WBC – Nov. 15, 2022 – Round 12: A Great Convention in Acapulco

11/15/2022 - No comments

By Mauricio Sulaimán – Son of José Sulaimán & President of the WBC

Our 60th Convention has ended, and Acapulco achieved the long-awaited goal of providing itself as the unbeatable venue for our annual meeting.

A total of 1,683 registered attendees, plus a significant number of others who were present at some of the events, and the traditional who did not register. In addition, 112 countries represented the 170 affiliates, as well as 143 local, national and international communications media, and 84 champions gathered for what turned out to be a highly productive meeting in terms of work and more than emotional with unforgettable moments, in the beautiful port of the state of Guerrero.

Governor Evelyn Salgado was present throughout the opening ceremony that lasted just over three hours, in which she witnessed the greatness of what our sport is. Maestro Zoé Robledo, general director of the IMSS, signed a historic agreement for the sport of fists, a program created with my friend Héctor García that will provide social security for the boxing community, as well as the creation of gyms within the many facilities of the institute at the national level; the first will be in Guerrero and will be named after Eddy Reynoso.

The appointment of the bravest man in the world was highly emotional when Bridger Walker, that little boy who saved his little sister from a dog attack, was awarded last year. He now passed the baton to Dunia, a young man from the Congo, who was attacked by a chimpanzee and is now a junior wrestling champion. From that moment on, both enjoyed a week of brotherhood. They were playing in the corridors, swimming together and they had a great time enjoying every moment.

The power of women was highlighted in a very special way. Rules were discussed and the commitment to fight to protect their physical integrity over the demands of seeking to increase the risk of the fighters was confirmed. Therefore, the rounds will not be increased to three minutes, nor will the title fights be increased to 12 rounds; they remain in 10 rounds, two minutes long. The fourth women’s boxing convention was announced for 2023. It will be in Acapulco.

Another agreement was to work to establish a great boxing function at the GNP Arena, in December 2023, hoping that this would be established as an annual tradition in that venue.

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My dear friend, José Cantoral, sang the Mexican national anthem, and as a special surprise, he was the one who closed the opening ceremony, by performing that magnificent song that he created, during the most uncertain moments of the pandemic, achieved with the collaboration of many idols from our country to sing: Mexico Counts on Me.

The presence of some personalities who could not be in Acapulco was missed. Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez is in full rehabilitation from his surgery. Don King suffered a medical problem and Floyd Mayweather fought in Dubai, but the quantity and quality of champions and champions was spectacular.

Jeff Fenech, the greatest in Australian history; John H. Stracey, the first champion of the José Sulaimán Era, who defeated the idol Napoles just one day after my father’s election, in 1975; Jackie Nava was crowned as The Aztec Queen; Riddick Bowe, who 30 years ago won the world heavyweight championship by defeating Evander Holyfield; Julio César Chávez headed a huge list of Mexican monarchs: Chiquita González, Carlos Zárate, Alfonso Zamora, Lupe Pintor, Cochulito Montiel, Pipino Cuevas, José Luis Castillo, Mariana Juárez and dozens more.

Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Durán, Sebastián Fundora, Nonito Donaire, Alycia Baumgardner, Mia St. John and Marlen Esparza…

The host hotel could not have been better. Palacio Mundo Imperial was the perfect place to achieve our goals. The Convention Center is majestic, magnificently equipped and with all the salons required for the various meetings. The dinners and cocktails were spectacular, one at the beach club and the other in the corridors of the majestic building. In addition, the service was impeccable, the immediate attention and the traditional Mexican hospitality that conquers the hearts of those who visit us.

The presentations of the agenda items, the meetings of the various committees and federations, the training sessions for judges and referees, and the meetings in the main hall were very successful. The work, in general, created the action plan for 2023.

Very interesting fights were ordered for the obligations of the champions in the next year: Andy Ruiz against Deontay Wilder to take out the official challenger; Caleb Plant vs. David Benavidez, at super middleweight. Another very interesting fight will be Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz against Shakur Stevenson, a fight that seems to emulate the historic Julio César Chávez vs. Meldrick Taylor for the characteristics of both fighters.

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We had a delegation from Ukraine present, who related days of deep emotions. We decided, outright, to expel from the rankings all boxers from Russia and Belarus, until life in Ukraine returns to normal. The invasion of that country has caused thousands of innocent deaths and has brought the nation to a complete standstill; in addition to the great consequences that the whole world is suffering in terms of gas, energy and food. An element that caused a sensation was the national canine hero, Athos, a dog that was with us, after overcoming a vicious and cowardly attack by Russian soldiers, in a moving and motivating triumph of survival. In spite of that ordeal, Athos remains the most genial, gentle and friendly character.

Two wonderful boxing performances were given as part of the convention. One that was on Friday at the OlaFest festival, where there were international fights to the delight of those attending that party in Acapulco, and on Saturday, Box Azteca presented with Zanfer the function at the Convention Center, where David Picasso gave a great display of boxing, ratifying his eliminatory fight, on the way to the super bantamweight world championship.

The exhibition of photographs and WBC museum at the Cultural Center was something historic, since it had pieces of high historical value: shorts, gowns, gloves and belts of great champions in the history of Mexico and the world.

My wife, Christiane, did what my mother did in the Conventions in our country and prepared an exclusive gathering for women, which ended up being a huge party for the attendees who then gathered to accompany us, the aprons for the talents’ night. The party was set up with karaoke, and there, once again, unforgettable moments were created.

The end of the Convention arrived, an emotional closing ceremony, farewell words and a posthumous tribute to my dear dad. This time, My Way was not his favorite song, but my brother Héctor edited a video of photos of Don José, with Wish You were Here. Well, my dad was there all the time, and he remains alive in the memory and hearts of all the members of the World Boxing Council.

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DID YOU KNOW…?

Enza Jacoponi, from Italy, is the longest-serving person in the World Boxing Council. She has been with the WBC since 1964, representing the European Boxing Union. She joined us in Acapulco and continues to be one of the most influential people in boxing. Mauro Betti, also from Italy, holds the record for convention attendance, having never missed one in 36 consecutive years.

TODAY’S ANECDOTE

The last few weeks I have told anecdotes about WBC Conventions, and this will be no exception.

Vitali Klitschko, who is the current governor of Kyiv, Ukraine, and was a former WBC heavyweight world champion, was about to defend his title in Las Vegas, when four days earlier, he suffered an unfortunate knee injury.

The promoter of that fight went to see him in the hospital and suggested that he go into the ring with a knee brace, and if he couldn’t, then he would have a rematch later, and that way he wouldn’t let go of his eight-million-dollar salary. The television told him the same.

My dad called him, and that’s when he learned about the intense pressure they were putting on Vitali. “My dear champion, you can’t go up to fight injured; you cannot sell your championship. We will support you and will give you the title fight as soon as you are recovered,” Don José told him.

Vitali was relieved to confirm what he felt, temporarily relinquished the title and was named champion in recess. After almost two years of recovery, Vitali traveled to the WBC Convention in Manila to report that he was recovered and ready to fight for the world championship. This request was made in the Congress Hall. He went up the stairs to the stage and at the end his speech, my dad asked him: “Vitali, are you fully recovered and convinced that you will be able to fight?” And Vitali firmly affirmed: “Yes.” And he jumped down from the stage to everyone’s astonishment, there was total silence and when he fell, he turned around with a big smile.

“Come now? I’m perfect with my knee!” My dad and everyone had a big laugh… Months later Klitschko knocked out Samuel Peter to win the championship all over again.

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