on the deck with a vicious body shot midway in the eleventh, but failed to finish the affair due to Nonito’s determination and durability. Truly it was a good fight.

Octavio Rodriguez (Panama) and Luigi Boscarelli (Italy) saw the see-saw bout 117-109 and 116-111 respectively in favor of Naoto, while Robert Hoyle (US) saw it much closer 114-113 for him. The referee was Ernest Sharif (US).

The good loser Donaire, ten years his senior at 36, said just after the hard battle, “Naoya has proved he is a true champion. No one had withstood my punishment like Naoya.”

The ultimate victor of the WBSS tourney Inoue jubilantly said, “I couldn’t finish him as I predicted as he was so durable and tough. It is a great experience for me that I could fight such strong opposition. He was sometimes very effective with his invisible punches from dead angles. I suffered a cut for the first time in my career and occasionally had a tough time coping with the aggressive Donaire. As our corner believed I had accumulated points in the middle of the bout, I paced myself for some rounds from the seventh in order to fight strong and win the last three rounds. It paid off well.”

In the opening session, Naoya took the leadoff as planned, showing his superior hand speed to the veteran soldier with quick jabs, sharp left hooks and fast footwork. Nonito, however, connected with a trademark left hook and opened a gash under the right eyebrow in round two. The third saw Filipino Flash coming forward with left hooks, which Monster averted with his shifty mobility and kept jabbing while moving and retreating.

It was Inoue that threw more jabs to the Filipino willing mixer who threw roundhouse left hooks but often missed the target as Naoya kept moving side to side in round four. The Monster, in the fifth, turned loose with solid overhand rights followed by crisp left hooks that almost toppled the veteran champ. Donaire attempted to retaliate with inaccurate big punches, while Inoue landed a good shot at a time without punching in combination.

Though steadily piling up points in the first half, it wasn’t an easy fight for Naoya at all since he was still streaming blood from the right optic and the right nostril.

His father and chief second Shingo Inoue (who has coached Naoya since he was six) gave an instruction then and there, saying, “Take care of your pace. Pace yourself for some rounds, and then go to show a last surge big.” It means that his corner then intended to win certainly rather than dare to knock him out by taking a risk.” It might be a good shift of strategy since Donaire was a still dangerous counterpuncher.

Nonito, whose left optic looked puffed with his absorption of Naoya’s accurate shots, became aggressive to sweep three sessions from the seventh, as he tried to turn the tide with his strong aggression. The Filipino Flash connected with left-right combinations followed by left hooks to have Monster bewildered in round eight. Donaire, in the ninth, displayed his best as he occasionally caught Inoue with solid overhand rights to have him almost lose his balance. Inoue desperately grabbed Donaire to temporarily avert his aggression and survive a crisis. Inoue then showed that he was clever enough to cope with the situation of the fight and he could take punch even by receiving the Filipino Flash’s best shots.

Boxing is interesting. After winning three rounds in succession, Donaire, visibly slowing down after his desperate aggression, had to absorb Inoue’s last surge.

Naoya remarkably turned aggressive in the tenth, when he effectively connected with double or three overhand rights to the temple the five-time champ that he had respected since he was a young amateur boxer. The eleventh saw Inoue land a trademark body shot to the belly of Donaire, who was staggering like a sleep-walker and then knelt down due to pain.

The referee seemingly made a couple of mistakes at this situation. When Donaire, after taking the lethal body punch from Inoue, was retreating, showing his body side to Inoue, the third man inexplicably stopped the aggressor Naoya to score another body shot to bring home the bacon.

Why? Probably he might intend to prevent Naoya from hitting from the back, but if so, he should have called a knockdown and have started counting even if Donaire was still sleep-walking. The ref seemed to waste some seconds before he began counting. Also, it was also his fault to have allowed such a damaged Donaire to go on when he very barely raised himself because he wasn’t ready to resume fighting. What the ref should have done was to count him out then and there. Naoya missed a knockout victory in his record.

Naoya made his best effort to finish the damaged veteran in the last two sessions, but he was smart enough not to be so wild that he might take a come-from-behind big shot from the Filipino Flash.

Hideyuki Ohashi, the promoter/manager of the Monster as well as former WBC/WBA world 105-pound champ, reviewed the great fight. “Naoya has proved he has a strong chin, stamina, and heart. It might be good that he went the distance in such a hard-fight with such a strong veteran as Donaire.”

Naoya also said after his victory, “I wish to avenge my brother Takuma’s loss to Nordine Oubaali by fighting him in a unification bout.”

Tod Duboef, Top Rank president in attendance, made a post-fight press conference with Naoya beside him. He announced that Top Rank would execute a multi-year promotional agreement with Inoue and he would campaign in the US from next year on. Naoya is ambitiously willing to follow Manny Pacquiao’s footstep. Good luck.

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Mendoza on world titles, Olympics and more…

One of the most interesting points of the first day of the 98th Convention of the World Boxing Association (WBA) that opened Thursday, in Fuzhou, China, was an extraordinary interview of WBA President Gilberto Jesus Mendoza on stage conducted by Argentine journalist Carlos Irusta.

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Photo: Majo Gómez

Without pulling punches, Mendoza spoke about hot-button issues including multiple world titles, professionals boxing in the Olympics and much more.

On the way the WBA sanctions world titles…

“I can answer you in one sentence. Promoters and boxers need them for better income. Many media question it romantically because they want only one champion. You have to keep up with the times to go on improving and give opportunities to everyone.”

Others also gave their point of view on this topic. One of them, Ricardo Rizzo, spoke about their necessity and even asked for more (jokingly). He stressed that television in the United States asks for titles and these have been good for boxing, for the business and for the sport.

Afterward, Mendoza returned the question and asked Irusta his opinion about what the president himself called “the multi-title.” Irusta commented that it’s difficult to explain it to people, but TV, promoters and boxers ask for titles and that’s why they exist.

On pro boxers competing in the Olympics…

“The participation of professional boxers in the Olympic Games, by our findings, we definitely won’t be able to go against that flow. It comes from an institution (IOC) which I consider to be one of the strongest of the world sport. So, what I mean is that to avoid or prohibit their participation seems to me an impossible task.

“The IOC is going to allow them to participate, as other sports do, but under amateur boxing rules. I think there is a legal issue in prohibiting an athlete from participating in Olympic Games.

“I invite my colleagues, instead of penalizing, to join forces and put our doctors at their service. I’m sure a lot of professionals would be able to participate if some things were changed in the amateur system.”

The topic sparked a great debate among the audience, who offered their views in support and against participation, always with respect and in pursuit of the best solution to an event that seems imminent for Tokyo 2020.

Mendoza stressed that his opinion is not about demonstrating that he is for or against, but about approaching the IOC and participating, either in support or in detriment. He assured that studies are needed to detect the real dangers and to disclose all the details so that the implementation is made the best possible.

On boxing in China…

“Approximately 12 years ago we held our convention in Chengdu. While China is a world economic power, we have noted its interest in education and sport. Five years ago we set up a regional body called WBA China. As we saw this new market, we took part in a development plan. Fuzhou offers the possibilities of creating a world academy, which is the WBA Academy.”  

On the outlook for world boxing organizations…

“I think the boxing organizations are living in a tough time. We are in a market where promoters are on top of our brands. We need a renaissance. We need to re-engineer the institutions to keep this activity alive. One way is to involve amateur boxing and another is through education to complement these alternative markets.”

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