By Rick Reeno
BoxingScene.com was advised by Gary Shaw, promoter for Ali Funeka (30-2-3, 25 KOs), that his fighter's rematch with Joan Guzman (29-0-1, 17 KOs), scheduled for tomorrow night at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, is once again in jeopardy. As I previously reported, Guzman was nine-pounds above the lightweight limit. He weighed 144-pounds, while Funeka was at the limit at 135. An agreement was reached between both sides to hold a second weigh-in at 7am. Pursuant to the agreement, Guzman is not allowed to weigh above 150-pounds and Funeka is unable to weigh more than 145-pounds. The vacant IBF title can only be won by Funeka. If Guzman wins, the title remains vacant.
Shaw and Funeka were willing to move forward with the fight if the sanctioning body would give them a guarantee that Funeka, should he lose, retains his status as the number one ranked contender. The IBF told Shaw on Friday night they were unable to give Funeka that guarantee. Between the verbal dispute with the IBF, having to pay a sanctioning fee for tomorrow night and viewing a recent photo where Guzman has the physical stature of a middleweight, Shaw has stepped back from his previous position.
"As of right now there is no fight. I spoke to the IBF and they told me they can't guarantee Funeka would keep his ranking, if he loses. I don't know how you can take a kid from one of the poorest areas of South Africa, and bring him to Florida where he fights an over-the-weight Nate Campbell for the title, and then goes to Canada and gets robbed against Guzman by the judges they [IBF] appointed, and then tell him he can't keep his ranking if he moves forward against a fighter who is 150-pounds and will probably weigh 160-pounds by the time he steps in the ring," Shaw told BoxingScene.com.
"I have to give full credit to HBO and [HBO Sports Vice President] Kery Davis. Kery called me and said - if Funeka loses, they wouldn't hold the loss against him. They [HBO] would act as if this fight never happened. The fight is off until I speak with Funeka and his team, but ultimately it's Funeka's decision if he wants to move forward."
Shaw believes the IBF should do the right thing by guaranteeing Funeka his ranking, and Golden Boy Promotions, who handle Guzman, should renegotiate their fighter's purse to further compensate Funeka.
"The IBF should do the right thing and make Funeka the interim-champion and make it so Funeka is unable to lose the title against Guzman because he is over the weight. This kid is searching for his dream and he is continuously being penalized for doing the right things," Shaw said.
"He is trying to save Golden Boy's show. This is not my date, this date belongs to Golden Boy, who did not monitor the weight of their fighter. I have thought about it and it is definitely not a go until I speak with Funeka and his team. I think Golden Boy should step up and renegotiate Guzman's purse. I hope the networks like ESPN, Showtime and HBO, will never allow a two-time loser, meaning at the scales, to be televised again on their networks.