By Michael Campbell & Michael Doss

As reported on Sunday, due to an unspecified illness, the scheduled WBA title bout between Indonesian Chris John and Houston, Texas’s Rocky Juarez has been cancelled with no apparent makeup date anticipated.

Media reports earlier this week attributed Juarez with refusal to accept a viable substitute opponent for the HBO televised doubleheader paired with Victor Ortiz versus Marcos Maidana, scheduled for this Saturday at the Staples Center in California.

Juarez told, “I just want the fans to know that I’m not ducking anyone, but this was a decision I had to make.  When I got the call on Sunday morning that the fight was off, I said that I’m in shape and would go ahead with another opponent.  I specifically said that I would fight any orthodox fighter at 126 or 130 pounds.  It didn’t matter who, I didn’t even need to know their name.  They could have been undefeated, I didn’t care.”

Rocky had just concluded a 12+ week training camp including 6 weeks of sparring with orthodox fighters in preparation for Chris John’s fighting style.

“I just didn’t want to fight a southpaw.  It wasn’t enough time to prepare or adjust on only a few days notice.  I knew that I wouldn’t have been confident, 110% mentally ready training-wise because I wasn’t ready for who I was facing.  At this point in my career I’m not fighting just for money, I want to win a world championship.  And I can’t risk doing something that could hurt my chance to get another title shot.”

Juarez went on explaining, “I’m bummed, very disappointed knowing that the card is going on without me.  I wasn’t being choosey or picky.  They could have thrown anybody at me and I would have fought.  I was ready to fight, title or not.  It had nothing to do with money.”

Initially, Indonesian Daud Yordan (23-0) was slotted to face Juarez.  But a scheduled fight in his home country for an Asian regional belt was given as his reason for not accepting.  Connecticut’s Matt Remillard (17-0) was talked about but the offer presented to Juarez was for a non-title bout facing Puerto Rican Mario Santiago (19-1-1), a 5’7” southpaw who had battled to a draw versus WBO champion Steve Luevano in his most recent bout.

Despite increasing purse offers, Juarez didn’t budge off of his requirement.  “It’s not like I’m afraid of southpaws.  I had asked to fight Robert “Ghost” Guerrero in Houston on August 22nd, but was told it got turned down.  I just need to be prepared and it was only days away.  I hadn’t trained even one day to face a southpaw.”

Juarez had been in this situation before.  After a lengthy training camp preparing to fight Japan’s In-Jin Chi for the WBC featherweight title, Chi pulled up injured and Humberto Soto was substituted on two weeks notice and Juarez dropped a narrow decision for the WBC interim title.

“When I made the decision to fight Soto, I knew that I’d lost a spark in my preparations.  I was so disappointed in Chi’s cancellation and I just went on to fight because I was ready to fight physically, but I wasn’t ready for Soto mentally.  But you know what.  If they told me that I could fight Santiago for the WBA title with Chris John being the required first defense, or even for the interim title, I would have taken the fight.”

Ironically, the WBA has been silent on the matter and not even required documented proof from a medical physician regarding Chris John’s ailment.  Furthermore, HBO has grown frustrated with the undefeated Indonesian champion after he had almost withdrawn from the first fight versus Juarez in February when John became ill just one week before they eventually fought to a draw in Houston.  So it seems that Juarez-John II is more likely cancelled than postponed.

“Ultimately it didn’t make sense for me to fight Santiago.  Everything was benefiting him, he would have earned more money and gotten on TV.  Mentally, he would have been a lot more hyped than I would have been.  I was ready to fight, but I have to be smart, and not get in the ring and risk my chance of being given another opportunity to win a world championship just because I wasn’t prepared for the opponent’s style.”