By Mauricio SulaimánPresident of the WBC – Son of José Sulaimán
2024 began with the greatness with which 2023 closed; with great boxing activity around the world.
One of the most outstanding current champions Artur Beterbiev, defended his light heavyweight crown, with a great demonstration, by knocking out the exacting English warrior, Callum Smith, in what was his WBC mandatory fight, which took place before a sell out crowd, in Quebec, Canada. Beterbiev is the WBC, WBO, and IBF champion, and now the table is set for the long-awaited fight for the undisputed title against Dmitry Bivol.
In Japan, the WBC-WBA unified champion Kenshiro Teraji defended his light flyweight crown in a fight that is already considered a candidate for Fight of the Year. Venezuelan Carlos Canizales was a more than worthy challenger; Both visited the canvas, and in the end, it was determined that it was a majority decision, with only one round difference.
Last Saturday, a great card was held in Germany, promoted by Universum and Arena Boxing, with three WBC international championships.
But the big card of the week took place in Phoenix, in co-promotion of Golden Boy Promotions, by Oscar de la Hoya, Zanfer, by the Mexican Fernando Beltrán, and Matchroom, by Eddie Hearn. The world’s second ranked WBC, David Picasso, debuted with victory in the United States.
For his part, the sensational Mexican-American champion, Gabriela Fundora, Sebastián’s sister, retained her championship, with a spectacular TKO, and Jaime Munguía from Tijuana gave a demonstration of greatness, by knocking out the very tough, John Ryder, in nine rounds.
With this victory, Munguía successfully defended his WBC silver super middleweight title, and took a giant step towards positioning himself as one of the best boxers in the world. He is ready for the big fight, and he has many options for it: Saúl Canelo Álvarez, Jermell Charlo, Carlos Adames , David Benavidez, and others, who appear on the horizon in this year, which should be majestic.
The card was broadcast live on Azteca, on ESPN Knockout, and on the world platform DAZN. It is very gratifying to see various promoters collaborate together, and this card was like that.
Now comes February, first a trip to Bangkok, Thailand, where I will be present at the Amazing MuayThai festival, where more than 600 fighters from 60 countries will participate in the King’s Cup, at the legendary Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.
From there, the world’s attention will go to the Middle East, as one of the most important fights in the last 25 years will take place. The card called Ring of Fire, where Tyson Fury, WBC world heavyweight champion, will face the WBA, WBO and IBF monarch, Oleksandr Usyk, this being the first undisputed fight in the era of the four belts in this category . Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia, will be the city where the ring will resonate and the first emperor and king of the heavyweights will be crowned.
But in Mexico there will also be great activity, specifically in Oaxaca, were on February 16, there will be a World title card at the Guelaguetza Auditorium.
It will be a great event, full of activities that will give the Oaxacan people a lot to enjoy, with: massive fitness boxing classes, motivational talks, such as that of La Reina Azteca, Jackie Nava, as well as on addiction prevention, by the former champion, José Luis Maestrito López, and the well-known, Rocky Heron; also against bullying, by Beka Romero.There will also be a visit by legendary champions to the archaeological site of Monte Albán, as well as WBC Cares activities, the Children’s Hospital, and many more surprises.
Other cards in February include the defense of the silver title, of the champion Juan Elegante Martínez, a policeman who also fights in the ring; super featherweight champion, O’Shaquie Foster, who defeated Rocky Hernández in The Fight of the Year 2023 will defend his crown in New York with a Top Rank promotion, and the Mexican Alexandro Peque Santiago, world champion, who will travel to Japan, to defend his bantamweight title against the former monarch, Japanese Junto Nakatani.
The World Boxing Council instituted an innovative rule called Open Scoring, which has had great success worldwide, and is expected to be accepted this year by the various commissions in the United States and England.
This consists of announcing the official scores of the judges, at the end of the fourth and eighth rounds which allows the corners to know how the fight is going, and thus be able to adjust the strategy.
In Japan, Mexico and other nations, these scores are made known to the public, generating great interest and drama for fans.
This modality has been met with natural resistance to change from purists and traditionalists, but the reality is that boxing needs innovation and transparency, in addition to justice, since many fighters finish the fight thinking that they did enough to win, but the judges did not see it like this.
Yet another urgent matter to look into is the mechanics to stop the fights whenever the corner wishes to do so. The WBC addressed this hot topic during our last annual convention and introduced the RED TOWEL, a way to a re intoruduce the usage of the towel to be thrown by the corner to make sure the referee is aware of the petition.
Currently many boxing jurisdictions do not allow the towel to be thrown and demand that the corner advises the inspector who then is responsible to advise the referee to stop the fight,. The fact is that the referee is usually, correctly so, fully concentrated in the action and attentive to the blows, so many times the inspector’s attempts to draw his attention fail.
In just January of 2024 we have seen 2 clear examples. In Canada, Callum Smith’s corner was desperately trying to call the attention of the referee, both the cornerman and the inspector were up on the apron trying to stop the fight, while the ref was with his back without possibility to see them. Just this past Saturday in Phoenix, Arizona, John Ryder’s corner was desperately trying to have fight stopped as Jaime Munguia kept pounding on Ryder, finally the commission took the great initiative to RING THE BELL which made the referee stop the fight.
We all need to join together and make changes, accept the use of the towel, introduce, as Mexico City commission has, a buzzer to stop the fight, to have the timekeeper ring the bell or any other option to stop the fight whenever the corner wishes to do so ……
DID YOU KNOW…?
Mr. Carlos Slim celebrated his birthday . He is a unique person, a great Mexican, who has lived to serve, and his philanthropy has changed the lives of millions of people. During his birthday party, his dear friend, Paul Anka, wrote and performed a song for him, adjusting the classic that he composed for Frank Sinatra, that of: My way, singing it the way of Carlos Slim…
About 16 years ago, my father, José Sulaimán, was in a conversation with his friend, Carlos Slim. “Hey, Pepe: and where is the next Julio César Chávez going to come from?” he asked.
“My dear Carlos, it is difficult; There is so much talent in Mexico, but no one supports the boxer. In addition to running and training in the gym, they need to have one, two and even three jobs to survive,” he responded…
This is how the Ring Telmex-Telcel program was born, which provides monthly financial aid scholarships so that prospects can fully dedicate themselves to boxing; the first scholarship recipient was no less than Saul Canelo Álvarez!!!!…
On the day of the official announcement of the program, legendary champions were present. Don Carlos commented: “Pepe: That one looks like Mantequilla Nápoles.” And upon confirming that it was indeed him, he said: “How deteriorated my childhood idol looks.”
The foundation then implemented a lifetime pension and medical insurance for 27 former Mexican world champions…Thank you, Don Carlos!
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