WBO Convention, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Day One

The 36th annual WBO Congress began yesterday from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The governing body began the five day event with a golf tournament followed by welcome drinks and an award ceremony for the day of golf.

Hilariously the announcer began his awards speech with “I would like to thank everyone from the WBA, no, the WBO. Im going to get fired!”

Nonetheless, the award ceremony proceeded, the WBO representative making good light of his early mistake. Golden Boy’s Robert Diaz picking up one of the many awards.

The WBO branding burst out of nowhere as we drove through the vast network of private roads in Barcelo Bavario. The security check getting into the complex was tedious to say the very least, the border patrol of the nation being a much softer comparison. However, after $180 and one hour later we were in.

The champions of all WBO world titles stood vertically in larger than life size screens, the females to the left, the males to the right, cascading down from heavyweight to minimumweight. I noted that interim heavyweight champion Zhilei Zhang was among the likes of Oleksandr Usyk and Terence Crawford.

It was a relaxed affair in the 30 degree heat. An open bar serenaded by local musicians cemented the fact we were in the Caribbean. The likes of WBO super flyweight champion Junto Nakatani and former two-time WBO belt holder Oscar Valdez were the two most notable fighters at the welcome drinks. Promoters and managers slowly trickled in after long flights, Oleksandr Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk making a very brief appearance as an endless list of fighters representatives gathered from all corrners of the globe.

WBO President Francisco Valcarcel gave his thanks to those in attendance to close the two hour proceedings in a reasonably uneventful beginning.