In A country, where boxing is extremely popular and millions are fascinated with the sport that has produced such all-time greats as Pancho Villa, Gabriel “Flash” Elorde and in more recent years such ring icons as Manny Pacquiao, Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire and Brian Viloria, it is difficult to imagine that no television network will carry the title defense of International Boxing Federation light flyweight champion Johnreil Casimero against mandatory challenger Luis Alberto Rios and the World Boxing Association bantamweight title rematch of John Mark Apolinario against Roberto Vasquez on Sunday (Manila time).
We gathered some weeks ago from promoter Sammy Gello-ani, who is in partnership with internationally known matchmaker/promoter Sampson Lewkowicz, that the promoters were offering the TV coverage with no rights’ fee but required the Philippine network that takes the fights to bear the cost of the satellite transmission.
Sadly, there were apparently no takers, which must be a major disappointment not just to Filipino fight fans but more so to the boxers, Casimero and Apolinario, who are fighting in what may well be considered hostile territory even though, by all accounts, the Panamanians have been gracious hosts.
Fighters like Casimero, who won the title from Argentina’s Luis Lazarte in a fight that was marred by a riot by Lazarte supporters, which even took its toll on Casimero, Gello-ani and their corner-men, aren’t scared of fighting abroad because they are courageous Filipinos.
Apolinario, who earned a rematch for the WBA title after he was reportedly robbed of a victory when his first fight with Vasquez ended in a majority draw, is also not afraid to face the hard-hitting Mexican one more time.
What is terribly disappointing is the failure if not fear of our local networks to bear what is regarded as a minimal cost to telecast the two world title fights.
We guess that ABS-CBN which was erroneously mentioned as the network that would telecast the fights in a story on philboxing.com was unable to accept the offer, because of its contractual realities with ALA Promotions and Bob Arum’s Top Rank.
Besides, ABS-CBN will be investing a substantial amount of money and manpower and technical resources in covering world title showdowns on a back-to-back basis on April 6 from Macau and April 13 from New York City.
World Boxing Organization/WBA flyweight champion Brian Viloria will defend his title against tough Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico on April 6, along with mandatory challenger Milan Melindo figuring in a tune-up fight on a card that will also feature the promising, undefeated Penalosa brothers, Dodie Boy Jr. and Dave.
The April 13 card at the Radio City Music Hall will feature “Fighter of the Year” and pound-for-pound ranked Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire against the talkative, undefeated former Cuban Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux.
That either GMA 7, ABC 5 which has a major commitment to sports on television and even Solar Sports declined the offer to telecast the championship double-header raises questions of priorities and whether these networks are really committed to providing Filipino fighters the same kind of exposure that Mexican fighters receive from their networks and major sponsors.