Junior lightweight Toka Kahn Clary has pulled out of his fight with unbeaten up-and-comer Abraham Nova.
Kahn Clary was scheduled to fight Nova in 10-round bout at a contract weight of 132 pounds inside the MGM Grand’s conference center grand ballroom in Las Vegas on June 25 in the co-feature of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card that is scheduled to be headlined by Australian bantamweight contender Jason Moloney (20-1, 17 KOs) against former junior featherweight world title challenger Oscar Negrete (19-2-2, 7 KOs).
However, on Thursday night, Kahn Clary pulled out despite having signed a contract and not being injured.
“The kid signed a contract and he flaked out. I don’t know what to tell you,” an agitated Lou DiBella, Kahn Clary’s promoter, told BoxingScene.com on Friday. “I don’t want to get into his personal life or what’s going on but he signed a contract. You’re supposed to be a professional and you fight.
“I can tell you this – he’s going to be sitting on his ass a good long time because I’m not in a position to put on my own shows for the time being and I just offered him a fight, and this is a fight I know the people around him always liked and he blew it. You have guys all over looking for fights right now and he had one, a good one. He signed for the fight and he pulled out. So, he’ll sit for awhile.”
DiBella placed some of the blame for what happened on Hector Bermudez, who trains Nova and used to train Kahn Clary, who forfeited a $30,000 purse.
“The main blame for this goes on Toka but the trainer of the other fighter, Nova, tried to break up the fight,” DiBella said. “Hector Bermudez didn’t like this fight. But I offered the fight to Toka and he accepted the fight. Before the contracts were signed Hector Bermudez reached out to Toka and met with him and then all of a sudden Toka was hemming and hawing on the fight, but he did sign. Then a few weeks later he pulled out.”
Split-T Management chief David McWater, whose company manages Nova, was disappointed that Kahn Clary pulled out of the bout.
“We found out late (Thursday night) and we were very disappointed,” McWater told BoxingScene. “Abraham Nova would love to fight Toka Kahn Clary. The guy signed the contract and then basically just said he didn’t want to fight. (Top Rank matchmaker) Brad Goodman told us Toka had pulled out and Brad was also upset. Brad told us Toka just didn’t want to fight Nova. That was what I was told.”
McWater said Top Rank, which signed Nova to a co-promotional deal with Boston-based Murphys Boxing in December, would look for a new opponent for Nova to face.
“There are a couple of different people they’re talking about but I don’t know what is going to happen,” McWater said. “It’s a big blow. Abraham was really looking forward to the fight and he felt it was going to be a statement fight for him. We all have a lot of respect for Toka so we were shocked that he did this. We thought he’s a great fighter and it would be a great win for Nova, so we are just shocked by the whole thing, especially because he signed a contract.
“It was an important fight for us. We have to have a certain level of opponent we need to fight to get on the show as the co-feature, so it will be a lot of work to find somebody else of that level.”
Nova (18-0, 14 KOs), 26, who was born in Puerto Rico to Dominican parents and moved to Albany, New York, as a youngster, would be in his second fight since signing the co-promotional deal with Top Rank.
In his first fight with the company, Nova notched a fourth-round knockout of Mexican journeyman Pedro Navarrete at a contract weight of 133 pounds on Jan. 18 on the undercard of the Eleider “Storm” Alvarez-Michael Seals light heavyweight fight at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
Kahn Clary (27-2, 18 KOs), 27, of Providence, Rhode Island, would have come into the fight with Nova having won two fights in a row since dropping a unanimous decision to Kid Galahad in a featherweight world title elimination fight in Boston in October 2018. After that loss, Kahn Clary moved up in weight.
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.