By Cliff Rold
Could it really have gone much different?
This Saturday night, 30-year old Lightweight Richard Abril (17-3-1, 8 KO) will face undefeated 24-year old Sharif Bogere (23-0, 15 KO) with the WBA belt on the line. They were supposed to fight late last year but a Bogere injury delayed the bout.
Eleven months ago, Abril could already have sealed up the WBA title. He handed Brandon Rios his first loss and was told different by judges Jerry Roth and Glenn Trowbridge. Even if they’d scored what most of those who saw the fight did, and there really weren’t that many, a fight with Bogere was likely the next point on the map for Abril.
Win this weekend, and he’ll be where he should be and without really losing any traction despite the unfortunate outcome against Rios.
Let’s be honest: Abril isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. His style is educated to be sure, but it’s also awkward, with plenty of clinching and inside work. The showdown with Bogere is not highly anticipated as an action fight.
In other words, Abril is unlikely to ever command super figures at the gate or from television. Boxing loves a winner, but not every winner becomes a star. Even with the Rios win, Abril would have been an unlikely arrival at a big payday. Rios could still have gone on to his excellent scrap with Mike Alvarado and come out with the Abril fight as a quickly forgotten blemish.
It stinks to see a fighter win what for them is a big fight and not get the nod. It stinks a lot worse when it sets a career dramatically off course.
Last year, Gabriel Campillo was robbed even worse against Tavoris Cloud. Without a title, Campillo had no leverage and wound up in the ring with a Sergey Kovalev one might assume will be getting ducked by big names in the near future. Campillo got drilled by Kovalev. Cloud moved on to a big fight with Bernard Hopkins.
That’s often how these things go.
The closest comparison one might be able to make to Abril, in terms of luck, style, and calls gone south is Jr. Middleweight Carlos Molina. Molina, who was highly unfortunate in a draw versus Erislandy Lara and loss to James Kirkland, might be the toughest out at 154 lbs. He hasn’t been able to parlay sympathetic viewers into a title shot.
That hasn’t been the fate for Abril. For once, a bad turn didn’t turn out for the worse. To his favor, he’s managed to stay viable despite more than one rough setback.
Rios wasn’t Abril’s first split decision gone awry. All three of his losses have come the same way. He could have had the nod versus Hank Lundy and didn’t get it. He could have had the nod versus Breidis Prescott and it didn’t work out that way.
Lundy and Prescott didn’t make it to a title fight. Abril has.
For a change, justice was had in the maneuverings of a sanctioning body. When Rios failed to make weight for his battle with Abril, only Rios could lose the interim WBA strap he brought to the dance. When the decision went the way it did, the WBA opted to leave Abril as interim champ anyways. It was like the Rios fight didn’t happen at all, a mulligan in place of a setback.
Now, Abril has the chance to make the belt all his own.
Bogere will have plenty to say about that. It is as it should be. But at least Abril is getting his say. It doesn’t work out the same way for everyone.
It’s worked out for Abril the best it could have and probably exactly how it would have anyways.
Boxing has a terrible problem with terrible judging. It’s a good to know that sometimes the problem can find a positive solution.
The Weekly Ledger
But wait, there’s more…
The Oscars is what it was. Seth McFarlane has been making money off easy humor that pretends to be edgy for years. It was at least a welcome respite from the endless pomposity of the ceremony…The more Lamont Peterson-Lucas Matthysse is pondered, the better…Is there really going to be a reality show about doing the high dive? Who knew “Joe Millionaire” would be such a high mark in terms of cultural milestones…Kristen Stewart just changed her expression…Just kidding…The references to Lennox Lewis-Oliver McCall after Tony Thompson proved the David Price ain’t right make sense until one recalls how many solid wins Lewis had already. Bad sign for Price…And if you’re Tyson Fury, aren’t you just chomping at the bit to get Thompson? Comparison shopping is a huge part of boxing and Fury needs to try to be the first Heavyweight not named Wlad to beat Thompson in over a dozen years…And, really, isn’t Thompson Klitschko’s most underrated win?
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]