This past weekend in Philadelphia, the undisputed middleweight champion of the world Bernard Hopkins successfully defended his crown by chasing Morrade Hakkar out of the ring in eight comical rounds.
Hakkar, who is French, was in full retreat the whole night. I guess it's a French thing, in keeping with that countries history of staying out of conflicts. HBO, which bought and televised the mismatch to it's viewing audience was noticably blushing at the farce they had purchased.
HBO's exec's made it a point to blame the WBC for putting Hakkar in it's mandatory position. Therefore, giving Hopkins no choice but to fight the fleeing Frenchman. But what did they expect? HBO can pass the blame all the want, but at the end of the day, nobody twisted their arms to purchase this massacre.
Yes, Don King did make Hopkins-Hakkar as part of a package deal with the heavyweight rematch featuring David Tua and Hasim Rahman but did they really need Tua-Rahman II that badly? It wasn't like they were buying the second go around of Ali-Frazier. And the fact of the matter is that there really is no rival to HBO in terms of what it can pay in license fee's to promoters. In essence, many times, HBO is bidding against themselves. King, really had nowhere else to turn if he wanted to stage Tua-Rahman for numbers that were suitable to everyone involved. HBO, got fleeced and they out-bid themselves, once again.
But back to Hakkar and his status as the WBC's latest mis-mandatory. All anyone had to do is to do a quick review of his record to know that his record is more inflated than the Goodyear blimp.
31 out of his 32 professional bouts coming in had taken place in France. Now, all politics aside, nothing against France, but it ain't exactly Philadelphia. And before his scheduled execution against Hopkins this past weekend, he had never faced what could be considered a good American journeyman, much less a contender. Names like Alain Iboko, Muralem Poyraz, Marcelo Lamadrid, Andras Galfi, Lajos Patko and Ricardo Simarra dot his resume. Now, I have to admit, I've never actually seen any of these guys box but I'm assuming there not as good as Carlos Monzon and Marvin Hagler. Just a hunch. Oh, but I can't forget on Phillipe Cazeaux, who faced Hakkar five times( losing four and knocking Hakkar out in the third meeting). I don't think that rivalry will go down in boxing annals alongside the likes of Zale-Graziano or Bowe-Holyfield.
The only real recognizable name on his record is one Mamadou Thiam, who he stopped in six rounds to his credit. You remember Thiam, right? He, himself was a mis-mandatory to Felix Trinidad back in 2000 and was summarily knocked out. France, the breeding ground for fine wines, cheeses, retreats and overmatched mandatory challengers.
Remember the infamous Patrick Charpentier? Who was blown away by Oscar De La Hoya in 1998? Well, Hakkar and Charpentier have more than a few things in common, other than the fact that they were undeserving title challengers. First, they were both promoted and managed by the Acaries brothers. Secondly, they built their records up in France against the usual suspects. And lastly, they were propped up by the WBC, who is notorious for feeding their more notable titlists one easy mandatory after another. Don't believe me? Look at the treatment given to guys like Roy Jones, Julio Cesar Chavez and De La Hoya throughout the years by Jose Sulaiman's crew of bandits.
This was the same ol' sad song we've heard before. The fighters may have changed but the other suspects had not. You could see this mis-mandatory happening a mile away. Everyone did it seems, except for HBO, who keeps putting the onus on the WBC. I'm wondering what they expected? They had been there and done that. It looks to me that they got hustled, hoodwinked and bamboozled by King and now they want to play the blame game.
Sorry, but HBO should have done their homework but beyond that they should have stuck to their own network edict that says that they do not recognize the 'alphabet soup' that has in many ways poisoned the game. Time after time, they have allowed these undeserving challengers on their airwaves and played the role of victim.
And many times they are unwilling participants in this because they have inked fighters, most notably like Jones, to multi-fight agreements, who have continously taken on these mis-mandatories one after another. For fighters like Jones, it's great business. HBO money for easy fights. That's a no brainer, but as a programmer you've got to be embarrased. But they could always say,' Well, we had no choice but to televise Roy Jones against Ricky Frazier, it's in the contract' But here's the kicker, Hopkins, has no such deal and will most likely never get one.
But beyond that, when you televise fights that do involve the sanctioning bodies and their top challengers( whether they are deserving or not) you are recognizing their existence as an entity. After all, a guy like Hakkar was put in there by the WBC correct? If HBO was serious about eradicating this problem, they should have made it clear that a fighter of his caliber simply wouldn't be accepted on their network under any circumstances, no matter what the WBC mandated.
To take a WBC or any other mandatory knowingly and then to blame them for a bad fight is hypocripsy at it's worst.