About That Fight…

“What does she know about boxing?” you are no doubt asking, and the answer, of course, is “nothing,” but I have always been interested in the sport because my father was a big fan (not so much these days, he says there are too many world champions to keep track of). As a result, I have a lingering fascination with it and a head full of weird boxing facts, as I realized some years ago when I was trying to explain to a friend how very un-glamourous my exercise wardrobe was and I said everything looked like it came from the Sonny Liston Roadwork Collection.

I know full well this doesn’t add up to me having anything to say about Saturday night’s Rozicki-Peralta match, especially since I didn’t actually attend it, just watched  a YouTube video after the fact (thank you, John Pettipas!), but this piece isn’t about my opinion of the fight, this is me trying to find answers to the questions I had about the fight.

By now you know the story: Ryan “The Bruiser” Rozicki of Sydney Forks met Yamil Peralta of Tres de Febrero (Argentina) on Saturday night at Centre 200 in Sydney. The fight ended in a split decision in favor of Rozicki that was subsequently “nullified” by the sanctioning organization, the World Boxing Council (WBC), and a rematch has been scheduled for October.

I’ll get into what I know about the actual match eventually, but you know me, I start out researching a boxing match in Sydney and the next thing you know I’m in a hospital in Los Angeles or a sports equipment factory in Mexico City so…bear with.


What is the WBC?

Saturday’s match, as noted above, was sanctioned by the World Boxing Council or WBC, one of four major organizations that sanction professional boxing bouts, along with the World Boxing Association (WBA), the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO). Of the four, the WBC is apparently considered “the most prestigious and famous” with a list of champions that includes Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Joe Frazier, but as we’ll see in a moment, being the “most prestigious” sanctioning organization in boxing is a bit like being the best ice skater on the Sahara.

The WBC was founded in Mexico City in 1963 by 11 countries (the United States, Argentina, England, France, Mexico, the Philippines, Panama, Chile, Peru, Venezuela and Brazil) at the initiative of then-Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos. The organization, which now counts 161 member countries, was intended to “unify all the commissions of the world and develop the expansion of boxing.”

The WBC has had six presidents in its history. The current president, Mauricio Sulaimán, was elected in 2014 following the death of his father, José Sulaimán, who had held the post for 39 years. (He was voted president of the organization for life just months before in died in a Los Angeles hospital at the age of 82.)

Boxing Gloves

Left: Muhammad Ali gloves, 1971. Right: Modern gloves with attached thumb.

Sulaimán senior’s ESPN obit gave him credit for three improvements to player safety—reducing fights from 15 to 12 rounds, moving the weigh-in to the day before the match to allow fighters time to rehydrate and instituting gloves with thumbs attached.

Having catalogued the good, boxing reporter Dan Rafael then wrote:

For all of the positives, however, there was as much negative. For decades, the WBC, under Sulaimán’s direction, often ignored its own rules, put out rankings that showed overt favoritism to those Sulaimán was close to and rewarded fighters with title shots who had not earned them but were in the personal good graces of Sulaimán. He was heavily criticized for his extremely close relationship to promoter Don King, who was often the beneficiary of generous rankings for his fighters.

(Speaking of Don King, at 91 he’s not only still alive, he’s still working.)


Weight Divisions

There used to be eight weight divisions in boxing:

  • Heavy
  • Light heavy
  • Middle
  • Welter
  • Light
  • Feather
  • Bantam
  • Fly

Today, the World Boxing Council recognizes 18 for men:

