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Rios vs Gamboa: Top Rank Ignoring That Fight Is Almost Surely Canceled, Pushing Forward

Brandon Rios held up this poster, but Top Rank is still acting as if Rios vs Gamboa is on for April 14.
Brandon Rios held up this poster, but Top Rank is still acting as if Rios vs Gamboa is on for April 14.
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Today's Rios vs Gamboa press conference in Los Angeles was short, sweet, and empty, as once again Yuriorkis Gamboa did not show up (this time to the surprise of nobody, unlike yesterday), but promoter Todd duBoef, the President of Top Rank, is still pushing as if the fight is going to happen on April 14.

Only duBoef and Rios spoke today, with Rios holding up a poster calling Gamboa a coward, as you can see above.

duBoef started by "telling (us) a little story," which took a while and in the end amounted to nothing. He related Gamboa's German promtoer, Ahmet Oner, telling him last year that Gamboa wanted to fight Manny Pacquiao, but Brandon Rios before that.

duBoef then went over how this fight was made: First Rios agreed, then on February 16, Gamboa agreed.

From there, duBoef offered what I guess was supposed to be the "big surprise" today: A $100,000 bonus to the winner of the fight. This is nice and all, but it's an empty story when there is no fight, and right now, from what everybody understands, but what is, for whatever reason, not being said at the press conferences, there is no fight.

So what does that bonus mean? Nothing. It's like Amir Khan making a "bold" offer to Tim Bradley last year when the firm story was that Bradley simply was not going to fight him on July 23, period. Khan could have offered the moon. It wasn't happening, but it made Khan look good, so they did it.

In this case it's not so much about looking good -- though they are trying, perhaps in vain, to paint Brandon Rios as some glowing representative of the sport, a goodwill ambassador whose fights are exciting so, well, that covers up everything else, I guess. It's more about diverting attention, or at least trying to.

Sadly for them, I don't think anybody much cares about the bonus that doesn't really exist, since the fight doesn't really exist.

At one point early in his spiel, duBoef mentioned that sometimes promoters are seen as "bad guys," and he took a befuddled tone to that statement. "How can we be bad guys?" he asked with his body language.

Well, the answer is simple in this case, or at least it seems obvious to me. This is just my opinion, but this feels like a big bait-and-switch where they're trying to get as many people to hold on to their tickets as they possibly can, to not lose fans for their April 14 show at Mandalay Bay.

The show is going to happen, it appears. Mike Alvarado could step into the main event, Mercito Gesta could step onto the card (co-feature or main event, and he says he'd like to fight Rios). It probably will still even be a good card.

But it will not be Rios vs Gamboa, it doesn't appear. Top Rank is not letting that stand in the way, really, and they're not even really pushing Rios vs Gamboa, either. They're just saying that there is a card on April 14, and Rios is involved. They're also not admitting that Gamboa isn't going to be there.

duBoef pulled another semi-slick but ultimately transparent move, directing the media to Rios after the statements had ended, trying to pull an "aw, shucks" routine where he said nobody wanted to ask him questions. In reality, everyone wants to ask him questions right now, but he doesn't want to answer the questions they have, because that would get in the way of what they're trying to accomplish right now.

They're saying nothing, which says everything. For all duBoef said today about the fans being so important, they seem to be pulling a runaround on those very fans, the ones who don't read a bunch of web sites and aren't up-to-the-minute on everything going on. But in case you've stumbled here and aren't sure what's happening, let's be clear: Unless there's a hail mary that saves this thing, Rios vs Gamboa isn't happening on April 14.

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