Feature Story

WBC Convention: Day 2

Report and photos by Boxing Bob Newman

Day 2 of the 49th WBC convention opened at 9:30 Tuesday morning with President Jose Sulaiman opening the day’s discussions. First up was the announcement of WBC approval of requirement of WBC affiliated countries and their commissions to adhere to the open scoring- announcement of the score after the fourth and eight rounds in WBC sanctioned fights. If a particular country’s commissions decides not to follow this decree, the WBC supervisor will notify their respective fighter’s corners of the score privately then. A vote was also held to approve the implementation of video instant replay in cases where a foul or other fight altering instance occurred. The vote was approved. Sulaiman voiced his disappointment at the lack of attendance of U.S. Based state commissions at the opening ceremonies, save the presence of host state Nevada’s representatives. Sulaiman plead, “I don’t understand this. What more can we do to get the United States to join the rest of the world?”

Agent Don Majeski also chimed in supporting Sulaiman’s sentiments in an emotional speech. “Jose, you have always walked 100 feet in front of everybody else, but the United States has not been able to follow you unless you’re only 5 feet in front of them! The United States won’t follow the call for open scoring. Boxing is the only sport in the world where nobody knows who is winning until the scores are read. The United States won’t follow instant replay in boxing. There is a hearing held today in California regarding the outcome of the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson fight in which the referee made an error in his call of a TKO favoring Dawson. The WBC took little time in making the correct ruling, restoring Hopkins’ title after he was fouled by Dawson.” Majeski went on regarding neutral officials in U.S. based WBC title fights. “Last week, there was a title fight of another organization (actually two- WBA & IBF) where a foreign champion (Amir Khan of the U.K.) fought a challenger in his own backyard, and all the officials were from that local commission. The challenger won a highly controversial decision and the titles. In WBC title fights in other countries, the WBC sends four officials (one referee and three judges) to officiate the title fight. In the United States, the commissions choose, and I say choose because it is a choice to appoint local officials. If the United States wanted to appoint four officials from North Korea, they could do so, but they choose not to do so. We used to have international referees like Stan Christodoulou and others officiate title fights in the U.S. But no more. Maybe we need to go back to the future.”

Talk concerning the international boxing visa was then undertaken. Various federation members chimed in regarding their support of the concept, which would be like a all-encompassing passport- containing electronic information- medical suspension status, weight class, record, etc. NABF president Joe Dwyer chimed in that the situation still exists in the United States where some states still operate out of compliance with the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions).

ABC president Tim Lueckenhoff took the mic to add ideas to the boxing visa concept. “We have a federal I.D. system in the U.S. that includes not only a federal I.D. number, but also photo identification. When I attend a weigh-in, a medical, etc. I know what the fighter looks like, first and foremost. By all means, I want you to know that we support that and you have an open invitation to come to our meeting next summer in Clearwater, Florida, or if we could meet at another location, I’d love to do it.”

An interesting interlude took place as inductions into the Multi Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame, conducted by that organization’s president Arif Khatib. The Hall’s criteria is that no lines of racial or ethnic difference exist. The inductees were Eddie Futch (widow Eva accepting, Ken Norton presenting), Joe Frazier (Les Wolf accepting), Jeff Fenech, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson. At the end of the trophy presentation, WBC president Jose Sulaiman took a moment to present Mike Tyson with a duplicate WBC belt of the late 80s vintage, when Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion. After parading with his newly won belt that night, Tyson’s belt was stolen and never replaced, until now. Also, Sulaiman presented Tyson with the newest version of the WBC championship belt, and asked former nemesis Evander Holyfield to affix Tyson with the new belt! Tyson roared, “Oh man, this is crazy! Can you believe this?” Hugs abound followed.

After the congregation broke, the attendees milled out to the merchandise area set up in the entry hall of the convention center. There Grant Gloves were pedaling their merchandise with Salvador Sanchez II on hand as he is managed by proprietor Grant Philips. Autograph tables were set up by champions Ken Norton, Leon Spinks and Terry Norris. The main attraction was the Mike Tyson table where one could sign up to take a photo, get an autogaph, or even a faux eye tattoos, which Tyson’s own daughter was having applied as fans looked on.

Former WBC Light Heavyweight champion Donny LaLonde addressed the WBC medical board with a measure he is endorsing called Cranio-Sacral Therapy, in an effort to reduce the cumulative impact of exposure to head trauma . LaLonde is working with Shivana Inalsingh, a reflexologist who happens to be on the WBA medical board, to implement CS therapy and garner the backing of boxing sanctioning bodies as a treatment for boxers suffering from head trauma. LaLonde also made the pitch for dietary supplement called Cell Food, an ionic, oxygenating solution that he has used and continues to use daily, touting it’s cell oxygenating properties and benefits. Coupled with the CS therapy, LaLonde hopes to start Cell Food trials before and after fights with boxers in a study in New York very soon.

During the ring officials seminar, which transpired over morning and afternoon sessions, WBC president Jose Sulaiman actually addressed the assembled officials, stressing concentration at all times. Sulaiman cited one instance in which a ring side judge was actually talking on his cell phone during the action in the ring!

Video clips of critical moments in recent title fights were reviewed and discussed from a refereeing standpoint. One such fight was the Pacquiao-Margarito fight in which Margarito took a tremendous beating, though never going down, suffering a broken right orbital bone in the process. Ring official Robert Byrd opined that Margarito, while a true warrior to the core, wasn’t competitive to match his machismo. Nevada referee Russell Mora addressed his own officiating of the WBC/WBO Bantamweight title fight between challenger Nonito Donaire and defending champion Fernando Montiel. Montiel suffered a brutal knockdown in round two, such that most observers felt he should not have been allowed to continue, despite the fact that he beat the count, barely. Mora gave his own critique, citing two key mis-steps in his mechanics. Upon the knockdown, Mora’s momentum had him hopping over the fallen Montiel and directing Donaire to a neutral corner. In doing so, Mora missed Montiel’s legs and arms flailing uncontrollably in all directions- a sight had he seen, Mora admitted he would’ve stopped the fight right then and there. Secondly, upon asking Montiel to come forward with his hands up, Montiel was grunting, with his hands down by his side, not following Mora’s commands. As soon as the action resumed, Donaire threw a brief flurry of mostly missed or glancing blows, prompting Mora to stop the bout. While no serious follow up damage occurred, Mora admits it was only by luck, “Had one more serious punch landed, Montiel could have been killed,” stated Mora. “It was a learning experience, and I can take cues from my colleagues like Kenny Bayliss and others.” Mora received accolades from his fellow officials for his honesty and integrity in facing the fire.

With that, the basic “work” of day 2 came to an end. The evening has a screening planned of the documentary homage to recently passed former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier. Frazier was to be on hand for the viewing, but sadly passed last month on Novermber 7th.

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