By Rick Reeno, Rey Colon
On Tuesday, Luis Espada - father, trainer and manager of IBF super featherweight champion Jose Pedraza (22-0, 12KOs) - made numerous statements in an article which appeared on BoxingScene.com, where he complained about his son's career and took a few digs at his promoters.
Pedraza is currently under contract with a trio of promoters - Lou DiBella, Javier Bustillo and Gary Shaw. And the fighter is advised by Al Haymon.
Pedraza has been out of the ring since making an April title defense against mandatory challenger Stephen Smith.
According to Espada, his son's career is in limbo and he placed the blame on the shoulders of his promoters.
"We thought Jose's career had taken a turn in a positive direction but we were wrong in that. Now there is nothing definite on the agenda. Unfortunately, the only champion in Puerto Rico [is unable to get a fight]. And as we say in the field, he is in limbo. We do not know where he is going," Espada said.
"We were made to understand that we had a fight with Flanagan. We were ready for it to happen. Just say the name and we'll fight. An athlete has to be active. Look at the case of McJoe Arroyo. And the economy is affected. God sets the pace and we want to defend the championship and win two or three additional titles."
"It would not be correct [to say Pedraza will not fight in 2016], but we do not know where we stand. He became champion and defended it twice. And it is sad that there is no plan for Pedraza, who is such a complete champion with nearly six years as professional. I'm not arrogant or egotistical, but it's been a long time since Puerto Rico had a champion like Pedraza.
"I understand they are doing their job. If you do not get the fights - they know why. We are waiting for them. That contract expires in January 2018 but seeing things as they are, will have to make a miraculous adjustment for this to go ahead. Things speak for themselves and Puerto Rico wonders what happened to Pedraza and advise you about what to do. We hope they reconsider and take advantage of their champion. He became a champion two years ago and we are still swaying in the hammock.
According to DiBella and Shaw - Pedraza's father is making things impossible for his son's career to move forward.
"His father has refused to talk to me and he doesn't answer phone calls to negotiate fights. From now on, the negotiations will be made through lawyers. I've tried many times to talk to him, to meet with him, but no answer. The next call will be through my lawyers," DiBella told BoxingScene.com.
After Pedraza became champion, DiBella was putting together a deal where Pedraza would take part in a unification with then WBC champion Takashi Miura. DiBella claims that Espada rejected that fight and instead opted to face Edner Cherry - a fight where Pedraza was nearly derailed.
Recently, DiBella was getting close to putting together a fight between Pedraza and former world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa. That fight fell apart after Espada went to the press and trashed Gamboa as an opponent - stating that the Cuban fighter "meant nothing." In a strange move, Espada instead demanded a fight with recently crowned IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter (18-0, 14KOs), who just won his title on September 9th and likely won't fight again in 2016.
"We've been very good to this kid. We've had him a record pace to a world title. As Lou said, we actually paid so he could get that pathway and we made nothing so he could get that title shot," Gary Shaw told BoxingScene.com.
"The last fight that we talked about was Gamboa. Gamboa is a big name. If Pedraza beats Gamboa or knocks him out, it really raises his stock. The father went to the press in Puerto Rico and said Gamboa means nothing."
"It's tough to make a star out of somebody who is fighting against you."
DiBella added in - "The father said [the Gamboa fight] 'doesn't mean anything. We want a 135-pound champion.' No 135-pound champions are thinking about Pedraza. They have bigger fights on their mind. And the last thing [the father] said was 'we want to fight Robert Easter.' If he wants the fight against Robert Easter, then he has to fight for his minimum. He's an opponent against Robert Easter. And honestly Easter is a very difficult fight.... a six-foot, 135-pounder. And Easter just won the world title, he's not fighting in the next month or two. And if he fights Easter, there is no big money in that fight. Do you think any network is going to pay big money for Easter against Pedraza."
"I was very close to terms with Gamboa's people on a very fair deal. This was a few weeks ago. The father goes out and sh*ts all over the fight. Do you think that helped me when I talked to [Showtime's Stephen] Espinoza about it.?"
"We had a window, we had an opportunity to make a fight between Pedraza and Miura - as Pedraza's first fight back after fighting Klimov. And that fight, if he would have won, he would have been a unified champion and he would have been a star immediately. The father goes behind our backs and says 'we're not fighting a tough fight next. We want an easy fight.' And he comes up with Edner Cherry, which Showtime was willing to televise and Gary, Bustillo and myself made like nothing [on that fight]. And not only was that fight not a coming out party for him, it became a nightmare. And then [Francisco] Vargas fights Miura, knocks him out in a Fight of The Year and Vargas becomes the star. And the father is out there trying to blame Gary, myself and Bustillo."
"And we told the father that if you take this fight with Cherry, your next fight will be the mandatory. Do you think networks were knocking down our doors for Pedraza against Stephen Smith? [The father] turned down incredibly fair offers. He makes the fight [with Smith] go to purse bid. Instead of paying him what we should have paid him, we paid him double of what was required by the purse bid. The father is out there telling people that we're taking all this money, it's all bullsh*t. He gets the Ali Act disclosures. No one has made any killings on Pedraza."
"You can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped. They keep saying he's the only world champion in Puerto Rico. And [the father] is right and that's a great opportunity. Go to every parade, go to every fair, go shake hands, sign autographs, go out there and make stories. Not stories complaining or blaming other people. Generate the type of stories that you can by being a champion on your island. And I'm not blaming the kid here. If you notice I'm not blaming the kid. I think the kid is a terrific fighter and a very nice kid. The father is his trainer. The father is around him all the time, he controls the flow of information. The father is his co-manager. The father thinks he knows everything and he doesn't."
Shaw then added: "Sometimes you can be a world champion and it means nothing. If you have smart management, sometimes you have to take chances. And even if you lose in a spectacular fight, everyone is clamoring to get you back. To me, fighting Edner Cherry hurt his career. It showed him up, it meant zero. So then when you rehabilitate him so to speak, and he can fight a Gamboa - [the father] says he means nothing."
"Lou has been a wonderful partner and I'm not just saying that because he's on the phone, I would tell you in private if you call me. He's worked his ass off. I did the heavy lifting for him in the beginning and Lou has did it ever since. But it doesn't matter when someone is working against you. The kid is a talented fighter, much better than [Felix] Verdejo, but he's going to end up being one of those stories where he couldn't reach his full potential because he allowed someone to get in the way."