Title Shots Here! Getcha' Free Title Shot!, Vol. 4

Wonjongkam's opponents have not been up to par
Wonjongkam's opponents have not been up to par

By Derek Bonnett: I guess I am just not speaking loud enough. This is my fourth criticism of the sanctioning bodies since February and boxing fans are still are not getting what they deserve from these organizations and their world champions. I am not asking for WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO to have a mandatory challenger in every title fight. Half the time, the mandatory challengers aren’t even that good. However, boxing fans need to demand better quality fights. We aren’t always going to agree with the rankings, but when fighters mysteriously appear in the rankings right before title fight contracts are signed it makes you wonder. Boxing organizations are businesses first and, clearly, business is good right now because they are collecting hefty sanctioning fees from subpar match-ups under the guise of world championship bouts.

God forbid another inept challenger receives a world championship bout and is seriously injured. The late Jimmy Garcia, who died after injuries sustained in the ring against Gabriel Ruelas back in 1995, received back to back world title shots in spite of having never faced a legitimate fighter outside of a young Orlando Soto. Most of his opponents have very little information listed about them in the record books and appear to have been winless by and large. There were numerous factors leading to the demise of Colombia’s Garcia, but the one inexcusable fact is that he should never have been in a world championship bout to begin with. A fighter can die in the ring at any time, but the chances go way up when there is a huge disparity in ring competency between a world champion and an incompetent challenger with a manufactured ranking.

Hats off to the IBF for being spared my poisonous prose for two consecutive volumes. The WBA, WBC, and WBO aren’t so lucky.

I truly admire Pongsaklek Wonjongkam’s activity, but not his opposition since winning the title from Koki Kameda. His July 1 bout in Thailand against Tokuya Kogawa, 17-1 (10), will be his fourth bout in 2011. After winning three non-title fights against mere babes in the sport (Wonjongkam’s three opponents had a combined reported record of 2-7 going into their bouts with the Thai world champion), he will be making his first defense of the WBC flyweight title for this year. Wonjongkam, 80-3-1 (44), will have a vast edge in experience over Kogawa, who has never fought as a flyweight, but as of June held a number nine ranking at 115 pounds in spite of only making that weight limit twice in his eighteen bout career.

Further perusal of Kogawa’s record reveals little substance. Two of his last four opponents were making their professional debuts. A third was Bum-Young Lee, 4-3-1, whose name says it all. His most recent conquest, Danilo Pena, at least had shared the ring with recognizable opposition from time to time, but is currently on a three fight slide. Kogawa’s best win is probably a decision over Xiong Zhao Zong back in 2009. For now, worthy challengers such as Wilbert Uicab, Rocky Fuentes, and Milan Melindo await their shot at Wonjongkam.

Jhonny Gonzalez, 48-7 (42), captured the WBC featherweight title after stopping Hozumi Hasegawa in four rounds this past April. Only July 9, the Mexican warrior will take a huge step down in class to make his first defense against Caballero. Not Celestino Caballero, for we would have little reason for complaint, but Roinet Caballero, whose evanescent number seven ranking appeared in June after being unranked in May.

It must have been Caballero’s big win over the 13-13-1 Santos Marimon in May that prompted he be catapulted over Celestino Caballero in the rankings among other more deserving fighters. Prior to the Marimon bout, Roinet defeated two opponents with records of 9-9-3 and 9-4. Immediately before this sizzling win-streak, Caballero, 30-10-1 (22), lost back to back decisions to Irving Berry and Daniel Ponce De Leon. The real shame is that this will be Caballero’s second shot at a world title. The first time around he retired on his stool after seven rounds with Chris John. Gonzalez’ title reign will surely go on, but this victory does nothing to advance his career as one of boxing’s thrill-a-minute champions over the years.

On the same evening, another Mexican champion will defend his title in Mexico also. Hugo Cazares holds SecondsOut’s top honors as the number one 115 pounder in the world, but he receives little honor for accepting Arturo Badillo as his next title challenger. In spite of having never defeated a notable contender from flyweight to super bantamweight, Badillo holds a number eleven ranking in the eyes of the WBA.

Badillo has fought one world class opponent in his career. That was a ninth round TKO loss to, once formidable 105 pounder, Ronald Barrera last year. Badillo has mounted a three fight win-streak against a real murderers row in Arcadio Salazar (6-4-2), Rodolfo Garay (27-18-1), and Ricardo Armenta (12-8-1). Salazar is in the midst of a six fight winless streak with five stoppage losses. Garay has been halted thirteen times. Armenta, who has been stopped seven times in nine losses, managed to drop Badillo in the second round before succumbing in the seventh. Any sane boxing aficionado would say get Badillo out of here. The WBA says, give that man a title fight.

Beibut Shumenov received a "give me" when the WBA approved of the badly faded William Joppy as a world title challenger. Well, they did it again. Shumenov, 11-1 (7), has taken his foot off the accelerator after rematching Gabriel Campillo and defending against Viacheslav Uzelkov in back to back bouts. Next up for Shumenov is Danny Santiago, who might be less deserving of a world title fight than Joppy. It’s okay though. The WBA ranks Santiago fifteenth. Shumenov is following the popular trend these days of capturing a world title first and then going back to progress as a prospect. While Shumenov grows the balls to match his promotional power-train, viable contenders like Campillo and Zsolt Erdie wade the muddy waters of the WBA rankings.

Wonjongkam, Gonzalez, Cazares, and Shumenov all know how to do it right. Even in boxing, winning isn’t everything. Title bouts such as those outlined above do nothing but line pockets and stretch out title reigns. We are all familiar with the "bum of the month" mentality, but I’ll be damned if I play ball. Not when Jean Pascal faces off with Adrian Diaconu, Chad Dawson, and Bernard Hopkins in five of his last six fights. Sure, he took a breather against Silvio Branco somewhere in between, but that’s exactly what it was: a breather. Juan Manuel Marquez will be taking on Likar Ramos this month as well. Ramos is far from being labeled as an exceptional contender, but Marquez has faced off against one of the most impressive lineups of opponents in the game today. We forgive him for stepping down between bouts with Michael Katsidis and Manny Pacquiao. Boxing’s world champions need to stand up for the titles they defend and give them the prestige they desire because the sanctioning bodies creating these titles know little about merit.

For further boxing discussion contact Derek Bonnett on Facebook or at mabfan@comcast.net.
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