WBC President Jose Sulaiman opened the Wednesday morning assembly meeting of the WBC’s 49th annual convention with a discussion of the upcoming WBC World Cup tournament. He said, “This tournament will be for 40 weeks. We already have a verbal agreement with a television company in the United States, and the committee is closing with other television networks around the world. It’s going to be fantastic!
“We are going to have all of the champions of every Continental Federation meet each other, plus the WBC Silver champions and the WBC International champions. We intend to have the first fight for say, $40,000 for the winner and $20,000 for the loser – it’s just an example. The winner goes to the next round and then he will 50 and the loser 25, the winner will go on to make 60 and the loser 30. The final champion will make 250 or more. So it’s very, very interesting. We are offering this also to other promoters. It will be very good for boxers, promoters, and boxing. I believe that this is one of the greatest programs that the WBC has had in its 50 years. It is the opening to the world with authentic champions of the Continental Federations affiliated with the WBC.
“The television is trying to select five or seven cities of the world only, in order that they can really have the quality according to their specifications. It’s very interesting to me because the promoters of the fighters will have participation in the tournament.
“The tournament will start in the month of May, 2012. It will be for 40 weeks, and we plan to have a final world championship during the week of the 50th anniversary of the WBC. So it’s a matter of all the promoters to talk with the presidents of the federations so that you are sure the boxers – every champion of the NABF, every champion of the South American Federation, of Asia, Europe, Africa, Great Britain – will participate.
“We will have eight divisions – flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, and heavyweight, and we have one for you to decide, between super fly, super bantam, super feather, super light, super middle. Which do you believe have more fighters and more attractions of the supers? For the developing countries, they might like the smaller fighters, like super flys or super bantams. Other countries might like heavier fighters, like super middles. Which division would you like to be included?”
“This is going to be sensational, because they are offering around 15 to 16 million dollars for the program. So, the first fights we have to take a little bit of money so we can add after every fight that we present in the future. It’s very interesting for the promoters and the champions for the opportunity.
“The intention is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the WBC with this tournament. If this tournament is successful, we are trying to have a four-year contract with the televisions that are going to handle this World Cup.
“I believe that this is an opportunity to show the world that every Continental Federation has a champion in most of the divisions. This will be an authenic, true confrontation between the champions in the World Cup of the 164 countries affiliated with the WBC. We will be in constant communication with all of the promoters and with all the commissions, obviously, to present a very, very good tournament.
“We have already advised the Continental Federations that if they do not have a champion in a division, a vacant title, that they can select the boxer that they believe best represents the Federation in that vacant division. I hope you see with enthusiasm this new program of the WBC.”
The promoters in attendance voted to include super lightweight as the eighth weight division. Luxury watchmaker Hublot has agreed to donate a watch to the World Cup champions.
In his opening day speech, President Sulaiman said that the income from the World Cup would fund his proposed pension plan for retired boxers, and he also asked promoters affiliated with the WBC to donate one dollar for every ticket sold at their events to add to the pension fund. Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz, who is presenting the fight card that will end this convention on Friday night, pledged to donate one dollar from each ticket sold for the event.
Mauro Gazcon of the World Cup committee included additional information in a press release: “The global tournament will be the biggest boxing event of all time with 40 world class boxing events, starting May 2012 and featuring 96 boxing champions from 10 Continental Federations across 164 countries in eight weight categories. Never before has there been a boxing event of this magnitude. This unprecedented boxing platform will have a global exposure that will help the promotion of the sport of boxing and its current and future world champions.”
President Sulaiman also proposed pensions for Gerald McClellan and Iran Barkley, both of which were approved by the Board of Governors. President Sulaiman added, “We usually do not say the names of the fighters who receive monthly pensions from the WBC because we don’t want to embarrass them.”
Regarding wbcboxing.tv and suljos.tv, President Sulaiman said, “I wanted to leave something as President. I have been working on this for seven years on the internet. Wbcboxing.tv and suljos.tv have been showing fights for 18 months. I believe that television is not the future, but we don’t want to fight television. We want to be an addition to television. Today, there is no fight that can be done without an extra income. Many of the promoters receive very little from television, but television is the opportunity of selling sponsorships, and nobody wants to pay sponsorships if they don’t know if it’s going to be shown in the houses where they see boxing.
“After seven years, we have become the only site on the internet in the world that can produce in high definition, without interruptions, a boxing match. We have been transmitting boxing matches for 18 months, every Saturday. It’s excellent! You can even see it better than television many times. We want to show you some charts – in regards to television, the line is not going up, it is going down, cable TV is going down. The internet is going up. So television, to us, does not look to be the future.
“This is to show you that wbcboxing.tv and suljos.tv is for every promoter. What we want to do is have the WBC offering the promoters the opportunity to use the internet when they don’t have a television contract. The key here is that the quality of live events on the internet is as high as it can be. We know that champions of the world only fight once or twice in a year. Why? Because they don’t have television – no television, no fights, no opportunities. We can do this in a partnership with the promoters and the WBC, in which the promoters can sell their own sponsorships. This is giving you the internet, not only the live gate, waiting in line for television. This is, I think, a great opportunity.
