In an industry as unforgiving as boxing, one can still find plenty of nice people.
Fringe junior middleweight contender Charles Whittaker and Main Events promoter Kathy Duva are two such folks.
Unfortunately, outside of the ring, Whittaker might be a little too nice for his own good.
The 38-year-old native of the Cayman Islands has taken the scenic route to finally being a step away from a major title shot, as he faces Duva’s charge Gabriel Rosado in the main event of NBC Sports Fight Night this Friday.
For a fighter who has suffered a dozen losses, and fights in gyms in the Philippines and nightclubs in Delaware, an IBF title eliminator on national television would seem to be the jackpot.
In financial terms though, that’s not the case.
Much of the build-up for Friday’s bout has surrounded Whittaker’s dissatisfaction with his $6,000 purse for the evening.
“A fight like this, an IBF eliminator, on television, it pays more than this. I’ve fought fights off TV for more than this. I’ve brought people to the Cayman Islands and paid them more than this,” Whittaker told RingTV.com.
When the IBF ordered the Whittaker-Rosado eliminator earlier this year, manager Raul Alvarez began negotiating with Kathy Duva and matchmaker Russell Peltz. Both sides claim to have offered the other figures in the ballpark of $15,000 to $20,000 to host the fight on their respective home soil.
Not coming to an immediate resolution, Rosado’s camp says Alvarez wanted to go to purse bid, while Whittaker insists Duva and Peltz were ignoring calls and didn’t want to communicate. Though the details are cloudy, the standstill was taken where all contract offers that hit a snag go to—a mediator, who in this case was the IBF.
Duva was the lone bidder on the contest, submitting an envelope with $10,000 within, 60 percent of which was to go to Whittaker.
“That morning, as we were driving to the purse bid, he was calling saying ‘I’ll take the fight for $20,000,’” recalls Duva. “Well, no. I’m not gonna give it to you when you’re obviously not going to the bid, and obviously nobody is representing you there. My job is to represent my company, and to look out for Gabriel Rosado’s interests, as well as Russell Peltz. My job is not to look out for Charles Whittaker.”
It’s hard not to feel sorry for the journeyman who reaches his pinnacle and gets shortchanged, but one has to wonder why his representation didn’t take part in the purse bid. If there was indeed money behind him, why wasn’t it brought to the bid?
If his backers (whom Whittaker claims to include Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush) hadn’t paid the annual membership dues to give them the right to negotiate at all, then why negotiate in a manner that would risk the fight going to a bid in the first place?
Whittaker (38-12-2, 23 knockouts) told the Cayman Compass that he believes Rosado is being paid on the side on top of his $4,000 purse.
If there was money behind him, couldn’t he broker the same deal and get some extra cash too?
“I would tell his management to take the $5,000 they saved by not bidding and give it to their fighter,” suggested Duva.
Essentially, Whittaker had hoped that as the lead promoter of the event, Main Events would have paid him a larger sum more appropriate for the magnitude of the fight out of generosity. He says that is how he has always dealt with payouts when he has promoted shows in his homeland.
“It’s about promoters being unfair to fighters. They’ve been around a long time and have gotten away with it, and they continue to do it. If they could get away with paying me absolutely nothing, they would,” said Whittaker. “Everybody who came to the Cayman Islands was treated with dignity and respect; everybody was given a nice place to stay. Not just because I’m a fighter. I’m a man of God and a man with a conscience, and I treat you the way I hope that you would treat me. No matter who you are.”
It seems the only treat Whittaker will get this weekend is the luxury of not paying taxes on that $6,000 in the Cayman Islands.
Those fortunes could be reversed if he is victorious on Friday, as he would then be the No. 1 contender for IBF titlist Cornelius Bundrage.
However, it seems that he’s realized that business can be quite sour in the sweet science.
“Chances are, that happening are slim to none,” said Whittaker of a possible Bundrage matchup. “People see me as a lot of risk with no rewards.”