Bernard Fernandez | Peter principal victim of WBC decision
The WBC would create a furor by stripping the United States of its superpower status for taking a discretionary bout against Iraq and failing to fulfill its mandatory against the WBC's No. 1-rated country, say, Lithuania.
Not wishing to be outdone, the WBA would announce it was upgrading China to "super champion" status, but would sanction - for an appropriately hefty fee, of course - a "regular" title bout between Guatemala and Cambodia.
The IBF mysteriously would elevate Puerto Rico, previously unranked, to the top spot in its ratings after the Caribbean island signed a promotional contract with Don King. King, recalling his glory days with Felix Trinidad, would appear at the press conference announcing the matchup of the newest member of his promotional stable and Trinidad-Tobago to chortle "Viva, Puerto Rico!" while waving tiny Puerto Rican flags.
And let's not even get into who might get assigned to judge the fights.
I thought of all the times I've been stupefied by the alphabet groups' head-scratching decisions when it was revealed that the WBC apparently has agreed to sanction an April 21 title bout in Moscow between its current heavyweight champion, Oleg Maskaev (34-5, 26 KOs), and former champ Vitali Klitschko (35-2, 34 KOs).
Bypassed - again - is Samuel Peter (28-1, 22 KOs), the Nigerian knockout artist who won two title eliminators with James Toney in order to secure what he believed would be next dibs on Maskaev. Not only did Peter win those two bouts, but he had to pony up a pair of sanctioning fees to the WBC to learn that, in essence, he only hadn' moved up, but was being moved back in line.
"It's a disgrace," Peter is quoted as saying in a press release announced by his promoter, Dino Duva. "Why did [Klitschko] wait until I beat Toney the second time to say he was coming back? Why not announce it before? Because he's not a true champion. He got his title when Lennox Lewis retired. And now he wants to fight Maskaev, who also is not a true champion because he's avoiding me.
"Let me go against Maskaev and I'll knock him out, and then I'll knock out both Klitschko brothers on the same night."
Vitali's younger brother, Wladimir, is the IBF heavyweight champion.
There is a rationale, albeit a
curious one, for the WBC's
decision to vault 35-year-old
Vitali Klitschko, who hasn't fought since he defended his title by stopping Danny Williams in eight rounds on Dec. 11, 2004, ahead of Peter.
The elder of the brothers
Klitschko retired because of a
series of injuries to his back, thigh and, most seriously, his right knee. He underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus and medial collateral ligament.
But in stepping away from the ring, Vitali was accorded "champion emeritus" status by the WBC, a presumably honorary designation in much the same way that universities present honorary doctorates to actors and politicians.
Except that in this instance, the designation called for Klitschko to move right into a title bout with whomever was the WBC heavyweight champion at the moment. It's like driving in the E-ZPass lane while all other contenders are stuck in traffic at the toll booth.
I'm not saying that Vitali
Klitschko is a lesser fighter than Peter, who appeared to have smoothed some of his rougher edges in his Jan. 6 unanimous-decision rematch victory over Toney. If "Dr. Ironfist" is anything close to the same fighter he was before his retirement, I'd make him the favorite against
Peter, who already is 0-1 against the Klitschkos, having lost on points to Wladimir on Sept. 24, 2005.
What stinks here is the alphabet gang's casual disregard for anything resembling fairness.
Peter has paid his dues (literally; remember those sanctioning fees) and ought to be next on Maskaev's dance card. Ideally, Vitali Klitschko should be obliged to take a tune-up bout against a fringe contender to demonstrate his readiness to resume his career at the elite level. If he wins and looks reasonably good, then he could be paired against the Maskaev-Peter winner.
So what's the problem? If you guessed M-O-N-E-Y, give yourself a pat on the back and apply for a promoter's license.
My guess is that the modestly talented Maskaev, who is keeping the WBC throne warm until somebody better comes along, would fall to either Peter or
Klitschko. But where Maskaev-Peter is merely intriguing, a matchup of Ukraine's Vitali
Klitschko, son of a former Soviet Air Force colonel, and the
Russian-born Maskaev - in
Moscow - would generate mountains of rubles and international headlines.
Such machinations might almost make me crusade for the creation of a federal boxing commission, but then I realize there is another alphabet group even scarier than the WBC.
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