The 38th Round
I like to play games. And one of those games is "Jeopardy" (the home version). I'm usually the contestant, but today, if you don't mind, I'd like to take the role of the host, Alex Trebek.
Are we ready to play?
Okay, let's go.
So you say you'll take "Boxing Absurdities" for a hundred.
And the answer is.......
When THIS happened,
NBA superstars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady were still in high school.
Phoenix Suns star Amary Stoudamire was still in GRADE SCHOOL.
Tiger Woods was still an amateur.
Michael Jordan, who is on the verge of his third retirement, was still sitting through his FIRST.
Mike Tyson was still in prison for his rape conviction, and George Foreman was heavyweight champion of the world.
Alexis Arguello has just finished his last pro fight.
USA's "Tuesday Night Fights" was still a hot program, and there was no such thing as ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights".
The world had never heard of Britney Spears, Eminem, Monica Lewinsky, or "The Sopranos".
The Dallas Cowboys were the reigning two-time Super Bowl champs.
The Toronto Blue Jays were the reigning two-time World Series champs.
The Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Diamondbacks did not yet exist.
The St. Louis Rams were still in Los Angeles.
So were the Oakland Raiders.
Bill Clinton has not yet won a second term as president.
The OJ Simpson trial was just four days old.
My nephew hadn't been born yet, and now he's in the second grade.
NBC's "Friends" were hardly even acquaintances - the show was halfway through its first season.
And "Oz" was still considered a wonderful place to be.
Are you stumped?
Well, time's up.
The question - What was the world like on January 28, 1995 - the last time Eddie Croft won a fight scheduled for ten rounds, or for that matter, beat an opponent with so much as ONE pro win?
Why does that mean something?
Because Croft fought Erik Morales for the World Boxing Council's world featherweight title last weekend.
Incredible, isn't it?
Dangerous, you say? Maybe. If you want to explore that, read Pedro Fernandez' blurb in a recent column (http://www.ringtalk.com/Articles/pedro/022603.htm).
If you want to take a trip into the humorous and ridiculous, stay right here.
Croft had beaten Frank Lizzaraga on an eight-round decision in November of 1998, when, according to BoxRec (http://www.boxrec.com), a pretty good record-keeping source, Lizzaraga was 0-6. The January 1995 fight was a ten-round decision win over Antonio Ramirez. That's EIGHT YEARS AGO. That's a long time. And he had not fought since January of 2000 when he stepped in for his three-round TKO loss to Morales.
Could we possibly fathom any scenario that justifiably place Eddie Croft in a world title fight? I'll tell you what - if you could bullshit well enough to do that, I'd hire you on the spot for my sales staff. In fact, you could actually BE my sales staff!
Let's stick Eddie Croft into the spin machine and see what we come up with.
First stop - WBC "Championship and Elimination Rules".
"Rule 1.13 WBC DISCRETION TO DENY CERTIFICATION OF BOUTS. The WBC reserves the right not to certify or to withdraw certification from any bout as being for a WBC recognized championship if, in the opinion of the Board of Governors, the bout jeopardizes the prestige and good standing of the WBC, or fair and uniform treatment of its own champions, or may cause confusion in the boxing community or the public."
I'm not confused, are YOU?
"1.21 CHAMPIONSHIP DEFENSE OBLIGATIONS.
a) Voluntary Defense Obligations: All WBC recognized champions must defend their title at least three (3) times a year or twice, subject to the approval of the Board of Governors. The defenses must be against:
i) any of the top ten (10) rated contenders,
ii) a boxer rated from the No. 11 to 15 position, if special circumstances prevail and upon a majority vote of the Board of Governors;
iii) upon a 2/3 affirmative vote of the Board of Governors and subject to certification of unavailability of any contender rated in the first 15 positions, any boxer rated from 16 to 30 positions;
iv) Youth world champions, with the approval of 2/3 of the Board of Governors;
v) a champion or a rated boxer of another immediate lower or higher weight division, subject to the majority vote of the Board of Governors;
vi) a retired world champion or other boxer of great prestige, subject to a majority vote of the Board of Governors and after undergoing a complete physical examination acceptable to the WBC Medical Advisory Board.
vii) a champion of another boxing organization recognized by the WBC, may be authorized by a majority vote of the Board of Governors to contend for the WBC title in a voluntary defense."
