"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
~Mike Tyson

Monday, February 12, 2018

The World Boxing Super Series Tournaments: The Best Of Boxing

Ask Usyk how he feels...go on.
Yours truly likens being a boxing fan to being in a relationship with a physiologically abusive person. No matter how much the sport we adore hurts us, lies to us, let's us down, completely drops the ball, falls short of expectations, or tells us it's going to work towards being better, our love and obsession obfuscates the parts of our brain that manage logic, rationality, and sometimes critical thought. Boxing is the only sport that gets away with not only producing garbage but also manages to convince its stalwarts that the turds it drops and wraps up in elegant bows are something more than excrement. Much like the WWE, boxing is 90% filler with the majority of its fights featuring “jobbers” whose are tasked with making superior talent look good, fights that function as commercials for an upcoming pay per view, or are often meaningless fights between marginally talented pugilists that lead nowhere.

With the sport's modus operandi being what it is, this scribe and many a fan were taken aback when the World Boxing Super Series was announced back in latter half of 2017. Sure, there was a healthy dose of skepticism coming from both outspoken fans as well as the sport's media but given some of the individuals whom were involved in putting the series' two tournaments together who could blame them? Once the tournaments were finalized and its participants announced however trepidation and consternation quickly gave way to both surprise and excitement. As the tournaments have progressed boxing fans have been treated to things they can only dream of receiving on a constant basis. Not only has the World Boxing Super Series consistently produced high quality fights between many of the sport's top fighters but fans have seen just how smoothly and efficient boxing can be run when the powers that be really want something to happen and the bullshit is checked at the door.

Make no mistake about it, the World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight tournament features the superior talent and the more exciting match ups but the Super Middleweight tournament has yet to disappoint and has held it's own despite some of the bigger names at 168 lbs either passing on the opportunity to participate or having been overlooked by WBSS brass. More to the point, there are a number of things that makes the World Boxing Super Series tournaments so engrossing, entertaining, appealing, and superior to everything else currently taking place in the sport:

  • Impartial judging
  • Solid officiating
  • Well structured and easy to follow rules
  • High production values
  • Phenomenal shoulder productions
  • Outstanding sportsmanship
  • Modern dissemination of its content
  • Back to back tough, risky, and dangerous fights
  • No PR teams masquerading as commentating crews
  • Superb and unbiased commentating
  • Storylines to follow
  • Regularly scheduled fights
  • No long fighter layoffs
  • No diva behavior
  • Unified and Undisputed Champions Of The World

Where's The Criticism?

While there are certainly criticisms this writer and others could levy at the World Boxing Super Series, this article is focusing on what works rather than what needs work. Furthermore I'd challenge anyone who finds this series disappointing to shine the proverbial spotlight on any other boxing production that has consistently delivered the goods the way these two tournaments have. Sure, there was Showtime's “Super Six World Boxing Classic” that came out of the gate strong in 2009 but that egregiously troubled production was built not as a sincere contest but rather a carefully crafted showcase for Oakland's Andre Ward. Making matters worse, after a great number of problems and disappointments that tournament ended up hobbling across the finish line in 2011 without any of the pomp, hype, or excitement a boxing tournament should command. Co-host of The Loaded Gloves boxing podcast Victor Atkinson said it best in both the many on and off air conversations we've had regarding this fight series. “These tournaments are the best thing happening in boxing right now.” This writer couldn't agree more with his co-host's sentiments and would go so far as to say that they are the best thing to happen to boxing in decades.

The Future

Well before the semi-finals of the two tournaments got underway fans began clamoring for additional WBSS tournaments and really, who could blame them? Tournaments of these types can breathe life into even the most stale of weight classes and there are currently a number of weight classes whose current make up or state practically demand a tournament land there. These include Light Heavyweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, and Heavyweight though any weight class that hosts one of these tournaments is going to shine.

