By Mike Coppinger
Over the past two weeks, two highly anticipated fights have gone by the wayside, like so many other fights before them.
First it was the Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye heavyweight clash being cancelled, after Haye pulled out, citing an injury suffered in training.
Then came word that Floyd “Money” Mayweather would be postponing his July 18 comeback fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, after injuring his ribs.
The sport of boxing is unique in many facets. Chief among them is that when fights are cancelled, they aren’t always rescheduled.
Over the years, many high profile marquee fights have been outright cancelled due to various issues. A fighter can’t make weight; he suffers an injury in training; petty disputes over the choice of referee, etc.
Following the telecast of this past weekend’s excellent Miguel Cotto-Joshua Clottey fight, HBO ran a preview for the upcoming installment of “24/7”, featuring Mayweather and Marquez.
The short vignette surely got the juices flowing of boxing fans everywhere in anticipation of “Money’s” return to the ring. It was to be short-lived, when word came the next day that Mayweather was postponing the fight due to injury.
As always, the promoter, in this case Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, says that the fight will be rescheduled.
But as we’ve learned time and time again, don’t hold our breath waiting for a new date.
There have been rumblings that perhaps Mayweather will forego the Marquez fight altogether in pursuit of Manny Pacquiao, certainly the biggest fight that can be made in boxing.
On the flipside, talks for a Pacquiao-Cotto matchup would most definitely accelerate if in fact Mayweather-Marquez gets rescheduled for the fall. Manny had been waiting for the outcome of the July 18 fight to make a decision. If recent headlines are any indication, the Filipino icon has no intention of waiting another three months.
Just this Saturday, Klitschko and Haye were to do battle in one of the most highly anticipated heavyweight fights in years. The former world cruiserweight champ’s charisma and fighting spirit against the world’s best heavyweight was a fight the boxing world was clamoring for.
The bout was to take place June 20 in a German soccer stadium before 60,000 plus and be televised live stateside on HBO. But word came last Wednesday that Haye was forced to pull out due to an injury he suffered in training.
Haye said he would be available to fight on July 25, but Wlad decided to go with a different opponent, instead now taking on the Ring’s No. 3 fighter in Ruslan Chagaev, a fight that will crown a new heavyweight champion.
Still though, this fight is not nearly as exciting to the boxing world as the Haye fight, as clearly evidenced by HBO’s decision to bypass coverage of it.
As far as cancelled and postponed fights go, this is just the first two weeks of June.
Just last year, “Sugar” Shane Mosley and Zab “Super” Judah were to headline a May 31 HBO PPV event, a fight that had generated a considerable amount of interest. Mosley was coming off a close, exciting loss to Cotto and needed a big win on his ledger. Judah had just lost to Cotto as well in a fight-of-the-year candidate and was also badly in need of a big win.
The winner would go on to bigger and better things and the loser would take a back seat.
The fight opened up with Mosley as a slight betting favorite. Could Judah be the first fighter to stop Mosley? Or would Mosley’s combination of strength and speed be too much for the Brooklyn southpaw?
We never got any answers; Judah pulled out of the fight on May 8 due to a severe arm injury he suffered after punching his shower door, needing 50 stitches to close the wound.
The fight was outright cancelled, and Judah went on to fight Joshua Clottey on August 2.
The Clottey fight was high-risk, low-reward, especially compared to the Mosley fight. Judah wound up losing the contest after the bout was stopped due to a cut he sustained from an accidental head butt, and the loss certainly set him back a great deal.
Since the loss, Judah has fought only once, against the obscure Ernest Johnson last November on the Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones undercard. Judah’s next fight was to take place on the Mayweather-Marquez undercard of against Matthew Hatton, Ricky’s younger – and far less famous – brother.
That of course is now scrapped as well, another byproduct of canceled fights.
When fights are canceled, especially big HBO PPV headliners like Mayweather-Marquez, it leaves televised undercard fights in the dust as well.
Had Judah defeated Mosley, he would certainly still be headlining fights. Now he needs to rise to the top once more.
All the while, Mosley defeated Ricardo Mayorga via brutal last-second knockout and Antonio Margarito in a one-sided thrashing culminating in a ninth round TKO. Now Mosley is posturing to fight the likes of Mayweather and Pacquiao.
How different Judah and Mosley’s careers have been since the cancellation of their fight. Who knows what would have happened had they fought?
Also last year, Mayweather was to fight Oscar De La Hoya in a rematch the public wasn’t exactly clamoring for. Nonetheless, the fight was to be a huge financial success and a true mainstream fight.
The fight was scheduled for HBO PPV on September 22, but fell through when Mayweather decided to forego the rematch and instead abruptly announce his retirement, one that would prove to be short-lived.
One fight that is almost certain to never happen, and was postponed and rescheduled countless times, was a fight between recently retired Joe Calzaghe and Glen Johnson.
The fight was to originally take place on June 12, 2004 in Manchester and be Calzaghe’s first fight at light heavyweight, a division he eventually moved to almost four years later.
Calzaghe had been a protected fighter his whole career in Europe, campaigning in the super middleweight division. The Johnson fight was going to be by far his most stern test.
Two weeks before the fight, Calzaghe pulled out and the fight was canned.
The cancellation proved to pay dividends for both fighters though, as they both went onto much bigger things.
Johnson ended up fighting Roy Jones Jr. later in the year, knocking out the all-time great, in a huge upset. He then fought light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver just three months later. Johnson won the fight and the light heavyweight championship, capping an amazing year for the Jamaican native that saw his arrival on the big stage and also nabbed him
“Fighter of the Year” honors.
It took Calzaghe almost two years to the date of the original fight to make his mark on the boxing world when he fought Jeff Lacy. The then-undefeated Lacy was a big favorite going in, but proved to be no match for Calzaghe, who delivered a virtuoso performance in pitching a virtual shutout.
Calzaghe and Johnson were again scheduled to fight, this time on July 8, 2006 in Cardiff, Wales. This time around, the fight was to be fought at 168, with Johnson moving down in weight, unlike the first time when Calzaghe was to move up.
It was a significantly more anticipated fight than the first time they were scheduled to meet. Johnson was coming off his stupendous year in 2004 and Calzaghe was on the heels of his big win over Lacy, which netted him The Ring super middleweight championship.
Once again, though, the fight was scrapped, after Calzaghe pulled out due to injury.
Calzaghe would instead go on to successfully defend his super middleweight crown three more times before moving up to light heavyweight. He would claim The Ring’s version of the division’s top prize after defeating Bernard Hopkins, then go on to defeat Jones Jr. before retiring undefeated and on top.
Calzaghe’s last fight (against Jones) was one that was actually rescheduled, originally to take place in September before being postponed to the November 8 date.
Many more fights will be cancelled over the years, with varying consequences attached.
Sometimes the cancellation will lead to bigger and better things for the fighter and prove to be good fortune.
Other times, as may be the case with Haye, the fighter will lose his chance at the big time and may never get it back. While there are talks of possibly rescheduling later this year should Klitschko get past Chagaev this weekend, one lesson we’ve learned is that fights can go from “postponed” to “canceled” in the blink of an eye.
Such is the case in boxing, which continues to feel the impact in a year filled with major fights falling through.