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Not at USC but Burgos and Cruz Fight On

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


This week’s edition of “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN2 features a junior lightweight match-up between Juan Carlos Burgos and Cristobal Cruz, which figures to be an entertaining scrap between two hardnosed Mexicans. This show was originally scheduled to take place at the Galen Center, the basketball home of the USC Trojans. So how did they end up at Dover Downs Casino in Dover, Delaware?
 
Well, it’s not because Banner Promotions didn’t give it that old college try. 
 
“We made a deal with Comcast Spectacor, who runs the USC Galen Center, and we agreed to the fight. We agreed to the terms and we went back and forth with the contracts and then at the last minute, after everything was agreed, they did a site survey, ESPN-approved,” said Banner’s Artie Pelullo. “I was told by the Comcast Spectacor, who managed the building in Philadelphia, that Pat Haden (USC athletic director) pulled the plug on the show and they didn’t want to pull the plug. But right now, the Galen Center is being run by Comcast Spectacor, which runs several buildings and they’re trying to introduce them to things outside of college basketball in that arena. And I know the people in Philadelphia and the bottom line is he pulled the plug at the last minute after they agreed, signed off on everything. So I had to move the show.”
 
So was the university hesitant to get into the cesspool that boxing is reputed to be or fearful of any liability? According to Pelullo, no.

“I don’t think it was the boxing image at all,” he explained. “It was more that the financial risk that they had to take. It had nothing to do with the image or what would’ve happened on the show because I had indemnified them, held them harmless. We have like a $5 million liability policy, boxer insurance with the state with the California commission. It was that they were not used to paying or buying tickets for their sporting events. Their M.O. has always been: it’s college basketball; people come in and they buy tickets here and if anybody wanted to come into the building- they would rent the building. Where I had structured the deal with the people in Philadelphia that we weren’t renting the building and that they were paying for us to bring the event but through a ticket purchase and so on. And that their in-house expenses were kept in-house.

“And that’s how a lot of venues are today, even non-casino venues like in Dover, Delaware, which is a race track. I’ve also been in Laredo, Texas and [Bob] Arum did the same kind of deal in San Antonio with [Julio Cesar] Chavez. But they were unwilling to take the risk after they agreed to the deal and I flew out there, met them, made all the changes they wanted and at the last minute, I was informed that they pulled the plug because they had to eat some of their in-house expenses. It had nothing to do with the severity of the sport because they’re going to do an MMA show also down the road.”
 
Pelullo had to scramble for a new venue for his event. The veteran promoter says his staff went online to find cards that were taking place on this date (February 24th). “It just so happened Dover Downs was promoting a boxing event; it was off-television. I know the president, Ed Sutor, because I’ve done some other shows here in the past on CN8, which is a local network owned by Comcast and I told them what I wanted to do,” he said from Dover Downs on Wednesday night. “And we dropped the show in here and made a very reasonable deal- it’s not really good for me. I’m going to lose some money- but that’s part of the business. But he gets a nice television show and I’m dealing with people that I know and it went very well.
 
“It’s not what I wanted but it is what it is.”
 
Pelullo concedes this fight was a natural fit for Los Angeles.
 
“It’s an all-Mexican fight. One guy is the former world champion Cristobal Cruz; the other guy, Juan Carlos Burgos, is number two in the world. He fought for the title in Japan [against Hozumi Hasegawa in November 2010] and I’m partners with Thompson Boxing, who brought me in because I’m lucky that they like me. So we’re doing fights with them and it was a West Coast fight, yes. Is the arena sold out [in Dover Downs]? Yes. Are there Mexican people in this area? Yes. Does it belong on the West Coast? Absolutely. But it is what it is. It will be a sold-out arena and it will be a lively crowd but at the end of the day, it’s something USC should’ve had.”
 
The shame of it all for boxing fans out here is that Pelullo was hoping to do several shows a year at this venue. Anyone that has been inside this facility will tell you that it’s ideal to host boxing. It’s a new building with very good sightlines and all the modern amenities.
 
“I think they’re out of the boxing business for awhile,” Pelullo said of USC, “because their mindset at all of these universities is that people come in and buy tickets and that there is no give-and-take on in-house expenses like the lighting and the power, the ushers and ticket takers and there is no give-and-take that they would actually buy tickets. It’s not like going to the Spectrum in Philadelphia or Madison Square Garden, where they are involved with the actual event. It’s basically an NCAA college and they’re not used to actually that type of formula of doing business.”
 
APRIL 14TH
 
So will there be a bout between junior welterweights Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov before the highly-anticipated bout between Brandon Rios and Yuriorkis Gamboa at the Mandalay Bay?

“I don’t know if the Alvarado fight with Ruslan will happen on April the 14th on HBO because- and I was waiting for somebody to get back to me- I don’t think, financially, the money is in the budget or Top Rank may not want to do the fight without the money being in the budget from HBO and the conversation I had with Carl Moretti [of Top Rank] is that the fight will probably not be on that date,” said Pelullo, who promotes Provodnikov, “which is OK with me because Ruslan is going to training camp with Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan and that we would try to put it on the Pacquiao undercard in June.”
 
TAYLOR MADE
 
There was talk last week of Showtime doing a doubleheader featuring a light heavyweight scrap between Jean Pascal and Zsolt Erdei in Montreal with a co-feature of Jermain Taylor vs. Joachim Alcine. Well, the plan ran into a few problems. First, Erdei expressed his desire to go for a title fight and secondly, Showtime wasn’t all that high on that fight anyway.
 
So now it looks like the focus is on staging Taylor-Alcine on either April 13th or the 14th in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the talented Gary Russell Jr. opening up the broadcast on Showtime.
 
As for Pascal, I was told by his promoter, Yvon Michel, that they will now work on getting Pascal a fight for sometime in April, May at the latest. 
 
GALEN CENTER FLURRIES
 
Speaking of Thompson Boxing (which, in my opinion, runs the best club program in America), they have a show this Friday night at the Doubletree in Ontario, CA, featuring the likes of Efren Esquivias, Aaron Martinez and Artemio Reyes...I’m on this week’s ESPN boxing podcast with Joe Tessitore...Marco Antonio Rubio has filed an official protest with the WBC over the circumstances surrounding the Feb. 4th bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Yeah, good luck with that...The March 16th edition of “ShoBox” will be co-headlined at the Fantasy Springs Casino by Randy Caballero and Omar Figueroa...Right now, my NBA MVP is LeBron James...Anyone get the sense that Jerry Buss made a horrible mistake in handing over the Lakers to Jimmy and not Jeannie?...Please tell me my beloved “Pan Am” will not be grounded after just one season...Attendance has been sparse for Trojans basketball this season as they have struggled. Where have you gone, Lorenzo Orr?...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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