Famed trainer Ronnie Shields was a guest on last Thursday’s edition of Thaboxingvoice.com’s radio show. He discussed many topics that ranged from his up-and-coming fighter Jermell Charlo to the state of condition in Men’s US Olympic Boxing, as well as the perceived complacency with Amir Khan’s training situation.
It was the subject of his fighter, junior middleweight Erislandy Lara, which sparked some interesting comments from Shields.
Lara has built a reputation for being the most feared fighter in the 154lb division, due mostly in part to the way his promotional company Golden Boy blackballed him in the “Canelo Sweepstakes” a few months ago. Lara’s name was never given any real consideration, in actuality his name was never even mentioned in the proposed September 15th date against Canelo. Prompting many to believe the reluctance on behalf of Golden Boy and Canelo could be not-so-loosely translated into an unwillingness to engage in the kind of dangerous opposition Lara presents.
Regardless, Lara is now with promoter (I mean manger) (I mean advisor) Al Haymon. With Haymon in Lara’s corner the “big fight” is probably right around the corner. That fight could pit Lara against undefeated junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan. The WBC ordered a final eliminator between Martirosyan and Lara, with the winner earning a mandatory shot at the 154lb titlist Canelo. Like always, just because the fight is ordered doesn’t mean it will happen; especially when considering Martirosyan track record of not taking the tough fight.
Shields shed some light on the proposed fight, which went to a purse bid that Top Rank — Martirosyan’s promotional company — won.
Shields said that one of the hiccups in finalizing the deal was that the Martirosyan camp is insisting a contractual stipulation be made that would give Martirosyan a fight with Golden Boy’s Saul “Canelo Alvarez. Although the fight would is a “mandatory eliminator” that would give the winner the next shot at Canelo’s title, that doesn’t mean that Golden Boy or Canelo would have to abide.
There are plenty of ways around a mandatory, especially when you are a Mexican holding a WBC title. So, if Martirosyan wants a guaranteed crack at Canelo then getting it stipulated in the contract with Lara is a savvy way of accomplishing that very goal.
Shields said that Lara isn’t looking for that same stipulation.
“The thing with [Martirosyan’s camp] is they want a signed contract stating that they get the fight with the winner out of Alvarez and Lopez, that’s what they want. For us (Lara’s camp) it doesn’t matter, we just want to fight, and we want to fight the best fighters out there. They want demands, we don’t,” Shields said.
Shields went on to rationalize the fact that Lara doesn’t have to demand fights with guys and if he continues his winning ways then that will eventually be enough to earn a shot at one of the “big dogs” in the division.
“We realize one day our shot is going to come and we’re willing to wait for the shot, but at the same time all we want to do is be busy and fight. Simple as that, we don’t care who they put in front of us as long as the kid is 154 pounds we have no problems with fighting anybody at 154 pounds from the champion on down. As long as the [opponent] is in the top 15 in the world, that’s what we want.”
“We want to prove ourselves over and over and then sooner or later the networks and the boxing Gods and everybody will say hey- some champion has to step up and fight this guy,” Shields said.
That wasn’t the last revelation Shields left us with, he later brought up a startling allegation against Cornelius”K9” Bundrage regarding a supposed stipulation in his promotional contract with Golden Boy that says Bundrage isn’t to be matched against Erislandy Lara. Imagine that, a contract to not fight someone.
“Look at it, “K9” Bundrage got it in his contract that he doesn’t want to fight Erislandy Lara, he’ll fight anybody but Lara. Have you ever heard of something like that before? That is ridiculous for a [stipulation] like that to be put into a contract,” Shields said.
Thaboxingvoice.com was able to get a few words from Bundrage regarding this very subject. K9 made it clear that he hasn’t even signed a contract as of yet. However, he did say that Manny Steward made it clear they would use the contract to protect K9 from having to fight the fighters that the promotional companies wanted him to.
