Big time boxing is coming here. The Cayman Islands government has already committed $1.1 million to the promotion but the theory is that that expenditure will be recouped in multiples in tourism revenue.
That was the message from Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford at a press conference on Thursday to announce Cayman Knockout.
But it is still unclear if Charles ‘The Killa’ Whittaker will be on the bill that will feature American contender Andre Ward against Jerson Ravelo from the Dominican Republic.
The promoter is Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions and the main bout will be screened on Showtime TV from the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on June 20 to millions in America and around the world. Goosen could not hide his delight at promoting here
Ward, 24, was the United States only gold medalist at the Athens Olympics four years ago. He is undefeated in 15 bouts with 12 knock outs. Philadelphia-based Ward needs to get past the New Jersey-based Ravelo, 30, to climb higher. Ravelo has an 18-2 record with 12 knock outs. This fight is for the NABO super-middleweight title.
Despite Whittaker claiming he was not aware of the promotion until a couple of weeks ago when he spotted it while surfing on the internet, Clifford maintained that Killa was always informed of this promotion and a slot had been reserved for him.
All this came about on a boxing trip together to Las Vegas, Clifford and Whittaker met Goosen for the first time and initial talks for a Cayman show were discussed. Whittaker insists that the fight bill, date and venue was arranged without his knowledge. Clifford says he was informed throughout.
‘I really want to appeal to Charles Whittaker today to take this opportunity,’ Clifford said. ‘This is an opportunity for him to take his career to the next level. It is the best opportunity he will have and I’m asking him to take it as it might not come around again.’
Clifford also said that Whittaker initially wanted to be a co-promoter with Goosen but that was not feasible.
The main stumbling block seems to Whittaker’s purse. Clifford said that the government would match the promoters’ offer of $10,000. But Goossen added it would be unlikely that Killa would get direct television exposure.
Both Ward and Ravelo said at the press conference that a total of $20,000 was a reasonable offer for a fighter who has 12 losses on his record.
But Whittaker is not happy. When he met Ward for the first time a few hours later and discussed the whole situation, Ward changed his mind.
The capacity of the Truman Bodden for this event is 3,000. The special attraction is a USBA heavyweight championship fight between Eddie Chambers and Raphael Butler. There will be at least four other bouts featuring Goosen fighters and Whittaker hopes to be one of them if differences can be resolved.
‘When you consider the audience, not just in stadium but the worldwide television viewers, and all the promotional events around the fight, it is hard to put a value on that,’ Clifford added.
Tickets will be on sale for the Cayman Knockout shortly, starting at only CI$15 to ensure the event is accessible to all locals who want to attend but ringside will be a lot more.
Whittaker is unconcerned about not being main bill. He is also not bothered whether his bout is televised or not.
All Whittaker really wants is to be paid a fair amount for fighting on the undercard.
He feels he deserves a certain level of respect considering he is the NABO light-middlweight champion and has lost only once in the past seven years.
Added to the fact that Whittaker’s success as a world class fighter has indirectly brought this show to the Cayman Islands, he feels he has a point.
‘Before Andre Ward met me, he didn’t know my credentials and thought I was just a journeyman fighter trying to cash in on the situation,’ Whittaker said.
‘Ward thought that $20,000 was a reasonable amount but when he met me a few hours after the press conference and I told him my situation, both him and his manager changed their attitude. They said that I was not presented to them like that and that they only responded to what they were told. They said it was not in my best interests to fight for $20,000.
‘Dan Goosen’s only met me once and he too was only dealing with me by what he’d been told.
‘I’m ranked higher in the world than all the boxers on this show, including Ward. And he’s fighting for the NABO title which I already hold and have successfully defended.
‘Ward and his manager said that $20,000 is a slap in the face for a fighter of my stature who ranked No.6 in the world and on the verge of a world title. They also didn’t realise I was a Caymanian and feel it would be insulting that I was not on the bill considering I am the only professional fighter here – and a successful one as well.
‘Anyway, if I take that $20,000 that will put me in a poor negotiating position when I deal with American promoters in the future.’