By Miguel Rivera
The opportunity to have a final IBF eliminator at 118 pounds is now gone for Emmanuel Rodriguez - at least for this coming Saturday night.
The boxer's worst fears came true when former world champion Omar "Huracan" Narvaez of Argentina did not arrive in Puerto Rico yesterday for the fight that had been scheduled for Saturday at Concepción Pérez Alberto de Fajardo Park. Narvaez was due to arrive at the Island at 3:45 pm.
"The fighter did not arrive. The connecting flight arrived from Houston, but without Narváez," said Juan Orengo, one of Rodríguez's managers, to Carlos Gonzalez.
Orengo immediately activated an alternate plan with a very late replacement opponent.
"Chilean Robinson Laviñanza will be Manny's opponent in a 10-round preparatory fight,"Orengo added.
Narvaez had not shown any signs of life after an alleged visa discrepancy to travel to Puerto Rico. That aroused immediate suspicion that his intentions were never to appear for the fight.
The winner would have become the mandatory contender to challenge the International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion at 118 pounds, Lee Haskins, at a future date.
However, the plans have changed.
"The IBF is aware and because we have to change the opponent, it will not be an eliminatory fight," Orengo explained.
The match with Narvaez has been postponed four times. First it was programmed for Argentina, but the function was canceled because of problems with the television network in the country.
Then their fight was going to be included on the undercard to Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia, which took place on March 4 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and then it was moved to a Showtime televised event in Maryland - before that event was canceled when the main event fell out.
For Rodríguez, the constant changes represent some inconveniences.
"It affects every boxer. I can not be denied, but we have to keep working. I'm calm and ready for whatever comes on Saturday," he said.