A Weighty Matter
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (April 19, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Top Photo © German Villasenor)
Brandon Rios - Richie Abril
In what has become more and more of an occurrence in the modern era of boxing, another fighter was unable to make weight for a title fight. Once again, following in the ignominious tradition of Jose Luis Castillo and Joan Guzman, Brandon Rios failed in his attempt to make 135 pounds for his bout last weekend at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for the WBA lightweight belt. He got no closer than 137 pounds and then came in two pounds heavier, an hour or so later.
For his troubles, Rios was docked 10 percent of his listed $450,000 purse (split between his opponent Richie Abril and the Nevada State Athletic Commission). It was the third time in five bouts that Rios came in heavy. In his previous outing in December against John Murray in New York, he lost the WBA title at the scales.
So why only a 10 percent fine?
Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the NSAC
(Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the NSAC)
“Actually, we can go up to 25 percent,” pointed out Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the NSAC, who oversaw this contest. Explaining why Rios was penalized the percentage he was, Kizer said, “I kind of have a sliding scale, depending on how over you are. If [Rios] had come in at 139 on the first attempt, it would’ve been 20 percent. But he came in at 137, so it’s kind of like between zero and two [equals a] 10 percent [fine]. Two and four, 20 percent. Four and over, 25 percent.”

But the question has to be asked; with the stakes so high and fans often spending a good deal of their discretionary income expecting to see a fight under certain parameters, should the penalties be even harsher than they are? Do they need to be punitive to a point where boxers like Rios and their camps won’t even risk signing on for fights at contracted weights where there is a chance of them coming in heavy, perhaps even threatening a cancelation of the entire card? This was the case prior to the ill-fated rubber match between Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales. Thousands of fans who had come to Las Vegas on the first weekend in June of 2006 were told the day before the fight by Bob Arum and Gary Shaw that because Castillo couldn’t make weight (after coming in heavy for their rematch), Corrales refused to fight him under those conditions- and at a disadvantage- again.
In this instance, a fighter like “Chico” (given that he wasn’t just a mere opponent) had some power and leverage to pull the plug and not engage in what he felt was skullduggery or a bending of the rules by his opponent. But a guy like Abril? Well, not so much. The reality was that in his situation, not only was Abril (the interim titlist during the build-up) going to get a chance to fight for the full-fledged WBA title, he was earning his biggest payday ($100,000). With him also not a well-known fighter or a Top Rank commodity like “Bam Bam,” what choice did Abril really have but to accept any deal allowing this fight to continue? If he walked, there’s no telling when he’d get a similar opportunity.
(But while you can certainly rip Rios’ lack of professionalism, it has to be said, the extra weight he carried served no advantage, only showing how ill-advised it was for him to even try and make 135 pounds.)
Shouldn’t the penalties be much harsher to deter such scenarios? 
“The short answer is yes,” said Kizer. “And the question is how far do you go? I mean, there was even talk after the Castillo-Corrales fiasco that, ‘Hey, if a guy doesn’t make weight, suspend him for a year.’ Again, the best thing to do is you could save the fight and give the fighter who made weight more money. I mean, Abril made an extra 22.5 percent from the fight because of that. That’s always the best scenario but, again, as you know, the lighter fighter has to agree to that and he can say no if he wants to. So you want to have a situation that makes the most sense from getting both fighters what they want.”
As mentioned before, boxers like Abril almost have no option but to fight on because this would be his one and only opportunity to face Rios. However, it says here that capping the maximum penalty percentage at 25 percent is a bit light (excuse the pun). Perhaps it should be bumped to about 40 percent. Again, you have to create a climate in which boxers will become much more responsible in living up to their professional obligations.
Yeah, scare them into making weight (this is what it’s been reduced to).
Boxers with economic leverage have the luxury of creating contractual stipulations where their opponents, in addition to being fined, are docked a certain amount of money for each pound they come in heavy. Erik Morales was under the threat of losing millions if he was north of 130 pounds for his rubber match versus Manny Pacquiao in November of 2006. The Richie Abrils of the world aren’t afforded such luxuries. They don’t dictate; they get dictated to- before and after the contracts are inked.
You can even suspend boxers but let’s be honest; in an era when prizefighters at the world-class level only perform two or three times a year, even a six-month banishment is relatively harmless.
How ‘bout this idea (and trust me; I know this is out there)?: In addition to guys like Abril getting a larger portion of Rios’ purse, how about the aggrieved parties getting a certain percentage (albeit a much smaller one) of Rios’ next paycheck? Yeah, I’m being dead serious. Just think about it; while Abril was on the short end of the stick of a highly disputed decision and doesn’t know what’s next, Rios could very well be on his way to a high-profile and lucrative shot against Juan Manuel Marquez in July. Abril helped continue Rios’ career and Top Rank’s game plan for him by going through with the fight on Saturday night.
Would Top Rank have proceeded with a possible Marquez-Rios promotion if the fight (no matter how unaesthetic it turned out) if the Rios-Abril match was postponed? Maybe they would have. Hey, Bob Arum’s gonna do what’s good for his client and company but it certainly would’ve been harder for the public to swallow such a turn of events. The backlash would’ve been immense. In the wake of such actions- or perhaps, inaction- high-profile boxers shouldn’t just be allowed to walk away scot-free to their next payday.
Situations like this will happen again. In a day and age when fighters are so inactive, therefore having to cut massive amounts of weight or given ways to skirt the rules because of their statures, it’s inevitable. Penalties should be increased so the impetus to play by the rules is heightened.
Abril made the sacrifice.
In the future, boxers like Rios should be forced to sacrifice more than just 10 percent of their purses.
It isn’t just the marquee names who fail to make weight; in fact, on undercards across the world, many boxers come in above the contracted weight. In those cases, Kizer has his own way of making it right (at least economically) for the fighters who live up to their obligations.

“Assuming that the lighter fighter wants to take the fight, if it’s a non-title fight, I always suggest to the promoter, change the contract weight. Get the fighters to agree on a contract weight to the higher weight, so therefore, no one’s out of compliance. But take that 20 or 25 percent from the one fighter; change his one contract- he gets the higher weight but less money and give all that money to the fighter who made weight and agreed to the higher weight fight,” said Kizer.
The problem with Rios-Abril was that it was a title fight.
Kizer emailed me to say that according to official NSAC numbers, 2,728 tickets were sold for Rios-Abril at the Mandalay Bay Events Center with a total gate of $257,950. 531 complimentary tickets were given out...I’ve been asked a few times about the glove size for the May 5th bout between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto. Kizer said via email, “All bouts over 147 lbs are 10 ounce gloves.”...Fernando Guerrero has suffered a partially torn left bicep, so he has been scratched from his “ShoBox” appearance versus Chris Fitzpatrick this Friday night at the Beau Rivage...I’m told the Leo Santa Cruz-Vusi Malinga bout for the vacant IBF bantamweight belt will end up either on the June 2nd or 23rd Showtime telecast...Larry Merchant will be on the Cotto-Mayweather broadcast crew for HBO PPV, I’m told...Don’t wanna make any jokes about Dana White; I can’t afford a lawsuit here...So far, ABC’s “Scandal” with Kerry Washington is two-for-two...And “Game of Thrones” on HBO is just incredible. Tyrion is the biggest little man on TV right now...Remember when Vinny Del Negro was on the verge of being fired by the Clippers? For that matter, “Clipper Darrell” was pretty close too...

More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...
I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.
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