It’s hard to imagine anyone being more disappointed than Jamel Herring and Carl Frampton over the latest delay in their long-sought title fight.
Those running the show, however, currently rank no worse than next on that list.
Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren was disappointed but understanding of the message he received that Belfast’s Frampton (28-2, 16KOs) was forced to request a postponement due to suffering a hand injury late in training camp ahead of their planned Feb. 27 clash at Copper Box Arena in London. With that came a concentrated effort to reschedule the event, which is now targeted for March 27 at a location to be determined.
"The fight was good to go and then Carl got an injury," stated Warren, who pointed out that communication with opposition fighters is conducted via their management, MTK Global. “Carl called me and sent me a text confirming he was injured and we communicated that to Herring’s representatives.”
Before Warren and BT Sport—the UK broadcaster carrying the show—could sit down to finalize terms, there came accusations of sabotage which he felt compelled to address.
In a feature story run by BoxingScene.com contributor Dan Rafael, Herring’s head trainer and manager Brian ‘Bomac’ McIntyre went on record to question the validity of Frampton’s injury. Herring (22-2, 10KOs) noted that he heard whispers of the fight being delayed, while McIntyre was more direct with his accusations.
“I think it’s some bull----. All of a sudden, (Frampton) hurt his hand? Yeah, right,” McIntyre told Rafael. “We didn’t even receive flights or anything before we were supposed to leave and then we got no flights and all of a sudden he hurt his hand?
“Get the f--- out of here. I don’t know what they’re doing over there.”
With those questions and accusations comes an immediate response, despite frustrations over not being contacted for comment prior to the story being published.
“As for Herring and his trainer saying they were hearing rumours and were not kept in the loop, we don't deal directly with the fighter or his trainer,” notes Warren. “We deal with their representatives, who—in this case—is MTK and they had full knowledge of the situation.
"Regarding not receiving airline tickets or details, our office was in touch with MTK on this via email two weeks ago and as far as we were concerned, it was all in hand.”
Also noted—and frequently asked throughout the promotion—was whether a U.S. TV outlet was going to pick up the fight. Past events have been carried by an ESPN platform, as was the case for Frampton’s most recent win—a 7th round knockout of Darren Traynor last August at Bethnal Green’s famed York Hall. The bout was paired with the latest step in the career of unbeaten contender Michael Conlan.
However, U.S. rights hadn’t yet been secured at the time news broke Tuesday afternoon of the fight delay. A claim from BoxingScene’s current lead story suggests that Warren and Queensberry Promotions “expected Top Rank to bankroll much of the cost of the bout from the ESPN budget it controls.”
The story further suggests that because the deal was struck withMTK and not theLas Vegas-based outfit “paying for it was [Warren’s] issue.”
Frampton, Conlan and Herring are all promoted by Top Rank and also represented by MTK Global, both of whom apparently is keen on taking over the show. Top Rank was not directly involved in the Feb. 27 show beyond granting its blessing.
Warren has enjoyed a longtime working relationship with Bob Arum, the Hall of Fame promoter and founder of Top Rank. The dynamics of this show aren’t intended to change that, nor is there any interest in escalating current matters through the media.
"We had no problem staging the fight, no issues with Top Rank,” Warren insists. “All parties were aware of their financial obligations and had agreed to them.
"I don't want to get into a slanging match with anyone, but the fact is the fight was all set, everything was in place and then Carl got an injury, which we could do nothing about.”
The rest of the Feb. 27 card remains intact, with the new headliner pitting Belfast's AntoCacace (18-1, 7KOs) in a British junior lightweight title defense versus Leicester's Leon Woodstock (12-2, 5KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox