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Feature Story

WBO Convention, Day 3

By David Finger

The third and final day of the 22nd Annual WBO boxing congress wrapped up today in Budapest, Hungary as President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel kicked off the championship and ratings committee meetings early in the morning. With all of the recent activity involving WBO ranked fighters, there was little questioning that it would be a colorful and at times contentious morning. As President Valcarcel discussed the situation in the heavyweight division he first brought up American Eddie Chambers, whose defeat over Alexander Dimitrenko in an eliminator set him up as a mandatory challenger to reigning WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko. President Valcarcel was confident that would be fighting for title in the next eighteen months.

Once the discussion went to the floor request came in from numerous contenders to see their fighters move up in the rankings. Gary Shaw put in a request that undefeated Travis Kaufman be ranked in the top fifteen while Frank Warren representative Dennis Gilmarti spoke on behalf of Englishman Sam Sexton (currently ranked at #11), expressing his opinion that “he deserves a bit of an improved position of his current ranking.” President Valcarcel recommended that Sexton fight for one of the WBO regional titles to assist his rise in the rankings.

From K2 East Promotions, represented by Alexander Krassyuk, a request was put in to rank undefeated Alex Ustinov while Hedi Taouab Mohamed of Universum put in a request to see Ruslan Chagaev move into the rankings, a request that earned a somewhat colorful response from Gary Shaw.

In the cruiserweight division Spanish promotional company Tundra Barcelo saw its general manager (Enrique Soria) put in a request for Ali Ismailov, who dropped out of the rankings despite a split decision loss to the reigning champion Victor Ramirez while Eric Bottjer from Square Ring Promotions a put a request to see B.J. Flores move to #1 in the cruiserweight rankings.

Perhaps the most colorful moment of the morning came when Hedi Taouab Mohamed put in a request to have Alex Alekseev move up from #6, where he was currently ranked. When asked if he would fight anyone ranked higher than him Taouab commented that B.J. Flores “turned down a fight twenty five times”, a claim that had Gary Shaw responding forceful denial.

In regards to the light heavyweight division Eric Bottjer (who was there representing #2 ranked light heavyweight, and reigning NABO light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr.), discussed his fighters status and updated the WBO on his plans and status, making no request at the time.

Banner Promotions representative Josh Roy put in a request for Isaac Chilembe (the current 11th ranks WBO contender with a 13-1 record), hoping to see Chilembe move into the top ten.

Gilmarti spoke on behalf of #6 ranked Nathan Cleverly, citing his activity as a reason to move him up.

“He’s got belts coming out of his ears at this moment,” commented Gilmarti, “but he certainly hasn’t turned anyone down”

In the super middleweight division, where just last week the WBO crowned a new champion in Budapest when Robert Stieglitz (who is now living in Germany) stopped Hungarian champion Karoly Balzsay, numerous request came in to place fighters in the suddenly open division. Gary Shaw pushed for Victor Oganov to move up, citing his upcoming fight with Allen Green (#8). Shaw also wanted to see Anthony Dirrell (18-0, 15 KO’s) enter the top 15.

Dennis Gilmarti informed the WBO that #4 ranked middleweight Paul Smith (27-1) is moving up to 168 and he put in a request for a #4 ranking in 168.

Perhaps the most persuasive request came from Enrique Soria, who put in a request for Brazilian contender Isaac Rodriguez, who is originally from an Amazon Indian tribe in Brazil.

In regards to the middleweight division, with the upcoming Kelly Pavlik vs. Paul Williams fight many in attendance were excited about the possible opening of a spot or two in the top ten.

Eric Gomez of Golden Boy Promotions put in a recommendation for Daniel Jacobs (18-0) to move into top ten, while Eric Bottjer requested that Daniel Edouard move into the world rankings as well.

Alex Krassyuk put out in request for Maxim Bursak (18-0-1, 7 KO’s) as well as Georgian prospect Avtandil Khurtsidze 19-1-2 (12).

As soon as the discussion moved down to 154 things got colorful again as Gary Shaw began discussing the status of #4 ranked Mexican Alfredo Angulo, who is slated to fight Banner Promotions undefeated contender Harry Joe Yorgey. With Angulo ranked #4 and Yorgey ranked #9, both Shaw and Josh Roy of Banner put in a request for a #1 ranking for the winner.

The request set Hedi Taouab Mohamed to fire back with criticism of his own, a challenge that Shaw was not going to let go unanswered.

“You have fighters in the hospital,” Shaw said to Taouab, “my fighters are active!”

Other fighters who had request for ranking were Vanes Martiyosan, Jason LeHoullier, Zaurbek Baysangurov, and Derrick Enis.

In the welterweight division, with the upcoming Cotto vs. Pacquiao fight several requests were put in for a ranking at 147 as Freddy Hernandez, Carlos Abregu, and Orlando Lora all had requests from Gary Shaw, while Gilmarti put in a convincing request for Briton Cal Brook.

Perhaps the biggest news was when it was announced that purse bids for the Timothy Bradley vs. Lamont Peterson junior welterweight fight might be happening as early as Wednesday in Puerto Rico if an agreement could not be finalized before then. Other fighters who had request put in at junior welterweight include Manuel Perata, Victor Manuel Cayo, and Lovemore Ndou as well as undefeated prospect Ruslan Provodniko. agreement by Wed then purse bids in Puerto ico.

In the lightweight division Dennis Gilmarti put in a request for Alex Arthur while Enzo Calzaghe put in a request for Gavin Reese to enter the top ten. Gary Shaw indicated that Antonio Demarco would be “honored” to fight Juan Diaz for the #1 position Eric Gomez requested Jorge Barrios to move up from #6 to #5. Spanish based Russian Peter Petrov, 43-2, also had a representative ask for entry into top 15, as did Ray Nahr, Ignacio Mendoza, and Anthony Peterson

In the junior lightweight division Dennis Gilmarti spoke on behalf of Gary Mitchell, while Carl Moretti spoke on behalf of Brandon Rios and Square Ring put in a request for Jason Litzau to move into the top 15 as well.

As the lower weights came up the activity slowed down, however request were put in for numerous fighters from Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Upon completion of the ratings committee meeting, the next order of business was to vote on the location for next years convention, with Cartagena, Colombia winning out over El Salvador, Argentina, Costa Rica, and a somewhat light hearted request from Gary Shaw to hold the convention in New Jersey.

After the close of the meeting delegates had an opportunity to tour Budapest over the afternoon, but there still was some business to be conducted over the evening as awards were handed out to various individuals over the gala dinner. Joe Calzaghe, who was in attendance, was awarded a special recognition award from the WBO as well as one from the Hungarian Amateur Boxing Association. Eric Gomez accepted a lifetime achievement award on behalf of Oscar De la Hoya, as well as the WBO fighter of the year award, which went to Juan Manuel Marquez. Gomez, Frank Warren, and Top Rank also collected WBO promoter of the year awards (with Carl Moretti collecting the award on behalf of Top Rank), while Alex Krassyuk accepted a special recognition award for Wladimir Klitschko as well as one celebrating the K2 promotion of the Klitschko-Chagaev fight (which was the biggest gate of the year).

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