Boxing fans and even media who should, arguably, know better, do not properly acknowledge the ripple effect of damage when a fight card goes down the drain.The May 24 HBO card, which was to feature a heavyweight showdown between contender Bryant Jennings,* the smart boxer from Philly, against up and down Mike Perez, the Cuban product who fought to his potential against Magomed Abdusalamov before coming back down to earth against Carlos Takam, was cancelled because Perez hurt his shoulder.
That left the other fighters sad, and then scrambling.
It wasn’t just the main eventers, of course. A co-feature, pitting middleweight ex titlist DanielGeale, an Aussie, against UK-Brit Matthew Macklin, a former title challenger looking to get over the proverbial hump, swirled down the drain. Geale might actually come out of this in a better place, financially anyway, if he’s able to pivot to a hoedown with Gennady Golovkin. But Macklin is still left without a partner, though advisor Anthony Catanazaro has been hustling on the phone, with promoter Lou DiBella, to get a replacement date so Macklin’s months long effort to get into fighting trim doesn’t go for naught.
Macklin helped make it more clear for me how disappointing it is, and how financially draining it can be, when such circumstances arise, and curveballs get thrown at everyone. He told me he found it beyond curious the timing and circumstances of the scratched card.
Perez is promoted by K2, and K2 promotes Golovkin, who is looking for a foe for a July date, after Julio Cesar Chavez turned down an invite. The Perez pullout opened the door for Geale to slide in to the Golovkin date, Macklin noted, and that timing stood out to him as, well, shady looking. I told Macklin that I thought it difficult to enact such a conspiracy, with so many moving parts and parties.
“It would not be difficult to do, and keep everyone happy,” Macklin told me. He said that if everyone gets promised another lucrative gig, that could, in theory, keep them happy and spur them to keep their mouths shut. “Yes, I’m the only person in this that’s been effed! This sucks for a fighter. Train all those weeks and come away with not a dime!”
Macklin (age 32; 30-5 record, with 20 KOs; won last bout, UD10, vs. Lamar Russ) owns a gym in Spain, where he spends some of his time, along with NYC. “Not just come away without a dime, but I am down $10,000 in training expenses..plus what about time, energy, emotion?”
We both agreed that in a more perfect world, boxers would be part of a union, which would have a contingency laid out so fighters were at least partially compensated for labor performed and expenses put forth in training for their bouts which get cancelled. What, they didn’t train their tails off, and work for all those weeks? You think they just show up on fight night, and that’s what they get a purse for?
“I know, but we’re in the dark ages with boxing,” Macklin said.
MMA too…these fightsports are more in need than any other sport for a solid collective involving the fighters, to be able to bargain as a unit. That would help coalate needs and desires and they’d have an entity which looks out for them as a unified body, rather than have it be an “every man for himself” freelance situation, which is the way those in power, in fight sports, and in this era where the “corporations are people, my friend” mentality is the norm.
“Of course,” Macklin said in agreement, when we discussed the us vs. them milieu which exists here, which pits humble worker against humble worker, in a fight for wages which not only don’t rise year over year, but actually diminish, versus skyrocketing cost of living upticks.
“I hired sparring partners, I booked flights, and bought food,” Macklin continued. “My trainer, Jamie Moore, flies from the UK, to Marbella, Spain, where my gym is, and back every weekend.”Fingers crossed that something better comes out of this for Macklin, and here’s hoping that this issue gets looked and at and attended to moving forward.
*=I asked Jennings’ promoter Gary Shaw where the Jennings-Perez fights stands, or if Jennings would chart another course. “If the (medical report on Perez’ shoulder) are OK we want to reset it to July or the first week in August at the latest,” Shaw told me.
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