A decade ago contracts in boxing did not mean as much as they do now. You could locate a fighter the day of the fight and have him fight that same night. Not only did the commission allow it, but also pre-fight medical exams were not as intense as they are now, there were more fighters around and they were willing to fight almost anyone.
Today it is common to plan a fight card for eight bouts and only have six actually occur. For any number of reasons, fighters drop out. They flunk pre-fight medical testing, get suspended for a variety of reasons, or come up with lames excuses why they cannot (do not want to) fight.
Look at what happened recently after Harry Joe Yorgey, of Bridgeport, PA, signed a contract to fight Gabriel Rosado (black/gold trunks), of Philadelphia, PA, on July 15 in Atlantic City. Within two weeks of signing, Yorgey tore tendons in his shoulder and canceled. Allen Conyers, of Brooklyn, NY, stepped in on five weeks’ notice, then stepped out 72 hours before the match, claiming bruised knuckles. Thankfully, Ayi Bruce (red/gold trunks), of Ghana, who was living in Baltimore, MD, accepted the match on short notice and gave Rosado a good fight before being stopped in five rounds. In the end, Rosado went through more opponents for that fight than the average fighter does in five months.
It can be frustrating and stressful for a promoter or matchmaker. You think everything is set to go, then fighters start dropping like bowling pins the week of the fight and there is little you can do about it. If Ryan Howard or Jimmy Rollins gets hurt, the Phillies still play that night and everyone has a good time. If a main-event fighter falls out, though, there is chaos.
As for the fighter, I cannot fathom how he would feel.
It’s the week of the fight. It’s 100 degrees outside and you barely have had anything to eat all week. You run, sleep, train and drink water. Everybody around you is telling you what you should or should not do. A couple of days go by and it’s the day of the weigh-in and water is not even an option today.
If there is a time that a fighter is not himself, it’s the week of a fight. A fighter deals with the pressure of staying focused, training, studying films, not to mention the pressures of everyday life. Having the weight of the world on your shoulders—literally and figuratively–becomes an understatement.
Can you imagine feeling like that?
Staying focused for a fighter is like making money for a rich man. Without focus, the fighter has nothing. In the summer when people are going out, clubbing, partying, drinking, staying up late, sitting in the AC, the fighter has to remember to wake up in the morning to go running, head to the gym in the afternoon and train in the heat. A fighter has one goal–to succeed and be the best fighter he can be.
A person’s emotions change due to his or her surroundings, actions or inactions, attitude, lifestyle, etc. So for a fighter, fight week may not be the best time to judge him as the same person his friends and family know.
Excitement, pressure, hostility, aches and pains, feeling tired—those are just some of the things a fighter deals with the week of a match. Fight week is full of ups and downs for a fighter, as well as for a promoter or matchmaker.
To go through all of this, then get to the weigh-in and learn your opponent has canceled can incredible turmoil for everyone involved. For the fighter, frustration could not possibly cover it all. Guess what? There is next-to-nothing that the fighter, his manager, the promoter or matchmaker can do.
Brittany Rogers contributes the BAM on Boxing column to PSC. You can also check her out, as well as everything else you need to know on Philly boxing, at PeltzBoxing.com. Follow Brittany on Twitter @bamonboxing and Peltz Boxing @PeltzBoxing.
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