Interview & photo by David Finger
For many boxing insiders, 2010 may go down as one of the most successful years for the Puerto Rico based World Boxing Organization. With Manny Pacquaio and Wladimir Klitschko both holding WBO, as well as hot young champions like Marco Huck and Juan Manuel Lopez, it is clear to all that the WBO has come a long way since its formation in 1988.
Although the WBO has widely been seen as a tremendous success, many boxing insiders recognize that much of that success is due to the leadership of Francisco “Paco” Varcarcel, who has headed the WBO since 1996. Since Varcarcel has taken over the WBO, it has not only continued to establish itself as one of the most successful boxing sanctioning organizations, but Varcarcel has arguably established it as the most exciting. Varcarcel watched an explosive 2010 for the WBO and looks forward to the future as boxing dignitaries converge upon the city of Cartagenia, Colombia for the 23rd annual WBO convention. Varcarcel took some time to speak to Fightnews as he, and the boxing world, prepare for the 23rd annual convention.
Thank you for taking time to speak to us Paco. How are things going?
Everything is fine. I am preparing to go down to Cartagenia for the convention. We are working on the final details, the small things that mean so much.
What do you think about this upcoming Convention in Cartegenia?
It is a tribute to Colombian boxers like Rocky Valdez and the championship fights we have in Colombia. We always go to different countries in the world and this is an opportunity to go to Colombia.
What are some of the major topics to discuss for the WBO at the convention?
We are going to talk about the seminars for officials, supervisors, and medical seminars, The Muhammad Ali Act. And how can we work with local commissions in USA and around the world. We are also going to talk about the possibility of TV replay. And working with the networks.
We start working on that last year and now we have a committee that had been working on that this last year. We want to work with the ABC on that issue.
What do you anticipate for the WBO in 2011?
Big fights. Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao and Margarito. In the lower weights fighters like Fernando Montiel and Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. will have some exciting fights as well. I also anticipate Juan Manuel Lopez will be in a big fight.
Any word on which of your champions will be present at this years convention?
We are going to have everyone. We have Dariusz Michalczewski coming; we are going to present the super championship belt to him. Marco Huck is going to be there too I think. Ivan Calderon will be there. Wilfredo Vasquez. All the others are preparing for the fight and the promoters.
What are some of the key moments for the WBO this last year?
We have been growing and growing and now we are on top of everybody. Now we are leading the boxing world. With all due respect to the other organizations, but because of the quality of the champions we have, we are leading the boxing world.
What was the most memorable championship fight the WBO was part of in 2010?
We have a lot of fights. Calderon was a great fight. Diaz, the rematch was a great, great fight. Conception was a great fight. Three rounds of fire.
It appears that the WBO and other sanctioning organizations are working closer together lately then they had in the past. Any comments on that trend?
We have been working together. We had meetings together with the IBF, WBC. We have been working together on safety and some unification fights. And I am going to be in Mexico next year to have a meeting with Jose Sulaiman and we will invite the others, and they promised that they will also be coming to Puerto Rico soon.
What is the biggest concern for the sport of boxing right now?
I think the biggest concern is safety. We have to work hard on seminars. We are most concern about safety, it is an important issue always. Always.
The WBO has a very positive reputation in the sport, and beyond, in its commitment to fighting poverty worldwide. Would you care to discuss this aspect of the WBO.
We always work with the kids around the world, with youth centers. IN Puerto Rico we have more than 5000 kids in the youth center. With El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Africa, South Africa, Ghana, Hungary, Namibia, Brazil, Philippines. We have been working all around the world with kids to give them equipment to train and that way we can show them a better way. We also help the kids with scholarships, for different kids for college. We are going to work on that as well around the world. We also have a project in Argentina for a children’s hospital, in Nicaragua with a cancer hospital. All over the world.
What can we look forward to from the WBO this year?
More big fights. The biggest fights. Unifications. In Europe, the German Marco Huck will be in a huge fight. Pacquaio can be fighting Cotto again or Amir Khan or Alexander if he wins against Margarito. Or Juan Manuel Marquez will be a great fight. Will Montiel look for his fourth belt fighting Wilfredo Vasquez , or will Vasquez move up? A lot of exciting fights.