I worked a show this past Friday in Sarasota, Florida for Fox Sports Net. It was a solid event with its share of exciting moments and exhilarating knockouts. Fans left satisfied, as the hometown hero was the victor and some young, up and coming kids came a little closer to attaining their dreams.
To the average fan, it was probably a better-than-average show. But what was unnoticed by John Q. Public were the backroom wranglings that unfortunately make up your typical boxing card.
The main event was supposed to pit heavyweights China Smith against Rogerio Lobo of Brazil. Earlier in the week, it was discovered that Lobo had been knocked out in Italy at the beginning of the month, causing an automatic suspension. Lobo said it was his brother and not him who fought in Europe. However, the promoter couldn’t wait for the Florida State Athletic Commission to confirm Lobo’s claim, so he went ahead and brought in tested journeyman Russell Chasteen.
The toughman from Kentucky arrived early Friday morning, graciously sat for interviews, and posed for the television crew.
As the prelim bouts were underway, word started to circulate that Chasteen’s manager was going ballistic in the dressing room and Chasteen had called a cab to head back to the hotel. At ringside, we all assumed that whatever the problem was, it was nothing that couldn’t be solved by an extra few thousand dollars in his purse.
After a promise of just that, Chasteen got dressed, warmed up and fought eight rounds, before losing on a disqualification for biting.
A few hours later, I ran into Chasteen at a local restaurant. I asked him what happened before the fight. His blood pressure shot up instantly. “The contract said nothing about TV. We even asked if there was TV and they said no,” he stated. Russell and his manager were also fuming over being told to be in the lobby at 6:00 for a ride to the venue. The car showed up at a quarter to eight. By the time they got to the Municipal Auditorium, they were livid.
I’m not sure who came up with the solution that enticed Chasteen to get in the ring, but after a promise of two to three thousand dollars more (depending on who you ask), all the parties were satisfied and the show went on.
Here’s where it gets interesting. After the fight, Chasteen tested positive for THC, which is found in marijuana. “There is absolutely no way I could have tested positive for THC,” Chasteen proclaimed. “So, did they hold your purse?” he was asked. “No, I got paid, the original amount. They were supposed to send me the extra two grand. You know what they’re going to do, don’t you? They’re going to fine me two thousand dollars.” As he started to walk away, he shook his head and added, “That’s boxing.”
In boxing, it’s very rare that the poor get away with robbing from the rich. It almost always works out the other way around.
But boxing is not all rip offs, broken promises, and controversial drug tests. Boxing is also a 37 year old Fred Moore rejuvenating his career with an impressive twelve round decision over tough James Lubwama. It’s Erin Toughill, clutching her first title belt, sobbing into the ring microphone as she tells the crowd that her win was dedicated to her little sister who died in a car accident, just one month ago. And it’s Francisco Figueroa, a junior welterweight prospect with the power of Duran and the personality of Camacho, electrifying the crowd with an impressive knockout.
That’s boxing too.