By Jake Donovan
It was a typical day in the gym for Claudio Marrero, as the featherweight hopeful remains hard at work for his upcoming bout with Derrick Murray. Still, he couldn't help but pause upon learning that Mayweather Promotions has recently signed interim featherweight titlist Carlos Zambrano.
Upon hearing the news, he did his best to force a grin before resuming his morning workout. It was all he could do from bursting in laughter over the move.
"Mayweather signed the wrong guy," Marrero (20-1, 14KOs) said to BoxingScene.com of the recent move.
The 27-year old from Miami by way of Santo Domingo, D.R. has his own motive for questioning the move of course. A bout with Zambrano had been in the works for months, with Marrero hoping to secure the interim title - and with it, a guaranteed crack at Jesus Cuellar, the only boxer to hand him a loss in the pro ranks.
The latest rescheduling of the matchup was due to take place in July, only for Zambrano's handlers to find yet another reason for the bout to not (yet) materialize. Aligning himself with Mayweather Promotions - who has a working relationship with cable giant Showtime and Mayweather's long-time boxing adviser, Al Haymon and his Premier Boxing Champions series - was a smart move, as the unbeaten 32-year old from Peru can essentially fast forward to the featherweight fight of his choice, be it against Cuellar or fellow titlists Lee Selby and Gary Russell, Jr. all of whom are aligned with Haymon.
So, too, is Marrero, who remains puzzled and frustrated over his inability to land a big fight.
"Zambrano was given the fight against myself - (reportedly) offered $125,000 for the fight and refused it with excuses," insists Marrero. "Time after time, saying first wasn't ready even though we were in negotiations for months and he knew this. Then when we agreed on more time he then through his manager said wanted more money.
"When confronted with this, my trainer and manager Herman Caicedo forfeited 50% of his earnings to make the fight as I as well took a pay cut to make the deal. He then said he was (advised) by Samson Lewkowicz to not take fight against me and (instead) fight one of his guy. This whole thing stinks of horse s***!"
It is believed by his team that Mayweather could've gone a different route had he consulted his inner circle.
"Of course Mayweather signed the wrong guy, he didn't do his due diligence here," suggests Caicedo. "All he had to do was ask one of his coaches he has working in Mayweather gym, who I trained for seven years when he was a fighter - (former light heavyweight titlist) Lou "Honeyboy" del Valle. Lou knows my stable real well. He was here for a year helping me back in 2010. He gave Marrero the nickname (Matrix).
"Lou has done great work with (super middleweight champ) Badou Jack and is a great coach. He also knows talent when he sees it, and he loves Marrero. Mayweather should not waste any time or money on Zambrano and match these guys up now. Floyd can get my number from Lou and call me to make this fight happen."
Marrero will have a chance to plead his case in the ring this weekend. His showdown with Murray (13-0-1, KOs) takes place at the Ford Ampitheater in the historic Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York and will air via same-day delay on NBC Sports Network (Sunday, 9:00pm ET). The bout comes in supporting capacity to the NBC prime-televised headliner between unbeaten welterweight contender Errol Spence Jr. and veteran Leonard Bundu, which should draw more attention than usual to Marrero, who carries into the ring a six-fight win streak since a decision defeat to Cuellar in their Aug. '13 vacant title fight.
The bout he truly longs is a rematch with Cuellar, but willing to put in the necessary work to earn such an opportunity. That next step - with a win on Sunday - would be the bout he's been chasing all year.
"Mayweather needs to put Zambrano in with me and see that he has signed a fraud," states Marrero. "I'm going to do what I do against Murruy and then get back to work in the gym. They can't run forever!"