By Derek Bonnett
Greetings SecondsOut boxing aficionados, your friendly neighborhood pessimist is back for another volume of Title Shots Here! Getcha’ Free Title Shot! to satiate your world title fight inquiries. Please continue to reach out and share your feelings about dubious world title bouts and questionable challengers. So far, our English, Irish, and South African readers have been the most vocal. However, it’s one world we’re concerned with when discussing the various title affairs put under the microscope and, fortunately, we are all citizens of that land mass.
I am pleased to report that once again I am very pleased with the caliber of world title fights being made by the IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO. This is not to say that these organizing bodies haven’t made terrible oversights in ranking a deceased fighter or threatening to strip titlists for unifying within their divisions, but the quality of the match-ups on the horizon is exceptionally high. Next month, the IBF will provide us with Jean Pascal versus Tavoris Cloud at light heavyweight as well a unification bout between Daniel Geale and Felix Sturm (WBA). The WBC will be sanctioning bouts between Antonio Demarco and John Molina along with Johnny Gonzalez and Daniel Ponce De Leon in September. They will also team up with the WBA as Andre Ward puts his belts on the line against Chad Dawson. The WBO title will be on the line in several significant bouts in August including Adrien Broner-Vincente Escobedo, Arthur Abraham- Robert Stieglitz, and Ivan Calderon- Moises Fuentes. However, the WBA, outside of the aforementioned unification bouts, can be called into question for their insistence on loading up the schedule with "interim" title bouts. In the coming months, the WBA will sanction three "interim" title bouts at 115, 130, 140 pounds.
The first bout I call into question is the WBA’s July 21 interim title affair between Bryan Vasquez and Jorge Lacierva in Mexico. First of all, the "interim" belt is unnecessary because the regular WBA 130-pound champion, Takashi Uchiyama, just fought on July 16. Vasquez-Lacierva should be treated for what it is, a good match-up between a developing contender and a well-rounded former world title challenger. Vasquez, 28-0 (14), now ranked number one by the WBA, captured the "interim" belt by outpointing Santos Benavides in his last fight. Lacierva just appeared in the rankings at number ten this month. Since losing an IBF featherweight title shot against Billy Dib in July 2011, Lacierva, 41-8-6 (27), has won two bouts. The first was an eight round decision over Arturo Camargo, 32-15-2 (27), who since 2010 had only beaten two fighters with winning records. Lacierva’s most recent win came by first round KO against Heli Quiroz, who fell to 6-11 (0). So far, that’s his only bout in 2012.
Honestly, this is not the worst title affair I have seen, but Lacierva, as experienced as he may be, has done nothing to warrant another "title fight". I think the boxing public would be far better served by seeing Vasquez in against one of his contemporaries such as Diego Magdaleno or Juan Carlos Burgos, whom are rated directly behind him. The winner of either match-up would certainly warrant a shot at the real titlist, Uchiyama. If the "interim" WBA title is merely an elaborate way of saying "number one contender", then who needs it.
Also on July 21 in Mexico, Johan Perez will meet Pablo Cesar Cano for the "interim" WBA 140-pound distinction. Perez, 15-0-1 (12), steps into the ring for the first time this year after winning his "belt" last December with a fourth round TKO of Fernando Castaneda. Perez has the look of a promising prospect coming out of Venezuela with a nice win over Kenny Galarza highlighting his resume, but an "interim" titlist? Seems premature. Cano is known best for his stoppage loss to Erik Morales last year in a questionable WBC title affair. Since then, Cano, 24-1-1 (19), has won twice in 2012 against good opposition, relatively speaking, but not the kind of tests which warrant a title bout or a number one contender status possibility.
Again, we see a match-up of rising contenders, which is solid on paper. So, why am I so concerned if the title that is on the line is essentially a paper one to begin with? Well, because as of July Cano just appeared in the WBA rankings at number fourteen. Just in time, huh? Just in time for a "title" fight. Put these two boxers in the ring at any point and I have no problem, but since Cano can become the number one contender in the division for winning this "interim" title, I call the validity of the whole process into question. When names like Amir Khan (prior to the Garcia fight), Lucas Martin Matthysse, Jesse Vargas, and Humberto Soto are ranked lower than Perez, I see a problem. When I see the opportunity for Cano, who is ranked below them, to surpass them by beating Perez, I see an even bigger problem. If the "interim" WBA title can’t even accurately identify a deserving number one contender, toss the whole system in the trash. With Danny Garcia as "Super" champion and Marcos Rene Maidana as "World" champion, I think the WBA already has their bases covered at 140-pounds.
On August 18, Peru’s Alberto Rossel will put his light flyweight title on the line against number fourteen ranked Karluis Diaz. Rossel, 28-8 (13), a challenger for various levels of titles from 108 to 118, recently earned a number one ranking by capturing the "interim" 108-pound WBA title with a decision over Jose Alfredo Rodriguez. It was a solid win that the thirty-four year old was not clearly favored going in. In fact, I questioned Rossel’s merit in receiving an "interim" title fight in a previous volume of this series. While I was wrong about the outcome of the fight, I still can’t say I consider Rossel as the most deserving challenger to pound for pound beast Roman Gonzalez. However, the WBA’s ranking at 108-pounds are among the most curious since they do not share a single common contender with my SecondsOut’s rankings. My real gripe in this one focuses on Diaz as a quality challenger or candidate for the number one spot. Diaz, 17-3 (13), has been stopped in all three of his losses. Most recently, in October 2011, he was stopped at 105 by Mario Rodriguez in one round. Since then, Diaz has scored one victory over Jose Bertel. Bertel was 0-2 going in and now stands at 0-4 with all of his losses by stoppage. Outside of Diaz’ losses, which were to capable contenders, his record is replete with trial-horse level opposition.
The combined resumes of the last ten men Diaz defeated is 72-130-14. That’s hardly an impressive distinction going into an "interim" title bout which could catapult Diaz in the rankings over Jose Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedro Guevara, men whom have already KO’d him. Even worse, it could make him the number one contender to Roman Gonzalez. Of the three match-ups scrutinized in this volume, Diaz-Rossel stacks up the least favorably.
Overall, the boxing organization have improved the quality of their match-ups over the course of 2012. However, the world title label is still taken just a little too lightly. The WBA’s sanctioning of copious "interim" title bouts while the respective champions are active and healthy is a sham. If their true intent is to identify a salient number one contender, and not to collect additional sanctioning fees, then they should simply declare the number one spot vacant and initiate title eliminators between their top two contenders instead of allowing lower rung boxers to leap-frog over those with better experience, resumes, or ability.
For further boxing discussion contact Derek DBO Bonnett on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.