Usyk vs Gassiev, May 11 2018
Photo: worldboxingsuperseries.com
Despite any success the World Boxing Super Series has had thus far, fans should expect some disappointment and hurdles in the creation of new tournaments if and when they happen. The political side of boxing is sure to rear its ugly head as Sauerland Promotions, and assuming he's involved in future endeavors, Richard Schaefer reach out to American fighters and rival promotional outfits. Although tournaments can boost a fighter's profile, give their careers a shot in the arm, or even cement their legacy, many of the marquee fighters of the modern era are likely to pass on any invitations they might receive. In this, the age of the prospect champion, fighters with high profiles but mediocre and/or underdeveloped skill sets aren't necessarily going to be chomping at the bit to test themselves or make a statement. Instead they'll remain content in hiding behind their promoters and/or networks while they continue to make a career out of taking the path of least resistance and fight in televised sparring sessions. Case and point? There are 26 and 28 year old fighters claiming they aren't ready for a step up in competition while a then largely untested 23 year old Russian named Murat Gassiev entered a tournament and became the unified IBF and WBA Cruiserweight champion by beating the best in his division. He faces Oleksandr Usyk in the Cruiserweight final on May 11th by the way.

There are also those fighters who are wrapped up in high profile fights of their own and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. It would be foolish to expect such fighters to participate in a tournament though without them included such tournaments do lose a bit of their bite and gravitas. Indeed there are a great number of obstacles to contend with in making these tournaments but these current tourneys prove it can be done. Speaking recently with Michael Montero of Montero On Boxing, this writer learned that there are currently no plans for additional World Boxing Super Series tournaments in 2018 but that there may well be plans in the works for 2019 and 2020 launches. For now all one can do is enjoy what's left of these two tournaments while they wait to learn more about the future of the World Boxing Super Series. To quote trainer Abel Sanchez "This is what boxing should be." Well said sir.

Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for and the owner of Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Loaded Gloves Podcast - Episode 11

After nearly a month's hiatus, host Scott Jarvis and co-host Victor Atkinson returned to the air with Episode 11 of The Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast this past Sunday. In this episode the guys give out some year end accolades and then preview this weekend's Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson and Robert Easter Jr. vs. Javier Fortuna fights. The guys also talk boxing news and notes and take phone calls. You can listen to the archive below and then listen live every Sunday at 2:00 pm PDT! You can also find us on Itunes!

Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast Update: The Show Returns Sunday January 14th

Originally Victor and I had planned to air a couple of year end episodes of The Loaded Gloves boxing podcast in the middle of and near the end of this past December. The holiday season and six kids however didn't leave me with much time to do anything but travel to see family, hang out with my immidiate family, and tie up loose ends at the business I own and operate during the day. Well, as it turns out, when it rains it really does pour. As the holiday season began to wind down, my wife ended up having to have surgery for 4 large kidney stones that effectively and physically shut her down. The surgery went well and she's recovering but I've been playing the role of single parent to my 6 kids whilst my wife convalesces in bed. I postponed the aforementioned 2 year end shows as the holidays went into full swing but ended up having to cancel them altogether when I learned that my wife would need surgery.

My wife still has another 2 weeks of recovery ahead of her but she is now well enough to watch our youngest children (with the help of our 3 oldest) while I get back to talking boxing. The Loaded Gloves boxing podcast will return this Sunday, January 14th at 2pm PDT. Victor and I will be discussing a bevy of boxing topics, news, all the while catching up with everything that's transpired while the show was on it's brief (too long for my taste) hiatus. Until then you can always visit www.blogtalkradio.com/splitdboxing and listen to our archived shows. See everyone this Sunday!


Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Loaded Gloves Podcast - Episode 10

Earlier today Episode 10 of The Loaded Gloves boxing podcast aired. In this episode @757Vic and I review Saunders vs Lemieux, cover a ton of news and notes, and take phone calls from our listeners. Also included in this episode is an epic intro-rant.

Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast - Episode 8

In this week's episode, Scott and Victor talk Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali, Rey Vargas vs. Oscar Negrete, Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux, Anthony Joshua's apparently racist online comments, Terence Crawford's move up to 147 lbs. and a bevy of other boxing topics. Have a listen won't you?

Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast - Episode 7

No, you're reading that correctly. Episode 7 of The Loaded Gloves boxing podcast is now up online and ready for streaming/downloading. So what happened to episodes 6, 5, 4, and 3? Well all 6 of my children fell ill as did my wife, all nearly in succession too, so the illness running rampant through my home put a bit of damper on Split D Boxing. It was not without difficulty but Victor and I managed to record these "missing" episodes during these last few weeks. They're up on Blog Talk Radio where you can listen at your leisure. I simply did not have time to post them on this blog. In fact today's show, episode 7, aired 4 days late because I too contracted a virus. @757Vic and I will be back this Sunday with episode 8! Enjoy the fights!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast - Episode 3

Photo: http://i.dailymail.co.uk
Earlier today your host Scott Jarvis and co-host Victor Atkinson aired episode 3 of the Loaded Gloves boxing podcast. They guys fielded calls and talked extensively about:

  • Deontay Wilder vs Bermane Stiverne
  • Shawn Porter vs Adrian Granados
  • Sergey Lipinets vs Akihiro Kondo
  • Dominic Breazeale vs Eric Molina
  • A potential Joshua/Wilder showdown
  • ...and many other boxing topics.

Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast - Episode 2

Photo: boxrec.com
Here it is boxing fans! Host Scott Jarvis and co-host Victor Atkinson talk all things happening in the world of boxing for the week of October 23rd-28th 2017. Topics include:
  • Anthony Joshua vs Carlos Takam
  • Dillian Whyte vs Robert Helenius
  • Kal Yafai vs Sho Ishida
  • Juergen Braehmer vs Rob Brant
  • The World Boxing Super Series tournaments
  • Deontay Wilder vs Bermane Stiverne
  • David Lemieux vs Billy Joe Saunders

Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Billy Joe Saunders vs David Lemieux: Analysis, Breakdown, And Prediction

The Boxer vs. The Puncher

Photo: boxingscene.com
The name Billy Joe Saunders (25-0-0 12 KO's) isn't a name that's exactly synonymous with excitement, quality, nor entertainment. Conversely, the name David Lemieux (38-3-0 33 KO's) gets most boxing fans talking if not excited as well. More to the point, a fight between WBO Middleweight titlist Saunders and the heavy handed and aggressive Lemieux was no more than a fantasy mere weeks ago. Most believed that Saunders, who has made a career out of fighting soft touches, would remain content to stay in England and continue to milk his WBO title for all it's worth. Few, including this scribe, would have predicted that a fight between the two would ever get made if only because Saunders isn't a fighter that takes risks.

Photo: 1.bp.blogspot.com
While rumor has it that it's 30 below zero in Hell at the moment it's a fact that Billy Joe Saunders vs David Lemieux is a go for December 16th 2017. The two are set to square off at Place Bell in Quebec Canada. What promoted Saunders not only only leave his home country for a fight but to fight someone as dangerous and as strong as Lemieux has some flummoxed. While fight fans continue to speculate this, no one is complaining. With the exception of a few hiccups along the way, 2017 has been the gift that keeps on giving. It has been an exceptional year for the sport and Saunders vs Lemieux is one hell of a way to send 2017 off into the sunset.

Fighter Analysis

Billy Joe Saunders

Photo: boxrec
England's Billy Joe Saunders is more boxer than he is puncher as indicated by his knockout ratio. In Saunders' case his lack of power may stem more from his penchant for pushing, slapping, and being somewhat inaccurate with his punches rather than a lack of raw power. Saunders doesn't fully commit his body to a punch nor does he turn his hands over when he throws his punches. Instead, Saunders is the type of boxer who comes into a fight looking to score points and offset his opponents offense with his movement. Saunders also throws a great deal of looping power shots that leave him open for counters though against Lemieux don't expect Saunders to be as liberal with his power shots as he normally is. Looking over Saunders' resume you'll notice that he's never been tested nor has he ever faced his division's top talent.  David Lemieux may not ever set the world on fire with his boxing technique but he's the best fighter Saunders has ever faced. He's also the most dangerous which makes one wonder why so many pundits are picking Saunders to outbox Lemieux rather easily and earn a unanimous decision. He may be a "boxer" but are his skills so great that they can shut down Lemieux's high pressure offense and nullify his power?

