The fights Goossen is referring to are the rematch between Juan Carlos Salgado and Argenis Mendez for the IBF 130-pound belt and a crossroads match-up between Joseph Elegele and Javier Molina (broadcast on HBO Latino). Arreola-Stiverne, now rescheduled for April 27th, was originally rescheduled by Goossen for late January when Ward was slated to face Kelly Pavlik at the Galen Center on the campus of USC. But as Ward had to scrap that fight entirely due to his shoulder issues, Arreola and Stiverne were stuck in a bit of a holding pattern.
In a year hampered by postponements and pull-outs, perhaps no company has been affected more than Goossen Tutor. And their run of misfortune actually began last year when Paul Williams was paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident while he had a showdown with Saul Alvarez on the horizon. And in this business, when your pillars don’t get out there and perform, it’s hard to pay the bills.
“There’s no worse feeling you can have when one of your fighters get injured or sick and out of a fight,” admitted Goossen, who hasn’t lost his sense of perspective. “But there’s nothing I could ever complain about with how I see Paul accepting his fate and every time I could certainly get in that frame of mind of, ‘We’ve been hit hard with it,’ it’s nothing compared to what Paul has to overcome and it keeps me grounded from the standpoint of not complaining about it. You just deal with it and Paul’s been a great example on that. I spoke to him last week, I think it was, and I told him that I’m just amazed at the strength that he exhibits. It gives me strength. Have I been disappointed? Yeah, but the other side of the coin is that Andre Ward did have surgery; he’s feeling great. Arreola’s getting past this bronchitis and they’ll both be in the ring and Paul’s still out there with a positive attitude.
“So I got nothing to complain about.”
A company can only be as good and as influential as its fighters. Arreola, being a Mexican-American heavyweight, is a valuable commodity. And Ward, who is considered one of the elite practitioners of the sport - not to mention the changing landscape at HBO (which has seen a large exodus of talent leave them for Showtime) - is certainly a key piece. But the question is, is he durable enough to make a sustained run? Does he have staying power or is he injury-prone?
Right now, Ward is that five-tool player who is perpetually on the 15-day disabled list.
Goossen doesn’t believe this to be true. Instead, he thinks his fighter has just had an unfortunate set of circumstances.”Y’ know, when you’re cut in sparring, to me, that’s not chronic. That’s just part of the game. For the most part, Andre’s overcome injuries, as most recently as the Carl Froch fight, because as you probably recall, he went into that fight with a broken hand. Unbeknownst to all of us, actually, but I can remember sitting at the press conference on that Wednesday the week of the fight and he had his hand on the armchair and I didn’t want to make too much about it because when a fighter’s got his mind set on overcoming their injuries and moving towards the fight, you don’t want to say, ‘Oh, my God; that looks terrible.’ But I looked down and in my head, I said, ‘Oh, my god that looks terrible!’
“So with Andre, I think there’s a perception out there that it’s more perception than reality because the only real two setbacks he’s had is the shoulder injury - where he had surgery - and his knee injury.”
Since capturing the “Super Six” tourney championship, which cemented Ward’s entry among the sport’s elite back in December of 2011, he’s only fought once (stopping Chad Dawson last September). Goossen says he will be talking with Ward and his doctor to discuss the timetable for his return before getting a return date on HBO.
In other sports, if a Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning or Mike Trout is injured, the games go on with back-up players. In boxing, if the headliner performer goes out, the plug is usually pulled. This dynamic, with or without the reliance of television, hasn’t changed throughout the years. “I really don’t think so, for the most part, and I’ve seen it with Top Rank. I see it with ourselves, that we do everything we can to try to keep a show intact,” says Goossen, who added, “I just think you have to take every last breath of air to show the other fighters on the card that they’re just not undercard fighters, that they’re fighters that are out there training their butts off to be in that main event status eventually.”
Careers can only move forward with fights. In baseball, rain-outs can be rescheduled the next day. It can be months before boxers are slotted again to fight.
“There’s gotta be something to be said about fighting your rear-end off to keep Salgado-Mendez intact because through no fault of their own, they’ve been training. They’re ready; they’re injury-free. We should do everything we can to get them in the ring that same night as well as Oscar Molina, Javier Molina and Cornelius White and all these fighters that have trained to be on this show. You’ve got to go out there and try to make it all work.”
A boxing veteran, Goossen understands the pratfalls of this business. Still, it’s perhaps the worst feeling you can have in this racket. “It’s not good,” he says. “There’s nothing positive that comes from it but I’ll tell you this: I’ve accepted through the years and I’ve got no problems with it because it comes with the territory.”
And what’s taken place over the past several months is far from the hardest punch-in-the-gut Goossen has ever had to endure.
“What ripped me apart as it relates to this subject of fights falling out, nothing was worse than when we were at Caesar’s Palace with Terry Norris,” recalled Goossen of Norris’ scheduled fight against Simon Brown in the early ‘90s, “and it was the day of the fight that his opponent went to the doctors or the hospital based upon a fever or nerves or whatever it was that night - and as a matter of fact, I had just arrived at the outdoor arena at Caesars - when the word came. That’s when it’s tough because you think you’ve gone through everything, you think you’ve gone by everything and all it is now is waiting for that bell to ring in a few hours and you’re told that the fights not happening. The whole show is canceled that night. That was devastating.
“What compounded matters that night, it was Terry’s birthday and I had this big, big party at Caesar’s. I bet you it was a $25,000 party that I couldn’t cancel out of that. It was already a done deal. So we ended up having a big birthday celebration that was the most depressing party that I’ve ever hosted.”
The Hangar is one of the premiere fight venues in Southern California. It’s a small, intimate setting with very good sight lines. Here’s the ticket info for this weekend’s card (from a Goossen Tutor press release):
For all fans who have purchased and received their tickets to the originally scheduled March 9th HBO show at The Hangar, and still want to see a great night of fights will be entitled to receive the same seats at a reduced price.
With the new reduced pricing, customers that purchased their seats will have the option to: 1) apply their prior purchase toward additional lower priced tickets in the same section (if a customer purchased 4 tickets at $75 [$300 total] they can receive the same four tickets now priced at $50 [total $200] and apply the extra $100 toward two additional tickets at $50; or 2) apply their prior purchase toward the same amount of tickets and receive the applicable rebate (for each ticket, a $250 ticket will receive a $150 rebate, $150 ticket will receive a $75 rebate, and a $75 ticket will receive a $25 rebate); or 3) the customer can request a full refund.
Doors open at The Hangar at 4:00 p.m. The first non-televised bout starts at 4:30 p.m.
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