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Welcome to the Fight Game

BY Rick Folstad ON September 15, 2004
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The guy promoting the fight card called "Friday Night Fights at the River Edge," might want to grab a ladder and change one of the names on the restaurant marquee.

Hopefully, ticket sales haven't been brisk.

According to a recent press release, former No. 1-ranked (WBO) super middleweight contender Freeman "The Natural" Barr of Naples, FL , will be taking on hard-hitting Julian Letterlough on Oct. 1 in the eight-round main event at the River Edge Restaurant and Hotel in Reading, PA. Potentially a great matchup, it's being hailed in the release as a "crossroads battle," and should sell a lot of tickets, especially since Letterlough is from Reading and Barr spent 25 months as the WBO's No. 1 contender.

Funny thing, though. Barr (26-4, 13 KOs) didn't hear about the fight until it appeared in a press release Monday on Fightnews.

It gets better.

Barr has a broken right hand. He's been nursing it for several weeks, coming into the gym just to stay loose. If he's lucky, he might be ready to fight by Halloween.

The broken hand hasn't been a well-kept secret. Steve Canton, Barr's manager and trainer, wrote about the injury in a column in the Aug. 31 edition of Flash Update.

So why was this guy sending out press releases promoting a fight involving Barr when he knew Barr wasn't fighting? Maybe it was just a mistake.

Canton brought a copy of the release to his Fort Myers gym Monday night to show Barr, who read it and shook his head. Canton was more than a little upset.

"This is what's wrong with boxing," he said. "The promoter (Marshall Kauffman) is defrauding the public and he's doing it at our expense by promoting a fight that he knows is not going to happen. And he's selling tickets for it."

Canton said the only thing he knew about the phantom fight between Letterlough and Barr - which was posted on Boxrec on Tuesday - was what he learned from matchmaker Keith Terceira, who called him three weeks ago at the request of Kauffman, asking about Barr's availability.

"Keith called and said he was embarrassed to ask about Freeman, but he said he told (Kauffman) he would call me," Canton said. "Then he asked if Freeman would fight Letterlough for $2,000."

Canton said he had a few major problems with the offer.

"First, there's the broken hand," he said. "Second, they want us to fight in Reading, which is Letterlough's home town. And third, $2,000 would almost cover my cut. Now if they want to give us the rest of the money and move the fight back six or eight weeks, we could probably put a deal together. Or, we'll extend the same offer to Julian. He can come down to Fort Myers and fight Freeman for $2,000."

In reality, Letterlough is scheduled to fight Eric Starr, a guy who is 13-16-2 with 4 KO's, and someone who isn't going to sell a lot of tickets.

Here's where it really gets ugly.

Canton said he was later told by Terceira that Starr signed a contract on Aug. 27 to fight Letterlough, and Kauffman signed off on the contract Sept. 3.

"Keith was up front with me right from the beginning," Canton said. "But Kauffman knew all along who Letterlough was really fighting. He just used Freeman's name as a way to sell tickets.

"This is part of the problem with boxing. Kauffman is defrauding the public by claiming Freeman was going to fight. He used Freeman to sell tickets, with the intent of making it look like Freeman pulled out of the fight."

Welcome to the fight game.

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