It came down to K9 wanting to protect himself at a time when the Canelo fight was still a possibility and he didn’t want to sign with intentions of fighting Canelo, only to be given another less valuable fight.
“The truth is I haven’t even signed a contract, so that’s false. I was told that the contract with Golden Boy, if I were to sign it, wouldn’t [have me fighting Erislandy Lara] because we were in a position to get the fight with Canelo. We were told that if we beat Corey Spinks then we’d be able to get Canelo. The word came that I would not be getting the fight with Canelo and they started saying that K9 and Lara would be a good fight, so they were already setting that fight up. Emanuel Steward put it in the contract that we would get the Canelo fight, but I never did sign the contract and I am still a free agent.”
K9 made it clear that he isn’t opposed to fighting anyone, but he thinks he should be able to decide who he fights as a champion in the 154lb weight class.
“Golden Boy has all the junior middleweights and I want to fight the Canelo’s and Cotto’s of the world, I’m in a position now where I should be able to pick and choose who I want to fight and not those who want to fight me. I feel like I’m being set up to fight these guys — the Lara’s and Trout’s — they need me because what chances do they have at getting a fight with Cotto versus K9 getting a fight with Cotto. They would have to get a fight with me to get a fight with Cotto; I don’t need a fight with them to get a fight with Cotto. I like these guys, they’re okay but business wise there is no money involved in a fight with Trout or Lara.
“Me being scared of Lara, that’s ludicrous. I’m not scared of Lara; I’m the champion of the world. If I had to go through Lara to get to Pacquiao/Mayweather than that’s what I’d do, but [Lara] needs to get through me to get to those guys.”
I see K9’s point; the fact is he would not really benefit from a fight with Lara. I know that fans don’t care about anything but seeing the best fighters fighting and interesting matchups, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair to K9 for him to take on just anyone. Bundrage will have to fight his mandatory next year and that fight is being decided by the eliminator between Gabriel Rosado and Charles Whittaker later on this year. K9 made it clear that he’d like to get a meaningful fight before he makes his mandatory, and I for one believe he has every right to do so.
Thaboxingvoice.com prides itself on being an extension of the people’s voice and I too feel the way the fans do and I would love to see K9 in there with just about anybody because he presents the potential for great fights with anyone in the 154lb division. That said, it doesn’t mean I don’t understand K9’s point.
The fact is his name has been mentioned by Cotto’s manager Bryan Perez a few weeks back on Thaboxingvoice’s radio show. If K9 has the chance to land that fight than why on earth would he want to take a fight with Lara or Trout for much less money and exposure?
Boxing has no 401K and K9 should be doing what is best for him and his family because when his career is over no one will look after him. Besides, K9 is a lot closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Imagine if K9 were to get the Cotto fight and win, then it doesn’t seem fitting that a fight with Lara or Trout would be sensible at that time. Shouldn’t K9 be allotted the opportunity to get what he can out of the career effort he’s put forth?
Besides, K9 made it clear that his contracts will have guaranteed money in them, so if he can get as much money for fighting Lara as he could fighting guys outside the top 10 then how feasible are these lower-tier fights. Maybe some people will disagree that K9 should have the luxury of picking his opportunities and that there is a separation between him and Mayweather, Cotto, and Pacquiao. Well they are right about the separation, but not about K9 picking opponents. The fact is K9 does have a belt and that belt comes with a certain stigma.
It was reported last week by Boxingscene’s Ryan Burton that K9 parted ways with Manny Steward. His managerial contract with Steward had expired and in hopes of landing Cotto on December 1st, K9 exercised his right to become a full out free agent, being that his promotional contract with Don King expired earlier this year as well.
Time will tell if K9 gets the fight he wants and deserves. K9 is the prime example of fighters who have to work extra hard to earn their keep in boxing’s larger stratosphere. For that, I respect his efforts and encourage him to work towards his ultimate goals. Bundrage has come too far to sell himself short now and the big fight could very well be on the brink.