Despite the relatively low ratings, Showtime knows it’s on to something with its World Boxing Classic Super Middleweight tournament.
It boggles the mind that a tournament like this hasn’t drawn huge numbers, but it certainly has provided fight fans a lot of action already and plenty of topics for conversation.
It couldn’t have happened in just any division, though. There had to be enough talent to sustain the structure of the tourney. It also had to have fighters with representation willing to put their money where their mouth is; Promoters and managers who wouldn’t get bogged down in the politics of boxing and would be willing to take some risk in exchange for providing some quality action. In other words, no Golden Boy or Top Rank fighters.
Bantamweight appeared to be another division with great depth and awesome possibilities for a myriad of match-ups. We’ve seen some quality 118 lb. fights in the recent past (Perez-Agbeko, Perez-Mares, Montiel-Hasegawa) and an entire tourney of these match-ups would be enough to satisfy even the most disillusioned, jaded fight fan.
The rumblings started a few weeks ago, but I was sworn to secrecy by an “insider” who shall remain nameless.
But earlier today, the story was officially broken by Dan Rafael of ESPN.
Ken Hershman, Showtime’s executive vice president and general manager of sports, was putting together a bantamweight Super Six and was close to finalizing it when things had to be scrapped.
The tournament would’ve included Fernando Montiel, Nonito Donaire, Jospeph Agbeko, Abner Mares, Yonnhy Perez, and Vic Darchinyan in a structure similar to the current super middleweight set-up.
Unfortunately, given the politics of boxing, things had no choice but to fall apart.
Montiel refused to be part of the tourney since, as a double belt holder and a legit draw in Mexico, he’d stand to lose the most from this arrangement. Donaire soon followed as he withdrew his name based on promoter Bob Arum’s promise to produce big fights and big pay days for the “Filipino Flash,” including a possible Montiel fight later in the year. Of course, it should be noted that nothing with Arum is “for sure” and we never quite know when Arum intends on actually putting his guys in real fights, or, at least, the “real” fights the fans want to see.
Former champ and recent Montiel KO victim, Hozumi Hasegawa, was considered as a replacement, but declined since a Montiel-less tournament wouldn’t afford him a chance to grab his belt back from the Mexican.
So, with only four fighters left of the Bantamweight Super 6, Showtime scrambled to salvage what they could by having the four remaining fighters face each other in single elimination action.
The first bout, Perez-Agbeko II, has already been signed for November with Darchinyan-Mares to be signed later. The winners of both bouts would meet in early to mid- 2011.
Of course, plenty can happen between now and the end of the year, so I wouldn’t hold my breath that even this mini-tourney will stay together in one piece.
If it does, we’re in for some great action, but it simply is not the same without perhaps the two best fighters in the division: Montiel and Donaire.
But that’s just how boxing seems to roll these days…more frustration than jubilation; more politics than punches…Everybody walks away with the cash, and somehow, the fans always get screwed…
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