It's not easy being a boxer.
We know that, right? I mean, we know it as well as we can without getting in that ring, and eating those punches, and peeing that blood days after a bout. Never mind the months upon months of training, the double session workouts, the injuries that pop up that must be worked through. Oh, and never mind the occasionally infuriating business side of the sport, which has driven many a man to say hell with it, this ain't worth it, almost as often as taking punches does.
On second thought, it seems like we, on the other side, the outside, really don't very well know what it's like to be the boxer. I confess I really don't know what Dmitriy Salita (age 30; 35-1-1 with 18 KOs) is feeling today, though it feels to me like he is close to saying, 'Hell with it, this ain't worth it.'
The Brooklyn-based boxer had a fight set Feb. 9 against Hector Camacho Jr., and was quite excited about it. A win, especially a conclusive one, would put him a step closer to the bigger stages. He'd had the massive spotlight on him back in 2009, when given a chance to fight Amir Khan, but that didn't end well, with him being knocked out in round one. He's been doing a slow climb back up the ladder, and a win over a name like Camacho would have been a nice scalp. The bout was put off, though, when the Feb. 9 Barclays Center headliner, Danny Garcia, hurt his ribs in training. The whole card was pushed to April 27, so Garcia could heal and finally face off with Zab Judah. Salita was under the impression that his junior welterweight catchweight fight with Camacho would also be part of the April 27 show, until Feb. 21. That's when he read on ESPN.com that his fight with Camacho was kaput. Camacho was "moving on," according to Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer. The story said that Camacho in fact didn't pull out, and that he and Salita wanted the bout still. He said he was told that Salita didn't want the fight.
Hmm. Sounded like a royal case of miscommunication to me. I reached out the Schaefer to clarify on Feb. 25, and was told he was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, Camacho's promoter released a statement about the cancellation:
Zeferino Ramirez, the President of Zeferino Entertainment has made the
following official statement regarding a recent article on ESPN about
the scrapping of the Dmitriy Salita vs Hector Camacho Jr fight.
Official Statement from Zeferino Entertainment
I read the article posted February 21st at 1:06pm on ESPN by Dan Rafael
and honestly it made me sick. All the false and negative comments about
my fighter Camacho Jr. need to be addressed. Here is our version of
events: Schaefer (Richard) from Golden Boy Promotions states the
Salita-Camacho fight was off and would not be rescheduled. Further,
Schaefer states that “Camacho is not going to fight. The card was
postponed and then he was moving on."
I (Zeferino Entertainment) made a multi-fight deal with Golden Boy
Promotions and this was to be Camacho Jr.’s first fight in the
multi-fight deal. Why in the world would Camacho Jr., pull out of a
winnable fight like Salita? We respect Salita, but he is not on Camacho
I was contacted by Golden Boy and told that due to Salita’s religious
beliefs (Salita is Jewish) that Salita could not properly warm-up
before the fight. This was due to Salita not leaving his house at a
certain time before the fight, therefore Salita was pulling out of the
Fight. I am Jewish (so please let us not jump on the prejudice wagon),
that is simply what I was told by Golden Boy. Then I read the Salita
article and Salita states: “I never told anyone at Golden Boy anything
resembling that. Come get it April 27th, Junior. I have been back from
camp and staying in shape in New York before heading out soon to
prepare for April (in Detroit).”
Zeferino Entertainment and Team Camacho Jr. told Golden Boy Promotions
and the Salita camp we welcome the fight come April 27th . Camacho
wants the fight with Salita and Camacho Jr. stated: "Come get it
Salita. I will KNOCK YOU OUT PUERTO RICAN STYLE." That is if Golden Boy
really wants us to fight Salita? It is my belief that Golden Boy
realized Camacho Jr. will be victorious.
So, if team Salita really wants this fight then tell your promoter
Golden Boy to make it happen. As a fighter you can demand the fight
with Camacho Jr. However, Salita if this fight does not happen, then
the world will know the real reason. It is time to stop the talking and
get to fighting. You can also contact me directly if you are willing to
take the fight. Reach me at email@example.com.
Then, Salita and Camacho crafted an open letter:
BROOKLYN, NY (February 25, 2013) - Dear Friends, Fans and Boxing Community, As all of you know, we were scheduled to fight each other February 9th, 2013, part of World Championship Boxing broadcast on Showtime from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Both of us were, and still very motivated to prepare ourselves for victory and give fans what they want. We worked hard in our respective training camps, did the miles on the road and put in countless rounds of sparring getting ready for this crossroads fight.
Due to circumstances beyond our control the show got postponed because of an injury sustained by main event fighter Danny Garcia. Golden Boy made a public statement that the whole card will get rescheduled to April 27th. While both of us were extremely disappointed we saw the light at the end of a three-month tunnel. Sometimes in life, and too often in boxing, things do not hold true and the wrong thing can happen. This is one such moment. Either by mistake, or by design, contradictory stories have emerged to cancel our fight.
On Thursday, February 21st, Dan Rafael published a story on ESPN.COM stating that Camacho Jr pulled out of the fight. After hearing the news Mr. Camacho contacted Dan Rafael to let him know that no such withdrawal was ever made. He stated that the promoter told him that Dmitriy Salita pulled out due to the Jewish holiday of Passover, which was also false. Both fighters signed the contract and both still very much want the fight yet the fight is still canceled. This is hurtful to the sport and unfair to the athletes. We put in the hard work and made a commitment to the promoter to put our life on hold to prepare and put on a show.
As professional athletes we dedicate our lives and sacrificed many things including family to get us in the optimum condition to be at our best for the fans. Now we come to find out that the fight is cancelled and our dedication has gone to waste. Our fight was to be the first New York City rivalry set to take place at the new Barclays Center. We are ready to put on a great fight for the fans on April 27th and ask them to continue to support us and for the promoter to honor our contract and our hard work.
Sincerely, Dmitriy Salita and Hector Camacho Jr.
The situation, Salita tells me, stands. The fight is off. He is, to put it mildly, bummed out. "We both signed a contract, I thought that is a commitment for all parties involved," Salita said. "It's not right what is happening. I trained too long and to hard. I feel like I wasted four months of my life. Boxing is not a hobby, it's how I make a living and provide for my family. I am not sure what to make of this. This makes me have really negative feelings towards the business of boxing. In no other major sport would something like this be allowed to happen. I have not gotten a lot of good opportunities in my career. I am a pro athlete and this is how I make my living. Would it be possible in any other profession to show up for work for four months and then be told that your fired and we can no longer pay you?"
Good point. Typically, I am pretty sure, a promoter holds the right to cancel a bout if a show is cancelled for any reason whatsoever. It would make sense, moving forward, for fighters to request contractual language which better protects them in such cases, and I'm not sure if this is even feasible, but in fact, get paid a "kill fee," a portion of the lost purse, for their trouble. Salita's right: these guys train their tails off, waiting for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and then the pot of gold is yanked away, and they get nothing for their trouble. Legal eagles, do you think this "kill fee" language is something that could be viable? Weigh in, in our Forum.
I was going to put it out there, and ask another promoter to pick up this fight, so these guys could finish what they started, but it looks like Camacho has moved on. Salita is left behind. Anyone else have a fight for him? Email me at Fightwrite@gmail.com if yes.
The fighting life isn't an easy one, to put it mildly, and for more reasons than many of us outsiders realize. Moving forward, I hope all of us pause regularly to consider the rigors these fighters put themselves through, the sacrifices they make, and make darned sure they are treated with the complete dignity and respect they deserve.