Featherweight contender Rocky Juarez has decided to explain his reasoning for not fighting Mario Santiago, the Puerto Rican southpaw offered up as a replacement opponent for the ill Chris John on Saturday's Boxing After Dark. As I guessed the other day, it's mostly just because Rocky didn't prepare for a southpaw, let alone a very good one like Santiago, and didn't feel prepared:
"I just want the fans to know that I'm not ducking anyone, but this was a decision I had to make. When I got the call on Sunday morning that the fight [with Chris John] was off, I said that I'm in shape and would go ahead with another opponent. I specifically said that I would fight any orthodox fighter at 126 or 130 pounds. It didn't matter who, I didn't even need to know their name. They could have been undefeated, I didn't care."
"Ultimately it didn't make sense for me to fight Santiago. Everything was benefiting him, he would have earned more money [than he will on the untelevised undercard] and gotten on TV. Mentally he would have been a lot more hyped than I would have been. I was ready to fight, but I have to be smart, and not get in the ring and risk my chance at being given another opportunity to win a world championship just because I wasn't prepared for the opponent's style."
It's also mentioned that Daud Yordan was first in line to replace John, but he is contractually obligated to fight in Indonesia and the promoter simply wouldn't let him out of the deal, even though he works with Golden Boy Promotions. Santiago came up because he's already on the card, and he's a legit contender, too.
That said, anyone that blames Juarez for not taking this fight is being a fool. We're talking less than a week's notice to take a fight with a tough guy that is completely different than the guy you've been training for. This is Juarez's job, and pro athletes have short windows of prime ability. At 29 and having come up short in his biggest pro fights, Juarez might not have too much longer. A loss to Santiago would have really put a bad jolt into his title dreams.