Joan Guzman and Ali Funeka, you can now exhale. Your unscheduled vacant title fight appears to have finally found a home.
BoxingScene.com was informed that Golden Boy Promotions, who earlier this summer signed Guzman to a promotional deal, won a purse bid held earlier in the day for the IBF-ordered title fight. Their winning bid of 212,000 was just enough to edge out the next highest submission of 202,000 placed by Gary Shaw Productions, the US promoter of record for Funeka.
Early plans call for the fight to land on November 28 in Canada beneath the HBO-televised super middleweight title fight rematch between Lucian Bute and Librado Andrade, a fight for which Golden Boy also won the purse bid. No word on whether or not this fight will be added to the broadcast, or appear on the non-televised undercard portion of the show.
At the very least, the announcement brings momentary resolution to what has been a wild roller coaster ride in making this fight a reality.
Guzman (29-0, 17KO) hasn’t fought since a December 2008 homecoming win over Ameth Diaz in the Dominican Republic. He was originally scheduled to face Yuri Romanov shortly after the alphabet title was made available by Nate Campbell, who relinquished the title on the scales prior to his gutty win over Funeka earlier this year.
Funkea (30-2, 25KO), who hasn’t fought since the razor-thin loss to Campbell in his lone stateside-televised appearance, was only added to the title picture by process of elimination.
Plans for Guzman-Romanov were thwarted when it was learned that the Dominican was on administrative suspension due to his pulling out of a September 2008 scheduled title fight with Campbell after failing to make weight.
The next highest challenger, Fernando Angulo, was named as a replacement, though removed after a successful protest lodged by Funeka’s camp. What didn’t come of the move, however, was an immediate title fight opportunity for Funeka.
Instead, enough time had passed to where Guzman was no longer under suspension, allowing the sanctioning body to reverted back to original plans of a Guzman-Romanov faceoff, only for that fight to be scrapped after Romanov encountered unexpected Visa issues.
That’s when Funeka was finally given a second chance at his first major title.
Once the matchup was finalized, the next step was finding a home for the fight. It was hoped that Showtime could find enough money in its remaining boxing budget for 2009 to serve as the final leg of a year-end tripleheader which includes Tim Bradley-Lamont Peterson and Vic Darchinyan-Tomas Rojas at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, California.
However, such plans were contingent on the show’s promoter, Gary Shaw, obtaining the rights to the lightweight fight. They fell short by $10,000, though nothing should yet be ruled out.
Golden Boy Promotions also won a purse bid for the rights to promote the Bute-Andrade rematch, but wisely saw fit to stage the fight in Bute’s backyard (Golden Boy promotes Andrade), where they believed it had the best chance of turning a profit.
Applying such logic to Guzman-Funeka isn’t quite as simple a task. Neither fighter is regarded as a draw of any kind in the states, which would mean such a fight would need to take place either in Guzman’s native Dominican Republic or in Funeka’s South Africa homeland.
It’s highly doubtful that any stateside-based network will send a camera crew to either location, which means finding the best available undercard slot, such as the November 28 HBO Boxing After Dark telecast.
Wherever and whenever the fight lands, it will hopefully prove to be an easier task than was the case in trying to put it together in the first place.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of Boxingscene.com and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at [email protected]