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Fake fights & dangerous mismatches: Inside Argentina's boxing underworld

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A look into the WPC, a boxing commission reminiscent of MMA's Xplode Fight Series, only much worse.

(Right) A boxer fighting under the identity of Julio Esteban Martinez.
(Right) A boxer fighting under the identity of Julio Esteban Martinez.
March 18 WPC event, Marcelo Gonzalez, Facebook

Lightweight Mason Menard was scheduled to fight in his home state of Louisiana on October 27, before the entire show was cancelled due to problems with his opponent’s Fight Fax record not matching up with his record on BoxRec. The Louisiana State Boxing and Wrestling Commission goes by Fight Fax, despite BoxRec now being an official record keeper of the Association of Boxing Commissions.

Speaking to BoxingScene’s Steve Kim, Menard’s promoter Greg Cohen said, "But even though the commission in Argentina confirmed that 16 of his 17 fights were held in Argentina under their commission and verified, unfortunately, it's not on Fight Fax and the commission was not willing to accept that and unfortunately the event had to get cancelled."

In this case, the commission being referred to would be the World Pugilism Commission, known as the WPC and operating mainly in Argentina, but also in other countries in South America such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Peru and Brazil. The main and universally recognized boxing commission in Argentina is the Federación Argentina de Boxeo (FAB), which has been around since 1920. The WPC was established in Ecuador in 1995. Menard’s opponent, Emiliano Martin García, fought 16 of his 17 fights under the WPC banner in Argentina, winning all of them. The one other fight and lone loss on his record came against 2012 Olympic silver medalist Denys Berinchyk in Ukraine in April of this year. It was confirmed to this writer that Fight Fax does not recognize fights from the WPC.

Last month it was announced that Edgardo Rosani and Nicolás Samuilov would be the new BoxRec editors for fights in Argentina. Both will not upload results of WPC fights to BoxRec, though that won’t be preventing other editors from doing so if they wish.

Fighters from the WPC have a knack for building up lopsided, padded records and then losing badly when they fight outside of Argentina or their home country. This practice has become quite common over the years and throughout boxing's history, record padding has always been prevalent everywhere. The padded records are to entice foreign promoters to bring over fighters from the WPC as opponents, while in turn the opponent gets a payday and the promoter’s fighter gets a win over a fighter with a glossy record. Observers who don't know any better will see that the home fighter has beaten a fighter with what appears to be a good record, without actually looking any further into it.

One notable example is Walter Rojas (25-9-1, 24 KOs). Despite his extremely inflated win column and KO ratio fighting on WPC shows, Rojas has been knocked out in every single one of his losses, six of which took place outside of Argentina. None of his losses have gone past the third round. Perhaps he is most infamous for weighing in at 103 lbs with an extremely bloated stomach for a super flyweight (115 lbs) fight against Kevin Satchell in March of 2015, causing numerous boxing fans on Twitter to joke that he was pregnant. It genuinely looks like he’s never boxed before.

The WPC has a reputation of shady and unsafe practices, ranging from fake opponents to dangerous mismatches and hazardous fighting conditions. Fighters who lose their license with the FAB due to suffering too many losses and/or being suspended often switch over and continue fighting under the WPC.

One may remember back in 2014 when faded former world champion Carlos Baldomir was set to fight Russia's Andrey Meryasev in Mexico. The fight was publicly denounced by the WBC and objected to by the FECOMBOX (Mexican federation) and the FAB, where Baldomir no longer held a license. Baldomir, a welterweight in his best days, was fighting up at super middleweight and 18 months prior to the Meryasev fight was stopped in an extremely one sided bout against Marco Antonio Rubio. Against Meryasev on April 25, 2014, Baldomir again fought up at super middleweight and lost a lopsided unanimous decision, announcing his retirement shortly after. The fight took place under the local commission of Kanasin in Yucatan, which is not recognized by the FECOMBOX. Medical documents for Baldomir were filed to the local commission via the WPC despite the numerous objections to the fight by the aforementioned authorities.

