By Paul Upham: A delayed renewal of his USA working visa has cost Sakio Bika the chance to fight for a place in the prestigious Super Six super middleweight boxing tournament on the American Showtime television network.
After American boxer Jermain Taylor withdrew from the Super Six tournament on January 12, it was agreed by the promoters and Showtime that Allan Green and Sakio Bika would meet in a box-off on February 5 to determine the replacement.
30 year-old Green 29-1 (20) had accepted the fight and Bika was ready to sign a contract, but the Sydney based fighter was not able to provide a copy of a current U.S working visa.
The Contender USA 2007 series champion Bika, last fought in the USA in November 2008, when he defeated Peter Manfredo to win the IBO world title.
Bika submitted his U.S working visa renewal paperwork on November 2, 2009, well before the Green fight opportunity. Based on his prior renewals, this process usually takes around four to six weeks. However, when the final deadline arrived last Thursday January 21 for Showtime to lock in all paperwork for the Green fight, Bika was left on the outside looking in.
Despite a number of desperate inquiries, with no working visa and no indication as to when it would eventually arrive, Bika’s manager Al Haymon informed Showtime that the fight with Green could not proceed.
“Sakio was really disappointed when the fight with Green was cancelled,” Bika’s trainer David Birchell told SecondsOut on Wednesday. “I sent him away from the gym for a few days to get his head right and freshen up.”
Cameroon born Bika told SecondsOut last year when the Super Six tournament was first announced what he thought about his original omission.
“What’s going on? I should be in that tournament,” he said. “I won The Contender tournament at super middleweight and I hold the IBO super middleweight world title. When you are talking about the best super middleweights in the world, how can you not have me in there?”
Frustratingly, Bika received email confirmation from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service yesterday, Tuesday January 26 (January 25 USA time), that his working visa had been renewed.
Birchell was unsure if the alleged December 25 Nigerian terrorist attack in Detroit, USA and the increased security thereafter, had any affect on the delay in renewing Bika’s working visa.
“Even so, he still applied in November, way before any of that happened,” he said. “It is disappointing but I have told Sakio we just have to move on now and look forward to other fights in the future.”
Still only 30 years of age, Bika 28-3-2 (19) knocked out Jaidon Codrington spectacularly in November 2007 to win the third series of The Contender and steamrolled over Peter Manfredo in three rounds in 2008.
Managed by Al Haymon, clearly, “The Scorpion” is the most talented super middleweight free agent in the world today, not contracted to any promoter. His U.S working visa has been renewed now for twelve months and he is ready to fight.
“We are ready to prove that Sakio is the best super middleweight in the world and will be pleased to fight the winner of the Super Six tournament,” said Birchell. “I think deep down, there will be some boxers who are pleased he is not in the Super Six tournament. Anyone who has seen Sakio fight knows how dangerous he is.”