David Lemieux

Photo: boxrec.com
Canada's Lemieux may not possess the technical prowess of a Pernell Whitaker, the grace of Muhammad Ali, nor the ring IQ of a Mayweather Jr. but the man has power and plenty of it. There's no doubt David has thunderous power in both hands but like Saunders, his resume is rather thin as well. While one could argue that Lemieux has faced and defeated the better opposition of the two, who a fighter loses to and how he loses says as much about him as who he beats. In Lemieux's case he's been knocked out in 2 of his 3 losses. The first loss of his career came at the hands of tough Mexican contender Marco Antonio Rubio back in 2011. In just his very next bout, Lemieux dropped a majority decision to Joachim Alcine. He then rehabilitated his career and remained undefeated until he ran into Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in 2015. Against Golovkin he was once again stopped albeit by a vastly more talented boxer. Against Saunders however Lemieux won't have to worry about that kind of power nor are the tools in the Saunders tool box as sharp or as deadly as Golovkin's. An unfortunate side effect of having such heavy hands, most underrate or completely write off Lemieux's boxing ability. As I stated previously he's no Ray Leonard but he has shown on occasion that there's more there than just a battering ram that continually moves forward. Will David's power and relentless offense be enough to slow Saunders down and stop him? Additionally, will Lemieux be capable of catching and connecting on Saunders?

Keys To Victory

Billy Joe Saunders

Photo: http://e1.365dm.com
While Saunders is most assuredly the better pure boxer of the two, Saunders must refrain from engaging Lemieux in a firefight. In his last fight against Willie Monroe Jr, Saunders was aggressive at times and pushed the action. Against David Lemieux, Saunders will want to use his jab to keep and control distance. A good jab has proved to be troublesome for the hard hitting Canadian at times in the past so Saunders would be wise to use it often, double it when possible, and keep it in Lemieux's face. In addition to working the jab for 12 rounds, Saunders will need to use his superior footwork to stay both out of range and to work at odd angles. If Saunders can put David into chase-mode" he might just walk away with the victory.

David Lemieux

Photo: rdsimages.cookieless.ca
Saunders has never faced an opponent as dangerous and as lethal as Lemieux. Moreover Saunders has looked shaky against over matched opponents as of late. Knowing this, Lemieux should  push the action hard from the opening bell and be his relentless self. He should remember however who the boxer is in this fight and keep himself from becoming frustrated when he drops the first 2-3 rounds to the better mover in Saunders. David needs to be steady in his work and hit Saunders on the shoulders, arms... anywhere and everywhere he can. In this fight patience is key for Lemieux as is stamina since stopping Saunders may require wearing him down over the course of the fight. Speaking of which, going to the body often will serve David well in this bout. Body damage will slow the more mobile Saunders and help bring his guard down. I am not suggesting Lemieux forego the headhunting but a more varied attack will help him soften up Saunders for a stoppage.

How The Fight Plays Out

Expect Lemieux to answer the opening bell with a furious attack which Saunders avoids and/or blocks. As the more heavy handed fighter gasses a bit Saunders launches his offense which is comprised mostly of jabs. Saunders then controls the action and does most of the scoring in rounds 1-3. As round 4 gets underway Lemieux begins to connect with some meaningful punches much like Canelo did against Khan. As he lands Saunders attacks will lose steam and then eventually become  non existent. From here Saunders begins spending more and more time on the back foot until he tires and is eventually caught flush with something big from Lemieux. Once Billy Joe hits the canvas don't expect him to get up.  Lemiuex's pressure and power overwhelm and eventually exhaust Saunders.

Just as is the case with Erislandy Lara, too many people are giving Saunders credit simply because of his fighting style. Employing a certain style doesn't necessarily equate to being good, very good, great, or even elite...no matter how much some people want you to believe that. Saunders is a solid fighter but he's not the talent some think he is. On the other hand Lemieux is also a limited fighter which is part of what makes this match up so intriguing. Keep in mind though that while styles make fights, it's the level at which a style is executed that wins fights.

