Opinion: Does Gabriel Maestre deserve a potential title opportunity?
Boxing suffered a black eye from the outcome of the Gabriel Maestre-Mykal Fox fight on August 7. Fast forward to this Friday night and Maestre is back in the spotlight, although it may be arguably undeserved considering what is on the line.
Maestre will square off against Taras Shelestyuk in a 10-round bout at Montreal Casino, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The fight will be a WBA welterweight title elimination bout.
The fact that Maestre could be one win away from fighting for a major title is not only an injustice but also ludicrous, considering the fallout from the fight against Fox.
What should have been a unanimous decision win for Fox, who dropped Maestre in the second round, back on August 7, left him dejected and beyond disappointed after leaving the ring that night. The three judges’ scorecards did not reflect the action during the 12 rounds, especially the 117-110 scorecard for Maestre from judge Gloria Martinez Rizzo. Martinez’s scorecard reflected that Fox only won two of the rounds on her card.
Due to the outcome of the fight bringing condemnation from the boxing community, the WBA soon after began consolidating the beltholders in each division, which included “Super,” “Regular,” “Interim” and “Gold.” While the media and fans of the sport mostly applauded this move, it was long overdue, much less been a problem to solve in the first place.
Maestre (4-0, 3 knockouts), who is originally from Venezuela and now resides in Barranquilla, Colombia, fought his first three bouts as a junior middleweight, then faced Fox as a welterweight with an interim title on the line.
Were there no other welterweights ranked higher than Maestre available to fight in this elimination bout? Is Friday’s fight a consolation prize, considering the winner of the Radzhab Butaev-Eimantas Stanionis [ranked Nos. 9 and 7 respectively by The Ring] fight on April 16 is mandated by the WBA to face the winner of the unification bout between IBF/WBC beltholder Errol Spence Jr. and WBA titleholder Yordenis Ugas?
Shelestyuk (19-0, 11 KOs) stands in the way of Maestre. He recently signed a promotional deal with Probellum. Shelestyuk returned to action on October 16, stopping Ernesto Espada in the 10th round.
The 36-year-old, originally from Ukraine and now lives and trains in Los Angeles, has fought a handful of times on “ShoBox” telecasts. In January 2020, Shelestyuk defeated Argentina’s Luis Alberto Veron by unanimous decision. He also has notable decision victories over Jaime Herrera and Aslanbek Kozaev.
Shelestyuk represented Ukraine at the 2012 Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal.
Also on the GYM Promotions card, junior flyweight Kim Clavel (14-0, 2 KOs), of Montreal, will square off face Bolivia’s Mariela Ribera Valverde (11-6, 8 KOs) in a 10-round bout. Clavel, 31, a nurse who worked in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, is ranked No. 3 by The Ring at 108 pounds in its women’s rankings.
In an eight-round junior welterweight bout, Mathieu Germain (19-2-1, 8 KOs), also from Montreal, will square off against Erick Inzunza Angulo (8-2, 8 KOs), of Culiacan, Mexico.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.
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