By Keith Idec
Artie Pelullo and Ed Farris were as surprised as anyone when they learned Erislandy Lara claimed Demetrius Andrade had priced himself out of their inevitable fight.
Pelullo, Andrade’s co-promoter, and Farris, the unbeaten boxer’s manager, both told BoxingScene.com on Wednesday that Lara’s handlers have twice turned down a fight against Andrade, long before how much money Andrade would make was even discussed. They’re particularly bothered by Lara’s claim because the sole reason Andrade agreed to travel to Germany last month to fight for the WBA’s “world” 154-pound title was to put the 2008 Olympian into position to become the mandatory challenger for Lara’s WBA “super” 154-pound title.
Andrade (24-0, 16 KOs) defeated Jack Culcay (22-2, 11 KOs) by split decision in their 12-rounder March 11 in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Culcay is from Ecuador, but relocated to Germany and is promoted by Sauerland Event, a German company that won the purse bid for the right to promote his fight against Andrade, of Providence, Rhode Island.
When Andrade returned from Germany last month, Pelullo and Joe DeGuardia, Andrade’s other co-promoter, were informed by Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza that Lara’s handlers again turned down a Lara-Andrade fight. Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, hoped to have the network televise the Lara-Andrade fight sometime this summer.
“Nobody ever talked to us about money,” Pelullo told BoxingScene.com. “We were told by Showtime that [Lara] didn’t want the fight. We went to Germany and he beat Culcay. He did everything he had to do. We came back. Lara was talking about fighting Demetrius Andrade. We came back and what Showtime told us was he didn’t want the fight – he wasn’t interested in doing the fight. But I’m telling you, there was no conversation with Al [Haymon, Lara’s manager] or any of the promoters that are working with Al or anybody about what the money was. We never got that far. We were told [Lara] didn’t want the fight after Demetrius beat Culcay. That’s exactly what happened.
“We let it go because that was weeks ago. Then there was an article that came out on [BoxingScene.com] that had Lara saying we priced ourselves out of the fight. There was never any discussion of money. It was that Lara wanted to fight [IBF champion Jarrett] Hurd or somebody else. He did not want to fight Andrade.”
Here's a link to the story to which Pelullo referred: https://www.boxingscene.com/erislandy-lara-says-demetrius-andrade-priced-himself-out--115972
Pelullo and Farris also said that the WBA has indicated to them that the 34-year-old Lara’s mandatory defense against Andrade will become due in mid-September, six months from the date Andrade defeated Culcay. Regardless, they want the 29-year-old Andrade to fight sometime in July.
Lara’s claim that Andrade priced himself out of their fight is especially perplexing to Farris because the sole reason Andrade accepted the risk of facing a Germany-based boxer in that country was to earn the opportunity to challenge the Cuban southpaw in his next fight. As Culcay’s mandatory challenger, Andrade made just $75,000 for that title fight, 25 percent of Sauerland Event’s winning purse bid.
“That’s the whole reason we took that chance to go to Germany to take that fight,” Farris said. “Nobody wanted to see Culcay and Andrade fight. We didn’t want the fight because we only got 25 percent of the purse. But at the end of the day, it was the road to Lara, to force Lara to fight us. If we could’ve jumped right to Lara, right then on Showtime, we would have.
“Showtime was willing to back the fight. Showtime told us they offered Lara the fight. And they turned it down and said they wanted a tune-up first. Then we came back from Germany, expecting that we were gonna get a Lara fight in July or something like that. Now Lara’s actually telling people publicly that we priced ourselves out of it. We just fought Culcay for $75,000. How much money does he think that we want?”
Andrade accepted the Culcay fight only after Lara revealed he would face faded former junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman (34-3, 10 KOs, 1 NC) on January 13. Showtime wouldn’t televise Lara-Foreman, which Lara (24-2-2, 14 KOs) won by fourth-round knockout, thus Spike aired it three months ago from Hialeah, Florida.
“Demetrius begged me to make the Lara fight because he didn’t wanna go to Germany unless he absolutely had to,” Farris said. “At the end of the day, Culcay’s side won a purse bid a second time. And at that point, Lara already had his other fight lined up [against Foreman]. So we took the Culcay fight, knowing that if we took that fight and won the regular WBA title, at some point Demetrius and Lara would be mandatory and they’d have to fight. The last thing we’re trying to do is avoid Lara.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.