As far as American commissions go, it’s not that often that fighters from the WPC will fight in the United States. In most cases the fighters doing so have enough previous experience fighting under the FAB to warrant their record being suitable enough on Fight Fax and thus for the commission. These are either fighters that have lost their license with the FAB or just switched over and fought in the WPC, like Juan Ramón Solis, Dario Fabian Pucheta and Claudio Rosendo Tapia. Garcia, having exclusively fought in the WPC aside from the one fight in Ukraine meant that his record on Fight Fax would appear as 0-1. That would be why the fight didn’t get approved by the Louisiana commission. In Pucheta’s case he has fought under the FAB before, so his record on Fight Fax is 13-4 ,whereas on Boxrec it’s 20-4 – that includes WPC bouts. Pucheta’s 13-2 (at the time) record on Fight Fax was sufficient enough for him to be allowed to fight Demetrius Andrade in Connecticut last year.

In the case of Garcia’s record, one will notice that there are three entries in the opponent column on his BoxRec page that are listed as "unknown." Those three slots were originally opponents fraudulently fighting under the name and identification of a deceased and a long-retired boxer. BoxRec changed the opponent to "unknown" after being alerted of the issue at hand around the end of August.

Jorge Daniel Medina was murdered in 2012. It was no wonder that alarm bells went off after his name appeared twice on the record of Garcia this year. Not only that, but Medina’s last fight was in 2005. On paper it would’ve appeared that 45-year-old Medina came back in 2016 after an 11 year layoff and fought numerous times, except it all never happened. He has been dead for four years and an impostor was fighting under his name and license.

Then there’s Julio Esteban Martinez, from Concordia in the province of Entre Ríos. Martínez has not fought since 2006 and Juan Carlos Valdez of El Heraldo de Concordia – who also originally pointed out and detailed these discrepancies - confirmed that with Martínez, who sent photos of his FAB boxing license, indicating that indeed his last fight took place in 2006 in Mendoza.

A page from the license of Julio Esteban Martinez indicating the date of his last fight. Marcelo Gonzalez via Julio Esteban Martinez

A page from the license of Julio Esteban Martinez indicating the date of his last fight.

A video was uploaded from a show in which Martínez was purported to have fought on, against Cristian Ruben Miño. From first glance it’s apparent that the fighter being billed as Julio Esteban Martínez in the video is someone else. The video was taken down initially but Argentine boxing journalist and TV presenter Marcelo González was able to save it and re-upload it. As can be heard, the ring announcer introduces a boxer fighting under the identity of the retired Julio Esteban Martínez, who then goes on to get knocked out in the first round.

Screenshots of BoxRec taken at the end of August by González when these discrepancies were discovered show the use of Medina and Martínez’s names. Medina and Martínez had been recorded fighting six and seven times this year respectively. Unbelievably, there were actually two recorded instances this year where they had fought each other, meaning that two fights had taken place where both boxers involved were fighting under the identities of Medina and Martínez. On paper, that’s a deceased boxer fighting a boxer that’s been retired for ten years.

Screenshot of false results before they were removed. Martinez and Medina's names used as opponents. Marcelo Gonzalez

Screenshot of false results before they were removed. Martinez and Medina's names used as opponents.

After González’s posts on Facebook and Twitter detailing the issue of WPC fights taking place with stolen identities, he received phone calls from private numbers attempting to intimidate him, as well as an e-mail with a photo taken from his Facebook page that had been defaced.

In the case of García, the unknown opponent he fought on March 18 was billed as Martinez, and the unknowns he fought on May 28 and August 12 were billed as Medina. In the photo at the top of the article from a weigh-in on August 11 in La Paz, Mendoza found by Ernesto Rodriguez of Planeta Boxing, García faces off against an opponent that is fighting under the identity of Medina. The opponent is wearing a hat with the brim tilted down to cover some of his face, as it’s obvious he’s not Medina.

