They call it Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
Aljoe Jaro, the manager of Filipino boxer Denver Cuello, sensed that something was already amiss when he set foot at the World Trade Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for the 12 round showdown between Cuello and World Boxing Council (WBC) minimumweight champion Xiong Zhao Zhong of China. The venue was in disarray and it looked as though the people in charge of the event—the guys associated with KO Promotions—were on a fishing retreat. From there, everything started to unravel. Initially promised a purse of $40,000.00, Cuello saw the amount reduced to $24,000.00. The last-minute modification came about despite a provision in the WBC’s world championship bouts rules which provides that all contracts relative to a title fight (i.e., the fight purses, payment of promotional fees) must be registered and filed with the WBC 30 days before the fight and approved and authorized by the President or the Executive Secretary.
Just hours before the sound of the bell, KO Promotions announced that the fight was off because of the financial quagmire it was in. The organizers then had a change of heart and announced that it was a go, albeit on a belated timeslot. That the bell actually sounded for round one of the Cuello-Zhong fight was a miracle.
Cuello, who waited two years for his title shot, tried to make it a short night by knocking down Zhong with a left straight in the first round. Zhong survived the round, but many thought the crown was for Cuello to take. In the fifth round, however, Zhong literally got the break he was waiting for. Cuello felt something snap in his right shoulder and in the ensuing rounds the Filipino challenger groped for balance. Zhong seized control in the middle rounds but Cuello launched a comeback at the tail-end. The rally was not enough as Zhong retained the WBC diadem by majority decision. The scorecards did reflect how competitive Cuello was despite suffering what turned out to be a torn rotator cuff. Judge John Keane scored the fight a draw at 113-113 but he was overturned by judges Roman Filimonov and Sergio Izonzo who both scored the fight for Zhong with scores of 115-112 and 113-110, respectively.
Cuello admitted to this writer that he first injured the shoulder on September 29, 2012, when he decisioned Ivan Menesses in a 10-round bout in Mexico. Cuello suffered the injury in the third round but still managed to dominate his foe. Cuello’s shoulder held up during training for the Zhong fight and it was for this reason that he refused to cancel the fight. “Hindi na kasi kami maka-urong kaya tinuloy pa rin namin ang laban,” added Jaro.
Unfortunately for Cuello, the shoulder totally betrayed him during the fight with Zhong. “Okay naman (ang balikat ko) nuong wala pa ang laban kaso tinamaan kasi ako kaya bumalik (ang injury) nuong fifth round,” Cuello told this writer.
Even with the injury, Cuello felt he did enough to collar the crown. Jaro echoed the same sentiment. “Bibilib ka sa kabayanihan na pinakita ni Denver. Gusto talaga niyang maipanalo ang laban,” said Jaro.
Jaro has a written agreement with Zhong’s camp for a return bout and he intends to pursue this the moment Cuello recovers from his shoulder operation. Admittedly though, Jaro’s immediate priority is to secure the full payment of Cuello’s supposedly guaranteed purse. As of this writing, Cuello has only been paid $2,500.00.
“Masama pakiramdam ko sir, pero ganun po talaga wala na tayo magagawa dyan eh,” lamented Cuello.
Oh, if only Cuello’s left straight is good enough to blast Murphy’s Law into smithereens.
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For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@ yahoo.com.