Winner: David Lemieux KO, Round 6

Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Scott And Victor Appear On BDA Boxing's Podcast

The host of The Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast, Scott Jarvis and Co-host Victor Atkinson make regular guest appearances on BDA Boxing's podcast but this weeks appearance was especially noteworthy. The show started off well but at the 3 hour and 5 minute mark things spiraled into chaos and became one big beautiful mess.

Another guest caller whom goes by his Twitter handle, @mylowplace called in and boldly proclaimed that not only would Billy Joe Saunders outbox and defeat Middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin but that WBC Light Heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson is the pound for pound best fighter on the planet. Of course this sent the entire panel of callers into a frenzy. At one point host BDA lost control of his show and despite multiple attempts to reign everyone in he eventually just allowed his panel go at it full throttle. This was hands down one of the best episodes of any boxing podcast...ever. At it's conclusion I was happy Victor and I didn't have to go on the air with our show. I was exhausted. Give it a listen!

Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Split D Boxing Launches The "Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast"!

Listen now!
Split D Boxing is proud to announce the launch of it's boxing podcast titled "The Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast". It's first episode aired on October 14th and featured Split D Boxing owner Scott Jarvis as host and Victor Atkinson as the show's co-host. No topic is taboo in the "no bullshit" zone and both Scott and Victor's passion for the sport carry the show seamlessly through its two hour run time. The show itself follows a traditional though flexible format as Scott and Victor preview and review fights, talk boxing news, and discuss the business and politics of the sport.

Scott Jarvis is the 44 year old host of The Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast and has been a boxing aficionado for 32 years. A keen observer of the sport, Scott has a passion for boxing that few can match and this passion helps drive him in creating interesting and entertaining boxing content for the larger Split D Boxing network. Co-host Victor Atkinson on the other hand is a 24 year old astute fan of the sport who's sharp eye and opinionated voice can cut through the politics and the hype surrounding networks, fighters, fights, promoters, etc.

When asked why Split D Boxing launched a podcast before anything else Split D Boxing owner Scott Jarvis had this to say. "I want Split D Boxig to become a home not only for those who already have a passion for the sport but for those who might have just discovered it as well. Given that podcasts are so popular amongst boxing fans and so easy to find the format made the most sense."

The Loaded Gloves Boxing Podcast airs live every Sunday (time of day to be determined) and can not only be heard at Blog Talk Radio but across Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as well.

Scott Jarvis is an independent boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Super Heavy And Super Sloppy - A Boxing Rant

Photo: d13csqd2kn0ewr.cloudfront.net
On October 6th it was reported that the World Boxing Council is seriously exploring the idea of creating a new weight class, that being a Super Heavyweight division. The idea isn't exactly a new one as sanctioning bodies have considered doing so a number of times in the past. At first glance the idea may seem like a good one but when you take a critical look at things you'll find it's much more complicated than simply throwing a new division out there. Heavyweight boxers have continually grown larger over the years and many pundits argue that a fight between a boxer who weights 210 lbs and another whom weighs 260 lbs simply isn't fair. There's also persons whom argue that such weight disparities pose serious risks to smaller fighters. Every division in boxing, save for the heavyweight division, has a weight limit so why are there no limits placed on the big men or the giants of the sport?

Photo: http://ringsidereport.com
Splitting the glamour division of boxing into 2 separate weight classes carries with it some serious repercussions for the sport,  those who follow/support it, and of course the fighters affected by this split. First off doing so presents a somewhat slippery slope setting a precedent for further weight class splits. Will there be a limit to the Super Heavyweight division and if not...why split the Heavyweight division into two at all? Seems like an exercise in redundancy does it not? If the Super Heavyweight division does receive a weight limit what is that limit and why not split that division into two as well? Would boxing not need an Ultra or Supreme Heavyweight division to ensure fair fights and keep serious injury or deaths to a minimum?

