Dan Rafael: Marcus Oliveira

More WBA title madness

December, 18, 2013
The absurdity of the WBA knows no bounds. I’ve harped on the organizations and their sheer madness and audacity for years -- not to mention putrid rankings, multiple titles and not following their own rules -- but things are just way out of hand now with this particular alphabet soup body.

It’s bad enough that the WBA will sanction as many as four titleholders in the same weight class (for a small sanctioning fee, of course). It has super, regular, unified and interim titleholders. Take your pick. It is just pathetic.

But where it really is ridiculous is when two of its so-called titleholders perform on the same night rather than fighting each other.

On Saturday, light heavyweight titlist Beibut Shumenov, inactive for 18 months (yet allowed to keep his belt) was “elevated” to “super” titleholder and defended the belt against Tamas Kovacs on the big card in San Antonio.

On the very same day in Germany, Juergen Braehmer outpointed Marcus Oliveira -- a massive joke to be fighting for a world title given his woeful résumé -- to win the vacant “regular” title.

Here you had Shumenov and Braehmer, both quality top-10 175-pounders, fighting for belts in the same organization on the same day rather than facing each other.

As bad as that was, it gets even worse on Feb. 1 in Monte Carlo. That is where Gennady Golovkin, also recently “elevated” (which really means another title that the greedy organization can charge another sanctioning fee for) to “super” titleholder, will defend against Osumanu Adama.

On the very same card, England’s Martin Murray (26-1-1, 11 KOs), the interim titlist, will face Australia’s Jarrod Fletcher (17-1, 10 KOs) for the now-vacant “regular” title when Murray really should be facing Golovkin, for whom he was the mandatory. But the WBA didn’t order the fight. Instead, it is content to collect another fee and pass off this fight as a title bout.

It’s insanity, yet the Murray camp made Wednesday’s announcement of the fight with Fletcher -- knocked out in the second round the only time he ever faced a decent opponent in Billy Joe Saunders last year -- out to be some huge deal.

“Martin Murray will look to fulfill his dream of becoming St Helens' first-ever world champion in Monte Carlo on February 1,” the Hatton Promotions press release read.

The winner of that fight won’t be a real world champion. He’ll have a gaudy belt but no credibility as a serious champion. How can the winner be a real world champion when Golovkin (28-0, 25 KOs), in the main event, is active and already holds a title in the same organization?

I can’t blame Murray. Is he supposed to turn down the opportunity? Of course not. He’s already had two other title shots, a draw with Felix Sturm and a tight loss to Sergio Martinez (the real, honest-to-goodness middleweight champ of the world). So from Murray’s point of view, the fight with Fletcher is meaningful, even if to most others it is pointless as far as being a title fight.

“Jarrod Fletcher is a good kid. I've not seen too much of him, but we'll be working on that now we've got a date,” Murray said. “He's got a good pedigree, and he beat [2008 British Olympic gold medalist] James DeGale in the amateurs, which isn't easy and proves he's a good fighter.

"He's going to be well up for this, but I think I'll be the favorite and rightly so, given who I've fought before and how I've done against them. It's going to be interesting for both of us, but I want everyone to know that there's no way I'm coming home to St Helens without that world title.”

Indeed, Murray said “that” world title. Just not a legitimate one, thanks to the WBA’s continuing joke of having multiple belts in the same division.

Unbeaten 130-pounders to meet

March, 29, 2013
Any time there's a big fight in Las Vegas, a smaller card usually lands on the schedule there the night before. It will be no different when pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. defends his welterweight title against Robert Guerrero on May 4 at the MGM Grand.

On May 3, Golden Boy, which is promoting Mayweather-Guerrero, will also put on a card at The Cosmopolitan (Fox Deportes/FNS, 11 p.m. ET).

In the main event, junior lightweight prospect Francisco Vargas (15-0-1, 12 KOs), a 2008 Mexican Olympian, will take on Jose Aguiniga (33-0, 15 KOs), who quit fighting from 2007 until last year, in a scheduled 10-rounder.

The co-feature isn't set yet, but 2012 U.S. Olympians Errol Spence Jr. (4-0, 3 KOs), a welterweight, and Joseph Diaz (3-0, 1 KO), a junior featherweight, will face opponents to be determined in scheduled six-round undercard bouts.

Santana back in action

Promoter Don King announced a Las Vegas fight card for April 12 at Treasure Island Resort & Casino. Lightweight prospect Angelo "La Cobra" Santana (14-0, 11 KOs), a former Cuban amateur standout living in Miami, will headline the Showtime "ShoBox: The New Generation" card (10 p.m. ET/PT) against Carlos Cardenas (20-6-1, 13 KOs) of Venezuela. They'll meet for a vacant interim lightweight title.

In the eight-round co-feature, Albany, N.Y., junior welterweight Amir Imam (8-0, 7 KOs) will meet Jeremy Bryan (16-2, 7 KOs) of Paterson, N.J.

In a fight not slated for the U.S. telecast, King said that Ryan Coyne (21-0, 9 KOs) of St. Louis will face Marcus Oliveira (24-0-1, 19 KOs) of Lawrence, Kan., in a light heavyweight title eliminator. The winner of the 12-rounder will become the mandatory challenger for titlist Beibut Shumenov.