We should've known better. About a week-and-a-half ago, we were all buzzing about the fight between WBC middleweight belt-holder, Jermall Charlo, and Jaime Munguia. A match-up between two undefeated fighters still very much in their physical prime.
It would be hyperbole to call this a 'super fight' or anything of that nature, but it's the type of bout that simply doesn't happen enough nowadays.
Alas, the sport of boxing was once again usurped by the politics and business of it.
There was a point when it looked like a deal between Showtime/PBC and Golden Boy Promotions -- who don't break bread often -- would be consummated. But as they say: the devil is in the details.
It turns out that Golden Boy Promotions was unwilling to do this deal without the participation of DAZN, with whom they have had an exclusive content deal with since 2018. Charlo-Munguia was slated to be a Showtime pay-per-view telecast in the summer. But on the night of March 13, the always hard-working De La Hoya put forth this message via Twitter:
Bottom line, after years of investing in Munguia (most recently last month in Tijuana, where he was paired the over-matched D'metrius Ballard), Golden Boy simply wasn't going to go and take one of their prized clients to another platform without DAZN being involved. In many respects when a promotional outfit and network go into an exclusive deal with one another, they in essence become partners.
Lets make this clear, this isn't on the boxer. While Munguia has been a protected fighter for the most part, in this instance he put his John Hancock on the dotted line. But Munguia was held back from this fight by Golden Boy as they had to protect their on-going relationship with DAZN.
Golden Boy Promotions
They just did a show this past weekend at the Galen Center, and have another date with DAZN featuring Ryan Garcia on April 9. After that...well, they are still in the process of negotiating a long-term deal with the streaming platform. Having Munguia go over to Showtime for what will be his biggest and most important bout on a rival network would be problematic in these on-going talks.
Munguia, who is 25, is an improving fighter under the guidance of Erik Morales. He's come a long ways since his 2019 struggles versus Dennis Hogan, which was six fights ago. His most recent outings gave evidence that GBP and Zanfer Promotions could take the training wheels off him. Currently, he is ranked fourth by Ring Magazine at 160.
Keep this in mind, for the better part of a year, he was rated number one by both the WBC and WBO. After Demetrius Andrade made the decision to move up to 168, there was an order by the WBO for him to face their second rated contender, Zhanibek Alimkhanuly, for the vacant title. But this fight was deemed a bit too risky and difficult for Munguia's handlers, and their focused shifted to a more lucrative bout with Charlo, who struggled a bit versus Juan Montiel Macias (who was stopped in two rounds by Munguia as a young welterweight in 2017 in two rounds) last June.
Both options were difficult but the Charlo assignment paid more. Remember, boxing is a game of risk-vs-reward.
But there was one problem, the WBC ruled that if a deal with Charlo could not be finalized, instead of going to a purse bid, Munguia would then have to face Carlos Adames.
Well, a few days after Charlo-Munguia fell apart, Munguia's side declined the Adames assignment. Munguia is giving new meaning to 'elimination bouts' as he keeps getting pulled out of these bouts. It's not clear what direction they will go. As for Charlo, he will face the weathered Maciej Sulecki. Sulecki isn't a bad fighter(having faced the likes of Andrade and Danny Jacobs) but he seems to be a bit of a mystery man to the Showtime Sports PR team.
What has taken place recently is nothing new. Years ago, certain bouts were kept from happening as boxers had exclusive long-term deals with HBO and Showtime. I recall vividly that while Roy Jones was clearly the best boxer in the game, fights against a solid group of super middleweights (all of whom were on Showtime) in the 90's was a non-starter. Nonito Donaire-Abner Mares was another one that never took place as they were collateral damage in the 'Cold War' that took place between Golden Boy/Showtime and Top Rank/HBO a decade ago. Numerous boxers from PBC were not allowed to entertain offers from Eddie Hearn in recent years to appear on DAZN/Matchroom cards.
There are exceptions to the rule, Top Rank did allow Jose Ramirez to face Maurice Hooker to go over to DAZN as they were made an exorbitant offer during the period of time when the streaming platform was seemingly playing with Monopoly money as they started up operations in the States. Recently the PBC allowed Shawn Porter to face Terence Crawford on an ESPN pay-per-view event that was promoted by Top Rank.
But the reality is that most boxers are simply pawns on the chess board. Very few are like Canelo Alvarez who are allowed to be Bobby Fischer with their career paths.
There are many other examples where network affiliations kept fights from coming to fruition. There have been times -- Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder II and III - where a bridge was gaped between two sides on joint pay-per-view events. The problem is that Charlo-Munguia simply isn't that caliber of a promotion.
Munguia was more than willing to go on Showtime.
Golden Boy, simply couldn't let him.
It was certainly a buzzkill as Vergil Ortiz was pulled from this past weekends bout against Michael McKinson, but the Golden Boy card at the Galen Center moved forward with the welterweight contest between Alexis Rocha and Blair 'the Flair' Cobbs as the new headliner.
Rocha, who's only loss came against Rashidi Ellis in 2020, put forth a strong all-around performance in scoring a ninth round TKO of Cobbs. It's clear that he is an ascending fighter, and he brought a pretty good contingent of his fans from Santa Ana to USC.
Tom Hogan/ Golden Boy Promotions
Coming into this camp, his trainer, Hector Lopez, told me a few weeks back that for this camp the decision was made by him to significantly cut back on Rocha's sparring. Lopez had suspicions that Rocha was leaving a bit of himself in the gym. On this night, he looked like a fresh fighter.
And how did he feel about the reduced sparring?
By the way, is it time to fill a missing persons report on 'Speedy' Rashi Ellis?....It's clear that the development of super middleweight, Edgar Berlanga, has hit the wall, He struggled mightily to get past Steve Rolls on Saturday night....Meanwhile, Xander Zayas, looked sharp in scoring a decisive eight round decision over Quincy LaVallais....Keep an eye out on Bruce 'Shu Shu' Carrington....Junior welterweight contender, Regis Prograis, got some good work in this past weekend scoring a sixth round stoppage of Tyrone McKenna. Next up could be a title shot as that was a WBC final eliminator....Pete Gillin is alive and well contrary to what Rex Chapman says....I can be reached at email@example.com....