Setting aside the problem of ad infinitum for now, let's talk about boxing's original 8 weight classes for a moment. These were as follows:

  • Flyweight: 112 lbs 
  • Bantamweight: 118 
  • Featherweight: 126 
  • Lightweight: 135
  • Welterweight: 147
  • Middleweight: 160
  • Light Heavyweight: 175 
  • Heavyweight: 201 (no limit)
In the era where only these 8 weight classes existed fighters would use catch-weights not as shields or as means to avoid a fighter but rather in order to allow boxers of different weight classes to face one another. As the latter half of the 20th century rolled on the Jr.'s and Supers of each division were added until there were the 17 weight classes the sport has today. There are a great number of people who bemoan the large number of weight classes in the sport and aren't exactly excited about another seemingly inessential division.

Those who periodically call for a return to the sports orginal 8 weight classes shouldn't hold their breath. Don't let the phrase "Non-profit Institution" fool you into thinking that the sanctioning bodies don't love money. More weight classes means more champions, more champions means more titles, more titles means more belts, and more belts mean more sanctioning fees. You would also do well to remember that there isn't just one champion per sanctioning body anymore either. There are:

  • Regular Champions
  • Super Champions
  • Champions Emeritus
  • Interim Champions
  • Champions In Recess
  • Silver Champions
  • Diamond Champions
  • Eternal Champions
  • Super Hyper Regular Diamond Champions In Recess
Photo: fightsaga.com
Ok, so I had a little fun with that last one but I did so to illustrate a point. That point being that it's difficult, even with the internet, for the sports hard core fans to keep track of which fighters hold which titles in which divisions. Imagine how confusing it must be for casual observers to try and make sense of it all. Creating a Super Heavyweight division adds to an already confusing and overcrowded championship landscape and in the process moves the spotlight off the most famous division in boxing's storied history. Quick side note...many of today's Heavyweight fighters are fat Cruiserweights. Does a Super Heavyweight division give these fighters an even bigger excuse to remain overweight, under-trained, and undisciplined? Would some of the super heavyweights not be fat heavyweights dealing with the same issues?

Will It Happen?

WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has stated that it will be a minimum of 6 months before his organization makes a decision either way and even if the WBC decides to move forward with the split it won't happen overnight. If yours truly were a betting man I'd bet that it does finally happen however. Perhaps the time has come for a Super Heavyweight division. More importantly, perhaps the WBC has found a way to make this split financially viable. Time will tell.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Heavyweight High Blood Pressure - A Boxing Rant

Luis Ortiz
Photo: steroid.com
Just as soon as news of heavyweight Luis Ortizs' failed blood test broke on September 28th I jumped at the opportunity to write a piece about it. At that time there was very little information about the failed anti-doping test and I, like many others, assumed that his November 4th battle with WBC Heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder would be called off. As the details of the failed test were disseminated throughout social media however things grew ever more complicated. The Cuban born Ortiz, who has previously tested positive for banned substances, was found to have chlorothaizide and hydrochlorothiazide in his system. According to VADA these two substances are masking agents that fighters can use to hide performance enhancing steroids.

Photo: drfuhrman.com
So Ortiz is guilty as charged yet again? No, at least not yet. Ortiz and his team have gone on record as stating that the chlorothaizide and hydrochlorothiazide found in his blood stem not from an attempt to cheat but rather from the fighter's taking of prescription blood pressure medication. Lending some weight to their defense, team Ortiz has even gone so far as to post pictures of these prescriptions on Twitter. While Ortiz does indeed have prescriptions for Atenolol and Losartan which help control high blood pressure/hypertension it's uncertain, at least at the time of this writing, just how long he has been using these to keep his cardiovascular system in check. More importantly however fans and media members would love to know exactly how and why Ortizs' prescriptions where not disclosed to the anti-doping agency VADA before the program began. One would think that any fighter who had previously tested positive for banned substances would be sure to disclose any and all prescription medications to the firm testing for their next bout. Furthermore where was Ortiz's team in all of this? If there were language barriers, problems with forms, communication issues, etc. could they not have stepped in and up to ensure that VADA knew of these important medications? This type of negligence, while not necessarily an indicator of an attempt to cheat, certainly looks sloppy and raises eyebrows.

