Report/Photos by David Finger
Day two of the 32nd annual WBO convention in Tokyo, Japan kicked off this morning (December 4th) at the Tokyo Dome Hotel with a doubleheader going, as judges and referees attended the Officials Seminars on the ground floor while the Executive Committee met on the 5th floor.
For the executive committee, the first order of business was a continued discussion on safety in the squared circle, which included a conversation with special guest Brian Dunn, the Nebraska Athletic Commissioner. WBO First Vice President John Duggan spoke at length about his concerns regarding the importance of rehydration and his concerns over excessive rehydration.
“Can we come up with a fair rule that discourages that?” Duggan asked. “What is the best, fairest way for the good of the sport to discourage (excessive rehydration)?”
Duggan expressed his concerns over the practice, which unfortunately is commonplace in the sport, and asked two of the WBO members with additional experience on the issue to share their experiences with it: former world champion Istvan “Koko” Kovacs and former professional boxer Edgardo Lopez Sasso.
The issue then went to if there should be a second day weigh-in, and if a champion should be stripped if he fails to make weight for the second day weigh-in, something that Gino Rodriguez was not in favor of.
“I think the second day weigh-in impedes the fighters’ ability to rehydrate,” Danny Leigh added.
“We know weight cutting is a problem, Dunn added, discussing his State’s role in addressing the issue. “We don’t know how to fix it…we are exploring how to correct it.”
When asked by Richard De Cuir what should be done with fighters who show a pattern of excessive rehydration Dunn admitted that the key was finding the ideal amount of weight that a fighter can cut safely.
At this point, Duggan, who spearheaded the discussion on safety, had to depart early to go to Saudi Arabia where he was to oversee the upcoming heavyweight title fight between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua.
From there, President Valcarcel finished his President’s Report, noting his desire to see the WBO continue to expand and do tournaments in places like Central America.
He then publicly expressed his desire for the WBO to return home for next year’s convention: for the WBO to return to Puerto Rico after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
“Now we are back and we are back strong,” Valcarcel said. “But we need big events like this to show we are back. This is a privilege and I would like the committee to support me on this.”
Valcarcel then added that he wanted to streamline the WBO belts, creating a uniformed style and logo for each regional belt. From there, WBO member Jose Sanchez, who has spearheaded the redesigning efforts, spoke at length about their ideas on uniformity.
“Paco came up with the idea of streamlining the titles, and I think the last design we had is very elegant and beautiful.”
Sanchez also stressed the importance of the WBO logo and its recognition with boxing fans.
“The globe and the eagle are, aside from the color, the most recognized on the WBO belt.”
Pack then spoke on his concern with women’s boxing expanding the rounds from two minutes to three minutes, something he opposed, and he also spoke passionately of his concern over the issue of pay inequality in boxing in regards to male and female fighters.
After Valcarcel finished his presentation, member Gino Rodriguez raised the issue of if the WBO wanted to get involved in Muay Thai, something other sanctioning organizations were starting to get involved in.
“No,” Markus Aslani said of the idea. “We make a statement by not following the crowd.”
When President Valcarcel added that Muay Thai was “big,” Aslani remained firm in his opposition.
“Basketball is big also, but we don’t have to do it.”
During the executive committee meeting in the morning, the judges seminar took place, while referees had their seminars that afternoon.
The convention is set to reconvene tomorrow at 8AM.