Can you stand the rain?
It was March 10 of 1986 when Marvin Hagler defeated John Mugabi in a memorable slugfest that ended up being the last successful middleweight championship defense for “The Marvelous One.” This bout took place at the Caesar’s Palace Outdoor Arena in Las Vegas.
That night is also remembered for the torrential downpour that had everyone ringside paying premium prices for trash bags to cover themselves from the moisture. Bob Arum, who promoted that event, fondly calls it the “Trashbag Fight.”
Well, for Arum, it was de ja vu all over again, as, on March 10, 2018, Top Rank scheduled a card that featured the battle for the WBO featherweight title between Oscar Valdez and Scott Quigg (who ended up not making weight and making a quagmire of things – but more on that later), at the StubHub Center, in Carson, California. What had been a pretty good stretch of weather out here turned for the worst on Saturday. There was zero chance of precipitation last week until Saturday, when it changed to an 80-to-90 percent chance of rain.
And it rained for 100 percent of this day and night.
It turned the “War Grounds” into the “Wetlands.”
There’s no doubt this had an adverse effect on the live gate but a couple thousand of the most diehard fans braved the elements to enjoy a night of boxing. (Hey, even my boy Mario Lopez soldiered in on this night.)
— Mario Lopez (@MarioLopezExtra) March 11, 2018
As I was driving up to the venue in the afternoon, I was told by Evan Korn of Top Rank that if I chose to sit on press row, I would probably have it all to myself.
And it pretty much was the case, as many other media members decided to watch the proceedings from the cozy confines of the press room on a monitor. Well, my philosophy was that if I’m going to drive to the hallowed grounds of the StubHub Center – or really any venue, for that matter – I wasn’t going to watch it on TV. Hey, I could have done that at home. Part of covering anything (sports, boxing, crime, war, entertainment…whatever) is to actually be on the scene. Besides, it’s just water coming down. However I will admit, if it were snowing, well, yeah…I would have probably stayed home.
In preparation for this, I had to actually go out and buy ponchos for myself, Mario and his friends and I purchased every single one I saw at two different CVSs. It’s actually the first time I’ve worn one of these things since the Miami-Florida State game at Doak Campbell Stadium in 2003, which was a memorable one that was dominated by the late, great Sean Taylor, who had three picks and a touchdown to lead the ‘Canes to victory. It literally rained that whole day in Tallahassee.
The wet stuff kept coming down on Saturday and, as promised, press row was basically all mine as I looked like Kenny McCormick from “South Park” (and, for the record, my poncho was orange not pink, as I kept reading on Twitter).
Now, let me make this clear: I wasn’t the only media member braving the elements. Michael Montero, Albert Baker, Cynthia Conte, Michael Baca II, Fernando Pimentel and Constantino Garcia, among a few others, were milling around near press row watching the bouts that were featured on ESPN.
And we got to see a pretty good main event, when it was all said and done.
We also have some funny stories to tell on what ended up being a memorable – and wet – night.
As you may have heard, I had a bit of verbal sparring with Quigg’s promoter Eddie Hearn, of Matchroom Boxing, over their refusal to do a morning or day-of weigh-in, after coming nowhere close to making the featherweight limit of 126 pounds.
(OK, for the record, Sir Eddie and I shook hands afterward and we left on cordial terms.)
Call me naive but I do happen to believe that Quigg’s fractured foot did hamper his ability to make weight. Hey, it happens. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons why guys don’t make weight. However in many instances like this, in a major televised bout, there are provisions, such as a rehydration limit for the offending party to make sure the the field of play is as level as possible.
For some reason, this wasn’t in place on this occasion.
The bottom line is nobody involved here wanted to scrap this fight – especially Valdez, who’s as passionate about this sport as any active fighter. And he also wants to get paid, which would only happen if the fight goes off.
It’s clear, in this case, that by refusing to a second weigh-in, the offending party turned this into a physical advantage for itself. While Valdez did all he could to stretch his body to make 126 pounds, Quigg didn’t and then was able to hydrate to above the junior welterweight limit, weighing in at 142.2 pounds on fight night.
Valdez’s manager Frank Espinoza (who advised his boxer to walk away from the fight) made it clear they wanted a weight clause put in, “They weren’t available. They didn’t come to the table. We didn’t negotiate anything; they just said, flat-out, no. We wanted the second day weigh-in; we pushed for it. They weren’t on board.”
The problem is neither Quigg nor Hearn is obligated to be on board and, ironically, the guy who played by the rules (in this case, Valdez) has the onus on him to give the green light and perhaps even put himself at a physical disadvantage. It says here that, from this point forward, the local commissions, or maybe the Association of Boxing Commissions, should have rules already in place for situations such as these, which are mandatory. (Say, for instance, if you don’t make weight and the fight moves forward, the boxer must weigh in by a certain time on fight day and not be more than a certain percentage above the contracted weight.)
In a rough and physical fight, Valdez (who was hospitalized afterward with a broken jaw) defeated Quigg after 12 hard-fought rounds. But the victory certainly came at a severe cost.
It was a busy weekend of boxing, some quick thoughts on what took place:
– We have now seen 36 consecutive tough rounds for Valdez, going back to the Miguel Marriaga bout, and these fights have been really tough, grinding affairs. This could very well be a short – but fun – ride for Valdez. With his injury, there is a good chance he may not fight again in 2018.
– I didn’t have a problem with the draw between Erick De Leon and Andy Vences. Neither guy truly deserved to win. It’s like they hated one another so much, they had no idea to do with all that built-up animosity.
– Mikey Garcia did enough to defeat Sergey Lipinets for his IBF 140-pound title but Lipinets did touch him up more than any other opponent. 140 looks like the weight threshold for Garcia. And if he should return to lightweight, will he face IBF beltholder Robert Easter Jr., with the Jorge Linares-Vasyl Lomachenko fight looking imminent for May 12, at the Madison Square Garden in New York?
– I think Regis Prograis is a real threat at 140 but it’s pretty clear that Julius Indongo is one of the worst unified beltholders in boxing history. With his second round blowout of Indongo, Prograis is now the WBC interim junior welterweight titlist.
Speaking of the title of this column:
With this sixth round stoppage of Ronny Rios, Azat Hovhannisyan is in line to face WBC junior featherweight beltholder Rey Vargas. “Crazy A” is a real roughneck in there…What in the world was Rances Barthelemy doing in there against Kiryl Relikh on Saturday?…With daylights savings here, does that come with improved weather?…I didn’t catch a cold from the fights on Saturday, so that was a grand slam of a night…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.