Thursday, August 15, 2013
Uncertainty for Ward, Rigo, Chavez
By Dan Rafael
With no opponent and time running out to promote the date, Andre Ward will not fight on Sept. 28.
One thing is certain for Sept. 28: light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson is scheduled to make his first defense against former titleholder Tavoris Cloud in an HBO main event from the Bell Centre in Montreal.
I really like the fight and don't care that Cloud is coming off a points loss to Bernard Hopkins because, first off, there's no shame in being outboxed by a master like Hopkins. Second of all, Stevenson-Cloud should be a hard-hitting scrap. Besides, after the way Stevenson disposed of Chad Dawson to win the title with a sensational first-round knockout in June who wouldn't want to see "Superman" in action?
So we've got a very good fight that night. The question, however, is what the heck is up with the other televised fight?
Initially, the plan was for HBO to have a split-site doubleheader including the Montreal fight and a fight from San Jose, Calif., featuring super middleweight champ Andre Ward in his first action in a year due to shoulder surgery.
But HBO and Ward promoter Dan Goossen have spent most of the summer battling back and forth over an opponent.
Goossen had a deal in place for Ward to face Dimitri Sartison, a former titlist of the tissue paper variety with zero name recognition in the United States, not to mention about zero chance to win. Rightfully, HBO rejected the fight.
There was also an effort to match Ward with hot contender Edwin Rodriguez, a fight Goossen probably could have been convinced to make. Among the reasons the fight didn't come to pass is because Rodriguez was not available fight in September and began making other plans anyway.
Now Ward is no longer fighting in September. The exact reason is unclear. Maybe it was a continuing lack of opponent or because time was running short to mount a promotion. Whatever it is, Ward is on ice a bit longer.
"Everything was geared to fight Sept. 28 but HBO wanted to move us to another date," Goossen told me this week. "That's what I am working on now."
And Ward told me, declining to get into specifics, "I can tell you the 28th is no longer a possibility. I just know the 28th for me is not an option anymore. [There is] a lot going on at the moment."
I did ask Ward if the delay had anything to do with his shoulder or any other injury and he said it wasn't the case.
"No injury. I'm ready to go," Ward said. "I've been ready for a while now. It's the business end of things. It will work itself out shortly."
With Ward off the show, I was told by multiple sources that HBO, which had previously shown no interest in putting junior featherweight champ Guillermo Rigondeaux back on the air after his less-than-crowd-pleasing victory against Nonito Donaire in their April unification fight, had approved adding him as the televised co-feature in Montreal.
When HBO told Top Rank about that, Top Rank made Rigondeaux an offer and was proposing that he face Chris Avalos. That would probably be a massive mismatch, but it never really went any further. It's unclear exactly what happened, but depending on who you talk to, either Top Rank quickly pulled the offer or Rigondeaux declined it because it was supposedly for less money than the minimum purse in his contract.
Whatever happened, it was right around the time everything went down with Rigondeaux that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. suffered a cut training for his super middleweight fight with Brian Vera on Sept. 7 in Los Angeles, causing Top Rank to postpone the whole card.
(By the way, in the photo circulated of Chavez's cut, it looked like a paper cut and not nearly anything severe enough to cancel a fight still a month away, leading many, myself included, to speculate that the cut made for a perfect excuse to delay a fight for which Chavez was not even remotely close to the 168-pound weight limit. But I digress.)
Chavez tweeted the other day that his fight would be rescheduled for Sept. 28 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. If true, that would return HBO to its original plan of a split-site doubleheader with Chavez taking Ward's place.
However, although it's possible, HBO and Top Rank both told me it's not a done deal and might not happen that way.
So here's where we are: Ward? No opponent, and a shifting date. Rigondeaux? No nothing. Chavez? No date and a tiny cut. Fight fans? A lot of questions.