By David Finger
The WBO’s final day of its 30th Annual Congress at sea kicked off aboard the Norwegian Sky at 8 AM with the conclusion of the General Assembly and Executive Committee. The main discussion was where to host next year’s convention, and it was Costa Rica that won out over the Philippines and Puerto Rico.
From there all eyes were on the Championship & Ratings committee session, and there was no shortage of drama. Right off the bat, the WBO nixed a proposal from newly crowned 105-pound champion Ryu Yamanaka to fight an unranked fighter for his first title defense.
“If they are not ranked I’m sorry,” President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel said of the proposal. “We won’t go with that.”
The sentiment that was shared by Asia-Pacific Vice President Leon Panoncillo, who had already informed Yamanaka’s team that he was not in favor of the fight. This created an opportunity for a pair of Filipino fighters, #1 ranked Robert Paradero and #2 ranked Vic Saludar, to jump into the proposed December fight. However, it also created another unique possibility, and President Valcarcel inquired about if the two fighters were willing to square off against each other in an eliminator. Both are promoted by Kenneth Ralph Rontal.
“If they (Team Yamanaka) don’t offer me a fight, if you want me to have an elimination I can certainly do that.” Rontal told Valcarcel.
He also indicated a willingness to have an elimination with the next available contender, #3 ranked Janiel Rivera, if he was unable to match his two fighters in the eliminator.
At 108 pounds Rontal pushed to have his undefeated prospect, Vince Paras, move up from #11 into the top ten.
At 112 pounds the committee discussed Zou Shiming’s upset loss to Japan’s Sho Kimura, and Vice President Panoncillo expressed support for referee Danrex Tapdasan, who was criticized by some supporters of the Chinese champion after Shiming was stopped by Kimura.
“He did a good job,” Panoncillo said of Tapdasan’s handling of the fight. “Basically he (Shiming) wasn’t in condition and he was TKOed.”
The UK’s Chris Sanigar also pushed to have former Olympian Andrew Selby (10-0, 5 KOs) move into the rankings on behalf of Frank Warren Promotions while Jason McClory (also with Frank Warren) moved to have Paddy Barnes (4-0) and Jay Harris (11-0) move into the rankings as well.
At 126 pounds a request came in to move Luke Jackson up from #9 and at 154 pounds a push for Dennis Hogan to move up from #7.
In the super middleweight division, the big news was the unanimous vote from the committee to name Jesse Hart the #1 contender based on his gritty performance against Hampton Gilberto Ramirez.
And at heavyweight, it was confirmed that #7 ranked Kyotaro Fujimoto will fight in a WBO Asia-Pacific title clash on November 4 while #1 ranked Christian Hammer will fight #6 Alex Povetkin in a fight for the mandatory for champion Joseph Parker. There was also a move to have undefeated Colombian heavyweight Oscar Rivas move into the WBO rankings.
After the conclusion of the Championship & Ratings Committee, the members had a break of several hours before the WBO gala dinner at 6pm followed by the awards ceremony at 9pm.
At the awards ceremony, Terrence Crawford was named fighter of the year, Robert Paradero was named Asia-Pacific youth fighter of the year, Isaac Dogboe was named international fighter of the year, Bryan McIntyre was named trainer of the year, and Frank Warren was named European promoter of the year. Other award winners were not present and the WBO planned to have their awards mailed to them.