By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Not only did WBC minimumweight Silver champion and mandatory challenger lose his title bid against Chinese champion Xiong Zhao Zhong by a somewhat controversial split decision at the World Trade Center in Dubai, the promoters have not paid him his purse and have also failed to provide Team Cuello with their return tickets to Manila.
A desperate manager/trainer Aljoe Jaro spoke to the Manila Standard and poured his heart out, at the same time seeking the assistance of WBC president Don Jose Sulaiman to make sure that KO Promotions keeps its basic commitments.
It was Sulaiman who first appealed to Aljoe Jaro to allow Cuello to step aside so Zhong could fight Mexico’s mediocre Javier Martinez Resendiz in Kunming last November so the WBC could make a breakthrough into the vast Chinese market. Cuello was paid a $25,000 step aside fee and Zhong won the title by a comfortable unanimous decision.
In the meantime Aljoe Jaro told us the promoter promised to transfer the purse within one week and wanted them to remain in Dubai but Aljoe Jaro said “We need to leave today. We don’t want to stay here for another week,”
He said “This is a sad story. They didn’t pay us our purse and also the air fare. The agreement is that Cuello would get his purse after the weigh-in but he did not get it even after the fight.”
Aljoe Jaro also appealed to us to inform Sulaiman that the WBC “should secure the fighter’s purse before they approve or sanction a fight.”
Both Aljoe Jaro and Cuello said they couldn’t understand the judges decision since Cuello dropped Zhong in the first round and the Chinese also had a point deducted for an accidental clash of heads which opened up a nasty gash on Cuello’s right eye which bled profusely adding to the debacle of having to fight with only one hand since an aggravated dislocation in his right shoulder in the opening round.
Cuello in a post fight interview with Gulf News said “ I am very disappointed with the result. I really don’t know what the judges saw there.”
Aljoe Jaro earlier complained that after the bloody cut which totally hampered Cuello’s vision and the dislocated right shoulder, the ring doctor had recommended that the fight be stopped but referee Hector Afu of Panama allegedly ignored the doctor and allowed the fight to continue.
Hours before the fight KO Promotions announced that the fights were called off which the Manila Standard understands was due to financial reasons. However, one hour later the promoter issued a statement saying the fight card would proceed but the start was moved from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. after a wealthy Chinese backer reportedly agreed to foot the bill, further eroding the integrity of what had been billed as the first world title fight in Dubai and one which the WBC predicted would be a classic.
Zhong simply said “Our plan was clear. We came here to win”
The Manila Standard had earlier cautioned Aljoe Jaro about KO Promotions which two years ago organized a fight card in Dubai along with ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN but which turned out to be a TV disaster with a local coverage that could not be aired because of its extremely poor quality and an outstanding debt which still hasn’t been settled with ALA Promotions.
WBC president Sulaiman told the ManilaStandard, Sunday morning, that he saw the fight on wbcboxing.tv.internet and "It was a very close fight. I saw Zhong win slightly. It could have been a draw or gone to any of the two fighters. But I did see Zhong slightly victorious.
He said judge John Keane of England who scored the fight a draw "is one of the absolute best in the world. He has worked in the USA and Las Vegas" where foreign judges are generally not assigned to fights while he conceded that in the case of judge Roman Filinov, Sulaiman said "I don't know who he is."