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Escobedo Makes a Business Decision?

(Photo © German Villasenor)
(Photo © German Villasenor)

This much is for sure; unlike in his last outing, Vicente Escobedo knows the night before that he will be fighting against an opponent who weighed in under the stated limit. On Friday afternoon, both he and Edner Cherry came in at 129.5 pounds. It was a stark contrast to what took place last July when Adrien Broner (who ironically headlines this card in Atlantic City) made a complete mockery of the weight classes by not only coming in a few pounds above the junior lightweight limit but also not even coming close to making the agreed-upon weight the next morning.
Broner, who was scheduled to defend his WBO 130-pound title against Escobedo in his hometown in Cincinnati, lost his title at the scales.
“I didn’t hear anything; my trainer was downstairs and seen Broner working out,” Escobedo recalled, of the days leading to their fight. “He was there for a long time, had been there for two hours. [Joel Diaz, Escobedo’s trainer] said, ‘He’s been there two, three hours. He’s really going to have to cut some weight and he’s going to have a hard time making weight. He was in the sauna. They were doing mitts. Wow, we might have a problem here.’ So in my mind, I didn’t really think about anything. I felt the fight’s still on; he’ll make it. There’s a contract and everything, so if not, there’s going to be some issues. So I didn’t think anything of it. ‘The fight’s going on.’”

This situation is unfortunately not foreign to modern-day boxing, where professionalism isn’t so much a standard but a quaint notion of a bygone era. And as Broner came in heavy (again) for the Saturday morning weigh-in, Escobedo told Maxboxing, “I was going to walk away, to be honest with you. To be really, really honest with you, there was going to be no fight. I said, ‘Y’ know what? He failed to make it once - and twice?! Like c’mon.’ So we said, ‘There’s no fight.’”
But what’s that old phrase; “The show must go on”? It was at this point where Escobedo had the leverage to sweeten his pot.
“We started thinking, ‘Well, y’ know...’ and this came up in the last 10 minutes because people were waiting downstairs already in the lobby, the rest of the fighters,” said Escobedo of that hectic period when nobody really knew if they were coming or going. “And that’s when Rolando Arellano came up to me and said, ‘Listen, I gotta present this to you guys; this is what I got.’ They gave me a number; I actually heard it and I go, ‘Y’ know what? I wanna fight; I went through all this training.’ So I agreed, ‘Let’s make this fight happen. Let’s do it.”
Hey, like in “The Godfather,” an offer was made that couldn’t be refused.
Escobedo says he gave the green-light at between 3 and 4 p.m. that afternoon, just a couple of hours before the doors were to open at the U.S. Bank Arena. “It was a crazy 24 hours and let me tell you; you have to make a decision. There was so much pressure. I never felt so much pressure. OK, either I fight or don’t fight and close the whole show. No one fights and close the network and everything is on me. Never have I been put in a situation like this. It was so frustrating and so much pressure.”
The reality is that Escobedo wasn’t just deciding if he was going to box that night. He was also deciding if every other fighter on the card would.
“But I wanted to fight even thought it was unfair and, yeah, it was about the money. It is a business decision. I think at the time, it was the perfect time because my daughter was born and it’s a huge opportunity for me to take care of my family for awhile - for a long time if I played my cards right. So it was about the money but it’s also about the principle at the time but it’s just really unprofessional,” he lamented.
But principle in boxing? Yeah, OK. The irony is, in this situation, it was almost as if the accountability was on Escobedo - who played by the rules - to make the sacrifice to allow this card and HBO (which had spent a pretty penny in setting up its production) telecast to proceed. Regardless, with Broner’s connections and perceived star power, he was going to return to HBO sooner rather than later. Escobedo? Well, that’s another story. And in this sport, you get paid for fighting, not training.
So he really only had one choice here and the pressure was on him to make it.
“Yeah, I did [feel that] and I mean, what’s the next question? ‘Can we take them to court? By the time that happens, the issue gets resolved, when’s my next date? Are people going to want me back on HBO? I cost them millions of dollars. Did I let the network down?’ That could determine my next fight or career.” Escobedo had his mind on not facing Broner when “Rolando comes in and I hear the number and I’m like, ‘No, let’s make this happen. We gotta take this.’ I was fired up.”
Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Eric Gomez, who was in Cincy, says, “It’s very tense and it was very painful. At one point, we announced that the fight was canceled. We notified HBO; we notified the arena. They were going to start giving refunds back and ultimately, Vicente changed his mind and said, ‘Let’s go through with it,’ and it was incredible. It’s the ugliest feeling.”
Broner stopped Escobedo after five lopsided rounds in a physical mismatch.
“I felt bad it turned out the way it did but he wasn’t fighting a bigger guy. That’s not true,” stated Gomez, referencing Escobedo’s history at 135 and pointing out that Broner began his career at 130. “Vicente had been there with bigger fighters. He had fought against Robert Guerrero, gave him a helluva fight. That fight was at 134, so he had fought guys at 135. It’s not like he all of a sudden went in there against a bigger guy, so that’s not true. That’s not a true statement. I don’t see it that way, in my opinion, but I do feel bad how everything came about with what happened. But I assure you that Adrien did everything he could to make the weight and it’s unfortunate that everything panned out the way it did but Vicente got paid very, very well and he had an opportunity for the title.”
Of course, one could argue that Escobedo made the sacrifice to actually get to 130 and the mere fact that Broner couldn’t make the second weigh-in shows he was indeed the bigger man that night and was basically allowed to fight at the weight of his choice. As for Escobedo, who was a 10-to-one ‘dog going into that bout, his one real chance was to fight a Broner who was weight-drained at 130 pounds. The shenanigans left him about a 100-to-one underdog.
On the flipside, he solved all of that for the extra money put on top of his original purse. Honestly, it was the only call to make. Principles don’t pay the bills.
“Yeah, it was and it led me to another opportunity, which I have this Saturday,” said Escobedo. “But at the end of the day, [Broner]’s unprofessional. He didn’t meet the terms but then again, OK, I’m disappointed in him and his team but everything got solved out. It’s a business. I got a good amount of money; he made his money. He won; I got another loss on my record. Who cares? I got another opportunity now on Saturday. So I think I had nothing to lose except another loss, which was unfair because he was almost 20 pounds over me.”
But even with the preordained nature of his loss to “The Problem,” Escobedo couldn’t help but break down a bit during this post-fight interview with HBO. Yeah, he got paid but it came at a price. His fair shot at winning a title was taken from him and he was forced to prostitute himself in the process. “That’s what I felt, to be honest. I got emotional. I really wanted to say, ‘I’ll be back; this will only make me stronger and this isn’t the last you’ve seen of me.’ I started talking about my daughter and my wife. I really trained hard for this and I wanted to win for them and for myself. Just to know that it was unfair, it really got to me. I got really emotional,” said Escobedo, who had his first child just a month or so before this fight and is in the process of buying a home.
“But hey, I agreed to everything and I wanted to make a fight happen and I did all the training for what; nothing? To walk away from being on HBO and fighting one of the best fighters out there, it’s a tough decision. But at the end of the day, it worked out.”
It says here Escobedo vs. Cherry is a superior fight to Sakio Bika vs. Nikola Sjekloca, which was elevated to HBO’s co-feature tonight (hey, it pays to be aligned with Haymon, which Bika currently is).

