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Monday, January 30, 2012
IBF deserves credit for handling of Solis

By Dan Rafael

Your random thoughts ...

Anyone who reads my work knows I'm no fan of the way the sanctioning bodies do business. Most of their rankings are pathetic, and most of them break their own rules with impunity. And then there are the multiple titleholders per division they crown, which is one of the cancers of boxing.

However, there are times when an organization does something right and deserves credit. Although the WBA, WBC and WBO regularly hand out multiple titles per division, including the dreaded interim titles, I'll give credit to the IBF for its judicious and appropriate use of them.

Interim titles should be used in only one scenario: when the titleholder is legitimately injured and will be unable to defend the belt for an extended period. It isn't fair to strip somebody because of an injury, but neither is it fair to keep a title tied up during a lengthy injury.

The IBF has a provision in its rules regarding when it can use an interim title, and it's going to use it now -- for the right reasons.

Junior flyweight titlist Ulises "Archie" Solis of Mexico is injured. He hasn't fought since August and likely will be out of action for several more months, which will take him at least three months past the time during which he would have been expected to make a mandatory defense.

So the IBF has agreed to allow its two highest-rated 108-pound contenders to vie for the interim title. That means former titlist Luis Lazarte of Argentina and Johnriel Casimero of the Philippines will meet Feb. 10 in Argentina for the interim belt.

And what makes the IBF's rule legit is that it won't mess around: When Solis returns, his next defense will have to be against the winner of the interim title bout -- the way it should be. This isn't the way it's handled by the other organizations, which have allowed titleholders and interim titleholders to go about making defense after defense without being ordered to face each other.

The only negative in this IBF situation is that Solis has already had to fight Lazarte, the dirtiest fighter in boxing, twice. In 2010, Solis was robbed in Argentina in a draw with Lazarte, in which the referee and scoring were so poor that the IBF ordered a rematch. The fighters met again in 2011, with Solis outpointing Lazarte in another terrible fight. It would be a shame if they had to meet again. That's one rule the IBF could stand to tweak -- dropping the loser in a mandatory fight low enough in the rankings so that an entirely unnecessary fight isn't foisted on the titleholder and public.

But the interim title usage by the IBF is exactly as it should be. IBF championships chairman Lindsey Tucker, who has served in his role since 2003, is a by-the-books guy. Under his watch, this will be only the third time the organization will employ the use of an interim world title. It used it in 2004 when junior welterweight champ Kostya Tszyu was injured and Sharmba Mitchell claimed the interim belt (and later got knocked out by Tszyu, upon his return). In 2006, Julio Diaz claimed the interim lightweight title when Jesus Chavez was on the shelf because of an injury, and when Chavez returned he lost to Diaz.

• I was disappointed that President Obama took more than an hour to deliver his recent State of the Union address and couldn't find even a moment to bring up the national need for a Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight.

• I'm looking forward to my first trip to San Antonio later this week to cover the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Marco Antonio Rubio and Nonito Donaire-Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. doubleheader. Friday's weigh-in is scheduled to take place in front of the Alamo. That should be pretty cool -- and probably means I will remember the Alamo.

• Chuck Giampa ... um, I forgot what I was going to write.

• Has Rico Ramos thrown a punch yet against Guillermo Rigondeaux?

• I happen to think that the Edwin Rodriguez-Donovan George super middleweight bout can't possibly be a boring fight. Promoter Lou DiBella and HBO went with that fight to open the March 17 card headlined by Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin when they couldn't finalize a fight for Andy Lee. I'm not disappointed. Rodriguez-George is a more interesting fight than any of the opponents who were mentioned as possible Lee foes.

• So Andre Dirrell has left adviser Al Haymon and promoter Gary Shaw and has created his own promotional company. Delusion knows no bounds in this business.

• Poor Cornelius "K9" Bundrage. The junior middleweight titlist has been kept maddeningly inactive by promoter Don King and now is saddled with an absolutely horrible mandatory defense against Cory Spinks, who brings no fan interest and whom Bundrage already destroyed to win the belt in the first place.

• Congratulations to Amir Khan on his engagement.

• I really hope Top Rank and HBO can finish a deal for Brandon Rios and Yuriorkis Gamboa to go right into a fight with each other April 14 rather than wasting time on a card with each of them in interim bouts. Fingers crossed.

• The good news is that the Alexander Povetkin-Marco Huck heavyweight title bout was sanctioned. The bad news is that the winner must face Hasim Rahman next. Ewwww.

• British super middleweight prospect James DeGale, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, says he has left promoter Frank Warren and is a free agent. Warren says he still has DeGale under contract until April 14, 2013. This one should be fun to follow.

• Gotta be honest: It's hard to get excited for the April 28 rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson. But at least with it taking place in Atlantic City, N.J., I won't have to fly cross-country for it, as I did for the first fight in Los Angeles.

• Happy 28th birthday to junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson and 22nd birthday to welterweight Thomas Dulorme, one of the best prospects in boxing.