By Steve Kim: It looks more and more like Top Rank’s newest client, WBA 140-pound titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev will be taking on Breidis Prescott and not Karim Mayfield, as originally thought, on March 30th, as the HBO opener before Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado resume their violent waltz. Now, most boxing fans are applauding this switch because, quite frankly, the mauling Mayfield is tough to watch and Prescott is a much more accomplished and entertaining fighter.
It was believed Mayfield was all set to have gotten this fight and Top Rank thought they had a deal in place but it turned out Gary Shaw had options on Mayfield, who last beat Mauricio Herrera on a “Boxing After Dark” card on October 29th. According to sources, Shaw wanted a much bigger deal than what was on the table and soon, Prescott was brought into the fold.
Sources say Mayfield was to have received around $75,000 with his promoter, Brian Young/Prize Fight Promotions, getting a cut of that action. Young, whose company had promoted Mayfield for the last 18 months and had adroitly moved him up the rankings (matching him versus the likes of Steve Forbes, Patrick Lopez and Raymond Serrano), believed the deal was more than fair but beyond that, represented a great opportunity for “Hard Hitta.” Not only was it a title shot but it would’ve also been featured on HBO.
Shaw believed differently, obviously, and seems to have gotten Mayfield out of the fight by asking for double the amount originally offered, which is certainly his prerogative.
But the point here is Shaw was able to latch onto what Mayfield had become - through Prize Fights’ efforts the past year or so - by getting options on him. Options, it has to be pointed out, for facing a fighter in Herrera who wasn’t even promoted by GSP but by Thompson Promotions. There was a time when options were attached to fights that involved legitimate champions or big attractions with a certain value. The Mayfield-Herrera fight was not even the main event on a “B.A.D.” tripleheader. Here, options were given to a promoter because he was handed a date by a network, not because of any value created in the fight or fighter.
And this is the danger of networks - in this case, HBO - doling out cards with empty slots to be filled in by individual promoters. They can then basically extort other smaller promoters like Prize Fight to either play ball or be on the outside looking in. Can you honestly say it doesn’t create an unlevel playing field? (Others would make an argument that it’s downright illegal.) It isn’t so much about making the best fight but getting fighters who are willing to be handed over by their promoters. Again, networks should be in the business of showing the best fights for their subscriber base, not giving an avenue for promoters to play both ends against the middle (and in their defense, this particular card was given as a payback to Shaw for a promised series on HBO2 that never came to fruition).
Shaw certainly isn’t the only promoter using such tactics but it’s certainly happening more often.
Mayfield is now 32 and certainly not a ticket seller but perhaps Shaw has a better option for him than making $60,000 on HBO and a chance to win a major world title. Maybe he simply has a better option (for the lack of a better word).
He’d probably like to hear about it soon.
Also, Shaw is claiming he had options on Luis Abregu, who knocked out Thomas Dulorme on that same show in October, and is claiming he should get a piece of the action as Abregu faces Antonin Decarie on April 27th as the opener on HBO