In Boxing a Deal’s a Deal . . . Sometimes

BY Joey Knish ON November 08, 2004
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Saturday night on Showtime fans in attendance and those watching across the country were set to be treated to a double bill of championship fights, but were left with the short end of the deal. So was Marcos Licona.

Licona was prepared for a showdown with WBO Super Bantamweight champion Joan Guzman as the opening televised fight on the Kostya Tszyu-Sharmba Mitchell undercard. At Friday’s weigh-in, however, everything unraveled as the subject of the contracted weight and the nature of the fight were disputed. Everything leading up to the fight pointed to a 122-pound battle between the undefeated champion Guzman (22-0-0, 17 KO) and the challenger Licona (21-4-1, 7 KO), until Friday that is.

As Licona waited to tip the scales at 122-pounds he was told that he would not be fighting Guzman for the WBO Super Bantam title and it was suggested that he could still fight Guzman, but at a 6-pound disadvantage in a non-title affair. After training and working hard in preparation for a championship title fight and getting down to the contract weight, Licona was rightly furious.

The Mexico native, Licona was previously fighting between 125 and 133 pound but was a professional and ready to meet the challenge that a title fight merits. Guzman, it seems, was not. The stance that Team Guzman made was not that their fighter was having trouble with weight, but that they had agreed upon a non-title affair at 128 pounds. Despite the fact that Guzman’s last fight was at 122 pounds, he weighed in Friday at 128.5 pounds. Something went awry.

Everyone - aside from Guzman and his handlers - was under the impression that the Guzman-Licona fight would be a 12-round championship bout. Guzman thought otherwise. While the Guzman camp kept their poker face and claimed there was no agreement for a title fight, it was agreed that Licona would receive 25% of his estimated $35,000 purse as compensation. If Guzman had a contract for a non-title fight at 128 pounds, why the compensation?

Rafael Guerrero, who manages Guzman, declared that the details of the Licona fight were mostly verbal and nothing had been agreed to regarding a title bout at the Super Bantamweight limit. Promoters for the fight and Licona acted under a different assumption.

For Licona the payout of roughly $9,000 hardly covers expenses for the fighter and team members. If a contract was in place it seems only fair that Licona be able to fight for the interim title against the highest rated available opponent. The winner of that match would then meet Guzman for an opportunity to take the ‘interim’ portion off the word ‘champion’.

In refusing the fight as a 10-round bout, which would have meant giving up his chance to fight for the title, Licona made the right decision. If he took the fight against Guzman and gave up the 6-pound difference he would have been making a hard fight that much more difficult. Also, if he managed to pull the upset, it would have gained him a victory and payday, but without the recognition that comes with a championship belt. Hopefully for Licona he will get his shot at Guzman in the near future.

Unfortunately on this night the fans and Marcos Licona were left disappointed. While the support bout saw Guzman easing his way to a decision win over late sub Joe Morales, now 19-9-0 and loser of 5 of his past 8 fights, the main event between Mitchell and Tszyu ended less then three rounds after it started, as Tszyu knocked Mitchell down four times.

Sharmba Mitchell failed in his opportunity to tackle the best fighter in his division for a championship belt. Marcos Licona never even had fighting a chance.

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