Report/Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
Day two of the WBC 55th convention in Baku, Azerbaijan had several simultaneous events occurring in and out of the fabulous Fairmont Baku Hotel. While the referees certification seminar was being held in one room, several topics were discussed as well as the ratings meeting were held in the large meeting hall on the same floor. The WBC Cares group headed off to a boarding school for orphans and children without sufficient parental care in the Mardakan district of Baku.
In the general session, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman asked Luis Escalona to talk about the progress made in the WBC Clean Boxing Program. Escalona touted the program’s 2017 progress to date: 170 tests conducted, 7 positive, 5 dismissed. He also handed out certificates to those who assisted and supported the Clean Boxing Program.
With the sad and untimely passing of former ratings chairman Frank Quill, Bob Yalen was voted in to position as Ratings Chairman, with Dean Louhis as Ratings Vice Chair.
And with that, the marathon ratings meeting began. Things were changed up a tad this year as the divisions started at the bottom with minimumweight and worked their way up to heavyweight. WBC legal counsel Alberto Leon headed up the proceedings along with new chair Yalen and assisted by ratings committee members Daniel Van de Wiele and Luis Medina. There wasn’t too much drama with promoters, advisors and managers stumping for their fighters, but the lightweights saw the most movement among the spots #2 through #6. The top six now rates as follows:
#1. Ray Beltran
#2. Javier Fortuna
#3. Yvan Mendy
#4. Luke Campbell
#5. Gervonta Davis
#6. Richard Commey
John and Marina Sheppard of BoxRec.com gave a brief, yet informative presentation on some new features on their site. Firstly, the Sheppards showed a chart reflecting research on a thirty-six year span which showed a 112% increase in the number of fights held per year, an 83% increase in the number of bouts per show and a 15% increase in the numbers of shows in that period. The biggest growth countries have been Mexico, the U.K., China and Russia, while the USA and South Africa have had the biggest drops in activity during this period from 1980 to 2016. In the last 12 months, there have been 8328 suspensions reported by 227 commissions in 92 countries.
In the cases of boxer safety, BoxRec has added two new features to their site: the suspensions display and the “what if…” feature. The suspensions will show the when, where, what type and how long aspects of a boxer’s suspensions whereas the “What if” feature gives percentage chances of winning versus potential opponents. The example of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder would have an 87% chance of winning if he fought Tomasz Adamek, but things would be 50%-50% if the matchup with Luis Ortiz materializes, based on BoxRec’s rating statistics. The site and the WBC both tout this feature as the matchmaker’s best asset in the future…and the future is now.
Referee Frank Garza and Edward Collantes conducted the referees seminar today. Specific focus was given to illegal punches, ie. rabbit punches and knockdowns vs. no knockdowns. Collantes utilized a pathway chart for the knockdown/no knockdown issue. Starting with how the fighter wound up on the canvas in the first place- legal blow versus illegal tactic- feet tangled, illegal punch, small ring apron where a fighter’s foot slips of the edge or a solid, legal punch. Depending on which of those events occurred, will determine whether or not a legal knockdown occurred. From there a referee’s actions are then determined- is it ruled a knockdown, in or out of the ring, do you count, if so how long, and so on. Examples were shown on video such as the infamous Riddick Bowe “knockout” of Buster Mathis, Jr., while the latter was already on one knee from a legal knockdown.
One of the favorite activities for delegates and champions alike to participate in at each convention is the WBC Cares visit. This year was no exception as the group visited a boarding school. The well behaved children performed songs, including their national anthem and dances for the visiting crew. Gifts were exchanged as well.