“It’s a very, very good fight,” said Gomez, who put it together. “It’s what Vicente wanted. He said, ‘Look, I don’t care about tune-ups and this and that. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it now.’ I like making good fights. I don’t believe in tune-up fights, especially not with guys like Vicente. He’s had all of the tune-ups of the tune-ups and it’s not our style. You do that with young kids when you’re developing them to get them to different stages but a guy like Vicente, he’s handled himself. He knows what he has to do. He knows what he’s signed up for. This is a very good fight.”
And with a win, Escobedo could be knocking on the door of another title shot in a relatively shallow 130-pound division.
Gomez concurs, “That’s the train of thought; that’s what I was thinking. Collectively as a team, we came across it with his manager, Rolando Arellano. We said, ‘Look, if he fights a Joe Schmo and beats him, who’s gonna care? It’s not going to do him anything but if you beat a guy like Edner Cherry and some of the executives from HBO will be there, they’re going to see his performance. It’s going to be an explosive performance because if there’s one thing Edner knows how to do, it’s just fight. Then you know what? You’ll be considered for other HBO or Showtime fights. So that was the thinking behind that.”
An official announcement on the May 4th HBO Pay-Per-View card still has not been made but this was posted on on Friday:
By Gabriel F. Cordero
A source informed that representatives of WBA super welterweight world champion Austin Trout and WBC super welterweight world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez are very close to reaching an agreement for May 4 in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Word is Golden Boy Promotions is very close to announcing the opponents for Canelo and also Floyd Mayweather Jr., and that only a few details need to get resolved before they make the official announcement.
Then this was tweeted out by Alvarez (@CaneloOficial) himself later on:
4 hrs @CaneloOficial:
Canelo vs Trout may 4 MGM 👊👊👊
Retweeted by Steve Kim
And then Trout retweeted:
@CaneloOificial: Canelo vs Trout may 4 MGM 👊👊👊” <~~~ you heard it folks #TimeToUnify!!!!!!
So there you go. It looks like we have at least one fight on that card nailed down.
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