Report/Photos: David Finger
The final day of the 61st annual WBC Convention concluded at the Hilton in Tashkent, Uzbekistan with a continuation of several reports starting with the amateur committee report. It was noted the growth and international nature of WBC Amateur, with over 19 countries taking part in the Amateur Committee workshop the previous day. WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman also noted the important role it will need to play in the future of the sport, citing the problems associated with the International Boxing Association (IBA).
“There may not be boxing in the Olympics (in Los Angeles in 2028),” Sulaiman said, citing how the IBA has been kicked out of the Olympic movement and no replacement has yet to emerge.
From there attendees watched two videos on WBC Cares presented by Brad Norman before Edgardo Lopez Sasso gave a presentation on amateur boxing in Puerto Rico.
A friendly reminder was given in regards to the tickets for the boxing show on Friday and then Duane Ford did a report on behalf of the Ratings Official Committee. He discussed the various training seminars held during the week, including a training seminar for local Uzbek officials the previous day, and also discussed referee training held during the convention. Referee Joel Scoby gave a brief discussion on training techniques when dealing with “excessive holding” and referee Steve St. Germain discussed the training involving the newly implemented “red towel”, which will make its professional debut tomorrow at the WBC sanctioned fight card in Tashkent.
Mauricio Sulaiman then talked about the introduction of the red card for the ringside doctor and how they were also considering a red and blue towel combination for different corners so that when the referee saw the towel come into the ring he could recognize which corner was seeking the stoppage, although he also noted that in almost all instances of the colored towel being used, it would be “obvious” who was seeking the stoppage.
From there attendees heard a brief presentation on the use of the new WBC scorecard for officials before President Sulaiman asked Duane Ford to discuss the “scoring criteria” for judges.
“First criteria is a scoring punch,” Ford noted, “a punch that lands in the scoring zone.”
From there Ford discussed other factors that went into the scoring analysis, and then talked about issues that could arise when a judge “loses focus” during a fight. He noted that it was more common when a judge was brought into a new, unfamiliar location. Ford then discussed the introduction of an app where judges could score other fights unofficially, and how the WBC could review these scores in their determination as to the skill and aptitude of that particular judge. He compared the app to a practice field in baseball or football.
“Our practice field is the remote scoring.”
President Sulaiman then discussed the possible implementation of substitute referees, or standby referees, for those rare instances when a referee is unable to continue a fight. He then also noted that referees needed to be more active in regards to clinching and holding.
From there the WBC Board voted the Nevada Athletic Commission as commission of the year, and its executive director, Jeff Mullen, as commissioner of the year.
Next, longtime promoter Don Majeski spoke against the current implementation of the ten-point must system, noting how under the current usage of the 10-point must system a fighter who won a round decisively was given no more credit than a fighter who barely squeaked out the round.
“The application is wrong,” Majeski said before proposing the standard go down to as low as a 10-1 or 10-2 round for truly dominant rounds. He cited the 1982 Larry Holmes versus “Tex” Cobb fight, where over the course of fifteen rounds Holmes landed 1,001 punches to just over 100 for Cobb, yet all the rounds were 10-9 rounds. That would have been the same score it would have been if Cobb lost each round by a single punch.
“That’s the wrong way to score a fight in the ten point must system.”
President Sulaiman noted that the WBC shared many of the concerns that Majeski had, and promised future discussion on the issue.
From there two awards were given out, one to recently retired WBC referee Frank Garza, and one to this writer, for his contribution to reporting on this year’s convention.
Next several representatives from Bangladesh spoke on the status of boxing in that country.
Argentine boxer Dayana Sanchez, who had already been named “Bravest Woman on Earth” by the WBC earlier in this convention, accepted membership with WBC Kids and WBC Cares, something that was warmly embraced by Jill Diamond.
Jill Diamond then gave a report on WBC Cares, noting how there had been over 500 events in 2023. Following Diamond’s report was a presentation on WBC Cares India and the introduction of Gautam Sharma of India’s Professional Boxing Organization (PBO) who discussed several amateur events in India, including one at Shimla the Ridge, where the first boxing match in India took place back in 1917.
A notice was given that WBC Cares would be visiting some children the following day at 9:30 before a very special message was presented by President Sulaiman via video.
In that video Pope Francis recorded a short message blessing the attendees of the WBC convention.
A report on WBC Muai Thai followed this message, which was in turn followed by a presentation on social media for fighters and how to maintain social media and gain followers. The WBC also advised that they were there to help any fighter who needed assistance with growing their social media profile and online presence.
Humberto “Chiuquita” Gonzalez then briefly spoke to the convention before the WBC Good Fellow award was given to David Walker.
From there the next major area of business was the WBC Medical Committee Report, which kicked off with a presentation on fluid balance and cutting weight. The medical committee then reiterated its opposition to transgender fighters competing as a gender contrary to their gender of birth. Next was a video on mental health of fighters and an introduction to WBC University, which offers basic courses in three categories. A visit to the WBC University webpage offers workshops and even diplomas.
The next order of business was the championship committee motion passing with unanimous support to accept EBU President Stucki as a vice president of the WBC.
President Sulaiman then advised the attendees that the “Best of 2023” winners would be announced at the gala dinner that night.
Concluding the 2023 WBC Convention was the arrival of a special guest in Mike Tyson, whose entrance was nothing short of a rock star like arrival at the Hilton Tashkent City.
“I’m just happy to be here,” Tyson told the attendees as he sat next to former rival Evander Holyfield. Tyson took a few questions and then took photos with those in attendance.
Although that concluded the business of the WBC at this year’s convention, there were still a few events scheduled, including the gala dinner and a WBC Cares visit to disadvantaged children tomorrow morning. Nonetheless, Tashkent proved to be an amazing host city for this year’s event, and WBC members noted that this was one of the most impressive venues to ever host a WBC Convention. No announcement was made as to the location of the 2024 WBC Convention.