Given Ortiz's history with banned substances, yours truly was ready to throw the book at Ortiz not long after the initial news found it's way onto the internet. While I don't really have a problem with athletes taking performance enhancing drugs (more on that another time), I'm an ardent believer in a fair fight so as long as these drugs remain impermissible no one should get away with using them. I remained steadfast in my belief that Ortiz was probably guilty until I listened to Victor Conte talk about the situation on Steve Kim's "The Next Round" this past Tuesday morning. At one point Conte was convicted and imprisoned for helping boxers use performance enhancing chemicals but since his release he has remained at the forefront of the clean sport movement. To say he knows a thing or two about using steroids, how to mask attempts to cheat, and anti-doping testing protocols would be selling the man short. You can listen to Victor's entire guest spot on The Next Round here but Victor does not believe there was any intent to cheat and provided some very sound and persuasive arguments to back his position up. Conte also stated that in his opinion the Ortiz-Wilder fight should move forward. After listening to Conte's arguments I changed my position and now feel as Victor does with regards to the Wilder fight moving forward.

Enter The WBC

Since 1963
Photo: thesweetscience.com
Not long after it was reported that Ortiz had once again tested positive for banned substances, there was mention of Deontay Wilder expressing interest in the fight moving forward regardless. At the same time, team Ortiz offered to submit hair samples for further testing in hopes of proving their fighter's innocence and to keep the title fight alive. No one but those closest to the WBC champion however can attest to just how serious Wilder was in wanting to fight Ortiz but that became a moot point when the World Boxing Council stepped in and withdrew their support for the fight. The organization asserted that they are putting the health of Luis Ortiz first and want him to see a doctor in order to determine if it's safe for him to fight. Additionally they ordered Wilder to face his mandatory challenger...one Bermane Stiverne. There are plenty of examples where a sanctioning body forcing a fight between a champion and his mandatory challenger have proven to be good for the sport but this is not one of them.

If a "mandatory challenger" is a boxer that has worked hard, defeated other top talents in his division, and done something special to earn a shot at the champion, Bermane Stiverne is the absolute antithesis of that. Making matters worse for fans and for the heavyweight division, Stiverne was beaten convincingly by Wilder in a unanimous decision back in January of 2015. Since that loss to Wilder, Stiverne has fought just once against journeyman Derric Rossy (30-10-0 15 KO's) in a fight where he won a decision but saw himself hitting the canvas in the first round after Rossy connected with a right hand. Unworthy and vastly over matched mandatory challengers are a staple in the sport but Stiverne is the type of fighter that gives those fighters a bad name. It would be generous to say that Stiverne has done nothing to earn the title shot he's being given though it is worthy of noting that Stiverne is promoted by Don King. It's also worth noting that Stiverne himself tested positive for banned substances just last year and spends more time eating and partying than he does training and fighting. If boxing fans and the sports media seem less than thrilled with the November 4th Heavyweight title fight you now know why.

Final Thoughts

In this writers opinion Wilder vs Ortiz should have gotten the go-ahead from everyone, including the brass at the WBC. Instead fans will be subjected to a farcical match up and one that has the potential to retire Stiverne. 2017 has been the best year boxing has had in a good long while yet even in a year such as this there are bound to be bumps in the road. In closing and in the interest of objectivity...it's entirely possible that Ortiz obtained his blood pressure medications in order to mask other banned substances. It's also possible that the WBC is sending Ortiz to a doctor to determine whether or not he actually needs those medications. Pundits on both sides of this issue have legitimate concerns, especially since Ortiz has been caught cheating before. However in this case I do not see any evidence of cheating nor an attempt to. Remember that correlation doesn't necessarily imply causation.

I swear this over-the-hill racquetball player isn't masking anything! Oh...and my doctor strongly encouraged regular and vigorous exercise while she was writing this prescription out. Food for thought.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!