  •     Heavyweight – Minimum of 224 pounds (101 kg)
  •     Bridger Weight – Up to 224 lbs (101 kg)
  •     Cruiser Weight – Up to 200 lbs. (90,892 kg)
  •     Light Heavy Weight – Up to 175 lbs. (79,378 kg)
  •     Super Middleweight – Up to 168 lbs. (76,203 kg)
  •     Middle Weight – Up to 160 lbs. (72,574 kg)
  •     Super welter – Up to 154 lbs. (69,853 kg)
  •     Welterweight – Up to 147 lbs. (66,678 kg)
  •     Super Lightweight – Up to 140 lbs. (63,503 kg)
  •     Lightweight – Up to 135 lbs. (61,235 kg)
  •     Super Feather – Up to 130 lbs. (58,967 kg)
  •     Featherweight – Up to 126 lbs. (57,153 kg)
  •     Super Bantamweight or Jr. Feather Weight – Up to 122 lbs. (55,225 kg)
  •     Bantamweight – Up to 118 lbs. (53,525 kg)
  •     Super Flyweight – Up to 115 pounds (52,163 kg)
  •     Fly Weight – Up to 112 lbs (50,802 kg)
  •     Light Fly Weight – Up to 108 pounds (48,988 kg)
  •     Straw Weight – Up to 105 lbs. (47,627 kg).

Rozicki, who had been fighting as a cruiserweight, made a bid to become the first bridgerweight world titleholder in October 2021—the weight class was only introduced in November 2020—but lost to former heavyweight Oscar “Kaboom” Rivas of Colombia. According to Mike Rosenthal at Boxing Junkie, Rozicki got the fight because Rivas’ intended opponent, Bryan Jennings, couldn’t enter Canada because he wasn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus. Wrote Rosenthal:

In stepped Rozicki, who has fought as a cruiserweight in his brief career. He weighed only 203 [to Rivas’ 222 and 1/4. Fun fact, according to the rules, there’s no limit to the permitted weight difference between two boxers if they both weigh over 195 pounds.]

Still, the Nova Scotian turned what many thought was a mismatch into a competitive fight…Rozicki probably improved his stock by performing better than expected. He almost certainly will return to cruiserweight, where he now should get important opportunities.

And, in fact, Saturday night’s fight saw Rozicki return to the cruiserweight division.

The WBC argues—in rather overheated prose—that the creation of these “intermediate” divisions has reduced “the inhumane sacrifices that boxers had to make to stay at the same weight,” the:

…physical and mental exhaustion cloying and clawing, when, there is not adequate poundage control before the fight and the risk of a serious injury…when there is dehydration.

But boxing historian Mike Silver argues the real reason for the additional divisions is less about the boxers’ health, more about the sanctioning organization’s bottom line:

More titles mean additional fees can be deducted from the boxer’s purse for the “privilege” of fighting for an organization’s title belt. All four sanctioning groups are guilty of the same behavior. It’s why this farcical but dangerous sport currently has about 90 world champions (no one is sure of the exact number) spread over 18 weight divisions, at least 7 of which are unnecessary. Over the past 40 years millions of dollars in sanctioning fees have flowed into the coffers of the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO with nothing of value being returned to the sport. One can never underestimate the arrogance and crass stupidity of these useless boxing parasites who continue to feed off of the blood, sweat and tears of the boxers they exploit.

Dan Rafael, in his obit for José Sulaimán, gets more specific. He says Sulaimán “nearly bankrupted” the WBC in 1998, when he broke the rules and agreed to re-instate light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones, who had vacated the title. Graciano Rocchigiani, the boxer who had been named champion upon Jones’ departure, sued the WBC and won a $30 million judgement. Writes Rafael:

In order to raise money to go toward the payments, Sulaimán began to create more and more titles so the WBC could collect additional sanctioning fees.



Each weight division now carries not one, but multiple, titles. I found this list which was posted to Quora by someone from Raleigh, North Carolina calling themselves “The American Curmudgeon” and identifying as a former “Pro Boxing Judge” which, close to press time, was good enough for me:

  1. “Super” World Champion – a boxer who isn’t only recognized by your organization as World Champion, but also by at least one other sanctioning organization (only awarded by the WBA and WBO).
  2. World Champion – the boxer preeminent in the weight division.
  3. “Interim” World Champion – awarded, typically under dubious circumstances, and ostensibly when a World Champion is unable to defend their title due to illness or injury.
  4. International (or Intercontinental) Champion – ostensibly, an organization’s international champion is automatically in line for a World Championship title shot. They rarely actually get one, however.
  5. “Color” Champion (“Gold Champion” in the WBA, “Silver Champion” in the WBC) – similar to an International/Intercontinental champion, but essentially an excuse for sanctioning organizations to collect an additional sanctioning fee.
  6. Regional/Suborganization Champion – a champion representing a specific geographic region. For example, if you’re from the United States and you align yourself with the World Boxing Council, you may as you work your way up the rankings get a shot at the “North American Boxing Federation” championship title.

