It’s good to have options as a boxer, and junior featherweight contender Chris Avalos has them.
This week, he turned down a mandatory title shot against Guillermo Rigondeaux, the extremely talented but deathly boring and unmarketable unified champion.
Avalos could have had the shot against Rigondeaux and made a decent payday. Caribe Promotions, Rigondeaux’s sole promoter since his co-promotional deal with Top Rank (Avalos’ promoter) expired in July, won the rights to the fight at a Sept. 19 purse bid. Caribe offered $317,777.77, including a 25 percent cut for Avalos. That would have translated to a career-high purse of $79,444.45.
But after knocking out Yasutaka Ishimoto in the eighth round on May 31 in Macau, China, Avalos also became the mandatory challenger for Kiko Martinez’s version of the 122-pound title.
Martinez, however, secured an exception to the mandatory in order to make a lucrative optional defense against Carl Frampton, who outpointed Martinez to take his belt on Sept. 6. In order for the IBF to approve the exception, Martinez and Frampton agreed to make their first defense against Avalos (24-2, 18 KOs) within 90 days.
Frampton suffered an injury in the victory that will keep him out of action for a couple of months, but Avalos will remain mandatory and Frampton (19-0, 13 KOs) will have to face Avalos upon returning, likely in early 2015.
Anyone who knows anything about boxing economics knows that Avalos will make substantially more to face Frampton, a major star in Northern Ireland. Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KOs) has basically no fan base and virtually zero interest from the television networks. Given the dearth of television interest in Rigondeaux, it remains a mystery how Caribe would have covered the purse bid amount -- not to mention the other expenses associated with putting on a card -- if Avalos had accepted the terms.
Now Caribe doesn’t have to worry.
"Chris and his team have decided to pursue the IBF champion, Carl Frampton. Both champions, Frampton and Rigondeaux, present difficult challenges in the ring, but there is no comparison as to who presents the better financial opportunity. Not even close,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com.
Not even close is right. Martinez made $700,000 to go to Belfast tor face Frampton. Avalos won’t make that kind of dough, but he still figures to make a low six-figure payday. In boxing terms, Avalos also has a far better chance to beat Frampton, who will come to fight, than Rigondeaux, who will come to run and play defense.
The choice was clear: pass on the Rigondeaux fight and wait a few extra months for Frampton.
"Once Frampton heals from his injury, we look forward to challenging him for the title,” Moretti said. “Would seem like an ideal title fight to bring to Macau in the first quarter of 2015.”
More likely, however, it will mean a lucrative trip to Belfast for Avalos for a fight in front of a big crowd, which sounds a whole lot better than taking a lot less money against Rigondeaux for a tougher fight nobody cares about.