By Ryan Maquiñana
After the WBA got into damage control mode by ordering a featherweight title rematch between holder Jonathan Barros of Argentina and the arguably wronged Celestino Caballero, the latter’s trainer gave his take on the matter.
“It’s unfortunate we worked so hard and went down to his home country and pretty much got jacked,” Jeff Mayweather said of last month’s bout. “It was a very, very empty feeling getting on the plane knowing that you should be coming back with the title.”
Despite Barros hitting the canvas twice in a bout where the overwhelming majority of the media gave Caballero the nod, the Panamanian found himself on the losing end on two of the judges’ scorecards.
“I had us winning seven rounds to five with two knockdowns, so there's two more points for the winning margin,” Mayweather opined. “That’s worse than [Erislandy Lara] getting robbed by Paul Williams. Only difference was that it got more attention because it was on HBO.”
The loss enraged the 35-year-old Caballero so much that the former unified super bantamweight champion threatened to retire if the WBA abstained from taking any action on the result.
“Celestino took a stand as a man and said that if you guys (the WBA) allow this to happen, I’m done with boxing. He truly meant it,” Mayweather shared. “Not to say they did it because of that, but at least there’s a chance to do it again and prolong his career. It would be horrible for him to end his career in that fashion, for him to get robbed of a world title.”
BoxingScene reported on Thursday that the WBA set down August 16th as the purse bid date for the rematch. However, to win one of those requires writing a big check, something that Caballero’s promoter, Lou DiBella, will have to do in order to keep the fight from returning to Argentina. Curiously, Mayweather wondered if DiBella Entertainment was still in his fighter’s corner.
“I’m not sure if he’s still with DiBella,” Mayweather mused. “DiBella didn’t show up at all in Argentina and none of his people showed up for the fight, so it’s not for me to say whether or not he’s still with Celestino, but I’m guessing not because there weren’t any of their representatives over there.”
Regardless of his promotional situation, Caballero is back in the ring and hopes to avenge his loss to Barros. From a tactical standpoint, his trainer offered his insight on how they look to emerge victorious.
“To be honest, I don’t really think [Caballero] has to do anything different,” Mayweather stated. “I hope this time he knocks him out so we don’t go to the cards. Well, maybe this time he needs to fight him from the outside a little more, because he kind of put himself in a position to get hit a little more.
Such is the dilemma of fighting a guy in his backyard. If you’re forced to knock him out, you leave yourself open to getting tagged enough in any round to convince a judge to give the other guy 10 points. Still, getting a rematch whether it takes place in Argentina or not is better than nothing.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s the next best thing,” Mayweather said.
The trainer concluded our conversation by clarifying that there is no particular ill will toward Barros, who actually went on record hoping the second fight would occur outside Argentina to remove any doubt of foul play.
“Barros is a good guy,” Mayweather said. “If he wasn’t fighting Celestino, I’d probably be rooting for him. It’s a noble thing for him to say, and the right decision has been made. But honestly, he watched that fight. He knows he didn’t win.”
NOTE: According to Joe Quiambao of DiBella Entertainment, they remain Caballero's promoter and will be representing him in the rematch.
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at www.maqdown.com , or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.