By Gabriel F. Cordero
WBA Executive Vice President Gilberto J. Mendoza has expressed solidarity with unified WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and strongly criticized the HBO network.
Mendoza wrote the following: “A few days ago something happened that surprised me for its possible significance: HBO gave a resounding no to present fights of Cuban Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux. I believe, this discriminatory and unreasonable decision limits possibilities to an individual who seeks to live the American dream. It’s not enough to have defeated Nonito Donaire, not enough to have two Olympic gold medals under his belt, it’s simply because promoters and managers of the prestigious network believe technical boxers are boring. This is huge discrimination. Styles make fights. Not all bouts will have the same intensity. The loyal fan always enjoys the puncher or the stylist, but if the interest is to expand the scope of viewers, closing the door to a great athlete is not the solution.”
To Mendoza Jr., the HBO excuse is invalid. “I don’t know how much the broken relationship between HBO and Golden Boy is changing their marketing strategies and penetration in boxing,” he stated.
Mendoza’s concern is this may be the first step toward denying opportunities to many other Latin American fighters. “If the fighter doesn’t meet commercial expectations, produces no money, they won’t put him on the screen.”
“This is a reality. If a boxer is not in the media, if the fans are not going to the event, and and if the television in their home countries do not buy the rights, the fighter has low value. The solution is not to tell the coaches to prepare only sluggers. That would be fatal to the tactical and strategic styles. It would remove the pretty side of the sport, denying opportunities to all young people with skill and intelligence in favor of brute force. This is very inconvenient for those who live and breathe this discipline, but everything in life mutates, everything changes. We must find ways to adapt to these new challenges.”