WBC: Boxing legends must not be compromised

By Mauricio Sulaimán / Son of José Sulaimán / President of the WBC

The World Boxing Council invariably supports any situation beneficial to boxers, including new promotional companies, broadcast platforms, extraordinary tournaments, sponsoring companies, etc.

Part of our work as a regulatory body for this sport is to promote and offer our platform to support such initiatives.

The WBC worked hard to achieve the very successful Super 6 tournament in Showtime’s super middleweight division, as did with the World Boxing Super Series. It also works along with Fundación Telmex Telcel to carry out the highly successful Ring Telmex program, which has generated 19 champions, or the SuperFly tournament, which is still generating interesting matches involving those fighters.

We are currently experiencing a boxing trend with a wide variety of elements. Influencer and Youtubers events, athletes from other sports inside the ring, mixed martial arts fighters trying boxing, and retired boxers returning to the ring.

This phenomenon is not new. It has happened in the past, but sporadically as unique and independent events; We saw Muhammad Ali “fight” against the Japanese wrestler Inoki, who never got off the mat and kicked him all the fight; we also saw José Canseco, who stepped into the ring to receive a beating. Too Tall Jones of the Dallas Cowboys had six professional fights winning all, and Mickey Rourke used to fight in Japan, thrilling his fans, bolstered by his fame as a Hollywood gigolo.

The current trend is not something sporadic. It has already emerged on various fronts, and it seems to be something continuous, obviously all based on the money that has been generated. It all started during the pandemic. The world paused and stopped, there were no sporting events for several months, and the confinement led us to a mental change, so, full of nostalgia, we started doing things at home that we missed and gave us passion and pleasure in life.

Evander Holyfield, Vitor Belfort boxing image / photo

Mike Tyson returned to boxing training. In so doing, he overcame his terrible depression and shed weight by training for a couple of months and by uploading a video of just six seconds on his social networks. So, the world began to dream and imagine what it would be like to see “Iron Mike” back in the ring.

Miguel, as I affectionately call him, began to organize an event with specific characteristics; It would be an exhibition with headgear, 16-ounce gloves, and three rounds match inspired by the events he saw staged by Julio César Chávez and Jorge Arce; exhibitions to entertain the public, to bring happiness to society and, very importantly, for charitable purposes.

Finally, Tyson fell into the temptation of money and gave this event to a company called Triller, who took over and organized it in its entirety. They went out to look for the rival, which was finally Roy Jones Jr. They added the very popular influencer Jake Paul, who had actually been boxing for three years and faced a basketball legend, plus some official fights between pro boxers. It was held at the Staples Center, without an audience, and was complemented by musical acts, highlighting Snoop Dog, who smoked a huge marijuana cigarette … and that’s how the whole stage smelled like.

Evander Holyfield, Vitor Belfort boxing image / photo

Tyson offered a wonderful performance. They both understood that it was about entertaining and at no point tried to hurt each other. The event was an absolute success, it sold to 1.6 million homes on pay-per-view, and that was where the eyes of many were opened.

Today, there are the Paul brothers and influencers from various countries trying to make their events. Likewise, promoters and broadcast platforms are looking for ways to enter this new dynamic, but the most important thing to note is that retired boxers are looking to get back in the ring.

What happened last Saturday was a reality realization; thank goodness there was no serious injury. Tito Ortiz was struck down in less than a minute, with a spectacular knockout that could end in a fatal injury, and the great legendary champion Evander Holyfield was embarrassed, in just 90 seconds, by a retired mixed martial arts rival.

I’m not interested in analyzing Holyfield’s performance and what happened. It is a blessing that everyone has seen the reality. You can’t play boxing. Former boxers must not return to the ring to fight. The exhibitions are acceptable, as they have important security measures, but fighting without headgear and competitively cannot happen.

Many legends had left the ring with painful farewell fights when time took away the physical virtues. Marciano knocked out Joe Louis, Ali by Holmes, Leonard by Camacho, El Púas by the unknown Nacho Madrid, Chávez by Grover Wiley. All of them closed their chapter in the life of a boxer and moved on.

Today is different. Holyfield had not fought in a decade, and at 58, he committed a terrible mistake, risking his life and the honor of the sport that gave him everything. Oscar de la Hoya would fight after 12 years out of the ring, but a signal came from heaven when he contracted COVID-19 and had to cancel it. Riddick Bowe says he wants to fight, so the sharks in the business are pitching offers to legendary but spent fighters to use them, give them peanuts, and collect millions.

This needs order in some way. Holyfield can now be a great leader once again, but he must also seek the help of his teammates, colleagues, friends, and family, not to ever go through this situation! The power of money and the few scruples of a few cannot be more important than integrity and security.

Evander Holyfield, Vitor Belfort boxing image / photo

I was in a top-rated show on TV in the United States, Celebrity Family Feud.

It was WBC vs. UFC. On my team were Holyfield, Bowe, Shawn Porter, and Ryan Garcia. We had a great time, and we won 527 to 28 points. The funny thing was that Bowe had to be put on a stool because he couldn’t stand for a long time as he now walks with great difficulty … that’s the boxing legend they’re trying to get into the ring again.

Today’s anecdote
My dad was at home when he was informed that the Mexican idol, Rubén “Púas” Olivares, would star in a farewell card at the Arena México. He called him and begged him not to… “Forgive me, Don Pepe, I need the money, and they will pay me very well; I’m fighting a rookie, don’t worry, I’m El Púas.”

The public packed the venue to say farewell to the great idol, who entered the ring against Ignacio Madrid. Ruben Olivares fell to the canvas seven times in two rounds until the referee mercifully stopped the fight.
The fans cried and yelled, the young Madrid was never forgiven, and he never excelled in boxing.

I appreciate your comments at contact@wbcboxing.com.