By Boxing Bob Newman
As the end of day one of the 88th annual WBA Convention drew a close on the meetings and presentations, the organization broke trends and held their awards dinner at the outdoor poolside restaurant. Legendary promoter Don King arrived just in time to join the festivities where he was greeted by some of his former charges, the press and fans alike.
Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
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Several champions were on hand to receive miniature WBA belt replicas. Of the native Colombians on hand the following were bestowed with the championship recognition:
Rodrigo Valdez (2-time Middleweight champ)
Ricardo Cardona (WBA Jr. Feather champ)
Beibis Mendoza (WBA Jr. Flyweight champ)
Fidel Bassa (WBA Flyweight champ)
Irene Pacheco (IBF Flyweight champ)
Miguel “Happy” Lora (WBC Bantamweight champ)
Posthumous awards were given to former champs Elvis Alvarez (WBA & WBO Flyweight) and Ruben Palacios (WBO featherweight). Alvarez was shot and killed in Medellin in 1995. Palacios made headline as he tested positive for the HIV virus during a physical fo rhis first defense of the title which never took place in 1993. He died of the virus ten years later.
Panamanian Celestino Caballero was awarded his WBA Super Champion belt as a unified champ (IBF & WBA).
New WBA Super Featherweight champion Juan Carlos Salgado of Mexico was given his official title belt after his shocking one round annihilation of previously undefeated champ Jorge Linares in Japan on October 10th.
Legendary undefeated champion Ricardo “Finito” Lopez was awarded the WBA K.O. Drugs belt for his commitment to help fight drug abuse among across the globe.
A special award was given to five individuals who have committed years of their lives to do “good” in boxing- Hall of Famers Roberto Duran, Stan Christodoulou, Ricardo Lopez, Don King, and local hero Fidel Bassa.
Matchmaker of the year went to jack of all trades in boxing Sampson Lewkowicz.
Top Rank won promoter of the year.
The Female Super Champion belt went to Susie Kentikian who has racked up eleven title defenses in two and-a-half years! Executive Vice President Gilberto Jesus Mendoza decreed that all female super belts in the future will be named the Susie Kentikian Belt.
Fight of the year went to Marcos Maidana and Victor Ortiz for their epic war in contesting the WBA interim Super Lightweight title at the Staples Center this past June 27th.