Spinks Jinx Hits the Asylum

By Robert Ecksel on January 18, 2012
Spinks Jinx Hits the Asylum
Things were looking good for the NBC fight card before the proverbial shit hit the fan

We wish Kathy Duva well. She basically inherited Main Events after the death of her husband and has done a fine job under the circumstances, especially in a male-dominated sport like boxing. With the odds stacked against her, not to mention the other Duvas, she has managed, sometimes not as adroitly as one might like, to come up smelling like roses, in an activity where other smells are more prevalent and malodorous.

Duva is trying revitalize boxing, or at the very least trying to slow its slide into irrelevance, and one of her ideas has been to get the sport back on regular TV. She understands, as we all understand, as even those who profit by it understand, that pay-per-view is killing the sport.

When cable first entered the picture what seems like a million years ago, it was suddenly a whole new ballgame, and free TV, no less than boxing, has suffered, and continues to suffer, as a result.

The inaugural show of “NBC Sports Network Fight Night,” which is still scheduled for this Saturday at 9:00 from Philadelphia’s Asylum Auditorium, was supposed to feature two heavyweights, Philly’s “Fast” Eddie Chambers (36-2, 18 KOs), making his first appearance in his hometown in four years, against Sergei “White Wolf” Liakhovich (25-4, 16 KOs), from Scottsdale, Arizona via Vitebsk, Belarus.

It wasn’t going to be the greatest heavyweight fight of all time, either on paper or canvas. Chambers is one of those not-so-big heavyweights with more heart than power, and Liakhovich’s moment in the sun was when he defeated Lamon Brewster to win the WBO title way back in 2006.

But it looked like a fairly promising start, maybe even a hopeful start, for Duva and her new venture.

“Our ambition with this series,” said Duva said before all the headaches set in, “is to make interesting, competitive fights that are relevant to the markets where they take place. In short, fights that people would pay to see. I think that this card delivers on all of those counts and I can’t wait to experience the atmosphere at the Asylum when the fighters touch gloves.”

Jon Miller, President of Programming for NBC Sports, was no less enthusiastic at the time: “We are excited to be getting our team involved with boxing again. We had a long, rich, storied history with NBC Sports. We would do as many as 20-30 fights per year on NBC. We think that there’s an opportunity here with the right matchmaking and the right positioning to possibly introduce boxing back to free, over the air television. Our feeling was that boxing had been underexposed on linear television and we thought it was a good time to jump back into the ring.”

Then the proverbial shit hit the fan.

A week before the fight, Chambers pulled out because a sparring partner fractured his ribs. Trying to find a replacement at that late date would not have been easy, so Duva shelved Chambers-Liakhovich and began looked for a replacement bout, much to the dismay of the White Wolf.

“I want all TV networks and boxing promoters and everybody in boxing to know how Chambers operates,” Liakhovich said. “He plays a good guy image in the press, but his good guy image is a fake. He didn’t have the simple decency to tell another athlete about him pulling out as soon as he knew. Yet he’s still going around and trying to play a good guy. From my point of view he is just a fucking punk. The injury is not the point. The point is that he didn’t tell anyone until the last moment.”

Liakhovich further clarified matters with another recent statement:

“Eddie Chambers is trying to save face in the press but I want to set the story straight by telling everyone what really happened. Chambers’ medical report about his broken ribs is dated, January 6, 2012. He knew about his broken ribs back then but he didn’t let us know until January 13th, seven days before our fight. Instead of shooting his mouth off to the press for a week about how easily he was going to beat me, when he already knew he was not going to fight me, he and his team should have acted professionally and immediately informed my team of his injury. If we had two week’s notice, I have no doubt that finding a suitable replacement and making training adjustments wouldn’t have been a problem, but it was a serious problem trying to do so with only seven days to go before the fight.

“I think boxers like Chambers should be punished by every promoter and networks should know how he operates. He plays the good guy to the press, but Chambers is a fake. He didn’t have the simple decency to tell another athlete about him pulling out of the fight as soon as he knew. It was his obligation to inform everyone immediately. I wasted six weeks of training, as well as the expenses for training camp, and now I’m not fighting because of his actions. NBC Sport Network, Main Events and everyone involved had to scramble to put together a main event at the last minute, all the results of Chambers’ action. He is all talk and no action.”

Duva, no doubt in panic mode, was somehow able to replace Chambers-Liakhovich with a bout featuring two other heavyweights, unknowns Maurice Byarm (13-0-1, 9 KOs) and Bryant Jennings (11-0, 5 KOs).

How capable Byarm and Jennings are of opening a televised show hardly matters at this point. They’re heavyweights, they’re unbeaten, and neither fighter has fractured ribs or is breathing fire.

Always looking at the bright side, Duva said, “I think real fight fans would rather watch a great fight between two promising, young fighters than watch Sergei in a fight where the outcome is predetermined. This fight is a great fight, short notice or not. These are two guys who’ve known each other their whole lives, and really, really, really want to fight each other.”

That, however, doesn’t really, really, really make it a highly anticipated fight.

The co-main event features junior middleweights Gabriel Rosado (18-5, 10 KOs), hailing from the City of Brotherly Love, against Mexico’s Jesus Soto Karass (24-6-3, 16 KOs).

Also on the card, unbeaten cruiserweights Damar Singleton (8-0, 4 KOs) of Toledo, Ohio will meet Miami’s Sullivan Barrera (8-0, 6 KOs).

“It’s a terrific show,” said Duva, “from top to bottom. I think every fight is interesting, and I don’t know who’s going to win any of them.”

We continue to wish Kathy Duva well.

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  1. Bk don 09:30am, 01/19/2012

    “If we had two week’s notice, I have no doubt that finding a suitable replacement ” BS! I don’t believe that extra week would’ve guaranteed a suitable replacement could’ve been found and I assume that Chambers didn’t alert anyone right away b/c he was trying to train through the injury. In hindsight, he should have let the promoter know the day after the injury, so they could look into some other opponents but it’s not hard to believe it took a week b4 Chambers could be declared medically unfit to fight. The Wolf is just upset that he lost his TV date and paycheck, which I can understand, but it doesn’t seem like much else could’ve been done here.

  2. Joe 04:57am, 01/19/2012

    Sounds like Eddie pulled a “Fast” one.

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