El gran desafío de Valcárcel

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Lo que dejó la 27ma convención de la OMB, realizada en el Caesars Palace

Carlos Irusta Por Carlos Irusta /ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS — El Caesars Palace, cargado de lujo de estuco y de gran historia boxística, ya quedo atrás. “El hogar de los campeones”, como fue reconocido por muchos años, fue también testigo del ocaso triste de uno de los justamente, grandes campeones del boxeo, como Joe Louis, quien terminó sus días como un empleado de lujo del hotel-casino. Y en su estadio abierto, que ya no está, Muhammad Alí vivió su última noche grande cuando perdió frente a Larry Holmes, en una pelea que Don King, había bautizado, paradojalmente, “El último hurra”.

Hoy es hoy y los tiempos han cambiado. El presidente de la Organización Mundial de Boxeo, Francisco “Paco” Valcárcel lo sabe, y muy bien. Aunque lleva veinte años en la presidencia -algo que pareciera normal en estos organismos, teniendo en cuenta por ejemplo, que José Sulaimán encabezó el Consejo durante más de treinta años-, piensa retirarse a tiempo. “No me gustaría que alguna vez alguien me diga o me aconseje que ya es momento del retiro -afirma Valcárcel- ni tampoco quiero ser recordado por haberme hecho eterno en el poder, prefiero que me recuerden por buena persona y por dirigente honesto”.

La WBO se ha separado varios pasos de los otros organismos. No es una manera de decir. Baste mirar que, en las reuniones tripartitas convocadas por el Consejo Mundial de Boxeo (WBC), integrando a la Asociación Mundial (WBA) y a la Federación Internacional (IBF), Valcárcel no asistió. Y no solamente eso, sino que demás afirmó que son reuniones “que terminan siendo una pérdida de tiempo y que no cambian nada, por eso preferimos seguir nuestro camino”.

Asistieron más de cuatrocientas personas de todo el mundo, lo cual significa crecimiento. De hecho se esperaban trescientos asistentes. El mercado chino ya ha sido incorporado desde hace varios años -todo un logro de Valcárcel-, y el propio Japón, que durante años no reconoció a la WBO, también ya forma parte del grupo. La Organización tiene mojones muy fuertes en Europa, especialmente en Inglaterra y Alemania. Y, por supuesto, el mercado norteamericano y latino.

Esto no quiere decir que la WBO sea una organización perfecta, ni mucho menos, pero si apunta a dos hechos que fueron el hilo conductor de esta semana de Convención en el Caesars Palace. Uno, fue sin dudas, el análisis de la ley Muhammad Alí. El otro, la transparencia de la entidad y de sus oficiales de ring.

De esta manera, el secretario general de la OMB José R. Izquierdo, efectuó una presentación ante el Comité Ejecutivo y asistentes en generales, sobre la Ley de Reforma de Boxeo Muhammad Ali y sus consecuencias en los otros organismos que sancionan al boxeo.

Izquierdo hizo hincapié en que la WBO “quiere dejar rotundamente en claro que nuestra posición es trabajar conjuntamente con la Asociación de Comisiones de Boxeo (ABC)”. La idea es que las organizaciones deben evitar el aislamiento que crean las limitaciones de jurisdicción. Y, entre otros temas, Izquierdo pidió que se busque la forma de aclarar la denominación de “asesor” en el boxeo, y “que se defina su naturaleza y alcance”. De hecho se formó un comité OMB para que presente un informe con sus conclusiones a los legisladores de los Estados Unidos, con el objeto de que se mejore la Ley de Reforma de Boxeo Ali, para tornarla más eficaz. “Es bueno tener en cuenta, y hablo como abogado también -dijo Valcárcel- que esta actividad, el boxeo, es muy compleja, más de lo que parece. Y no siempre la letra fría es aplicable. Creo que es importante que quienes se encargan de la ley Alí cuenten en su equipo con veteranos del boxeo, para escuchar sus opiniones”.

Una visión tal vez más simplista de esta convención, o con menos profundidad de análisis, no puede dejar de mencionar que fueron agasajados especialmente dos ya ingresados al Hall de la Fama: Oscar De La Hoya y Joe Calzaghe, por sus grandes carreras profesionales. De la misma manera que, entre tantos invitados importantes, estuvo Marco Antonio Barrera. Y que asistieron dos campeonas mundiales japonesas, Nao Ikeyama, monarca de la OMB en el peso átomo (102 libras) y la campeona junior mosca (108 libras) Kimiko Seser Ikehara. También estuvieron presentes el dos veces campeón mundial de la WBO, Orlando Salido, otro ex campeón mundial en diferentes categorías como James Toney, la ex campeona Hanna Gabriels y la actual campeona mundial Carolina Duer. Marco Huck campeón crucero- fue distinguido por su trayectoria.  valcarcelmarcohuck_300x200

Pero los temas de fondo fueron otros, sin duda. “Queremos que nuestros campeones se distingan. Nuestros campeones tienen que tener, ante todo, prestigio”, enfatizó Valcárcel. “El aficionado no entiende la gran proliferación de campeones interinos, alternativos, en receso… Confunden a la gente y sus propios portadores tienen apenas porciones, por eso los campeones WBO tienen que distinguirse”.

