“It’s been a torturous road; I’m glad we’re here and November 17th figures to be a great fight among the two best little guys in the
world, the two best flyweights in the world. I see this as [Humberto]
‘Chiquita’ Gonzalez-Michael Carbajal,” said the adviser for Viloria,
Gary Gittelsohn, who worked tirelessly to see this fight come to
Sports Arena is no stranger to boxing, having hosted many fights
throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s and was the host for the 1984 Olympic
boxing competition. But the last major championship fight to take place
here was back in October of 1996 when Jose Luis Lopez faced Yori Boy
Campas for the WBO welterweight title. The bottom line is that this
building is in Los Angeles - where this fight belonged - and it was
available. Juan Carlos Torres of Zanfer Promotions told Maxboxing, “We
were discussing with a friend that lives here in L.A. about the fight
and the possibility of different venues and he suggested this because he
said he was in the middle of the Latinos, the Salvadorians, the Central
Americans. So with ‘Chocolatito,’ ‘Tyson’ Marquez - these fighters are
very well known in L.A. and in their country. We think it’s the easiest
way for them to go to the show.”
this same night, HBO will be televising a card from Atlantic City
featuring WBC lightweight beltholder Antonio DeMarco against Adrien
Broner. When asked if that telecast would overshadow this card, Torres
remarked, “Even though Broner is fighting DeMarco, this type of fight is
totally different in terms of fan-base, so I don’t see that as a
problem. We had ‘Chocolatito’ in Pomona [in April against Ramon Garcia
Hirales] on the same date as HBO [which broadcast Chad Dawson vs.
Bernard Hopkins II]; it didn’t make any difference. It surpassed our
expectations. So not only the fighters but the combination of the main
event, I think [the fans] going to come and see it.”
tickets have not officially gone on sale yet, the plan is to scale the
arena for around 6,000 (which means they’ll be breaking out the big
black curtains, a mainstay for USC basketball games) and price the
tickets between $25 and $150. In terms of television, it will be carried
on WealthTV in the States, with Azteca handling the broadcast in
Mexico. In the Philippines, it will be a pay-per-view.
But the question is, why is a quality prizefight like this not on either HBO or Showtime?
who, for years dealt with both networks, stated, “It’s terribly
disappointing and the business has changed and I think there are
political issues and promotional alliances that affect a great fight
like this getting air time. This was my biggest disappointment in
boxing. If there was ever a fight that belonged on one of the premium
cable networks, this was it. I did everything I could short of camping
out at HBO and Showtime and although I received polite responses, the
responses were the same: they simply did not have the room.”
So was this bout ever seriously considered?
think that the people who run both networks know boxing and I think
both networks know this is a terrific fight that belongs on either
Showtime or HBO but I think that there are political issues and a dearth
of dates available to put this kind of fight on and, therefore,
reluctantly had to pass on this fight,” said Gittelsohn, diplomatically.
The “political issues” Gittelsohn refers to come down to Showtime in
2012 basically becoming exclusive Golden Boy territory and HBO
developing an aversion to the little guys other than Nonito Donaire (who
currently fights at 122 pounds).
stunned because sometimes everything is handled...I don’t want to say
the word ‘agenda’ but sometimes they’re giving the opportunities to
fighters who they don’t push to fight the best out there in their
divisions,” remarked Fernando Beltran, whose company represents Marquez,
and was much more willing to be outspoken about the current state of
the industry. “Right now, what we’re doing is unifying the 112-pound
titles with the two best fighters in the division. So I feel very happy
and, unfortunately, they’re the ones who are going to miss this fight
because one way or the other, we have the tools to make it happen and
that’s why we’re doing this fight.”
With or without the premium cable titans, this show would go on.
says, “We don’t depend on major networks to do a fight. Some promoters
do but I’m not that. Some promoters, they don’t get a date; they don’t
go and do a show. I have the television with more shows in the world
that is TV Azteca and Azteca America, more than 70 shows a year.”
Gittelsohn and Beltran were willing to move this main event to another
show as an undercard feature on another promoter’s card. But this was
always going to be unlikely because the entities who control these dates
are usually unwilling to give up these televised slots. Unless you’re
the ever-influential Al Haymon, you don’t get to force your clients onto
other people’s cards.
is a thought process that with American audiences, it’s hard to pull a
rating with flyweights. Call it the “glass basement” of boxing where
anything below featherweight hinders your ability to make money and get
on television in this country. In Latin America and Asia, flyweights can
earn a lucrative earning. Over here, they are just little guys to
television executives, who are perhaps a bit blind to the changing
demographics of America (both representatives of HBO and Showtime were
unavailable for comment for this story).
all about the knowledge,” said Beltran, who promoted Erik Morales
during his glory days. “Unfortunately, there’s no knowledge here and in
Mexico, we appreciate a fighter for what he is, not for how much he
weighs and here in America, you need to be in a certain weight to be
promoted correctly. In Mexico, we’re open and you can be as popular as
the middleweight champion. You can be more popular than the welterweight
champion if you are doing tremendously in your career. Look at the
glory days, what Jorge Arce did and how he used to paralyze the action
fights he used to give.”
