As the year 2012 began there was anticipation among Boxing fans and experts alike of some entertaining battles between fighters who range from rising stars to the pound for pound elite of the sport. One of those bouts was to have been a Lightweight battle...
As the year 2012 began there was anticipation among Boxing fans and experts alike of some entertaining battles between fighters who range from rising stars to the pound for pound elite of the sport. One of those bouts was to have been a Lightweight battle between undefeated rising stars Brandon Rios and Yuriorkis Gamboa. The bout was to have taken place on April 14 and was to be televised in the United States by HBO Sports.
Unfortunately the bout between the two did not come to fruition as Gamboa was a no show at two press conferences to announce the fight and subsequently withdrew from the bout. A legal battle between Gamboa and his promoter Top Rank seems to be on the horizon as Top Rank, Gamboa’s promoter has filed a lawsuit against the former unified Featherweight world champion citing breach of contract.
Despite Gamboa backing out of the bout, Rios still wanted to fight on the scheduled April 14th date. Both HBO and Top Rank had previously advertised Rios vs. Gamboa on television and online. Neither HBO nor Top Rank can be blamed for the actions of Yuriorkis Gamboa. Both however should be blamed and scolded for moving the bout with Rios from HBO to Pay-Per-View.
That’s right! Pay-Per-View. When the card was announced with Rios now slated to face Lightweight contender Richard Abril for interim status in the WBA’s Lightweight ratings this observer quite frankly shook his head. The addition of future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez now inserted into the main event of the Pay-Per-View card did very little to soften the blow for Boxing fans. Like Rios, Marquez was facing a substitute opponent in a bout for interim status. The only difference however was Marquez was fighting in the Jr. Welterweight division. Pay-Per-View?
It boggled my mind considering that Juan Manuel Marquez who has long been one of Boxing’s top stars, who has been a top draw for HBO in the past and has a solid fan following, would not be welcomed with open arms by HBO to save their planned April 14th doubleheader on their “Network”. Instead of “As advertised” HBO chose to cancel and join with Top Rank to present both Marquez and Rios against less than stellar opponents on “Pay-Per-View”. Granted we all pay a fee to view HBO on our televisions, however to present this card on Pay-Per-View only draws one conclusion; “Rip Off!”
After all, Brandon Rios was originally scheduled for the should have been HBO card. Per Rios plan to maintain that date following Yuriorkis Gamboa’s withdrawal, it should have been HBO’s obligation to go ahead with their scheduled broadcast. It is their responsibility to their subscribers. More troublesome was the price tag for this Pay-Per-View card. At $44.95 Standard Definition and $54.95 High-Definition respectfully. Pay-Per-View?
The “Business” of Boxing clearly had reared it’s ugly head once again. With all due respect to all the fighters who participated on the April 14th Pay-Per-View card, this was an example in it’s clearest form of “Bad Business” for the “Sport” of Boxing.
All the promotional material for the card clearly displayed HBO’s Pay-Per-View logo however HBO did not have their own broadcast team to cover the action, choosing instead to only be part of the distribution of the Top Rank independently produced telecast. Surprised? I’m not…
It didn’t surprise me one bit that HBO would not participate beyond mere distribution of the telecast. They were irresponsible to not maintain the card for their network to begin with. Perhaps by not broadcasting the card under the HBO PPV banner was their attempt to avoid blame and or accountability for a “Bad Business” decision?
It should be noted that this was a split site Pay-Per-View telecast with the two headline bouts taking place at two different locations. Split-site cards has been something that HBO has been more than willing to televise periodically over the years and even on Pay-Per-View last year as part of the Victor Ortiz vs. Floyd Mayweather Pay-Per-View telecast. Why not this time? Why not fulfill the responsibility to your subscribers HBO?
