By Keith Idec
The Brandon Rios-Yuriorkis Gamboa bout was the fight Ken Hershman had highlighted on HBO’s loaded calendar of upcoming matchups.
Its implosion this week left the new HBO Sports president as aggravated as anyone involved in putting the ill-fated fight together.
“Obviously, we’re extremely disappointed that that fight fell apart,” Hershman said to BoxingScene.com. “It was the fight on my calendar that I was looking forward to the most. We now have to move on and we’re in discussions with Top Rank on how to move forward in a way that we think is going to put everyone in the best position possible. But I can’t sit here and tell you I’m not disappointed.”
With Gamboa embroiled in a contract dispute with co-promoters Top Rank Inc. and Arena Box, Hershman doesn’t think the fight can be salvaged for April 14. He hopes, however, that the network can still showcase Rios (29-0-1, 22 KOs) in an April 14 main event.
“Right now, we’re just in conversations with Top Rank on what to do,” Hershman said. “That certainly is an option that is on the table, to keep April 14th. We’d like to, and obviously Brandon Rios didn’t do anything that he should be set back for. But it has to be the right fight and the money has to be dealt with, and the venue. There’s a lot of moving parts here, so we’ll see if we can keep that date and move forward, or if we have to move it to a new date and the right situation.”
As far as putting together HBO bouts in the future for Gamboa, Hershman admitted he’ll proceed with caution now that the former featherweight champion from Cuba has abruptly pulled out what would’ve been the biggest fight of his career after agreeing to contractual terms.
“As a television network that committed a date and resources and money to make this event happen,” Hershman said, “and we had started to develop our advertising campaign around it, it’s extremely distressing when a fighter pulls out due to some contractual situation that was unknown to us, or whatever it is. It’s not a good situation.
“When the network commits a lot of resources to you, you have to be reliable. We do our job and you have to do yours, which is show up for the fight.”
Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) reportedly would’ve earned a career-high purse in excess of $1 million for facing Rios. Hershman didn’t rule out Gamboa boxing on HBO later this year, but he didn’t exactly sound optimistic about getting Gamboa into another high-profile fight any time soon.
“I think you have to take that into consideration — how many times fighters pull out of fights, how they pull out, when they pull out,” Hershman said. “It’s always a factor when you decide what you want to commit your company’s resources to.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.