Saturday, September 24, 2011

Failed Bout a Symptom of Boxing Illnesses

If you’re a fan of battling press releases, then boxing is the sport with unparalleled action.

There will be no fight between junior middleweight contenders Vanes Martirosyan and Alfredo Angulo. Ranked number one and two respectively by the World Boxing Council, it was anticipated the two men would meet on Nov. 5 in Cancun, Mexico in a title elimination bout that would have been televised by HBO.

However, like many fights in boxing that are highly anticipated but ultimately never come to fruition, this is another in a long line of match-ups that for a myriad of reasons will likely never see the light of day.

The finger pointing began shortly after an inflammatory worded press release issued by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions entitled “Vanes Martirosyan turns down chance of a lifetime against Alfredo Angulo” appeared yesterday via email.

In the release, that read like an indictment, all of the blame was heaped upon Martirosyan, who is a nice young kid and also undefeated at 30-0 (19)KO.

“It was going to be a November to remember...or so fight fans thought” is how the missive began. [The fight was] “…slated to be aired by HBO, giving both fighters the platform every top level fighter craves. In this case however, it was only Angulo who craved it.”

Besmirched contender Vanes Martirosyan pictured here keeping in shape while working the speed bag.

There are differing opinions as to whether it was only Angulo that craved the bout. Team Martirosyan had issues with many of the conditions under which the bout would have been contested. The fight was to have taken place in Mexico, home of both Angulo and the world headquarters of the WBC. The purse money was rumored to be a lowly wage for a fight of such supposed magnitude.

Hours later, in a counterpunch of a press release, Martirosyan’s manager of the moment Steven Feder (they dissolved their relationship Friday) offered up an interesting thesis and fired back as to why his man turned the fight down.

“First, we were the number one contender for the WBC belt when they let (Saul) Alvarez fight a welterweight (Mathew Hatton) for the belt. To appease Vanes, they let him fight for the Silver belt. Vanes won the belt so he was again set to fight Alvarez. Then they ordered Vanes to fight Angulo in another eliminator. We said “okay” again, and then they said that it would have to be in Mexico. We would have agreed, but to top it off, they offered just a little more money to Vanes than what he got when he fought Joe Greene in New York, so we had to say no.”

It should be pointed out that Saul Alvarez is the current and undefeated WBC junior middleweight titlist and is signed to a promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions. At 21-years-old he is perceived to be the “golden goose” of the company - its future if you will.

However, many followers of the sport and those within the industry believe: (a.) he has been protected and coddled by his promoter all along the journey to his world title (b.) he is the favorite son of the WBC (c.) his talent does not match the hype (d.) Martirosyan, if given the chance to fight Alvarez, would likely win.

“I think Golden Boy did well to protect their champion,” continued Feder in the release. “They knew we were going to turn down the Angulo fight under these conditions beforehand.”

Once feared, Alfredo Angulo is attempting to get back into title contention. He is currently unable to secure Visa to enter the United States.

Quotes attributed to Angulo in the release (a recent Golden Boy Promotions acquisition who has had promotional, managerial and immigration problems) also points the finger of blame directly at Martirosyan.

“We offered him everything in this fight, the winner would fight in a WBC world title fight, neutral officials so he wouldn't feel uncomfortable about fighting in Mexico and he would have made three times more for this fight than he's ever made before,” said Angulo. “I guess he loves that 30-0 record more than actually fighting real fights against real fighters.”

Serge Martirosyan, who is Vanes’ uncle and manager stated the following in the Martirosyan release: “While it is always an honor to fight on HBO and to face a great fighter such as Angulo, the circumstances have to be right. Both Angulo and Vanes are warriors. In my opinion they would both beat all of the belt holders at 154 pounds. Why should they fight each other now without a belt involved? They can fight later in a unification fight for a lot more money. I think it would be a really good fight and I can see why the fans want to see it but these guys work their asses off their whole life to get to this point. Angulo and Vanes both deserve to get compensated accordingly for this fight. These other champs at 154 are fighting welterweights. They should be fighting top-10 ranked junior middleweights and not welterweights. They should fight Angulo and Vanes.”

In the end, it will be Golden Boy Promotions, Angulo and the WBC that will have the final say in this war of words.

For rejecting the offer, Martirosyan will be unfairly punished. It is more than probable the WBC will withdraw his number one ranking and blackball him in the future. In the coming weeks, expect an announcement from Golden Boy trumpeting a WBC elimination match-up between Angulo and a less deserving opponent in a title elimination bout on the same date in November in Cancun and on HBO. For standing up to Golden Boy, Martirosyan will face an uncertain future.

“On one hand I'm shocked, but on the other, this doesn't really surprise me,” is apparently what Angulo stated to Monica Sears, Golden Boy’s press release writer. “Vanes Martirosyan is a tough guy, but only on the Internet. He calls everybody out, says he's not getting big fights, but then when he gets offered the opportunity of a lifetime, he turns it down. He needs to get out from behind his computer where he likes to talk about me and get into the ring where he can fight me.”

The wars in those boxing press releases can get nasty. It’s about the only place a boxing fan can get any action these days.

September 2011

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