But that forces us to find a new entry for this week’s top fight you probably won’t see. A quick scan on Boxrec shows a busy weekend set with several fights in Argentina. But nothing I would classify as “must see.”
In Spain there is a scheduled fight between undefeated Guillermo Rivero (4-0) and Albert Ulrich (0-22) of Cameroon.
Yeah, you could probably miss that one. (Although interesting side note, Ulrich is ranked by Boxrec as the top light heavyweight from Cameroon, and has only been stopped five times in twenty-two fights, so that fight should go a few rounds even though it seems pretty clear that Rivero will come out on top.)
But Ulrich isn’t the only fighter from Cameroon fighting this weekend, and in a fight that could be noteworthy for the super middleweight division in the coming months, former WBC world champion Sakio Bika (32-7-3, 21 KOs) is set to take on Australia’s Luke Sharp (14-5-3, 6 KOs) in a fight for a WBC regional title later today in New South Wales. Bika, unlike the aforementioned Ulrich, is a highly accomplished fighter who has already established himself as arguably the best fighter to ever come out of Cameroon. But he hasn’t won a fight since June of 2013 (in a fight for the vacant WBC super middleweight title against Marco Antonio Periban) and although Sharp has lost three of his last four fights, he certainly could be catching Bika at the right time. Bika is a tough guy with a solid chin (he went the distance with Adonis Stevenson in a fight for the WBC light heavyweight title in his last fight back in 2015) so he should come out on top this weekend. And he clearly has a plan to get back into the world rankings (fighting for a WBC regional belt and having another fight set in October). But although I am not picking Sharp in an upset, I am also not ruling it out. Age and father time eventually catches up to every fighter, and a layoff of two years can’t be a good thing for an older boxer.
Now a lot of old time Australian fight fans still remember back in 1989 when another former WBC world champion, Matthew Saad Muhammad, came “Down Under” to take on a local boy Kevin Wagstaff in Queensland. Saad Muhammad hardly resembled the legendary former WBC light heavyweight champion as he struggled with the Australian journeyman. And unlike Bika, who resides in Australia and has remained a ranked contender up until his last fight against Stevenson, Saad had already shown signs that he was a spent commodity long before 1989 (he came into the Wagstaff fight on the heels of a first round KO loss to Frankie Swindell). But to me Matthew Saad Muhammad remains a stark reminder of what happens when a father time and age catch a fighter against the ropes. I still remember the moment Saad Muhammad got “old” in the ring. It was on December 19, 1981 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. 2:30 of the second round. For five minutes Saad boxed beautifully, pumping the jab as he cruised to what looked to be an easy decision victory (Saad was known for making fights tougher then they needed to be by engaging in crowd pleasing wars). But Qawi landed a hard right hand at 2:30 of the second round and Saad Muhammad would never recover from that punch. Ever. Qawi would stop him nine rounds later but the Matthew Saad Muhammad who fought on for ten more years and twenty one more fights never again resembled the fighter who outboxed Dwight Qawi for all of five and a half minutes during his ninth world title defense.
Will Sakio Bika be able to string together a few wins and maybe claw his way back into a world title fight in 2018? Maybe. But first he needs to prove to the world that he has more than five and a half minutes of greatness left in him. And he is going to have to start right now. If Bika is fighting his own battle with father time, if this is round three of his own personal battle with Dwight Qawi, then we may know by the end of the day what the future holds for Bika and the super middleweight division.
Normally I don’t get too excited about a fight featuring a top ranked contender versus a TBA in a six rounder, but this weekend’s fight featuring Hughie Fury is worth checking out if for no other reason then it really shouldn’t be happening. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it is (and not because I am anticipating a competitive fight). I appreciate the gesture and the willingness to whet the appetite of boxing fans looking forward to the upcoming Parker-Fury clash in September. But this is a no-win situation if ever I saw one. At best he blows out his opponent (and how much ring rust to you shake off in that situation?). There is no reason to take on a tune-up fight when you already are signed to fight for the world title.
I can’t help but think of Clarence “Bones” Adams. Most of you remember Adams as the popular former WBA super bantamweight champion who had two memorable fights against Paulie Ayala on HBO back in 2001 and 2002. But in 1995 Adams was a young, up and coming contender whose career was in freefall after losing back to back fights against Orlando Canizales (for the IBF bantamweight title) and Frankie Toledo. The Toledo fight came as a result of a shoulder injury and Adams elected to take on a little known club fighter named Jeff Trimble in February of 1995 in Detroit just three months after losing to Toledo due to the dislocated shoulder. Although some wondered if the injury of Adams had enough time to heal, few anticipated that Trimble (who was coming into the fight with a 4-8 record) would be any test for Adams. As fate would have it, Adams would lose his third fight in a row after he suffered another dislocated shoulder.
It’s worth mentioning that it was three months ago that Fury was forced to pull out of his title fight with Parker due to a back injury. Does this mean that I’m picking Fury to lose in an upset? No. But I have some questions about if Fury is at 100% and we may get answers to that question this weekend. If his back is still bothering him we may know about it on July 8th. If he is suffering from ring rust we may know about it on July 8th.
Odds are that if they can find an opponent for Hughie Fury by Saturday (Fury tweeted as recently as yesterday that he was still on for the July 8th fight so I am expecting the fight to go forward) we won’t be rewarded with a tremendous fight. Whoever ends up taking the fight will have less than a week to prepare for the WBO #1 ranked heavyweight, and odds are they will be bringing in someone who isn’t going to push Fury even if he had ample time to prepare for the fight. Most likely it will be little more than a glorified sparring session where Fury works off some of the ring rust. But even if he is healthy it is worth noting that the last time a fighter took on an ill-advised tune-up after signing to fight for the heavyweight title in London was way back in 1993.
So I decided to start a blog, which will be mostly dedicated to travel and the sport of boxing. Right off the bat, I will not be discussing anything related to the law or the practice of law.
I first started writing for the website Fightnews.com back in 2001, and over the years I’ve been all over the world covering fights. Some locations have been memorable, others…not so much. But I’ve been fortunate enough to see the world from the neutral corner and hopefully I will be able to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.