Otro tema que no puede soslayarse es el crecimiento de la incursión de AIBA en el boxeo profesional, a través de certámenes por equipos (Argentina, México, Italia, entre otros tantos países, ya participan de estas competencias) en donde también pueden combatir boxeadores amateurs que, incluso, clasificarán para los Juegos Olímpicos.

“La AIBA no puede entrar en los Estados Unidos, porque en este país no se puede ser promotor y dirigente al mismo tiempo. La AIBA nos hizo un gran favor a nosotros, la WBO, porque de sus filas pudimos clasificar a Vasyl Lomachenko (campeón pluma) o a Zou Shiming dijo Valcárcel-, pero convengamos en que es un boxeo de poco vuelo. Los boxeadores que se conformen con un sueldo, podrán competir en esos torneos, pero los que quieren ser un Oscar De La Hoya o un Carlos Monzón, o un Ray Leonard, los que quieran ser figuras de verdad, no pueden crecer en esos torneos”.

La transparencia fue, sin dudas, otro de los temas. “No se puede ser dirigente y manager, los roles son diferentes y deben caer en diferentes personas. No se puede ser directivo y manager de boxeadores -expresó Valcárcel-. De la misma manera en que buscaremos la manera de que las actuaciones de los jurados sean mejores, para evitar malos fallos y lo que es todavía peor, la desconfianza de la gente”.

El tema de los fallos controversiales forma parte del folklore del boxeo: no siempre todos vemos una pelea de la misma manera. Pero, cuando las diferencia de puntajes son tremendamente grandes, “estamos ante un problema y queremos solucionarlo. De hecho, estamos pensando poner fuertes penalidades a quien, de alguna manera, en su condición de oficial de ring, pueda tener una conducta errónea, y subiremos las multas de 50 mil dólares a 250 mil y de un año de suspensión también llegaremos a los cinco años…”, expresó Valcárcel.

En la fiesta final estuvo presente Bob Arum (fue galardonado como el promotor del año) quien estuvo cerca de Oscar De La Hoya… pero en mesas separadas (podría ser también, el premio a “la foto que no fue”, puesto que no hubo oportunidad de reunirlos…).

arumpremiado_300x200Terence Crawford y Yuriorkis Gamboa fue “La pelea del año” (ganó Crawford por KOT en 9) , Vasyl Lomachenko -campeón mundial pluma-, fue distinguido como el boxeador de mayor futuro (el ucraniano solamente tiene 3 peleas profesionales, pero se le dio autorización a pelear por el campeonato mundial por su gran campaña amateur), Carolina Duer recibió el anillo de diamantes por sus 10 defensas. Chris Algieri, quien está por combatir con Manny Pacquiao, hizo una presentación especial. También fue distinguido, lo mismo que las japonesas Nao Ikehara y Kimiko Seeser Ikeyama.

En una palabra: hubo premios para todos -una costumbre de Francisco Valcárcel- y no faltó la música salsa, aunque con el agregado del mariachi. Ni tampoco faltó la cordialidad y la amistad. Pero, mientras se hacen planes para la próxima convención en Orlando, Florida, quedan en pie varios compromisos.

Que las promesas de profundizar la Ley Ali, o el desafío de analizar a fondo los malos fallos, o la obligación de que no proliferen títulos que confundan al aficionado no sean solamente proyectos, sino realidades.

Un compromiso que el boxeo necesita y que WBO promete ir corrigiendo. Ojalá lo puedan ir logrando, para que Francisco Valcárcel y el organismo sean reconocidos, con el tiempo, por su trayectoria, pero también por sus objetivos cumplidos. Ese es el gran desafío.

http://www.espn.com.ar/news/story/_/id/2222031/el-gran-desafio-de-valcarcel

Giant WBO 2014 Convention Day Two Report

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By David Finger \ Photos: Joel A. Colon/WBO

The second business day of the 27th annual WBO Convention at Caesars Palace Las Vegas kicked off yesterday morning with a much anticipated discussion on proffering recommendations to U.S. Senators John McCain and Harry Reid recommending several amendments to the Muhammad Ali Act, originally passed by Congress in 1996.