(The WBC also recognizes “Champion Emeritus.”)

WBC World Champions, 4 Divisions, as of May 2022

As of May 2022.

The Rozicki-Peralta match, as promoter Dan Otter of Three Lions Promotions explained in the press release announcing it, was for:
…the WBC international cruiserweight title and with both boxers being ranked in the top 10, it becomes an automatic WBC world title eliminator. This is a great fight to promote and I’m sure fight fans will be thrilled.

Rozicki is currently ranked 9th and Peralta 10th in the WBC’s cruiserweight division. An “eliminator,” according to the betway insider, is “a fight that determines the next mandatory challenger,” that is, a challenger the sanctioning body says a champion must take on. “If a fighter wins a final eliminator, he is guaranteed a mandatory title shot.”

The WBC’s current (as of May 2022) World Cruiserweight Champion  is Ilunga (Junior) Makabu from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hence the headline:

Ryan Rozicki Battles Yamil Peralta for Potential Ilunga Makabu Shot

But Otter himself didn’t seem convinced winning would “guarantee” Rozicki a title shot. During the brief moments, post-fight, when it looked like Rozicki had won, he told Fightnews.com:

After this win Rozicki should crack the WBC top 5. We are looking to take on another top-ranked boxer in the WBC. A shot at the title would be ideal. If that has to wait, our main target will be Chris Bill[am-]Smith. I think it will make a great fight and let’s hope we can see that this year!!

Billam-Smith is an English professional boxer who holds the European and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles (and possibly the British and English titles, although both  currently listed as “vacant” for reasons I don’t have time to explore). Billam-Smith is currently ranked 8th in the WBC cruiserweight division.



The WBC’s championship belts are made of green leather and feature a gold-plated medallion with the flags of the organization’s 161 member countries.

The belts are made of Ferrari leather by the Cleto Reyes company of Mexico and according to the company website:

All WBC world-title belts look identical regardless of weight class; however, there are minor variations on the design for secondary and regionally themed titles within the same weight class.

You can buy a replica from the WBC for just $1,500 (although they seem to be out of stock at the moment and I’m guessing you could achieve the same effect just by wearing a sign that said “Punch Me”).

The most striking thing about the world-title belts, to me, is that they feature six pictures: two are of the greatest champions in the particular division, one is of the reigning champion in that division and three are “constants,” found on all belts—Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather and former WBC president José Sulaimán who, as the Cleto Reyes website explains, was “the architect of all designs for the WBC belts” from “the 1960s.” (This is some serious stolen valor, in my opinion, right up there with Peter Pocklington having his father’s name engraved on the Stanley Cup.)

WBC bet

First on right hand side of the medallion: José Sulaimán,

But I really only brought up the belts so I could point out that the WBC doesn’t pay for them. According to the organization’s rules and regs:

The promoter of any WBC championship is expressly obligated to pay for a new title belt.

If a champion’s title belt is presented to a new champion and an additional title belt is not available, following the presentation ceremony the new champion must immediately return the former champion’s belt to the WBC Supervisor, who shall return the belt to the former champion. The WBC will later award a new title belt to the new champion.


Nova Scotia Combat Sports Authority

Professional boxing in Nova Scotia is overseen by what used to be known as the Nova Scotia Boxing Authority but which in 2017 became the Nova Scotia Combat Sports Authority. The authority:

…works within the province to support & regulate athletes, managers & promoters participating in both amateur and professional combat sports…the NSCSA has recently added amateur Mauy Thai, amateur kickboxing as well as professional & amateur MMA under their umbrella.

