By Nick Giongco
Top Rank head Bob Arum yesterday defended the last-minute exclusion of Filipino fighter Ernie Sanchez in a show his promotional outfit is staging this weekend in the US. Sanchez had initially been booked to face Mexican-American Diego Magdaleno, a rising star from Las Vegas, in a ten-rounder at the C. Robert Lee Center in Hawaiian Gardens, California.
But last week, Arum got information telling him that Magdaleno (24-1 with nine KOs) might put some serious hurt on the promising 22-year-old Sanchez (14-5 with five KOs), who hails from General Santos City. That bit of advice came from Pacquiao’s right-hand man Mike Koncz, who warned Arum of the possibility that Magdaleno might be too much for the talented but relatively inexperienced Sanchez.
Sanchez’s last two fights were held in Mexico late last year and he was easily beaten although he put on a good performance in Las Vegas.
“That (a fatality) is the last thing I want on my card,” said Arum yesterday from his Las Vegas home.
Before deciding to pull out Sanchez, Arum conferred with his matchmakers, led by Bruce Trampler, who all came to the conclusion that a change should be in order. Magdaleno is the reigning North American Boxing Federation super-featherweight champion and this weekend’s fight will be fought at a maximum of 133 lbs.
Koncz said Sanchez will be asked to go up in weight because his best fighting weight is at 123 lbs.
“That’s going to be a mismatch,” said Koncz, noting that Magdaleno’s camp knew Magdaleno would be in a for a cakewalk against a bloated Sanchez.
Sanchez’s camp has been crying foul lately with his chief handler Brico Santig accusing Koncz of shortchanging them from two fights that Sanchez fought on Top Rank cards in 2012.
Sanchez said that he trained hard for the Magdaleno bout and the eleventh hour decision to get somebody else caused him a lot of hurt and pain, adding that he will tremendously be affected by the loss of income.
Like many boxers seeing action underneath Top Rank, they are all under contract with Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions.
Koncz, who is in Los Angeles, said the decision to replace Sanchez with another guy pointed to the potential risks of being overpowered by Magdaleno, who is a naturally bigger fellow than Sanchez, who started out as a flyweight.
Jorge Pazos, the Mexican handpicked to take Sanchez’s place, doesn’t seem so different from Sanchez as shown by his 14-6-2 card with eight KOs.
But Top Rank’s think tank believes Pazos, said to be a harder puncher, is more competent than Sanchez as he has also more experience.
Koncz has also contacted the Games and Amusements Board about the matter and told chairman Ramon Guanzon that Sanchez had been fully paid as evidenced by the Top Rank checks issued to the fighter.
“The claim that Sanchez wasn’t paid in full is ludicruous,” said Koncz in a text message, adding that Sanchez got $6,000 and $7,500 from the two fights.