Well, I can't find Croft under (i), (ii), or (iii), and as far as the rest, well, he's not too youthful (33 years old), he's not a champion, has no prestige, and he holds no one's championship now, unless it's a city or county title.
Shall we move on?
I'm not going to bore you with all the "Rating Standards" Croft does not meet, except under Paragraph Nine of Rule 6, where it refers to one of the things a boxer must have (I presume, if all else fails):
"5) extraordinary and special circumstances for him to be considered for ratings in any division and also receiving a recommendation by the continental federation where they are licensed."
Croft doesn't even qualify THERE, unless a WBC Convention or seminar would be considered a special circumstance.
Let's move to something called "RATINGS ADDITIONAL CRITERIA":
"Ratings Additional Criteria. The ratings committee shall use the additional criteria in consideration for their rating of boxers:
a) Their career records
b) The results on their last 5 to 10 bouts
c) The class of boxers they have contended against
d) The importance and decisiveness of their victories
e) A consensus of hometown decisions
f) Victories at hometown or as a visitor
g) Current physical and boxing condition
h) Championships in important confederations
i) Meritorious national championships
j) Olympic medal winners
k) Top Thai Kick boxing professional records
l) Losses being by a cut in close bouts
m) Gate, marketing, or national boxing heroism in assumed equal boxing
circumstances with others.
n) In accordance with strong or weak divisions in regard to boxers
o) Lack of knowledge of merits gained through boxing results
p) Intuition of the ratings panel regarding the boxers' world position in ratings, in the cases of very difficult estimates in comparisons among boxers, but always with a majority voting."
Whatever some of that shit is supposed to mean, I doubt you could spin it in any way, shape, or form to make Croft eligible to fight for a title.
But here's the one I like:
"6.2 INACTIVITY. Any rated boxer who is inactive for six (6) months (except when caused by certified and legitimate medical or legal reasons) shall ordinarily decline in the ratings as his inactivity lengthens thereafter, and shall not be rated if he is inactive for any reason for over one (1) year, except on special circumstances and with the approval of the Board of Governors."
This should actually be the DIS-qualifier for Croft, although I'm sure I'll see those "special circumstances" in the next WBC Newsletter, which, by the way, can't be accessed online (it's "under construction" - by that I mean the newsletter, not the 'special circumstances').
Now let's take a trip over to the Association of Boxing Commissions website (http://www.abcboxing.com), and take a look at their "Criteria for the Ratings of Professional Boxers", which of course, are in accordance with federal law - Section 11 of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to be precise, with the applicable clause reading as follows:
"SEC. 11. SANCTIONING ORGANIZATIONS.
`(a) OBJECTIVE CRITERIA- Within 2 years after the date of the enactment of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, the Association of Boxing Commissions shall develop and shall approve by a vote of no less than a majority of its member State boxing commissioners, guidelines for objective and consistent written criteria for the ratings of professional boxers. It is the sense of the Congress that sanctioning bodies and State boxing commissions should follow these ABC guidelines."
Let's discuss some of these criteria:
"1. Ratings must be solely based on win/loss records, level of competition and activity. Records of any top (10) rated boxers must be verified."
Could Croft qualify using ANY of these components, especially the one about 'activity'? remember, it had been THREE YEARS since he had fought, and he was KNOCKED OUT in that 2000 fight.
"3. For a boxer to be rated in the top (10) and to compete for a world title he/she must have competed in at least (2) ten-round bouts. To stay in the top (10) he/she;
a) must compete at least once during a 12 month period from the time boxer gets rated and also must compete within (6) pounds of his/her weight and;
b) must have competed against another top (15) rated boxer within a (18) month period from the time the boxer gets rated.
A boxer who does not meet this level of competition shall not retain his/her rating. Exceptions can only be made for an injury."
Well, as we said, Croft hasn't competed in twelve months, PERIOD. So he doesn't meet the standard set by (3a) OR (3b), regardless of WHEN or IF he was rated, since if the WBC stuck him in the ratings at the eleventh hour solely to qualify for the Morales bout, it couldn't reasonably be with any justification as set forth in (1). Follow?
All that having been said, when do we get to see the rematch?
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?