By Jake Donovan
Sources close to the situation have informed Boxingscene.com that the chances of Showtime’s planned New Year’s Eve show in Anaheim are not looking very promising at the moment.
The network initially announced plans for an unprecedented year-end live boxing show to air in time to serve as a lead-in for the ball drop at Times Square. The headlining bout of the card pitted a pair of unbeaten light heavyweights one generation apart, with 29-year old titlist Tavoris Cloud (23-0, 19KO) facing former divisional lineal champion Zsolt Erdei (33-0, 18KO).
Those plans became compromised as of Friday afternoon, when promoter Lou DiBella – Erdei’s stateside promoter – informed Boxingscene.com that Erdei suffered an injury in training and was unable to ball up his fist tight enough to even throw a punch. MRI’s showed severe swelling, with doctors suggesting that the Hungarian not fight for another 6-8 weeks.
While those involved in the event carry forward with a ‘show must go on’ mentality, Showtime has to consider its audience and what exactly it is trying to accomplish on New Year’s Eve.
“The fact of the matter is, we like this show because it tells a great story of two unbeaten light heavyweights facing one another,” said an unnamed source at the network, wishing to speak on the condition of anonymity since the matter hadn’t fully been discussed by the Showtime brass.
The headlining act was indicative of the network’s “great fights, no rights” policy that helped propel its status consider since its inception in 2004. Bringing in just any fighter – even a ranked light heavyweight – would compromise the promotion considerably, and lead many to believe that it’s more about presenting a show on New Year’s Eve, than striving to offer a compelling fight.
“Tavoris Cloud is a very exciting young fighter and important to the future of the sport. Erdei is a great fighter with a storied past and an undefeated former champion. That’s the fight we wanted, and we’re willing to do it whenever both fighters are healthy enough to step into the ring.”
A few opponents’ names have surfaced for the sake of consideration, including former light heavyweight titlist Gabriel Campillo.
“Who?” was the response offered, though in a facetious tone. The Showtime brass is familiar with Campillo and what he brings to the table.
The question to be asked, though, is whether the viewing audience for that night will want to tune into watch boxing, or stick with its normal New Year’s Even ritual and instead just put on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.
It remains to be seen if Campillo is agreed upon to be that fighter, although chances are bleak.
“If we hear a name like ‘Chad Dawson,’ to replace the injured Erdei, we’re jumping at that opportunity in a heartbeat. Anything short of a light heavyweight on that level, and we have some more thinking to do before deciding our next step.”
Erdei’s dropping out of the show puts into question the status of the evening’s co-feature, with Rico Ramos set to defend his 122 lb. title against mandatory challenger Guillermo Rigondeaux. The latter title fight is an intriguing one, but not a fight that can carry a promotion of this magnitude.
The irony in Erdei’s Friday announcement was that it came mere hours before a press conference was held in California to officially announce the show.
Erdei was obviously a no-show for the presser, as he was too busy spending his afternoon in a hospital in search of medical clearance. He received no such good news, though those still involved in the New Year’s Eve show refused to believe that his withdrawal meant the card’s demise.
"We're not going to quit on this,” stated the legendary Don King, Cloud’s Hall-of-Fame promoter. “Dan and I will find someone to replace Erdei in the event that he decides to escape like a thief in the night."
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]