SAN DIEGO, March 11, 2016 – A slew of big boxing names won’t step in the ring this weekend as expected due to a wide array of problems, some of their own making.
The most disappointing was the last minute cancellation of Canadian middleweight David Lemieux’s (34-3, 31 KOs) return to the ring on Saturday in Montreal against James De La Rosa (23-3, 13 KOs) of Texas. Lemieux failed to make weight, blowing through the contracted 163-pound weight limit by 2.6 pounds Friday.
Lemieux and his manager Camille Estephen made an offer to De La Rosa’s camp to increase the purse to get him to take the fight, according to Golden Boy Promotions. It’s a tough call for De La Rosa; he had not been in the ring since losing to Hugo Centeno in December 2014. Nevertheless, De La Rosa did the smart thing and said no.
“He really did not feel comfortable fighting at weight higher than originally agreed,” said Estephen. An attempt was made to find a substitute local opponent, but the fight was not approved by the commission. The rest of the card will continue as scheduled. Steven “Bang Bang” Butler (14-0-1, 11 KOs) versus Sladjan “The Tiger” Janjanin (13-0, 11 KOs) now becomes the main event for the vacant IBF Youth Super Welterweight title. The card will be broadcast live in the U.S. by FOX Deportes and available in English via live stream by Ring TV at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT.
This situation is inexcusable; it is a fighter’s job to make weight. The limit was already three pounds over the middleweight limit, which Lemieux made in his last fight, a eighth round TKO loss to Gennady Golovkin. However, Lemieux gained a lot of weight back after the weigh-in, and seemed slow against Triple G, so this may now be a pattern.
Regular readers of this column know failing to make weight is my number one irritant, especially because most fighters in De La Rosa’s situation have to eat it, take whatever money they can get and go through with the fight. Good for De La Rosa refusing the match. It rarely goes well for the smaller man.
It was one of four fights cancelled this week. Earlier in the day, the entire “Knockout at the D” fight card in Las Vegas including the main event between former welterweight champion Zab Judah and Josh Torres of New Mexico was called off due to what were described as concerns by the Nevada State Athletic Commission over “eligibility issues.” This turned out to be allegations Judah and his promoter Roy Englebrecht produced fraudulent licensing documents; both have reportedly been suspended. The sport doesn’t need this nonsense.
Cuban super bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux’s bout in Liverpool, England Saturday against British champion James “Jazza” Dickens” was cancelled due to Rigondeaux’s failure to get a visa to travel from Russia. The whole story seems a fat mess over Russian holidays, paperwork misunderstandings, and Rigondeaux disappearing with his passport back home to Miami. None of it sounds good. This is not the time for Rigondeaux to make himself scarce. The Cuban defector was stripped of his two titles last year due to inactivity. When he finally got in the ring, he disappointed fans with a lackluster bout against Drian Francisco in Las Vegas on the Cotto vs. Canelo undercard. Rigondeaux needed to make a good showing to get back in the mix and possible score a bout against titleholder Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland.
Enough bad news; there was also plenty of good news courtesy of Showtime Sports. Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz agreed Friday to a late summer bout on Showtime, specific date and location still to be announced. It was among a list of 14 excellent bouts including nine world championship fights announced on the Showtime schedule in the coming months.
Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President & General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports, was quoted as saying, “This schedule features high level matchups with champions taking on the highest-rated contenders available, and top-ranked challengers facing one another. We are thrilled and grateful to the promoters and the fighters themselves who have worked with us these last few weeks to put together such an impressive lineup for SHOWTIME Boxing. It has to be one of the best we’ve ever assembled.”
Among the lineup:
Saturday, April 9, Showtime: IBF heavyweight fight between American Charles Martin and Anthony Joshua of England, O2 Arena, London; with IBF Featherweight Championship co-feature Lee Selby vs. Eric Hunter.
Saturday, April 16, 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT, Showtime: Gary Russell Jr. vs. Patrick Hyland for the WBC Featherweight World Championship; and co-feature Jose Pedraza vs. Stephen Smith for the IBF Super Featherweight World Championship, Fox Theatre at Foxwoods Resort Casino
Saturday, April 30, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, Showtime: It’s a super middleweight doubleheader, with Badou Jack vs. Lucian Bute for the WBC Super Middleweight Championship in the main event; and James DeGale vs. Rogelio Medina for IBF Super Middleweight World Championship in the co-main. The venue is to be determined. Bute is stepping in against Badou Jack after previous opponent Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. withdrew due to a foot injury. DeGale is coming off a victory against a tough Bute to face IBF mandatory challenger Medina. The winners will meet in an immediate unification fight.
Saturday, June 11, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m., PT Showtime: Fan favorite no-holds barred welterweight Ruslan Provodnikov takes on Californian John Molina Jr. in a 12 round super lightweight bout at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. This is during the induction weekend for the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Saturday, June 25, Showtime will reschedule the Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter WBA Welterweight title fight cancelled due to Thurman’s recent auto accident. Added to this care is a co-feature with featherweights Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares for a WBA strap.
Pending confirmation, Showtime will air the WBC Heavyweight World Championship fight between American Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin of Russia at home, with the exact date and time to be determined.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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