The recent decision by HBO to keep its lineup intact—number of rounds and all—for this weekend’s live tripleheader apparently isn’t sitting well with the World Boxing Council.
A late request made to the Mexico-based sanctioning body called for this Saturday’s potential all-action slugfest between former two-division champ Orlando Salido and veteran contender Miguel Roman from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas—to serve as an interim 130-pound title fight. The matchup itself came about when Roman stepped in for WBC 130-pound title claimant Miguel Berchelt, whom suffered an injury and is out for the remainder of 2017.
Naturally, the WBC gave the motion its blessing, as you can’t get to 2,000 title fights without saying “yes” to every proposed title bout that graces your desk.
The brass at HBO chose not to make it their problem, as an executive decision was made to stick with the original script, which called for Salido-Roman to serve as a 10-round bout.
Such a call was met with displeasure from the sanctioning body who is now out 3% of the main event purses.
“The abuse of power has once again hit our sport in a dramatic way, as Orlando Salido and Micky Roman will be prevented of accomplishing their dream of winning the WBC title due to a decision taken by a man sitting on a desk mandating terms of their bout,” Mauricio Sulaiman, WBC president said during his weekly “The 12th Round” newsletter. “HBO has mandated their fight to be only for 10 rounds. The promoters have no say in the matter, and simply take the orders from the Power force of the sport, the TV Network.
“The WBC will not disrespect the sport and sanction a world title fight for 10 rounds. That would have been easy to do and join the bandwagon, but the WBC Board would not favor such, as there is no real explanation of the change from 12 to 10.”
There actually is a real explanation for the change, one that came about after the main event took on a different look. Berchelt-Salido was of course slated for 12 rounds since a real title was at stake. Once the opponent was changed for Salido and without any sanctioning attached at the time, the decision in finalizing the makeshift headliner was to proceed as a 10-round non-title bout.
“When the HBO Dec. 9 tripleheader was being developed, the promoters came to us and said, “Salido vs. Roman: 10 rounds,” HBO spokesman Ray Stallone told FightNights.com in an email reply through HBO’s press office. “HBO’s response was, ‘Fine.’
“If a miscommunication subsequently occurred between the promoter and the sanctioning body, that’s unfortunate, but from our perspective it’s been a 10-round bout.”
The declaration prompted the WBC staff to take a righteous stance.
“Tom Loeffler, Fernando Beltran, and Oswaldo Kuchle simply have to bow down and remain quiet and accept to go against the essence of our sport,” Sulaiman dramatically declares. “I wonder how will they look into the eyes of their fighters to explain that they will not be competing for the WBC green belt, that their fight is a simple 10-round fight with no meaning whatsoever. It will be like watching a pre-season game of the NFL.
“The WBC accepted a request for Salido to fight Miguel Berchelt in a title defense of the WBC super featherweight championship, which was accepted by HBO. Then, when Berchelt injured his hand, the WBC, supporting the card, accepted to sanction a fight for the WBC interim title between Salido and Roman.
Continued Sulaiman: “I am very sorry for Salido, as he has expressed countless times his dream of becoming WBC champion. I am very sorry for Roman, who has done the same, and I am very sorry for boxing, as a main championship fight has been downgraded to a 10-round fight with nothing at stake.”
Except there was no downgrade—at least not since the new main event was made.
“It’s always been 10 rounds,” confirms Stallone on behalf of HBO. “The (Tevin) Farmer-(Kenichi) Ogawa fight for a (IBF 130-pound) world title is 12 rounds. As it should be.”
The event will also include a 12-round bout between former champ Francisco Vargas and England’s Stephen Smith. Vargas was approached to face Salido when Berchelt suffered his injury in late October, a proposal that would’ve provided a rematch to their June ’16 thriller which ended in a draw and provided Vargas with the lone successful title defense he won in an off-the-canvas 9th round stoppage of Takashi Miura in 2015’s Fight of the Year.
Miura rebounded to stop Roman in the 12th round of their HBO-televised tile eliminator in January, earning the right to face Berchelt, whom dethroned Vargas via knockout in the show’s headliner. Berchelt proceeded to defeat—and retire—Miura this past July, while Roman’s lone fight since then was a 12th round win over journeyman Nery Saguilan in a WBC-sanctioned (of course) regional lightweight title fight.
Salido enters the fight on the heels of his first win in three years, having stopped Aristedes Perez after seven rounds this past May in Mexico. The former two-division titlist had gone 0-2-1 in his prior three bouts, settling for title fight draws with—in reverse order—Vargas and Roman Martinez, the latter in a rematch five months after Salido conceded his version of the 130-pound title to the Puerto Rican boxer in April ’15.