At the beginning of Saturday’s match, the MC announced it had been “approved” by the Nova Scotia Combat Sports Authority.

A spokesperson for Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage, the provincial department that oversees the Combat Sports Authority, told me its board consists of five members:

Marissa McNeil
Barry Bernard
Joshua Martin
Jason Kassouf
Paul Carrigan

But the authority website still shows Mickey MacDonald as chair—and he was introduced to the crowd at Centre 200 on Saturday night as chair—and lists Hubert Earle as both a director and “referee-in-chief.” Earle refereed Saturday’s fight.

I tried to get a comment from the Combat Sports Authority about the Rozicki-Peralta fight through the “contact us” section of the website, before emailing Paul Carrigan (who is also general manager at the Port of Sydney), who told me he didn’t speak for the authority but gave me an email for Earle.

As of press time, I had received no response to my queries, but I know from the statement issued by the WBC after the fight that the local authority provided all the match officials—Earle as referee and Wayne Gray, Robert MacAvoy and Craig Smith as judges.


Sweet Science

Okay, so what happened at Center200 last Saturday night? Well, a full card of fights, for one thing, although I’ve chosen to focus on the main event, but judging by the social media comments—I mean, the ones that actually described the action rather than the ones that simply said “We Love You Ryan!”—what happened was that Peralta out-boxed Rozicki but Rozicki won.

That’s what Peralta thought—he was celebrating what he thought was his victory after the final bell—and tellingly, it’s what Rozicki himself thought:

Rozicki Instagram Post

Source: Instagram

In case you can’t read it, it says:

My hat[‘]s off to Peralta. Out boxed me for most of the night but I got a hometown decision. I gave my absolute best, but he followed the perfect game plan and neutralized most of my aggression with very high level boxing skill. One of the best in the world and it was a[n] honour to share the ring with such a great boxer.

(For an interesting take on the hometown decision—”an integral part of the dark side of the business”—I recommend this account of a 1943 bout between Jake LaMotta and Fritzie Zivic by Greg Smith. They met in Zivic’s hometown of Pittsburgh and “the Croat Comet,” was generally conceded to have won but the match was awarded to LaMotta in a split decision that angered fans so much they “reportedly booed…for a full twenty minutes.”)

Speaking of booing, it appears there was no shortage of it in Peralta’s native Argentina. As one reporter put it (probably more eloquently than this, blame Google translator):

The double Olympic [Peralta competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics] and Argentine, South American and Latin cruiserweight champion was the victim of an embarrassing split ruling against him against the local knockout for the WBC international cruiserweight title, in a duel of world qualifiers that he dominated from start to finish, in Sydney, Nova Scotia , in the main fight of the evening…Even the local admitted defeat.

Nevertheless, in the tenth, the local referee Hubert Earle deducted a point from the Argentine, as a result of alleged ties [I think this is Google translator’s way of saying “holding”] when the one who committed the fouls was his rival. It was very noticeable.

The three judges, all Canadians—and all from Nova Scotia—decreed the inexplicable: Wayne Gray 97-93—unusual—and Robert MacAvoy 95-94, both for Rozicki, while Craig Smith 95-94 for Peralta. [There’s a nice rundown of how judge’s score boxing matches here.]

I am no judge of boxing, but even I could see the difference between the dancing Peralta and the plodding Rozicki. I particularly noticed Rozicki’s missed “haymakers” and it reminded me of this quote from heavyweight Ted Lowry, who told the sportswriter and boxing historian Mike Silver, in response to a question about the “punching power of Rocky Marciano”:

He hit hard but a smart fighter had no business getting hit by Rocky because he would send you a letter when he’s gonna punch.