Beltran believes the doors at one network are closed to him.
pleased; we don’t put pressure on the networks because we know -
especially Showtime - we know that they work almost exclusively with one
promoter, so we’re not bothered. We know how to create; we know how to
build. We’ve made so many champions and I don’t think many other
promoters can raise their hands and say the same thing.”
wasn’t there a time when “Boxing After Dark” on HBO regularly featured
the boxers from the lower weight classes like Morales and Marco Antonio
Barrera, who then became franchise fighters? In fact, it’s what this
series was originally intended for as it was launched in 1996 - fights
like Viloria vs. Marquez. Now, “Boxing After Dark” is used for Edwin
Rodriguez vs. Jason Escalera as mistakes and promises of the past come
back to haunt the new regime at HBO Sports.
yourself a quick question: wouldn’t a fight card that headlines with
Robert Guerrero versus Andre Berto (a really solid match-up at the
Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California on November 24th)
be better served by having Viloria-Marquez instead of being supported
by Keith Thurman-Carlos Quintana and Richie Abril-Sharif Bogere? (You
can call that tripleheader taking place on November 24th under the auspices of Golden Boy and Haymon as “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”)
Again, is this about the subscribers or fulfilling agendas?
Viloria-Marquez isn’t worthy of the top billing on HBO or Showtime from
a programming perspective (yes, in boxing, size does matter). Beltran
and Gittelsohn don’t necessarily argue that. But it seems like a great
appetizer to a bigger entrée; doesn’t it?
they are moving ahead. This is a fight fans’ fight card, which will
appeal to the hardcore follower of the sport. Can a card like this
succeed in Los Angeles without the marketing of HBO or Showtime?
see,” said Gittelsohn, who once managed Junior Jones, a junior
featherweight/featherweight who some memorable moments on HBO. “I think
with the right kind of promotion and if this was being covered by a big
network push, with a big press push, I think you can get a very big
crowd here. I still expect that the Sports Arena, we’re going back to a
venue that hasn’t seen boxing in a long time and I think that, in and of
itself, is a novelty and we’ll see how it does. I’m expecting a decent
you’ve watched the recent insta-classic between Brandon Rios and Mike
Alvarado (which I’ve done more than a few times), you can see Jim
Lampley of HBO in the audience smiling broadly throughout the heated
fifth round and giving both men an standing ovation at the end of the
stanza. Yeah, he was enjoying himself from his ringside seat at the Home
Depot Center this past weekend.
the best round I’ve seen since the first round of [James]
Kirkland-[Alfredo] Angulo and I turned to the people around me and said,
‘I gotta think both threw more than 100 punches in the round’ - and I
think they did. But it was everything I envisioned that fight could be
and I was so excited to see it come off that way.”
Lampley admits it was fun just to be fan on this occasion.
yeah, absolutely. As much as I wanted to call that fight, I can totally
empathize with Alvarado, who apparently said in the fighter meeting the
day before that, ‘It’s kinda of a shame that I have to fight this one
because I’d really like love to watch it.’ So I’m the same way; I
would’ve loved to have called it but I got to watch it in a pure fans’
way so that I could be lured up out of my seat by the kind of excitement
I saw there when I just couldn’t restrain myself anymore. Because when
I’m sitting at ringside, I don’t stand up like that,” he said, laughing.
“So it was great and I think they fulfilled everything I expected and
so many people expected from them.
seemed conscious of wanting to do so and they did it. And I love the
fact that in almost every round [referee] Pat Russell had nothing to do
other than stand out of the way and let them fight.”
Main Events announced on Tuesday afternoon that Odlanier Solis would not be facing Tomasz Adamek on December 22nd on NBC but instead Steve Cunningham, who engaged in one of the best
fights of recent years against Adamek back in 2008. Honestly, the
promotion ended up with a better bout.
seems to be the consensus; I’m happy to hear it,” said Kathy Duva of
Main Events on Tuesday evening. “And the response since the press
release went out about an hour ago has been overwhelmingly positive, so
we’re really excited. The Cunninghams are excited; [Steve] and his wife
are beside themselves and I can already see that rivalry is starting to
come back. The Polish press is getting into it; everybody is talking
about how great the first fight was. So I keep telling everybody, don’t
fill out your ‘Fight of the Year’ ballot just yet because you’re going
to have to wait till the end of the year to do it.”
for Solis, the story is that his new adviser, Gaby Penagaricano - who
seems to be good at keeping fights from happening - balked at the deal
originally agreed on over the summer.
“We were led to believe everything was fine,” explained Duva, who
always had this “Plan B” in mind, knowing the history of the Cuban
heavyweight. “He either changed his mind or he had never been on board
in the first place.”
Soon, Cunningham jumped at the chance to gain revenge on Adamek.
contracts went out in about two hours. That might have been a record.
[Cunningham] was very excited and motivated to take the fight,” said
Ramirez tells Maxboxing that Chris Arreola has signed off to fight
Bermane Stiverne in a fight won in a purse bid by Don King. Now get
this: the venue? Venezuela. King must think it’s 1974 or something...The
November 3rd fight between Lucian Bute and Denis Grachev
will be televised on WealthTV...I’m told that Gennady Golovkin is
willing to face Kelly Pavlik at 168...Tickets for the Nov.10th card featuring Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan at the Wynn Hotel
in Las Vegas are on sale now ($125, $75 and $40) and can be purchased by
calling 702-770-7118 or by logging on to Wynnlasvegas.com...Super
middleweight hopeful Tommy “Gun” Oosthuizen returns to the ring on
November 10th in his native South Africa versus Fulgencio Zuniga...“2 Days: Seth Mitchell” debuts on HBO on October 27th at 10 p.m...Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers did a great job in
rallying the Broncos on “Monday Night Football,” didn’t they?...The
Yankees are just a few bats away from having a potent lineup. Too bad
it’s not Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio...