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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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What was pretty obvious last week, when he ditched two press conferences in Miami and Los Angeles, was made official on Wednesday- Yuriorkis Gamboa will not be facing Brandon Rios on April 14th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Top Rank has now filed suit against the Cuban for breach of contract (http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/boxing/top-rank-sues-yuriorkis-gamboa-brandon-rios-now-213642277.html;_ylt=AnSoensGvnTcUSos4wuHoiWUxLYF) and his immediate future is uncertain.
 
As for Rios, Bob Arum told Maxboxing on Tuesday, “April 14th, we’re going ahead with Rios and Richie Abril for the WBA lightweight championship and [Mike] Alvarado, etc. We’ll announce in a day or so how it will be distributed.”
 
One thing is clear; HBO, which had considered the Rios-Gamboa match-up the centerpiece of its boxing schedule in the first half of 2012, will not be televising Rios or any other fight on this particular night.

Neither side would budge. 
 
And neither side was in the wrong here.
 
Sources tell Maxboxing that HBO wanted to replace Gamboa with either Ruslan Provodnikov or Mike Alvarado. Top Rank and Rios’ management expressed a desire to stay at 135 pounds for the time being, believing that with his aggressive fan-friendly style, “Bam Bam” makes for a good night of entertainment regardless of who he faces. When it was all said and done, nobody blinked and gave in.
 
Nor should they have.
 
The bottom line is that HBO, which in recent years has come under so much fire for its programming decisions, believed the relatively unknown Abril simply didn’t serve its subscribers. Top Rank countered that, to the casual fan, Abril isn’t any more anonymous than the two guys HBO preferred. The wild card here is that, unlike almost every other promotional company working today, Top Rank will not be dictated to by any network. While many other TV packagers masquerading as promoters are beholden to the whims and desires of HBO or Showtime, Arum and his company (for better or worse) are like Sinatra- they’re going to do it their way. In the past, they have shown that if need be, they will shell out their own money and finance their own cards. Whether it was to fulfill contracts, keep their clients active or just prove a point, Top Rank simply rolls up its sleeves and does some ol’ fashioned promoting of its own.
 
They believe they have a tried-and-true formula for building a true star, one that can fill arenas and sell pay-per-view units but that means taking the right fights at the proper time and executing a long-term plan. They’d rather trust the likes of Bruce Trampler and their brain trust than any television executive. It’s hard to argue with their track record.
 
As for HBO, what may serve the purposes of Top Rank and its overall game plan simply didn’t jibe with its short-term needs. Let’s face it; potentially having Rios-Gamboa (a fight that generated great buzz early on) downgrade to Rios-Abril would be a huge letdown. The network’s new administration led, by Ken Hershman, believed- rightfully so- that the days of the showcase fight have to end. If companies like Top Rank want to have control over who their guys face, they would have to do it on their own dime. But when their big license fees finance the show, they need at least some say in terms of quality control.
 
What we have here is a standoff.
 
So on the night of April 14th, Rios will take on Abril (on some other network/platform announced by Top Rank at the end of the week) and HBO will go dark- not knowing if they are still in the Rios business or not- but go forward, regardless.
 
Both sides are doing the right thing.
 
Unfortunately, nobody wins here, either.
 
LEGALESE
 
I didn’t want to rehash the whole legal argument and claims between Top Rank and Gamboa but I did read some interesting stuff regarding this issue. 
 
First from Scott Shaffer of Boxingtalk.com (http://boxingtalk.com/pag/article.php?aid=23037), which included this key passage: “A key allegation, that if true, would be very damaging to Gamboa, is Top Rank’s claim that Gamboa accepted more than $70,000 as an advance payment when he agreed to the fight.”
 
Then Lem Satterfield of RingTV.com caught up with Gamboa’s attorney, Sekou Gary (http://ringtv.craveonline.com/blog/171911-rios-gamboa-is-off-but-rios-still-aims-to-fight), who was quoted as saying, “But I think that the evidence will show that the promotional contract between Gamboa and Top Rank has expired, and that there clearly was never any agreement to fight the Brandon Rios fight. The original promotional contract that Gamboa signed has expired, and then the contract that Top Rank is operating under with Gamboa is not valid.”
 
This should get interesting but not as interesting, perhaps, as an actual fight between Rios and Gamboa.
 
SHOWTIME
 
On Tuesday afternoon, I was told the bout between Peter Quillin and Winky Wright would take place as the opener to the cruiserweight tilt between Antonio Tarver and Lateef Kayode, May 26th on Showtime. When I asked Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer about this, he responded via email, “Yes, it will.”
 
So there you have it.
 
Honestly, I’m not quite as down on this card as most. I think Tarver-Kayode could be a fun fight. Quillin-Wright does have a high probability of “stinkability” (as Lou DiBella would say). Quillin is still untested; if Wright has anything left, I think he can give “Kid Chocolate” some fits.
 
I was told that July 7th is the working date to stage the rematch between WBC lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco and Jorge Linares, who put on an exciting scrap last October at the Staples Center. Both combatants have upcoming tune-up fights in the near future and I’m told that the Home Depot Center in Carson, California is under strong consideration to host this bout. If that comes to fruition, I’ll do the Snoopy happy dance, as that venue is my favorite. Nothing like watching world-class prizefighting on a warm summer evening at that place.
 
NBCSN
 
NBC Sports Network announced that it will premiere an all-access show featuring Zab Judah, leading up to his March 24th date against Vernon Paris on their network. This is from their press release:
 
NEW YORK - March 14, 2012 - Zab “Super” Judah, former undisputed welterweight and junior welterweight champion, will be featured in Fight Night 36: Zab Judah, premiering Wednesday, March 21 at 10:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.
 
The NBC Sports Network extends its all-access 36 series to boxing for the first time with this 30-minute special that chronicles 36 hours in the life of the Brooklyn boxer as he prepares to face Vernon Paris in a box-off for the No. 1 contender position in the Junior Welterweight division. Judah’s match with Paris will air on the second edition of the NBC Sports Network Fight Night boxing series, Saturday, March 24 at 10 p.m. ET.  
 
HUMP DAY FLURRIES
 
Arum said this about Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s next fight, “Chavez and [Martin] Murray is going ahead June 16th on HBO from the Sun Bowl in El Paso.”...I understand there is some talk of matching Guillermo Rigondeaux on the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley undercard versus Teon Kennedy...Strong work as usual from Carlos Acevedo on the recent slugfest between Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez: http://thecruelestsport.com/2012/03/13/loving-monsters-orlando-salido-tko10-juan-manuel-lopez ...Super middleweights Adonis Stevenson and Noe Gonzalez will headline the April 20th edition of ESPN2’s “Friday Nights Fights” from Montreal...The latest edition of “Maxboxing Radio” (yes, this week, we got it going!): http://www.blogtalkradio.com/aleckohut/2012/03/14/maxboxing-radio-with-steve-kim-and-corey-erdman-1... We had some problems patching calls in, so blame Corey Erdman...Speaking of Erdman, he tweeted (@corey_erdman): “A source tells me Rios-Abril will be paired with Juan Manuel Marquez-Cesar Cuenca as a Latin Fury PPV on April 14”...Again, any trade that involves the Lakers getting rid of Andrew Bynum is no trade I want part of...Geez, “Megatron” Calvin Johnson got a Mega-contract...It turns out that George Karl survived two cancers in Denver last year...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.


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