Showtime cancels Dec. 31 event
Showtime pulled the plug on its scheduled Dec. 31 edition of "Showtime Championship Boxing" on Wednesday.
The main event was to have featured light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud (23-0, 19 KOs) against former titleholder Zsolt Erdei (23-0, 19 KOs), who withdrew last Friday because of a hand injury.
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Showtime cited the injury in making the announcement. However, Lou DiBella, who promotes Erdei and former titleholder Gabriel Campillo (21-3-1, 8 KOs), said he made a deal with Don King, Cloud's promoter, for Campillo to step in and replace Erdei, but the network balked.
Erdei and Campillo, who was already in California training for a January fight, are both top-10 ranked fighters. Still, Showtime elected to cancel the show that was scheduled to take place at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Also canceled was the co-feature in which junior featherweight titlist Rico Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs) was scheduled to make his first defense against interim titleholder and two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KOs).
Multiple sources told ESPN.com that the Erdei's injury was cover for the real reason the card was canceled -- because Stephen Espinoza, the new executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports, did not want to go with a New Year's Eve show, which would cost the network hundreds of thousands of dollars and likely draw puny viewership numbers.
The decision to schedule a "Showtime Championship Boxing" card on New Year's Eve was made before Espinoza began in his role on Nov. 14 as the replacement for Ken Hershman and after Hershman resigned in October to take a similar role at rival HBO, which he begins next month.
"Unfortunately, we had to cancel this telecast," said Chris DeBlasio, Showtime's vice president of sports communications. "But the good news is we are actively looking for a new night to showcase these talented fighters on Showtime. Ramos vs. Rigondeaux is an important fight in the deep (junior featherweight) division and Tavoris Cloud is a force at light heavyweight. We anticipate his Showtime debut."
DeBlasio said that Espinoza is talking to the promoters to find a new date for Ramos-Rigondeaux and for Cloud in 2012.
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.