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IBF: It's Time For Boxing's Sanctioning Bodies To Work Together

By Gabrielle Paese

May 30, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

The International Boxing Federation is holding its annual convention here in San Juan this weekend.

I know what you're thinking: "Just what San Juan needs, more organized crime." Between the politicians and the drug dealers we have more than our share of thugs on this beautiful tropical island. But the IBF's alleged trangressions -- selling its rankings -- which led IBF founder Bobby Lee to step down back in 1999, wouldn't even draw a raised eyebrow here. Puerto Rican boxing fans are savvy enough to know that their sport has a dark side, and most of them like it that way.

Thus, the Puerto Rico Boxing Commission not only rolled out the red carpet for the IBF, it also helped them get a sweet deal on their hotel rooms.

"Puerto Rico breathes boxing," said Penagaricano, right on target, even though there are currently no Puerto Rican IBF champions, the last one having been Felix "Tito" Trinidad.

Besides more tourism for Puerto Rico, something greater good could come from this IBF meeting of minds. IBF president Marian Muhammad expects to sit down with the presidents of the rest of boxing's alphabet soup of organizations, the WBO, WBC and WBA. This time, they won't be fighting over Lennox Lewis or Evander Holyfield. On the agenda is Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) bill to create a government commission, the U.S. Boxing Administration, to regulate the sport.

"It's time that all the sanctioning bodies work together, especially now that Senator McCain is sponsoring this bill. If the U.S. Boxing Administration is established, we ought to have a say because it affects us all," Muhammad said this week.

Don't expect boxing's brass to be in favor of a federal boxing czar. However, Muhammad's making the right move in taking the offense.

Top Rank confirms Garcia as Morel's rival for June 28

WBA 112-pound title holder Eric Morel (32-0, 18 KO) finally got off the rollercoaster he's been riding for the past two weeks after Top Rank confirmed that rival Isidro Garcia, of Mexico (22-2-2, 7 KO) is signed, sealed and will be delivered in time for their June 28 Showtime fight in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

Morel has to be feeling relief with one month to go. The Puerto Rican fighter, who has spent most of his career boxing in Wisconsin, made the move here to Carolina for this fight, specifically because Best Boxing promoter Peter Rivera promised Morel greener pastures and better cheese. In Wisconsin, Morel had gone nearly a year without a fight, apparently because of conflict between his Wisconsin manager Bob Lynch and promoter Top Rank.

Rivera, who has been working with Top Rank's blessing for the past two years, set Morel up on a fight card in Caguas versus Ali Baba last year, and Morel was so pleased with the fan response in Puerto Rico, he decided to try his homeland again.

Morel has one fight left on his current contract with Top Rank, but is likely to stick with Bob Arum if Rivera can continue to boost his ratings.

Rivera, meanwhile, the Puerto Rico Boxing Commission's Promoter of the Year, seems to have the magic touch for packing in fans for local fight cards.

"Top Rank knows that the other part of its Latino market that's not Mexican is Puerto Rican," said Rivera. "So they see the value of promoting fights in this market. After that it's just a matter of knowing how to put it together. Eric was impressed by seeing 13,000 fans in Caguas to watch him fight. He's a household name in Puerto Rico. He never got that kind of recognition in Wisconsin."

Monoestrellado wins Governor's Cup

Monoestrellado spoiled Despreciado's Triple Crown bid Sunday by winning the Crown's second jewel, the $112,000 Governor's Cup at El Comandante racetrack in Canovanas. Monoestrellado, ridden by Juan Carlos Diaz, gave a spectacular performance over the 1 1/8-mile distance, breaking eighth from the gate yet finishing ahead by 9 1/2 lengths. It was Monoestrellado's revenge for losing to Despreciado last month at the Puerto Rico Derby, the first leg of the local Triple Crown. The two will meet again June 22 for the San Juan Cup.

Castellvi finishes second in NCAA finals

University of Tennessee senior Vilmarie Castellvi came up one victory short of the NCAA women's singles tennis title last week during the championships held in Gainesville, Fla. The Guaynabo native and top seed was upset by fifth-seed Amber Liu, of Stanford, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

"She played super well. She won it. She was consistent. She didn't miss a shot, she made all of them," said a disappointed Castellvi after the loss. Prior to meeting up with Liu, Castellvi had dropped only one set in the tournament. The loss snapped Castellvi's unbeaten streak of 24 matches and left her with an overall record of 45-5. By losing, she missed out on the spot in the U.S. Open main draw, which is awarded only to the NCAA winner.

The only Puerto Rican ever to win an NCAA title (1966, UCLA) is Charlie Pasarell (Pasarell didn't make the Department of Sports and Recreation's recent "50 greatest athletes" list either. Like Gigi Fernandez, he was relegated to the U.S. athlete category, despite having played most of his career as a singles tennis player representing no one but himself on what preceded the Pro Tour). The island's best female tennis player, Gigi Fernandez, made it to the NCAA finals as a freshman for Clemson in 1983.

Castellvi, who has two summer classes to pass to finish her undergraduate degree, is Tennessee's all-time best careeer singles winner (135 victories). She is the first player from that school to earn the No. 1 ranking.

FIBA selects Greece over San Juan for Junior World Championship

International Basketball Federation (FIBA) officials meeting in San Juan this past weekend voted to move the World Junior Basketball Championships, scheduled for July 10-20, from Malaysia to Athens, Greece.

The move was prompted by FIBA fears that turnout for the tournament would be affected due to the SARS outbreak in that country. San Juan was among the countries that volunteered to host the tournament. However, FIBA's Alberto Garcia said Greece got the nod because it would have been tough to get visas for all the athletes to enter the United States.

Gabrielle Paese is the Assistant Sports Editor at the San Juan Star. She is the 2000 recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at

Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.

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