The next installment of PBC on NBC is locked and loaded and ready to go April 11, 2015 at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York to be aired live on NBC at 8:30pm ET/ 5:30 pm PT with some exciting fights in the making. However, the elephant in the room, hidden from casual and newbie fans, would be the peculiar timing and also the fact that while both Danny Garcia (29-0, 17KOs) and Lamont Peterson (33-2-1, 17KOs) hold three belts between them at 140, namely Garcia’s WBA Super World Lightweight title and WBC World Super Lightweight title and Peterson’s IBF Super Lightweight title, their much anticipated headlining NBC battle is happening with none of the those belts on the line. Through a sneaky loophole where Garcia and Peterson are both fighting at a catch weight of 143 versus 140 on April 11, PBC will skillfully sidestep the issue of belts and the pesky sanctioning bodies to whom those belts are attached. Indeed, at the last PBC at NBC headliner, when Keith Thurman’s (25-0, 21KOs) corner held up his belts as champion, the ring security, no doubt at the behest of the PBC, tried to surreptitiously order his corner put down the belts. This activity would seem to suggest that PBC is not only looking to present fights outside of the box but run their outfit outside of the constraints of the current title belt system in a sort of strange one way communism, i.e. if I can bolster my fighters by promoting them as multiple title holders, I will do so, but when it comes to following the rules that go with accepting those belts, I’d rather not.
A rather murky business it’s true. The same goes for the interesting path Peter Quillin (31-0, 22KOs) would have followed in fighting Andy Lee (34-2, 24KOs) tomorrow for a title that he had already had but gave up to the tune of 1.4 million dollars. Would have followed as Quillin, as of only a few hours ago was unable to make the necessary160 WBO championship title weight limit, barring Lee from losing his title should Quillin win. However, barring this gaffe on the part of Quillin, the undefeated Kid Chocolate would have otherwise been battling to regain a title that he had inexplicably already given up just months ago at the behest of his manager and confidant, PBC mastermind Al Haymon.
The strange story starts as such in September 2014 when Quillin was the WBO middleweight champion. Roc Nation offered Quillin 1.4 million, at that time career high payday for Quillin, to defend his WBO middleweight title against then unbeaten prospect Matt Korobov (24-1, 14KOs). Everything was set to occur in much the same manner as tomorrow’s battle against Lee down to it being held at the very same Barclay Center in Quillin’s hometown. The catch was that Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports had won the purse bid for the fight and Jay Z and Al Haymon are like oil and water when it comes to mixing business or anything else requiring anything less than stark enmity. As such, Quillin vacated his title rather than take Roc Nation money to fight to protect his title.
Now cut to December 2014. In a permutation that was almost as Machiavellian as it was picture perfect for PBC, Andy Lee, now an Al Haymon fighter who had yet to win a title, fights Korobov for the 160 WBO Middleweight title and wins it in grand fashion via a dramatic KO, dedicating the win to his deceased trainer, the great and much missed legend Emanuel Stewart. As such, tomorrow except for the blip of Quillin being unable to make weight (and thus unable to regain the title he never really lost with a win over Lee) twice in one PBC card, two very good sets of fighters will both be battling more or less as title holders who seem somewhat Teflon protected with regard to either losing or winning said title(s) because everyone on paper has already had the proverbial titles in play. Confusing? Yes. High reward with considerably minimized risk from a title cache standpoint? Yes, again and brilliantly done by some masterful political footwork allowing Quillin, Lee, Garcia and Peterson to have their cake and eat it too. Nevertheless, all four fighters are exciting and the match ups in the real world of the ring are even better, so truly the less orthodox fan should have no problem with it. Whether this sort of action from a promoter standpoint will prove good or bad for boxing, i.e. the favoring of the political over the match up, and what it will mean with the overall success or failure of PBC as a new business model has yet to be seen.
However, all political ramifications aside, it would seem that all four fighters are more than eager to provide some real excitement tomorrow. As for Andy Lee, his training camp in Beausoleil, directly translated into “beautiful sun” located in Southern France seems to be working well. “Since January 12th I've been over here, haven't really taken much time off over Christmas period and I continued working on the same things we were working on since before the Korobov fight,” stated Lee. “I'm in good shape, I'm pushing very hard… we're here in South France, a beautiful place and a great setting and a great fight club to train and I'm going to the gym every day and the sun is shining and you're looking at the ocean and the sun rises every morning when you wake up, it's beautiful. It's a great motivator when you go to the gym,” said Lee.
As for Quillin, training in Santa Monica, California at Wild Card West, things have been equally sunny from the standpoint of good preparation. “I'm just very thankful. Training has been going very, very good, “ shared Quillin. “I'm not the type of guy to take a lot of time off, period. I'm just in the gym all the time; focus and fit and ready to go. California is nothing different besides me being here all the time and training,” stated Quillin. Kid Chocolate also went one step further citing new family developments both good and bad that are serving well to spur him on to fight the best fight that he can come Saturday at the Barclay Center. “Being away from my family, my (baby) who is now almost seven months old… it's been motivating to see me being a father now and I also became a link of my family now that my uncle passed away of cancer, so I have a lot of motivation within this fight.” revealed Quillin soberly.
Like Quillin and Lee, both Peterson and Garcia are happy to recount exactly how ready they are with regard to their conditioning and the superlative quality of their respective training camps. However, when queried directly about the puzzling decision to fight at 143 versus 140, Garcia and Peterson took different attitudes with Garcia being more take it or leave it while Peterson remained a bit more willing to acknowledge the uniqueness of the current incarnation of the battle long coming. “In order for the fight to be done in the time we had for it to be done, that's the weight we had to fight at, “ said Garcia unwaveringly. “I think if the media just lets it go already and just accept (that) the fight… it's going to be a big fight without the belts. Come April 11th, I guarantee the media and the fans won't even be talking about that anymore because the fight will be so good.” finished Garcia with conviction.
As to the question of whether he wanted to fight for belts versus the current nature of the beast, Lamont Peterson was decidedly philosophical about the whole matter while remaining refreshingly candid. “I'm cool with it. At the end of the day...too many titles, too many this, that, too much,” said Peterson searching for right words to express himself. “At the end of the day you have two young top fighters that's willing to fight each other. A lot of times I know the fans want it their way, the way they want it to be, but sometimes you just have to just chalk it up and just look at it, it's a good match-up. We know what this fight means and I just hope that they can push that aside and enjoy the fight and not worry about it, ” said Peterson reflectively. “It was a good feeling to get the chance to fight Danny Garcia. He's considered to be the best guy at the weight class. I just want my shot at that crown; belt or no belt,” concluded Peterson.
A real chance at the people’s crown in the arena of public opinion – well nobody can truly be mad about that.
Written by Kylie Krabbe
Photo by Ed Diller/Dibella Entertainment
April 11th 2015
PBC on NBC Does Politics Well.
Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson.
Andy Lee and Peter Quillin.