The Spit Bucket is your weekly source of random thoughts and comments about the manly art of defense, from the perspective of our resident boxing writer Diego Morilla. You can follow him on Twitter at @MorillaBoxing.
Super middleweight casting call now in progress
Boxing comebacks have always been inspired almost exclusively by money. Add a beatable yet profitable superstar to the mix, and you’ll have a dozen fighters trying to stage a return to their old glories for a crack at one last payday.
That’s currently the case at 168, where the imminent arrival of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has the entire division in upheaval. Chavez, a second-generation Mexican boxing superstar, is known for drawing hundreds of thousands of compatriots to the TV screens and box offices, and the money trail he leaves behind has already convinced at least two former titlists to give boxing a second (or even third) try.
Undeterred by the dominant presence of undisputed champ Andre Ward and by what could be the imminent arrival of power puncher Gennady Golovkin, these former titlists are planning to return in separate bouts in the hopes of grabbing a ticket in the Chavez Sweepstakes.
First up is former super middleweight titlist Jeff Lacy (25-4, 17 KOs), who is returning after a 3-year layoff to face Martin Verdin (20-16-2, 11 KOs) on November 30th. Lacy owned a piece of the 168 lb title between 2004 and 2006, making four defenses of his IBF belt before surrendering it to Joe Calzaghe, but that defeat set him on a 4-4 streak that included losses to Roy Jones Jr. and former 2000 U.S. Olympic teammate Jermain Taylor in late 2008.
Coincidentally, Taylor (31-4-1, 19 KOs) is also staging a return after little more than a year away from the rings. A former undisputed middleweight champion who engaged in several memorable wars, Taylor will be facing J.C. Candelo in San Antonio as part of the Maidana-Broner undercard. A former bronze medalist as an Olympian, Taylor owns two wins against Bernard Hopkins in a memorable run, but he is also remembered for a punishing defeat at the hands of Arthur Abraham as part of Showtime’s Super Six tournament, which led to a severe head injury and an early retirement in 2009. He came back for three more fights in 2011, but has been idle for 14 months due to contractual issues.
Whether they will ever get a crack at Chavez, remains to be seen. One thing is certain: expect to see more unretiring contenders trying to cash in on their former glories by setting themselves up as step-up opponents for Chavez at 168.
IBA announces changes in its organization
The organization formerly known as AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association) will finally be expanding its categories of competition with the arrival of the APB (AIBA Professional Boxing) in early 2014, to add to its already successful WSB (World Series of Boxing) and AOB (AIBA Open Boxing).
While a full explanation of the implications of these new operations would take several articles to explain, it is clear that the new offerings will have some implications in the worldwide boxing scene in the near future. One of them is the addition of a Cuban team (Domadores) which is poised to become one of the most dominant teams in a league comprised by 12 franchises.
With a terrific supply of fighters from their huge state-run farm system, the Cubans feature some of the most polished talents in the amateur world, and now they are being unleashed upon the semi-pro and professional ranks to carry on the legend of former Olympic legends Teofilo Stevenson, Felix Savon and dozens of others that have made the beleaguered island-nation a boxing powerhouse in the unpaid ranks during the past 40 years. In fact, Savon’s nephew Erislandy Savon Cotilla is one of the many outstanding fighters of Team Domadores (“Tamers”, in Spanish), which also features two Despaigne brothers (Arisnoidys and Yaciel, related to current US-based professional Yordanis Despaigne) and one of the most promising fighters of the fearsome national team in Lazaro Alvarez.
So far, the Domadores have swept the Mexico Guerreros in Mexico with a 5-0 performance in their debut in the series, and then proceeded to mow down Poland’s Hussars by a similar margin in the second round of the 2013/14 league matches.
Things will get hotter in the next round of the series when Cuba faces Russia in early December. But regardless of the result, we can count on seeing some of the best Cuban talent making their slow but relentless transition into the world of professional boxing.
Boxing on life support: the plight of Abdusalamov and Carmona
Two different fighters and two different stories converge on the same drama as two tough warriors remain in critical condition after receiving severe beatings in their respective last fights.
One of them is former heavyweight contender Magomed Abdusalamov, a 32-year-old Russian-born fighter currently fighting for his life as he is back on an induced coma. He was temporarily removed from respiratory assistance and taken out of his coma after showing positive signs of recovery, but was placed back into a chemically-induced coma after allegedly being unresponsive to treatment and apparently being deprived of movement on the left side of his body. Abdusalamov (18-1, 18 KOs) had lost a brutal fight against Mike Perez at Madison Square Garden two weeks ago, and has remained in the hospital ever since, after being admitted for a series of facial lacerations and then undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.
A few thousand miles away in Mexico City, Colombia’s Jose Carmona (22-4, 12 KO) faces a very similar situation as he tries to recover from the exact same surgical procedure. Carmona received a dozen punches from former multiple champ Jorge Arce in a bout that took place in San Luis Potosi during the same night in which Abdusalamov was injured, and he crumpled to the canvas as the referee waved off the contest in round 8.
Carmona was 0-2 coming into his bout against Arce, and looking bad in both of those last fights, but Abdusalamov was an unbeaten fighter who never failed to stop his opponents, and yet both ended up clinging to their lives by a thread. As much as this underlines the implied dangers of the sport, it will certainly give boxing another opportunity to revise its safety measures and its rules regarding physical and mental fitness for fighters, as well as a chance for the worldwide boxing community to put their resources together to help these fighters in need. Regardless of the outcome of Abdusalamov’s and Carmona’s fights (in which we wish them the best), the opportunity to draw powerful lessons from these two unfortunate situations should be clearly understood, and a collective action should be taken by the boxing industry as a whole to ensure its readiness not only to avoid these injuries, but also to act swiftly in aid of the fallen fighters in cases such as this one.
Food for thought, indeed.