“We have been showing this or one and a half years without charging one penny to anybody. It has been free, and it can continue to be free if we get the sponsors, which is very easy. We have now about 90,000 visits every month. In the past, we didn’t have as many visitors. I don’t understand exactly this report that was done, but it means that those 90,000 visits are two million users. So this is an opportunity I am giving to you. This has been, as of today, a joint venture of the WBC and myself for seven years to bring it to this point. I just wanted you to know, all the promoters in the world, you have this available to you. You can sell sponsorhips and have that income now. In the future, when the internet is firmly established, you can even charge one, two, three, four, five, 10 dollars, according to the fight.”
The referees seminar on Tuesday was led by Ring Officials Board Chairman Hubert Minn of the U.S. and Co-Chairman Bruce McTavish of the Philippines. Mr. Minn said, “Yesterday at the referees seminar, we had 200 in attendance. We started off with a lot of technical difficulties, but what we did was, we had one segment where I got together nine of the top referees in the world, three of them from Las Vegas, and each one had to review a round in which they had some problems – for Kenny Bayless, the Pacquiao-Mosley fight. And what they did was, they showed their character and intregrity by admitting that they made a mistake and what they learned from it. Then they shared it with the group and answered questions. And to me, you’re not going to improve unless first you admit you made an error. The crowd was just amazed. They said, ‘You know what? We’ve never seen things like this before.’
“My idea of a good seminar is to be as inclusive as possible – I want promoters, I want boxers, I want people talking to us and sharing. The whole goal is that we can become better officials. We’re pushing this one team – get it right. We all work as a team, and I think it’s beginning to show up in our assignments as well as our scoring and safety. We also gave out a token of appreciation for loyalty to the ring officials who have been with the WBC for over 20 years for loyalty, honor, performance. That was a highlight for me. We have a judges seminar today, and we’re expecting 250 to attend.”
SPAR Scientific Chairman Dr. Gerald Finerman of UCLA gave a speech and video presentation on concussive brain injury and recovery. After his presentation, Dr. Finerman said, “Starting in 1983, the WBC donated approximately one million dollars over about 10 years to our research program. It was the ‘seed money’ for our program, which has now become one of the top five brain research centers in the U.S. – it’s the Head Trauma Center at UCLA. When you do research, and you’re seeking to get support from the government, you write a grant, you tell them what you’ve done. You can’t just say, ‘I’m thinking about doing this.’ You have to say, ‘I’ve done this, I’ve published these articles, we’re capable of doing this work.’ Then you compete against a number or other people or institutions who want that support. It’s now a National Institute of Health program, funded by the Federal Government. I thank Jose and the WBC for making all of this possible.”
President Sulaiman added, “All of this came from a conversation we had 30 years ago. I’m very proud of the WBC for participating in starting a program that is now in the hands of the federal government of the United States. Thank you, Dr. Finerman. Thank you so much.”
The WBC presented Dewey Bozella an award for overcoming injustice.
Tuesday afternoon was devoted to ratings, which will be available soon.
WBC Cares Chairperson Jill Diamond reported, “Today, the WBC World Boxing Cares visited the children at SHERO and the Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club. Many of our greatest champions gave their time and their hearts to these children. At least 20 attended, including Ray Leonard, Larry Holmes, Juan LaPorte, Christy Martin, Tommy Hearns, Naomi Togashi, Momo Koseki, Jose Napoles, Salvador Sanchez II, Julian Jackson, Manuel Medina, Hector Camacho, Milton McCrory, Iran Barkley, Mariana Juarez, Jhonny Gonzalez, “Comanche Boy” George Tahdooahnippah, Chauncey Welliver, Joe Hipp, Francois Botha, Naoko Fujioka, and ring officials Kenny Bayless, who was our guiding light for this trip, Sparkle Lee, Stephen Blea, and Jay Nady.
“In addition to the excitement that we brought to them, they put on a sparring demonstration that their coach, Richard Steel, put together for us. Kenny Bayless was the referee. The children cheered for the red and blue corners but in these short fights, everyone came out a winner. It was an emotional and gratifying afternoon, and we hope we gave the children as much as they gave us.
“WBC Cares couldn’t have done this this without the support of its members, the cars donated by Jay and Kenny, help by Deborah Hawkins, and the extra love given yesterday by Raylene Carbone, Marcie Morrow, Elizabeth Reyes, Monique Rendon, Stevie Karns, Ricardo Sequeira, Alma, Pepe, Alain Flores, Veronica Medal, and all of our members who make this possible. We also gave out awards to SHERO founder Eileen Oser, and Jim Richards, who helps the Boys and Girls Club, for their dedication and support of young people. Oh yes, and there was cake!”
(Photo credit: Pepe Rodriguez)