Where is Bongani Mwelase going?
“The Cyclone”, who turned professional after winning the welterweight gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, is scheduled to fight Attila Kovacs for the marginal WBF’s light-middleweight crown in Bloemfontein next Friday night.
Talk about a nothing opponent! Yes, you could call him Attila the Hungarian, but not Attila the Hun! Attila the Bum would probably be a better description of his boxing prowess, having lost two of his last three bouts.
Actually, Kovacs has what appears to be a decent record of 25 wins (17 KOs) and three defeats. That doesn’t make him sound like a chump, does it? But in his last victory, his opponent, Gabor Balogh, apparently came with a record of one win, 42 losses and five draws! And in his previous win, Attila stopped Anton Glofak, who had an even more illustrious record of two wins, 76 defeats and eight draws. You can’t fault Glofak for lack of perseverance – he recorded his first victory in his 44th professional bout (Brian Mitchell had 49 fights throughout his career).
Kovacs boasts a 2007 TKO win over American Robert Frazier, who in 2001 went the distance against Winky Wright while challenging for the IBF junior-middleweight crown. But Frazier never boxed again after losing to Kovacs. When evaluating boxers one must look at their opponents and see, not only what they achieved before the fight, but afterwards too! If they did nothing afterwards, then what was their real callibre when they fought the boxer in question?
Anyway, back to 26-year-old Mwelase, who truly has (or had) a promising career. The last time he fought, however, he was stripped of the WBF welterweight title because he couldn’t make the weight. The reason was evident when he entered the ring – sporting a stomach that lacked muscle definition! Perhaps his enthusiasm for the sport has been dented along the way.
In winning his Commonwealth Games gold, Mwelase beat Vijender Kumar of India in the final. While Mwelase turned professional, Kumar stayed amateur, and he went on to lift an Olympic bronze in Beijing last year, becoming the first Indian boxer to win a boxing medal. Today it was announced that Kumar will receive India’s highest sporting prize, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, late next month.
Mwelase, meanwhile, faces Attila the None.
I had lunch today with Jan Bergman, the former world junior-welterweight title contender who impressed – but failed – against champions Kostya Tszyu and Zab Judah so many years ago. Now 38, Bergman insists he still has a few fights left in him and is hopeful of lifting the SA junior-middleweight title in the near future.
I’m not entirely convinced that Jan should be mixing it in the ring at this stage of his life, but don’t mind me – I’m ultra-conservative when it comes to guys getting their brains scrambled in the ring.
Nonetheless, we had a nice chat, touching on the informal inquiry, set up by Sport Minister Makhenkesi Stofile, that is being conducted into SA boxing. Pugilism in this country needs a major overhaul – that’s obvious. In fact, in a recent Parliamentary question, Stofile said if the Boxing Act allowed him to, he would have dissolved Boxing SA’s board last year already.
There is a myriad problems within the sport, but our conversation got me thinking – is there any correlation between the decline of boxing worldwide, and the fact that this is the only once-mainstream sport that is not run by a central governing body? I believe so.
Soccer has Fifa, cricket has the ICC, rugby the IRB and so on. But when it comes to boxing, there are a whole bunch of world sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA, IBF, etc) as well as a horde of promoters who are pretty much in cahoots with the world sanctioning bodies. These organisations earn their money from sanctioning fees paid by promoters, who in turn make their millions from TV rights, tournament sponsors and site fees.
Take a close look, and you’ll notice that sanctioning bodies rate boxers who are handled by the promoters they work with. That means good boxers who don’t have connected promoters get overlooked – how unfair is that?
Promoter Rodney Berman once said that boxing is not a sport, it’s a business. And perhaps that is the problem. Maybe it’s time for boxing to centralise under a single organisation, and get rid of the promoters. Don King and most of his colleagues would happily stage a bout between Superman and Mickey Mouse if they thought there was money to be made. Profit is their only concern – not necessarily the issue of whether it’s a genuine sporting contest. Having promoters in sport is an old-fashioned concept – they are dinosaurs and they will surely die out.
The promoters are effectively the middle men, so why not cut them out? Imagine how much extra money the TV companies and sponsors could save, or how much morre would be available without Don King, Bob Arum and the likes taking their lucrative cuts?
It’s time for boxers around the world to revolt and form a single world federation to resurrect their sport.
When it comes to assessing sports administrators, one must assume that every single one of them starts out in officialdom as a giant douche bag (GDB). Then it’s up to them to prove otherwise.
Without a shadow of a doubt, there’s a GDB (or two or three…) at the bottom of the Wanderers fiasco between Cricket SA and the Gauteng Cricket Board. Whoever is wrong or right, Cricket SA were undoubtedly offside when they stripped the Wanderers of its international status. Why kick the fans in the teeth if, and I repeat IF, the Gauteng GDBs are out of order? Maybe we fans should hit back and boycott the England tour matches.