Over the years I have been one of HBO’s harshest critics in regard to often times covering the sport with bias, favoring a fighter under contract to their network and or discrediting fighters who hold world titles. Often you will see HBO speak out against sanctioning bodies with the intention at least on paper of defending the integrity of the sport. Not withstanding my previous criticisms of the network and it’s coverage of Boxing I have also applauded them when appropriate for doing right by the sport. In this instance however, they dropped the ball.
Upon hearing of the April 14th pay-per-view card I asked a question on social media. “Am I the only one who feels that the Marquez/Rios doubleheader should be on HBO and not Pay-Per-View?” It was refreshing to see several responses from both the casual fan and hardcore Boxing enthusiast with the consensus answer to the question being “It should be on HBO.”
As an old school Boxing enthusiast, the “Fan” in me would have been pleased to have seen this card on free television, perhaps as part of the growing success of NBC Sports Network’s Boxing series. This would have been a service to not only Boxing fans but to the sport as well. I would have also been satisfied however to see HBO fulfill it’s obligation to their subscribers.
HBO however should not be the only ones involved that criticism should be directed. What about Top Rank? Top Rank was the victim of bad circumstances in this situation. Yuriorkis Gamboa not fulfilling his obligations put Top Rank in a difficult position. Instead of finding a way to make the best out of a bad situation, Top Rank made a bad situation even worse.
If HBO was not willing to maintain their date for the broadcast of this card why didn’t Top Rank at least entertain the possibility of shopping the card around to other networks? Why couldn’t they have used the concept of Pay-Per-View as a last resort? After all, this was not originally advertised as a pay-per-view card, why make it one? Top Rank has put together several well matched cards as part of their Top Rank Live Boxing series that is televised throughout the United States on regional sports networks owned and operated by Fox Sports. Perhaps this card would have been better suited for that platform after HBO backed out?
We must remember Top Rank was put in a difficult position however, two headline stars competing on the same night in separate bouts against two substitute opponents frankly did not warrant Pay-Per-View. Indeed they were put into a difficult position however their decision to put this card on Pay-Per-View put them in a “No Win” position.
Then as there always seems to be in Boxing there were elements of controversy both before fight night and following a fight. Brandon Rios failed to make the 135lb. Lightweight limit for his bout with Richard Abril.
This was the second consecutive time that Rios didn’t make weight for a fight in the Lightweight division having failed to make weight for his last fight against John Murray last December. Rios was subsequently fined $45,000 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Rios also agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to Abril so the fight could go on.
When the bell rang the underdog Abril dictated the pace of the fight from start to finish over Rios who seemed sluggish and unable to be effective with his normal pressuring style. This was due largely to Abril’s awkwardness and ability to control distance. At the end of the twelve round bout the consensus was that Abril had won the fight by a significant margin. Most observers, this one included scored nine of twelve rounds in favor of Richard Abril.
Two of three official judges Jerry Roth and Glenn Trowbrige however rendered scores of 116-112 and 115-113 for Rios making him the winner of the fight via split decision over ruling the score of Adalaide Byrd of 117-111 for Abril, which was also the result on my scorecard.
Frankly the scores of judges Roth and Trowbridge were incompetent and make me feel embarrassed for the sport. It is not the first time however that I have seen a bad decision and sadly I doubt it will be the last. In the eyes of this observer Richard Abril was the victim of injustice in this fight.
For his part Juan Manuel Marquez outclassed a game Sergei Fedchenko over twelve rounds in the main event of this pay-per-view card. With the win Marquez earned interim status in the WBO’s Jr. Welterweight ratings.
What could be most troublesome however are the rumors of a potential fight between Marquez and Rios perhaps later this year at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas. It would truly be a shame if incompetent scoring of the Rios-Abril fight was perhaps influenced by a potential “Marquee” attraction to come which will no doubt line the pockets of those who rule “The Business” of Boxing. Equally shameful and perhaps saddening is the prospect of potentially more “Bad Business” decisions that may loom on the horizon. None of which seem to have any benefit whatsoever for “The Sport” of Boxing.