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News  


AN ALL-FILIPINO TITLE FIGHT IN FRESNO?


PhilBoxing.com




Top Rank’s Bob Arum and his spin-makers must really be having a heck of a time selling the IBF Super flyweight title fight between champion Jerwin Ancajas and his challenger Jonas Sultan. He now has the fight happening at the Selland Area in Fresno instead of The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Perhaps the third move is a charm?

The Ancajas-Sultan fight was supposed to be the main undercard of a huge fight in Vegas featuring Crawford vs. Horn on April 14th but that welterweight event didn’t work out because Crawford suffered an injury in training. They cancelled the whole fight card including the Ancajas-Sultan fight.

Given that, Arum is still adamant in holding the all-Filipino fight the soonest because he is hoping that Ancajas will blow out Jonas Sultan creating an increase market value for his next plans for Ancajas - a unification fight with that guy from Yemen, Kal Yafai, the WBA super flyweight champion.

That is counting the eggs before they hatched.

Anjacas is a heavy favorite to beat Sultan, well at least that’s what the odds makers say. But they said the same thing when Sultan fought Johnreil Casimiro and Sonny Boy Jaro.

“Don’t count out Sultan,” a respected boxing writer once told me. And you know what? I tend to believe the person because he really is a well-respected boxing person from Cebu that knows his boxing and he has seen it all.

Yafai has a coming title defense as well on the same day Ancajas fights Sultan. He fights David Carmona of Mexico. Unlike Sultan, I believe Carmona is just a stepping-stone for the Arab-British champion.

Arum must really be looking ahead to a unification fight because Carmona appears to be a heavy underdog against Yafai. Carmona lost to Carlos Cuadras and Martin Casillas. He also lost to Naoya Inoue. In that fight Filipino judge Edward Ligas scored the fight 118-109 for the Japanese. Sultan on the other maybe a mandatory challenger who earned his keep, but he has less experiences that Ancajas.

Now, the venue.

Selland Arena is located in mid Fresno, a hotbed for Latinos. It is known for concerts (11,300 seats); basketball (10,200 seats) Hockey (7,600 seats). It is part of the Fresno Convention Center. It was recently renovated and is new arena. Well, almost new.

But for a boxing event involving only one Latino in the main two fight cards, I doubt Top Rank can even bring in as many fans as hockey people do in their games.

He needs to fill up the card with Latino fighters.

Perhaps Arum is banking in what former Olympian Jose Ramirez did last October. He had a pretty decent crowd - a near sell out, they said.

But Ramirez is different. He lives in nearby Avenal and is a hometown hero. Besides he has name recognition because he belongs to the California Latino Water Coalition, a group of locals that are fighting for water in the central valley. His Olympic exploits and his political popularity easily translated to many fans. Besides, I heard the tickets were from a low of $18 to a high of $110. But I maybe wrong.

If Arum is banking on the Filipino community in Fresno, I got news for him. Asian population in Fresno is only 12.6 %. There are more Hmongs (3.6%) and East Indians (1.7%) than Filipinos (1.2%).

Now, how many of those 1.2 % Filipinos are adults and young adults who would support boxing, a sport that is not too popular in the area and more importantly, does not involved a Pacquiao name?

Perhaps, Arum is hoping that fans from San Francisco will drive down the 186 miles to Fresno and spend 3 hours on sleepy South Highway 99. or maybe fans from LA will drive up on North Highway 99 and spent 3.6 hours to get to Fresno.

I don’t really know why Fresno was chosen.

Perhaps there was an offer Arum could not refuse. Who are we to know?

But as far as I am concerned, if Top Rank was looking for a venue that has about 10,000-seat capacity, they could have stayed in the Los Angeles. There is the StubHub or even the Galen Center at USC. Both places are popular and accessible to fans. More importantly, there are more boxing fans in Los Angeles than Fresno.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Ed de la Vega, DDS.


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