View Full Version : Itís All About The Money

10-25-2007, 11:07 AM
By Michael Swann

It was reported recently that the fight for the WBC heavyweight title between WBC champion Oleg Maskaev and interim champ Samuel Peter will be held, at long last, at Madison Square Garden in New York City on February 2, 2008. As we all know by now, after months of haggling, threats of litigation, arbitration, and on and on and on, the two were scheduled originally to meet on October 6, but Maskaev pulled out, we were told, because of a herniated disk, a bulging disk, and a contusion to his right ankle.

The WBC designated Peter as interim champion to ďunfreezeĒ the title, and also, letís face it, to save the date and collect sanctioning fees. Jameel McCline stepped in from the undercard to face Peter and the show was on. Then, on fight night McCline shook the boxing world by decking Peter three times before he, uh, petered out and lost a unanimous decision.

Within 10 days, the WBC made the announcement of the new fight date. When the fight was cancelled in late September it was said that Maskaev would be inactive for up to four months, and with him having not fought since December, the WBC didnít want the title held up any longer. Yet 10 days later, they already know that he will be ready to rock and roll by February 2.

Taking into account Maskaevís need to prepare for the fight, heíll be back in the gym by next month. So, bottom line, all these various machinations to make Peter interim champ were simply a means to collect 3% of his purse in sanctioning fees, and not a desire to release the title from bondage.

What does Peter get out of the deal? Well, nothing really until he beats Maskaev once and for all, or Maskaev is unable to fight, at which point Peter is expected to be named as the official champion.

So, other than collecting sanctioning fees, what is the point of handing someone a paper crown? It might be somewhat understandable when the injured champion is going to be sidelined for a prolonged period. Certainly in that case we would try to understand the need for an active titlist. But a four month interim reign is ridiculous.

To be completely fair with the WBC, itís possible that Maskaevís medical condition took a dramatic upward turn after he saw Peter hit the canvas three times against McCline. Maskaev turns 39 in March and maybe he now feels that itís now or never. It appears on the evidence of their actions in the past year that he and his promoter Dennis Rappaport did everything that they could to avoid Peter throughout this year.

And certainly the WBC would have granted additional time for recovery beyond February, since Peter was designated as interim champion and there would be fresh money coming in. So, maybe McClineís performance motivated Olegís speedy recovery.

In any event, I detest this ďinterimĒ label. Youíre either a champion or youíre not. Nobody wants to be an interim titlist. Well, nobody except maybe Jorge Arce who became WBC interim flyweight champion in July 2005, and probably still would be if he hadnít moved up in weight.

Recently I wrote about the Joel Casamayor case. He defeated the late Diego Corrales for the WBC lightweight title. Then he made the mistake of negotiating for a fight that was contrary to the plans of the WBC and, faster than you can say Erik Morales, he was stripped and interim titlist David Diaz was installed as the official champion. Poor Casamayor had only been the titlist for a few months and hadnít even signed anything when this travesty went down. Later, with the threat of litigation looming overhead, the WBC brokered a deal that ended up with Casamayor being the interim champion.

What a joke.

But youíll notice that he hasnít fought David Diaz as yet, nor has it been discussed as far as I can determine. In fact, for a variety of reasons, including some amateurish handling by his promotional team, he hasnít fought anyone since Corrales in October, 2006.

Casamayor is now with Golden Boy and if, and itís a big if, he beats Jose Armando Santa Cruz on November 10, he should by all rights fight David Diaz for the title. But here again, watch what happens in upcoming fights.

If Juan Manuel Marquez beats Rocky Juarez on November 3, he will likely fight Manny Pacquiao in March, unless he manages to over inflate his market value again. But if Marquez is not part of the equation, Pacquiao reportedly wants David Diaz, the beatable Diaz.

Now shouldnít Diaz be forced to fight Casamayor, assuming he wins, first? Donít bet on it. If this seems to be an inequitable development, well it is. But money will always trump fair play in boxing.

It was bad enough when these poor fighters, with short careers, had to pony up sanctioning fees for the privilege of participating in a title match. Then the sanctioning bodies found a new cash cow by setting up title eliminators for mandatory challengers. Now that was a stroke of genius because the contenders are often pushed to the side anyway, as they were going to do with Sam Peter when Vitali Klitschko rode back into town.

Ask #1 WBO heavyweight mandatory challenger Tony Thompson. His chances of fighting Sultan Ibragimov for the title are slim and none. Sultanís team is going to go with big fights with big purses and Thompson doesnít fit that description. The logic is that if they wait long enough, heíll either lose, or look elsewhere. Meanwhile, heís already paid the sanctioning fee to fight the title eliminator to be in the somewhat worthless position that he finds himself in.

You also have your super champions, champions, champion emeritus, regional champions such as inter-continental and international titles, continental Americas, NABF, NABO, and my personal favorite, ďchampion in recess.Ē (My step son was a champion in recess, but he was horrible in the classroom.)

This distinction was awarded to Travis Simms, who won the WBA 154 pound title in 2003, then was stripped in 2005 when he sued the WBA for not enforcing a mandatory fight with super champion Winky Wright. The WBA reinstated Simms as ďchampion in recessĒ after an out of court settlement in mid 2006, while maintaining a regular champion. Simms beat Jose Antonio Rivera in January 2007 for full title status, and then at age 36 lost it in July in his first defense. Obviously he never fought Winky. You have to wonder who really won that settlement.

Itís not just boxing. Thereís greed in every business. But boxing has no peer when it comes to employing the 40 acres and a mule policy with its athletes.

I saw Sugar Ray Leonard on The Contender taking the finalists on a tour of his home, showing them the trappings of success. But Ray was one of an extremely rare breed. He was the darling of America after the 1976 Olympics, and was paid $50,000 for his pro debut, which was televised. He was enormously popular and successful and earned huge purses throughout his career. He also had attorney Mike Trainer manage his money, honestly, throughout his career.

Ray could well have taken them to a warehouse and introduced them to former fighters working as a night watchman or some other menial work, guys who spent their careers having to count their fingers after shaking hands, men without savings or benefits who took beatings to make other men rich after biopsies were performed on their wallets. In boxing particularly, itís not just what you make but what you keep.

That would have been closer to the real world.

Michael Swann can be reached at mswann4@aol.com.

10-25-2007, 01:06 PM
Ray should bring Bobby Chacon around for a visit, that might sober of few of them up.