However, a special visit from former WBO champion Marco Antonio Barrera, prompted a short delay in the days activity to allow WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel to celebrate the arrival of the Hall of Fame champion.The visibly warm relationship between Valcarcel and Barrera was highlighted as Barrera called the WBO his “family” before Valcarcel called Barrera the star of “the golden age of Mexico boxing.””Marco became an example of great champion,” Valcarcel said, “A Very intelligent family man, clean man. Honest. We would be proud to tell any child this is a model for you.”

From there WBO General Secretary Jose Izquierdo gave a presentation to the members and the Executive Committee on a list of recommendations to the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act and ways that the WBO can work with the US Federal Government to help implement these changes.

“We don’t want to make rules in isolation,” Izquierdo said of his desire to see the WBO work with the federal government and the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) on implementing these reforms, “when we make policies in isolation they become impossible to implement due to jurisdictional limitations. Boxing organizations need to stop conceiving rules in isolation that because of jurisdictional limitations do nothing to better our sport.”

Izquierdo recommended that the WBO petition the federal government and the ABC to implement several changes such as clarifying the role of an “advisor.”

We think the law should define some language that who an advisor is,” Izquierdo said. The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act prohibits a promoter from also acting as a manager to a fighter, or from having an interest in managing a fighter. However, this is something that has been circumvented in boxing through the gray area regarding what the role of an “advisor” is.

Izquierdo also recommended stiffer penalties for violations to the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, increasing the maximum jail sentence for a violation as well as the minimum fines. Izquierdo discussed raising the penalty to five years for a violation.

“We think the law is very good,” Izquierdo said of the proposed increased penalty, “we want to give it more bite and to clarify it.”

Izquierdo also wanted to bring uniformity to the Act, expressing concern over the “piecemeal regulations” that were different throughout the country.

Another recommendation by Izquierdo was the prohibition of charging a fee for appeals, a policy implemented by some other sanctioning organizations.

“It is not transparent when you charge a fee for something that should be simple due process,” Izquierdo said of the policy.

President Valcarcel then chimed in, condemning the policy in boxing where a fighter would leapfrog over more deserving contenders not due to his accomplishments in the ring but due to his connections to a particular promoter.

The President and Executive Committee also spoke at length about a poorly administered fight out of Puerto Rico in which a judge not only erroneously scored a round 9-7, but then was able to convince the commission to allow him to amend his scorecard after turning it in. The commission in Puerto Rico had not taken action against the judge who not only made a critical error in regards to the 10-point must system, but also tried to influence another judge to also score the round in question in a similar manner. This judge not only avoided suspension, but continued to work in Puerto Rico.

“That guy is incompetent,” Valcarcel said of the judge in question, “unfortunately they (the commission) stuck their head in the sand like an ostrich. This law must be amended so that it has teeth.”

In the end, the WBO Executive Committee unanimously voted to establish a committee to further explore the issue and to embrace recommendations for the proposed amendments to the law. This committee will subsequently present its report to legislators at a later date.

Before closing for lunch, the Executive Committee briefly discussed several other issues, including one present to the Committee by WBO member Markus Aslani regarding an organization operating in Europe called the GBA. Aslani expressed serious concern over the safety standards of the GBA and its rather lax administration of these standards. President Valcarcel requested Aslani to present more information to him on the matter so that he could make an informed decision regarding the discussion at hand.

After lunch the event split up into two groups, with judges and officials attending a ABC Seminars while the majority of members of the Executive Committee hosted a session for WBO supervisors. The supervisor’s seminar took a moment to moment to recognize James Toney, who was in attendance, as well as Marc Ratner, former Nevada Athletic Director. Interestingly enough, considering the guest in attendance, was this issue of a fighter “losing too much weight” at the weigh in.

“James came in twelve pounds over once,” Ratner said in regards to Toney, “he still made weight. I didn’t know that could happen.”

Several members of the Executive Committee then openly questioned if weigh-ins the day before a fight were doing more damage to the health of fighters than the older system of having them weight in the day of the fight. However, the position regarding the weigh-in remained disputed.

“Promoters use the weigh-in as a promotional event,” WBO vice president John Duggan said of the day before weigh-in.

Also discussed at the supervisor’s seminar was the role of a WBO supervisor, as the representative there to award the WBO championship in accordance with WBO rules.

“We are there to give the prize away,” WBO legal advisor Andrew Horn said, “not to promote the fight.”