Furthermore, sources have informed this writer claiming former BoxRec editor Aldo Chajet was involved for years in publishing false results. The source claims everyone in Argentina knows that Chajet was faking wins on fighters' records and publishing fights on BoxRec that never happened. In addition, Chajet is also a judge, referee, supervisor and matchmaker for the WPC, said to be involved in organizing fights for WPC fighters abroad. It's easy to see the clear conflict of interest here, as inflating fighters' records would give them a better chance of securing fights abroad and getting a payday, which makes it back partially to the handlers.

At the end of 2014 and start of 2015, Box al Dia’s Isaac Guerra posted about Chajet fabricating the record on BoxRec of Mexican boxer Salma Canales in order for her to be eligible to fight for the WBC silver female super flyweight title against Judith Rodríguez on December 20, 2014. Canales, sporting a record of 1-9 at the time, had ten wins added to her record on BoxRec, which were then removed after Box al Dia brought to light what had happened after confirming Canales’ actual record with the president of the Guadalajara boxing commission in her home state. As of September of this year, Chajet is no longer an editor on BoxRec.

Not only are all these instances downright fraudulent but also dangerous, as pretty much anyone can be thrown in the ring under the identity of someone else or with a false record in a complete mismatch. Though as you can see with García’s record, it is littered with fights against opponents with little to no pro experience. That type of matchmaking can be seen across the board on WPC shows. It isn’t uncommon to see an opponent with no or few wins and most losses coming by knockout.

The WPC has "rules" but they clearly aren't followed. In his article titled "Si Quiere, Usted Puede Hacerlo," literally translating to "If you want, you can do it," Rodríguez details some of the WPC's blatant negligence towards their own rules. Fights are supposedly required to take place in a ring with four ropes, yet on February 19 four fights took place in a ring with three ropes in the Kumite Fight Club in San Isidro, Greater Buenos Aires. Furthermore, a boxer who fought on the card – Thomas Cortiñas – had been a judge for a fight card at the same venue two weeks prior on February 6. That violates Article 138 of the WPC's rules and regulations: A judge can not have relations with promotional companies, managers, seconds or boxers. That instance isn't unique, as Rodríguez outlines another case of a fighter also acting as a judge in the same article. Then there is the whole case of Chajet acting as a matchmaker, organizing fights for fighters outside of Argentina while at the same time acting as an official. All it takes is one look at that ring to realize that not only are there conflicts of interest abound, but also safety hazards, which leads to the next set of negligent actions in regards to fighter safety.

The ring with three ropes that was fought in Planeta Boxing via Kumite Fight Club

The ring with three ropes that was fought in at the Kumite Fight Club.

Article 20 of the WPC’s rules and regulations states that a boxer will lose their license when six stoppages losses have been suffered in the span of two years. Numerous instances of this rule not being abided by can be found. Juan Damian Álvarez, sporting a record of 0-16 with 13 losses by way of stoppage, was knocked out nine times between February 14, 2014 and September 26, 2015. In addition, Álvarez also lost three other fights by decision. After his sixth stoppage loss in that time period, he was knocked out in three consecutive fights. The same trend can be seen with Sergio Gustavo Godoy Cruz (0-12, 9 KO losses), José Antonio Pérez (0-11, 7 KO losses) and Israel Álvarez (0-12, 11 KO losses). This is just scratching the surface.

Due to the shady practices and the outright circus that is being run across the board, the WPC to many in the boxing sphere in Argentina is seen as a laughing stock, while simultaneously being at the brunt of expressed concern and denouncements. Planeta Boxing on Twitter, when doing weekly round-up results highlighting gross mismatches taking place, coined the hashtag "#TráficoDeCarneHumana," literally meaning trafficking of human flesh. The comparison isn’t that far off.

Many fighters from the WPC like García have built up inflated records, gone abroad and lost badly in places like Australia, Canada, the UK, Germany and Russia. One place that doesn’t seem to get these fighters coming over to fight in anywhere near the same quantities (if barely at all) is the USA. After the cancellation of Mason Menard’s fight due to discrepancies between the Fight Fax record and BoxRec record of his opponent, it now seems obvious as to why.