IBF Convention Diary Day 3

A few random observations as the 2023 IBF Convention winds down:

* If certain other alphabet conventions are the fistic equivalent of televangelist gatherings, the IBF is more akin to a Church of England fete. It is essentially just two days of meetings, the bulk of which is taken up by three seminars – on refereeing, judging, and medical issues – plus a two-hour session in which promoters and managers plead for their fighters to be ranked or their rankings to be improved.

* Case in point: the final general session included the opportunity for those present to make any recommendations about what could be improved next time. The only suggestion was that the closing banquet could actually be a little shorter so that some people could get to bed earlier.

* Another case in point: that final session was scheduled for 90 minutes on Thursday morning. After thirty, nobody had anything else to say and the meeting was gaveled to a close.

* Third case in point: I don’t really have any new observations to fill a final diary entry, which is why I’m padding out my word count with this bulleted highlight list. 

* Much of this may be a reflection of the personality of the organization’s president, Daryl Peoples. Even he admits that most fans will talk about list the sanctioning body heads as “Maurico Sulaiman, Gilberto Mendoza, Paco Valcarcel, and the IBF guy.” Pressed by this reporter as to why he doesn’t spend more time in front of cameras and pressing the flesh, he essentially confesses that he’d rather spend the time with his wife and daughters.

* I had been anticipating the ratings committee meeting most of all. I’m not entirely sure what I expected, but I think perhaps I’d allowed myself to imagine bust-ups, shouting, and brawling as rival promoters battled for advantageous placing for their fighters. In keeping with the tenor of the gathering, there was nothing of the kind. There was, to me at least, an amusing, mild Game of Thrones vibe, as rival houses supplicate themselves before the occupier of the Iron Throne. “I am Dombroff of House DiBella, the First of His Name, and I beseech thee to look favorably upon the talents of Michael of Magnesi and rank him accordingly.” 

* Far from shouting and arguing, the ratings committee proved surprisingly collegiate, with more than a few examples of, “Oh yes, he beat one of my guys. He’s good. You should definitely rank him higher.” 

* The ratings committee overlapped with the judging seminar, so I missed the latter. But the other seminars I took in – on refereeing and medical issues – were genuinely fascinating. 

* A propos of which: the conference includes plenty of first timers and neophyte officials. To them, the big-time officials are like rock stars, and Steve Willis in particular is a mash-up of Springsteen and Steven Tyler. (Can you tell I’m a fifty-something white guy?) Having a conversation with Willis in this environment requires snatching a sentence here and there while he poses for selfies.

* General conclusion: More media should come to these events. Yes, perhaps I need deprogramming. Perhaps I’m too much a creature of the boxing establishment and thus “part of the problem.” But there is real value in hearing officials explaining their work and their reasoning for taking the actions they take – and that’s a rare opportunity given that most commissions won’t allow their officials to speak to reporters post-fight. 

* Next week, the boxing roadshow moves east to Canastota, New York, for International Boxing Hall of Fame induction weekend. See you there.

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