By GM Ross: The December 3rd Steve Claggett-Jose Mendoza contest scheduled for the WBC International Youth Title is officially off. The fight was to occur in Calgary, Alberta, but was recently cancelled by Edmonton based KO Boxing Promotions. According to Glen Carriere of KO Boxing, “It seemed to us that as soon as we mentioned that we were coming to Calgary to promote Steve that Teofista got their backs up and started booking dates very close to ours not allowing us to use Steve on our cards. We felt that Eric [De Guzman] took on a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude and he’s the ‘man’ in Calgary and we should stay out.” Unfortunately, whatever transpired between De Guzman’s Teofista Promotions and KO Boxing led to the show’s cancellation.
The big question circulating in Canadian boxing circles is who should Calgary fight fans blame for the cancellation? A painfully biased report provided by fightfan.com demonizes KO Boxing – the historical heart and soul of western Canadian pugilism – framing Claggett and his team as the victims of a heinous injustice. This is the same website that refers to Claggett as the UBO light welterweight champion, with no statement clarifying that Claggett is not, in fact, the Universal Boxing Organization champion, but rather the Universal Boxing Hall of Fame champion. They also lists “UBO light welterweight champion Steve Claggett” (to quote fightfan.com) as their “Featured Fighter.” That’s remarkable considering Claggett won the UBHF belt in an eight round contest against Dave Aucoin (1-1-0) of Ontario. Fighting a relative newcomer, in a fight less than ten rounds, for a title no one has heard of makes you a “Featured Fighter”? I want in on this. I lost a three round amateur contest to Isaac “Angry Bear” Sturgeon several months ago. That must put me near the top of the heap for “Featured Fighter” status. Last but not least, fightfan.com claims Claggett is “the top rated lightweight in Canadian boxing.” First of all, Claggett rarely fights at lightweight. In the ten fights I have weights for, Claggett fought at 135 lbs once, against Scott Paul in November of 2009. Secondly, Claggett is not the number one lightweight contender in Canada. He’s ranked fourth by the CBF and isn’t ranked by the CPBC because of “International status.” The CPBC must have equated Claggett’s “UBO” title with the Universal Boxing Organization’s version of the world championship. Prior to his UBHF victory, Claggett was ranked third by the CPBC. I guess what I’m saying is take fightfan.com’s coverage of the situation with a grain of salt.
Now for the other side of the story. Glen Carriere of KO Boxing claims he was the victim of actions that were “unethical and bordered on criminal.” Who were the perpetrators? What exactly did they do that was so damaging to KO Boxing? Was it Eric De Guzman? I’ve personally never had a problem with Eric De Guzman. In fact, he has been a pleasure to work with. When I was just starting out in boxing journalism was always forthcoming with information and opinions. I find it difficult to believe that he would intentionally jeopardize Claggett’s shot at a WBC title. But I wasn’t there. In the Tuesday, November 30, edition of the Edmonton Sun, Murray Grieg stated: “Rather than blaming Carriere for the Calgary debacle, the pipsqueaks, whiners and wannabes should look in the mirror.” A bit harsh, but point taken. De Guzman and Teofista may very well share some of the blame for the collapse of the Claggett-Mendoza contest. It seems unlikely, however, that Carriere and crew are entirely innocent in the matter. KO Boxing is the veteran presence in Alberta boxing promotion and should have been able to make things work, providing Calgary fight fans with the advertised contests before severing ties with Teofista. To use a metaphor, they’re the big brother in all this, and (if Teofista did indeed do something unreasonable) should have been able to sort out their younger, less experienced sibling.
To be honest, I don’t know who is to blame. All I know is this: Carriere had all but punched Claggett’s ticket to bigger fights, larger purses and national exposure, when the entire arrangement went awry. Fellow Canadian small men Logan Cotton McGuinness, Tony Luis and Arash Usmanee are all well on their way to bigger and better things. McGuinness holds the NABA lightweight crown and fights on Super Channel. Arash Usmanee makes his Super Channel debut tomorrow night in a NABA super featherweight title contest. The undefeated Tony Luis also performs on Friday night’s Super Channel card. Thanks to KO Boxing, I was able to watch Jorge Ravannal Jr. and Paul Bzdel put on one of the best fights I’ve watched this month on Sportsnet. In short, everyone needs to throw their egos in the spit bucket. While others move forward, Claggett is left holding his less than meaningless UBHF title. I’m personally a big Claggett fan, and would love to see Teofista and KO Boxing make amends and take this capable young fighter as far as his talents permit.