By Mauricio Sulaimán – President of the WBC – Son of José Sulaimán
(September 12, 2023) – Football is finally back. I’m in a very good mood because Dallas Cowboys defeated New York Giants. It will be a great week for me, but I won’t get my expectations so high: it’s been 27 years without the glory.
Last week, the NABF (North American Boxing Federation) Annual Convention was held at the Caribe Royale hotel in Orlando, Florida. It was a wonderful meeting in which topics of great interest were discussed. The NABF was founded in 1968, immediately affiliating itself with the World Boxing Council. It is the federation that represents the three countries of North America: Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
It is of great importance and influence, since the U.S. and Mexico are very much powerful nations in this sport worldwide, being leaders in the number of world champions and world championship fights throughout their territory. Great fighters have conquered this championship before being crowned world champions, legends of the sport: Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, Roy Jones Jr., Érik Morales, and so many more.
Jermall Charlo, the WBC middleweight champion, was present and received everyone’s greetings and support. It was wonderful to see him with his wife, his mother, and his youngest daughter. We talked in depth and we are convinced that he is ready to return to the ring after a long absence due to physical injuries, and suffering from mental health issues and wellness. The WBC decided long ago to fully support him during this delicate process. An interim championship was ordered to maintain activity in the division and give him sufficient time necessary for his full recovery. Carlos Adames is the WBC interim champion and has defended his title successfully. Charlo is now very close to returning to the ring and continuing his career as an undefeated world champion, admirably representing the WBC.
We also had the presence of double former world champion Timothy Bradley, now an analyst on ESPN. His participation in the closing session was wonderful, as he shook all the attendees, mostly the judges and referees, demanding results, accountability and transparency from them as a consequence of some below par performances. Initially his presentation was taken as aggressive and naturally, all became defensive, eventually starting the questions, and the exchange of opinions turned out to be an exerting exercise, one of the best sessions I have ever experienced as everything was put forward for discussion, analysis, and conclusions. Tim stayed for the judges training session and actively participated. In the end it was, without a doubt, a great session in which he himself learned many things. He accepted the appointment we made to him as Ambassador to serve as a communications bridge and be a spokesperson for boxing in both directions.
In summary, there were specific topics which were discussed in depth: · 10-10 rounds do exist, even though rare, judges may score a round even when they absolutely do not have a clear winner of the round, and this happens mostly in the early rounds when there is so little action. · Knockdowns – the round must be scored 10-8. A knockdown is an extraordinary action which must receive full recognition. Unless there is extreme domination from the downed boxer it must be 10-8. · The WBC / NABF remote scoring program has been a great success as judges log in every weekend to score fights and it gives them practice and their results are evaluated. This has shown a fact that the more judges score a fight, the less possibility of a wrong result.
The idea to have 5 judges in major fights to maximize the correct result was also addressed. Tim wishes to humanize ring officials, make them known to the public, and learn of their background and understand their point of view before and after fights. We agreed to begin a process to have TV commentators take ring officials educational seminars and get a closer approach to all facts of officiating. We discussed the idea.
Tim Bradley was always a very special boxer for our organization. He became WBC Youth World Champion under Thompson Boxing promotions and Alex Camponovo. Tim was present with them in various WBC conventions – Spain, the Philippines and as far as Chengdu, China – and was so passionate about becoming a WBC world champion. He became WBC super lightweight world champion, being an official challenger and won the title by decision in England, a great cycle had been achieved, and his loyalty and affection for the WBC were incomparable. He defended the championship on several occasions until the mandatory fight came, and his new promoter asked for special permission to have a unification fight.
My dad spoke with said promoter, explaining to him about the mandatory commitment and agreed to resolve it after the fight, so the unification was authorized, and when Bradley won, the promoter notified us of his decision to vacate the WBC title and remain as champion of another organization. This deeply hurt many in the WBC. It was very painful that such young man we met years ago and who dreamed of the Green and Gold, decided to go another way. Time passed, and now at welterweight, the WBC once again gave him the opportunity in another unification against our then champion Devon Alexander. Tim won and unfortunately, the exact same thing happened again, his promoter vacated the title once again.
As we sat down to eat, Duane Ford, Mike George, and me with him, he immediately told us that he was glad to be there, even though he had had deep resentment against the WBC for many years. He couldn’t get over the fact that his beloved WBC would have stripped him of his world championship twice! Imagine all this time, he lived thinking that it was the WBC that took the belt from him, when the reality was that his promoter was the one who vacated the belt, deceiving him for reasons that only that person would know. We hugged each other, everything was clear and now we will walk together united to find ways to improve boxing! We had the presence of two young champions of WBC affiliated titles, just as Bradley once was, with bright eyes. Callum Walsh, the sensation from Ireland, and Jordan White, from Washington, D.C., who shared their hopes and dreams of going far and reaching the top.
We had a great meeting with Carl Moretti from Top Rank, ambitious plans for social responsibility programs, Don Majeski, the legendary matchmaker, Jimmy Burchfield, the great New England promoter, Daniel Otter from Canada, and Roland Jankelson, who is Durodola’s manager. Great camaraderie, positivity, and many work sessions. The Caribe Royale Hotel is the one who welcomed us and, in addition, it is becoming a great boxing promoter! They have monthly boxing cards and offer their facilities for all types of boxing events.
Did you know…? The NABF is one of the nine continental federations that make up the WBC. Each federation, in turn, has the affiliation of the countries in its region, and in total there are 175 affiliated countries. TODAY’S ANECDOTE It was in 1994, just as I graduated from college with a degree in Business Administration from my alma mater, TEC, Campus Estado de México, when my dad took me to the NABF convention. The then-president Sammy Macias spoke with Don José to ask if he accepted that I be named vice president of this federation. “What do you think my son? You know that I don’t want you to get too much involved in boxing. I need you in our factory. Graphic Controls has given us everything, and I have abandoned it to attend to the WBC. On the other hand, I see your passion and love for boxing, and I believe that you can combine the activities as long as you understand that the priority will be our factory. If you wish, accept the honor of the position offered to you by this federation that is so dear to me.” To this day, the NABF has kept me as vice-president, and it is one of my greatest prides. I appreciate your comments at email@example.com.