And as more than one observer has pointed out, the truth of the fight can be found in the combatants’ faces (photo by Jeff Lockhart, who takes some amazing sports photos):


The decision “immediately created controversy,” according to a WBC press release issued the next day (May 8). The sanctioning organization said it had appointed a panel of judges to review the fight and it “unanimously determined that Peralta should have been awarded the victory.” The WBC said it had:

…also taken into consideration the strong objection which we had all along with regard to the appointment of the ring officials from the local boxing authority, as they selected all four local officials.

This seems kind of dodgy. If the WBC had wanted to appoint the officials for the match, it presumably could have done so. In fact, the WBC’s rules and regulations state that if a local commission refuses to allow it to appoint all the ring officials or if the WBC doesn’t agree in writing to all ring officials, the organization can revoke its sanction of the match. But the press release about the Rozicki-Peralta match states very clearly:

The WBC decided to continue sanctioning the event, in order not to affect the promotion or the fighters.

This is something I would like to ask the Combat Sports Authority about.

The WBC confirmed that its international cruiserweight championship remains vacant and that the ratings committee would not consider the result of Saturday’s match in their evaluations for official rankings for the month of May. It then ordered an immediate rematch “with the condition that an all neutral panel (not from Canada nor Argentina) officiates the rematch.” The rematch has been scheduled for October and Three Lions put a positive spin on it:


I‘ve gotten extremely distracted writing this piece by interviews with old boxers and analyses of the problems with the modern sport, the latter mostly from Mike Silver The Arc of Boxing by Mike Silverwho has little use for modern boxing and has, in fact, written a book—The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science—that covers topics like “the ongoing deterioration of boxer’ skills, their endurance, the decline in the number of fights and the psychological readiness of championship-caliber boxers.”

But a lot of what I’ve read has helped inform my understanding of Saturday’s match. For example, Rozicki’s record, going into the match, was 14 wins (all by knockout) and one loss while Peralta had 13 wins, no losses. In his review of Silver’s book (which I haven’t read but now intend to), Paul Salgado writes:

Undefeated records are impressive marketing tools, but too many uncompetitive fights and high knockout ratios against inferior opponents have actually served to handicap today’s young boxers in developing sophisticated skills en route to a title fight. So-called champions of the current era, writes Silver, hardly compare to someone like Archie Moore who had 177 fights before finally landing his title shot against Joey Maxim, 17 years after turning pro.

Mind you, the suggestion that boxers need to fight more immediately made me confront a cold truth about boxing I’d been conveniently avoiding to that point—the toll it takes on boxers’ brains.

But I found Silver writing about that too, in a review of a book called Damage: The Untold Story of Brain Trauma In Boxing by Tris Dixon. Silver says:

The wealth of information contained in this remarkable book is more important than 100 medical papers about brain damage in boxing because it is written in layman’s language and exposes the personal stories behind the cold statistics and scientific jargon. Its words should serve as a clarion call for action on behalf of the athletes for whom boxing is not so much a choice as a calling. In bringing attention to this serious topic Tris Dixon does not seek to abolish boxing—although there is a strong case to be made for that both medically and morally—but to try and make a dangerous sport less dangerous by shining a light on a subject that is too often ignored or neglected by the boxing establishment.

I was skeptical about the possibility of making boxing less dangerous, but Dixon explains that one of the most dangerous aspects of boxing (and football) is second-impact syndrome, when someone suffers a second concussion while still suffering from the first:

Second-impact syndrome, which can result in permanent brain damage, is a common occurrence in many prizefights and sparring sessions yet “is not widely discussed in boxing when it should be a regular part of the conversation…[it] is one of the most serious threats to brain injury, both in the long and short term. In second-impact syndrome, the first hard hit has done more damage than anyone suspects and then the boxer takes a follow-up shot and life can be irreparably changed. A fighter can be hurt in sparring and still not be healed by fight night, when disaster can strike.”

So I will add Dixon’s book to my reading list too (oh, be honest, my summer reading list) and by autumn, I should have my head stuffed fuller than ever of “weird boxing facts” which I shall have no choice but to share with you, dear readers.

Don’t say I didn’t telegraph my intentions.