Once upon a time in boxing, coming out on top in an all-action heavyweight fight on TV meant all but naming your next assignment.
Amir Mansour is reminded on a regular basis that we are simply no longer back in the day.
It’s been four months since the middle-aged southpaw boldly marched into the Reading, Penn. hometown of Travis Kauffman and claimed a hard-fought 12-round win in one of the best fights of 2017. Their March ’17 clash on Bounce TV played to rave reviews, but sans any opportunity to parlay the big win into a bigger heavyweight fight.
“You’d think I have the plague, the way the other so-called heavyweight contenders are avoiding me,” stated a frustration Mansour, (23-2-1, 16KOs) who has been idle since March and without any clear indication of his next fight. “Is it my breath or is it my ability?
“These guys call themselves fighters but when my name comes up in conversation, they act like they have a hearing problem. Why would anyone be afraid of a 44-year-old man?”
The win over Kauffman (31-2, 23KOs) earned the Salem, New Jersey-bred heavyweight—now based out Wilmington, Delaware—a top 15 ranking with two different sanctioning bodies. Sadly, after years of working his way toward contention, a four-month idle period has since seem him drop out of the WBC Top 15.
Such a demotion disqualifies his chances of fighting for the organization’s title, which is presently being held hostage by Deontay Wilder who hasn’t fought since February and has offered nary a peep on when he plans to return to the ring.
“Who else gets dropped six spaces that quickly,” Mansour wondered aloud. “It’s a very frustrating and disappointing reality when a fight is made and the winner is said to fight the world (WBC) champion. When I fought Travis Kauffman, Deontay Wilder was willing to fight Kauffman. They were sure Kauffman would win but he didn’t.
“I won that fight but now Wilder doesn’t want to fight me. His last fight was against Gerald Washington, a fighter that 98 percent of the viewers thought I beat (in 2015). The fight was scored a draw. Washington went on to fight Deontay for the title.”
Such a sequence of events is hardly news to the well-preserved heavyweight, who served hard time in the 1990s but took care of his body to where he’s still a major threat in 2017. His first career loss—a 10-round decision defeat at the hands of former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham—was followed up by one of the very best knockouts of 2014, a one-punch 7th round drilling of Fred Kassi.
“I received the Knockout of the Year (honorable) mention against Fred Kassi, but he went on to fight Chris Arreola (on CBS) and walked away with a draw,” points out Mansour, who was left to take on a stay-busy fight with Joey Dawejko to lesser fanfare on ESPN2. “Chris also had a No Contest against Kauffman, a fight in which he was floored.
“Chris went on to fight Deontay as well. It’s blatant cowardice (on Wilder’s part) if you ask me.”
In fairness to the defending titlist, he is tied up in talks with mandatory challenger Bermane Stiverne—from whom he won the title in 2015—and not in a position to accept any other fight outside of a unification clash with another beltholder.
There was the opportunity to face former secondary titlist Alexander Povetkin earlier this month in Russia—an opportunity Mansour and his Hall of Fame promoter J Russell Peltz accepted.
Shortly after saying yes and landing in the WBC Top 15, Povetkin and promoter Andriy Ryabinsky announced that Andriy Rudenko instead “earned” the opportunity.
“When Mansour landed in the No. 15 slot in both the WBC and the WBO, Povetkin’s people stopped answering the phone,” Peltz said.
Those who will answer the phone, only have excuses to offer in lieu of a fight.
“[W]e tried to get a match in August with Dillian Whyte on the Terence Crawford card in Omaha (versus Julius Indongo); that went nowhere,” lamented Mansour. “Top Rank told us that Whyte wanted to fight a tall, right-handed guy (presumably to prepare for Wilder, whom the Brit has repeatedly called out). What a joke!
“I also was willing to step in on one week’s notice to fight Fres Oquendo for the WBA title in June when Shannon Briggs failed his test. The promoters canceled the show instead. I am willing to fight any Top 10 heavyweight in the world, but it just seems as if all the top heavyweights are fighting bums and no-name fighters.”
It's no longer your father's heavyweight division—ironically an era the 44-year old Mansour is old enough to vividly recall, but unfortunate to miss out on the opportunity in which to participate.