By Per Ake Persson
Promoter Eddie Bazira of Baltic Pro Box finally got in touch with respect to the Francois Botha vs TBA mess for February 27. Bazira, from Uganda but living in Stockholm, Sweden for many years, has now spent two months in Kampala trying to put together a deal of some kind. According to Bazira, Evander Holyfield is indeed off the show but not for the reasons claimed but due to marketing reasons and that Evander was tied to a deal for a fight in the US. Eddie admits his sponsors were late in coming up with money.
Bazira insists WBFederation heavyweight champ Francois Botha is still on the show and will face Joey Abell and that negotiations are ongoing. Eddie says it´s not yet sanctioned by the WBFed but says he´s to talk to them later and feel secure that Abell will be approved as a challenger.
One question that one has to ask here - who is representing Botha and does one hand know what the other is doing? In the US, Sterling McPherson said yesterday the champ was with him for the last ten years while SES in Germany have claimed promotional rights to Botha. WBFed President Howard Goldberg said yesterday he had talked to Botha, who he said knew about fighting Abell in Uganda.
Bazira insists the show is on for February 27 and it will be on PPV and that many networks are interested.
Other news: Arena promoter Ahmet Oner is facing 22-24 months of probation and a hefty fine of 120,000 EUR if sentenced for 16 different charges, among them assault, blackmail and coercion - exactly how the German legal terms translates into English is hard to say and if one read German press one get more the impression of crimes - if any - done in the heat of the moment rather than organized systematic criminal acts. Either way the court hand out its verdict on February 11. Oner tells Hamburger Morgenblad the fine does him no harm and in regards of living address- Ahmet told the court he lives at Hotel Kempinski in Istanbul. Many of the charges are related to the very hot relationship with Universum, both at one time based in Hamburg but Arena is now partly relocated even though Oner and Universum go a long way back and Ahmet fought for Universum during his professional career.
Mads Larsen makes no if and buts about the importance of Saturday´s fight against Brian Magee for the vacant EBU supermiddle title. The now 36-year old Danish veteran knows he has to win to have a future in boxing. If he does that it´s easy to see a number of opportunities such as facing WBA "standard" champ Dimitri Sartison, or perhaps WBO king Robert Stieglitz. For Magee it´s probably the same.
Heavyweight Timur Ibragimov is now training in Russia and faces Tanzanian Awad Tamim February 6 in Moscow in a fight that was postponed just before Christmas when Ibragimov was injured. At stake is the vacant WBA International title. Middleweight Dmitry Pirog is also on the bill in a tuneup before facing EBU middleweight champ Matthew Macklin in April.