Also, there was a tremendous rules meeting discussion spearheaded by Greg Sirb, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. Topics included the importance of detailed rules regarding hand wraps, with the State of Colorado cited as a shining example of a well written rule, as well as the role of the supervisor when a judge badly drops the ball as had happened in Puerto Rico during the Jose Lopez-Roberto Castaneda debacle. The role of a supervisor’s discretion was a hot topic during the debate. Also discussed was how a supervisor is to handle a dispute regarding the brand of gloves used in a contest, with the recognition that the contract ultimately in controlling if there is language regarding the gloves. The Convention wrapped up that evening with another cocktail party at 7pm. The Convention will resume at 8:30 on Thursday with a presentation by Chris Algieri as well as the championship ratings committee.

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http://www.fightnews.com/Boxing/giant-wbo-2014-convention-day-two-report-266604

Interview: WBO President Paco Valcarcel

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By David Finger –

For over 18 years, WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel took a very different approach to boxing than many other people in the sport of boxing. He was very much a “fly under the radar” sort of executive and through his management the WBO seemed keen on avoiding the controversy and the scandals that at times plagued the sport, with the WBO even sporting an undefeated record in litigation over the course of over 25 years. The WBO President didn’t seem like the type to relish the spotlight or to point fingers, which makes this year so…interesting.

It may not capture the same amount of attention as Floyd Mayweather’s very public feud with rapper 50 Cent, but a recent war of words has emerged between the WBO and the other sanctioning organizations (in particular the WBC) that has many boxing insiders wondering if the status quo has just been shot out of the water. Valcarcel is no longer content to sit back and take the quiet approach: he is making it abundantly clear what he thinks about the proliferation of champions and championship belts in the WBA and WBC and he is taking to social media to make his case.

It all started in June, when the WBC hosted a Boxing Summit in Cancun, a rare opportunity for the presidents of all of the sanctioning organizations to come together to discuss several proposed changes in the sport, including things like PED testing and the standardization of division names. Notably absent was Valcarcel, who then went on social media to vent his frustration over something that wasn’t up for discussion: the proliferation of lesser belts like the WBC Silver Championship belt.

“I find it odd that my friends at the summit did not discuss the elimination of aluminum, copper, silver, interim, recess & emeritus titles,” Valcarcel tweeted that month, a clear jab at the WBC and its Silver Championship.

The jab prompted a sharp rebuke from WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman, who was quoted by ESPN Deportes as saying that Valcarcel’s attitude was “very low” before adding “I thought he was a person of greater class.”

Rather than shy away, Valcarcel expanded his hit list to include the WBA, chiding them just last week on Facebook for their excessive number of world champions.

“Our friends at the World Boxing Association / Asociación Mundial de Boxeo (WBA) have 38 champions in 17 weight divisions,” Valcarcel wrote on the WBO’s Facebook page on August 15th, “the World Boxing Organization only recognizes the highest one for unification purposes. In the case of the middleweight division we recognize Gennady Golovkin.”

Valcarcel however is finding support from a fair number of boxing fans who have long clamored for the very same thing: less champions and more unification fight. It has been a cause that seemed to fall on deaf ears for decades, but right now it seems that the pro-unification camp now has a very influential spokesperson in Valcarcel. Who knows, maybe this is the day that the winds of change blow across the sport of boxing and we finally see an era where unification fights are the norm and not the exception. Valcarcel took some time to talk with Fightnews about the WBO Kid’s Drug Free program, the upcoming WBO Convention in Las Vegas, and the war of words between the WBO and the other sanctioning organizations in recent months.

Fightnews: Mr. President, thank you for taking time to speak with us today. What are some of the things the WBO will be discussing during the upcoming 27th Annual Convention in Las Vegas?

Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel: We are going to talk about the ABC seminars for judges and referees. And also we have seminars planned for supervisors. That’s the main concern of the WBO in the convention. They will need top certification (from the ABC). Also, we are going to have a discussion about weigh-in procedures. We may be discussing possible changes in those procedures. Also, during the convention we will talk about (implementing) replay in boxing for different circumstances. We want to make boxing, and the decisions, more accurate. Also we plan to work with commission in the USA in relation to the sanctioning organizations compliance according to the (local) laws. We are going to have ratings and sanctioning committee together and discuss title bouts; for male and female champions. And at the end we are going to recognize our champions and we will commemorate Oscar De La Hoya and Joe Calzaghe, two Hall of Famers. Also we will deal with the different countries in which we are working with the kids, to help the kids in their teens and to keep them in school. We are in 25 countries around the world.

Fightnews: That is a good segue into my next question. What are the developments in regards to the WBO Kid’s Drug Free Program?

Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel: We are working different teams and different associations to work with the kids. We plan ways to help the kids directly. Sometimes they need equipment to practice in the gym. Sometimes they need school supplies like books, notebooks, pencils. Sometimes they need help. Now we donate about $60 per kid to help kids obtain school items here in Puerto Rico. Our goal is to keep all the kids we bring to the gym in school and to make sure they stay motivated. To make sure they recognize that they need to stay in school and can stay in the gym at the same time. Discipline and education. Also we work with different associations with the handicap, to motivate them and give them a role model. We want to keep the kids motivated. We want to bring our champions to the convention, so that they know that when they become champions they have a responsibility to the kids as well. Most of the champions came from poor neighborhoods. They had to fight against drugs…against poverty. They didn’t have the support. They only had a mom, who had to be a father and mother. We want those champions to work with the kids all around the world.

Fightnews: What are some of the more exciting developments this year with the WBO?

Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel: If you talk about boxing, we have champions who are making real money and exiting fans. But if you are talking about the whole purpose of WBO, it is that we are improving and we have more participants with the WBO Kids Drug Free Program. We are giving more money to the program all over the world and we made a difference. You can check with others, when you see WBO every week we are working with kids all over the world. Check our webpage and you can see how we are working with kids all over the world. If you check the others, they have boxing. But I can say WBO is more than just boxing. We have a commitment with kids all around the world.

Fightnews: This is another good segue into my next question. You mentioned “the others” here, which we can assume is in reference to the other sanctioning organizations. To many boxing insiders, it appears that in the last year something of a rivalry emerged between the WBO and the other sanctioning organizations. The WBO was notably absent from a recent boxing summit hosted in Cancun back in June, in which the Presidents of the WBA, WBC, and IBF met to discuss some changes and uniformed policies regarding the sport. You raised some eyebrows afterwards when you criticized the proliferation of belts in the other organizations. Just last week on Facebook you took a jab at the WBA, criticizing the fact that they have 38 champions in 17 weight classes. Would you care to comment on this growing war of words between the WBO and the other sanctioning organizations?

Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel: We are against interim championships. We are against three champions in one division. We are against having super champions and regular champions. Now we do have a few “super champions” but this is to (allow them to) work with TV. Klitschko is a super champion. That is the way he can fight with the right opponent that people will enjoy. We also have Manny Pacquiao. All the fans know Manny all over the world. This (super championship) only gives them more time to work with their mandatory. They fight the right guy and the right guy for TV, and the guy people want to see on TV. For that point of view with have the super champion, but we don’t have another champion and a super champion! We are also against copper, aluminum, silver championships and all those types of belts. Now we have international champions since sometimes you have a good fighter from one continent, so this is an intercontinental type of belt.

But the reason we didn’t show in Mexico is that it was inconsequential. You go, the media is there, but then nothing happens. Because you still have three champions and a bunch of aluminum and copper champions. Regardless of my relationship, we are talking about different concepts. We are against that concept and they promote the concept of three champions in one division and the proliferation of titles in the sport.

Fightnews: So can we confirm that the WBO is in favor of unification fights between the sanctioning organizations?

Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel: Yes. When a champion wants to unify a title that is fine, and that is also good for boxing when we have unified champions. We have different champions who unified as well, we have three or four unified champions. We also have female champions who unified. It is good for boxing and it is something fans want to see. But because we are different sanctioning organization we end up with more champions. But I don’t have to go to Mexico to say that in public. For all these years I have been president of the WBO that has been my position.

Fightnews: So do you feel the other organizations discourage unification fights?

Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel: They didn’t want their champions to unify. You remember what they (the WBC) said to Canello Alvarez when he became the WBA champion? (Author’s Note: Prior to the Saul Alvarez-Austin Trout light middleweight unification fight the WBC announced that the winner would have to choose one title or the other and would not recognize a unified champion).

Fightnews: The WBO is making major inroads in Africa and in particular Asia. What do you attribute that expansion to and what are the WBOs long term plans regarding Asia and Africa?

Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel: Because we start working with different fighters regardless of whom the promoter was. We have the right people to work in that country. In Asia we have Leon Panoncello working with the organization, to work with boxing and also the different kids. We use the WBO Kids Drug Free program to keep those people in the gym and then later they become fighters and they have the opportunity to be regular champions. We have the right people in Asia and Africa. We try to influence different commissions as well, not just with boxing but with WBO Kids as well.

Fightnews: Any final words Mr. President?

Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel: We will invite anyone who wants to show up at the convention as we discuss all the issues in front of the press and the public. We don’t do anything behind closed doors.

http://www.fightnews.com/Boxing/interview-wbo-president-paco-valcarcel-258321