By Mauricio Sulaiman
Son of Jose Sulaiman / WBC President
The World Boxing Council, based on the recommendation of its Medical Committee, voted unanimously to reduce all WBC affiliated championship fights from 12 to 10 rounds.
Only World Championship and Silver Championship fights will be authorized for 12 rounds.
It is even recommended, to have 8 round fights for regional championships, which usually includes fighters with a lower experience profile.
Boxing is a contact sport and can be dangerous when not taking full care of all measures, which over the years, have been implemented to maximize the protection of fighters.
Boxers are warriors; Gladiators who are willing to give their all in the ring. They don’t care if they fight 10, 20 or 50 rounds. They would fight to the death, just as it was in Roman times.
The most important rule in boxing history was to reduce world championship fights from 15 to 12 rounds.
This change has saved lives and dignified the quality of life of all boxers after concluding their career inside the ring.
Fate led my dear father, Jose Sulaiman, to meet Dr. Gerald Finerman, when they were both exercising on a treadmill. That chat of destiny, led them to know that one was Director of an important area of the UCLA hospital, while the other was the President of the WBC.
This is how a brain injury research program sponsored by WBC donations was born.
These studies yielded valuable information, which in addition to giving the elements to the WBC to change rules, was the basis for further studies in the NFL, and they are the ones which created the care protocol in all the emergency rooms of the hospitals in the world.
Doctors Finerman, Hovda, Martin and Giza, with their corresponding teams, must be considered heroes of humanity, for this invaluable and vital contribution.
Among other things, the studies determined that the duration of the fights was the cause of many adverse conditions causing risks for the fighters.
After 30 minutes of fighting, the athlete experiences high levels of dehydration, added to fatigue due to physical wear, which is a harmful combination if a strong blow to the head is landed.
Thus, in 1983, Don Jose Sulaiman reduced the world championship fights from 15 to 12 rounds.
Now thirty eight years later, the WBC takes the next significant step to protect developing boxers.
The international, continental, regional, national, etc. titles will be contested to 10 or even eight rounds. Medical and statistical studies indicate that an important risk factor is the sudden change for boxers in terms of the number of rounds fought.
It is very common for prospects to be rushed and taken to fight in a greater number of rounds in a hasty manner.
That`s to say, they climb from four to six, or eight, and then to 10 rounds too quickly without getting used to the extra and greater physical and mental demands of entering those “unknown rounds.”
It is necessary and imperative to graduate this process of maturity for fighters, gradually increasing and building their experience in terms of the number of rounds that they contest.
The first bout contested to 12 rounds was the vacant WBC welterweight world title championship between Milton McCrory and Colin Jones on March 19, 1983, in Reno, Nevada, United States. The result of the fight was a draw.
I clearly remember when my Dad returned from Las Vegas, after that first fight at 12 rounds in a pensive mood.
He was very quiet and thoughtful for several days. Finally, one night having dinner with us his family he told us about his feelings.
“I had never ever been booed , which happened in this fight. The public castigated me, the press attacked me without mercy, and I even received threats and warnings of legal action from television networks. I have deeply contemplated this issue. I reviewed the UCLA reports in detail, and last night I talked to my Mom who is now in heaven. The decision is made and it is our duty as well as our obligation to take care of the health and physical integrity of the boxers, No force, no pressure or abuse of power will divert us from the path of reforming boxing and making it a more humane sport.”
Unfortunately, it took the death of Korean Duk-Koo Kim, in round fourteen, for the world of boxing to realize this wisdom and finally yet belatedly follow the WBC measure, which unified the 12 rounds rule which stands for professional boxing in its entirety, to this very day.