Waiting for Godot?

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

The case of dethroned regular WBA minimumweight champion Vic Saludar expecting to be paid his full purse by Dominican Republic promoter Belgica Peña reminds you of Samuel Beckett’s 1948 play “Waiting For Godot” where two characters engage in endless discussion while waiting for Godot who never arrives.

Matchmaker Bebot Elorde, however, says Peña will cough up the balance of the $35,000 purse promised to Saludar. It should’ve been wired yesterday or if not, it will be deposited today. “Nagpadala sya ng $8,000 advance (before the fight) at nagbigay ng $5,000 so ang balance ay $22,000 plus abono ko for visa fee, travel tax, swab tests at quarantine sa Orchid Hotel.” Elorde’s “abono” amounts to $1,980 so he’s anticipating Peña to send over $23,980.

When GAB chairman Baham Mitra was informed of the shortchanging, he quickly emailed WBA supervisor Octavio Rodriguez to pressure Peña to come up with the balance. “We would like to appeal to your honor for assistance to ask the promoter to pay him in full,” said Mitra. “I also understand the team of Saludar will write a protest letter on the officiating of the bout.” If the appeal is ignored, Mitra will likely go straight to WBA president Jesus Mendoza to demand retribution for the anomalies.

Saludar staked his crown against hometowner Erick Rosa at the Hotel Catalonia Malecon Center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Tuesday last week. The cards were stacked against Saludar from the onset. Referee was Guillermo Perez Pineda of Panama. The judges were Luis Pabon of Puerto Rico, Oscar Perez Carbonell of the Dominican Republic and Reina Urbaez of Venezuela. The officials had to be more sympathetic to Rosa than Saludar. And it showed in the way at least two of the three judges scored the fight. Carbonnell, who is Rosa’s countryman, saw it 116-109, giving Saludar only four rounds. The discrepancy was atrocious. Urbaez succumbed to a conscience pang and scored it for Saludar, 113-112 while Pabon had it 113-112 for Rosa. The split decision awarded Saludar’s belt to Rosa. According to WBA licensed referee/ judge Ver Abainza, the organization requires all judges to come from neutral countries unless pandemic restrictions allow for exemptions. Abainza watched the fight on TV and scored it for Saludar, 114-112.

Pineda should be severely chastised for his incompetence. Rosa scored a flash knockdown in the third round, dropping Saludar with a left to the head. The Filipino was caught off-balanced and fell but got up immediately and battled until the end of the round. In the ninth, Rosa and Saludar got tangled in the middle of the ring then the challenger pushed the Filipino down on the canvas. Lo and behold, Pineda gave Saludar a mandatory eight-count. No punch landed to cause the drop. That wasn’t even a slip. It was an illegal takedown and Rosa should’ve been warned for the infraction. In the 10th, Saludar decked Rosa with a right and Pineda ruled a knockdown. Saludar dominated the rest of

the way, tagging Rosa with clear shots but it meant nothing at least to Carbonell. If Pineda didn’t call the knockdown in the ninth and Saludar won the round as he did, Pabon’s score would’ve been 114- 112 for the Filipino who should’ve retained the title.

A similar case of non-payment happened to Filipino boxer Jonas Sultan who flew to South Africa to take on Ricardo Malajika in a 10-round superflyweight bout on March 21 last year. When Sultan and trainer Edmund Villamor arrived in South Africa a week before the fight, they were told the match was cancelled and advised to leave the next day. Under the terms of the fight contract, Clause 5-D stated that “should the promoter… postpone the tournament or the said contest upon reasonable grounds, he or she may do so, provided he or she pays the boxer 10 percent of the total amount agreed as the purse money between the promoter and boxer.” South African promoter Rodney Berman was obligated to pay Sultan $800 or 10 percent of his purse of $8,000. Mitra emailed Berman to demand payment and Berman said he would remit $2,000 instead – $1,000 for Sultan and $1,000 for Elorde for his expenses, including visa fees and travel tax.

It’s been close to two years now that Berman hasn’t lived up to his promise. “Ayaw magbayad at hindi naman daw lumaban,” said Elorde. “Talo na nga daw sa pamasahe at hotel ng ilang araw. Ako hindi rin nabayaran ni Rodney.” Berman’s losses are beside the point. The contract stipulated a payment with the fight cancellation and it should be enforced. Filipinos shouldn’t be prejudiced by unscrupulous promoters. For sure, Mitra will take up these issues with the world governing bodies and ban the promoters from ever negotiating with Filipino boxers until they make good on their payments.


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