Boxing: Everybody blames each other for fight fiasco: High Noon in Hong Kong promised much but delivered only grief, as Harry Mullan discovered

The cast list for High Noon in Hong Kong, the boxing extravaganza which was cancelled at the 11th hour on Saturday evening, included a choice of villains, a lot of victims and no heroes.

The villains were, according to whom you chose to believe: Barry Hearn, who scuttled the show by withdrawing his boxers, Herbie Hide and Steve Collins, when their purse guarantees were not in place by the deadline of 5.30pm local time on Saturday; Bob Arum, the American who was the event's nominal promoter but who refused to come up with the cash to save it; or John Daly, the Los Angeles-based Londoner who conceived the project and sank at least dollars 800,000 of his own money into it.

The victims were the eight fighters and their entourages, their supporters, who had spent their savings on flying around the world to watch them in action, and the several thousand fans who had bought tickets to see the first - and now surely the last - world title fights to be scheduled for Hong Kong.

Daly's brainchild had been in trouble from the start, and his chronic cashflow problems became evident in a series of rows with Wembley International (who run the Hong Kong Stadium, the intended venue), the Regal Hotel, who complained that 500 rooms had been booked but not paid for, and the local boxing association, who demanded a sanctioning fee yet did nothing to protect the boxers' interests. Had they required the purses to be lodged with them well in advance, as is standard practice in Britain, Saturday's shambles could have been avoided.

The crisis deepened when Barry Hearn flew in and repeated the demand he had made when the show was first announced: that letters of credit be produced guaranteeing the dollars 1.5m due to Hide and Collins, who were defending their respective WBO heavyweight and middleweight titles against Tommy Morrison and Lonnie Beasley.

Hearn set a deadline of one minute before the boxers were due to weigh in at 5.30pm on Saturday as the increasingly harassed-looking Daly tried frantically to raise the shortfall which, according to Arum, was around dollars 2m.

When the local bankers whom he thought had agreed to salvage the show refused to advance him a further dollars 771,000 against anticipated revenue from ticket sales and American pay-per-view subscriptions at dollars 25 a time, Daly had only one card left to play. He had involved Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc, one of America's major promoters and the company with whom the boxers had their contracts, and claimed that the boxers' purses were Arum's responsibility.

'My end of the deal was kept,' Daly argued. 'I had to arrange the stadium, air fares and all the pre-fight promotional expenses, which I did, but the purses were not part of my obligation.' To nobody's amazement, Arum took a different view and declined to come up with the cash.

When the deadline passed, he and Hearn released a joint statement announcing their withdrawal from the promotion. What most hardened observers of the boxing scene had suspected to be merely an exercise in brinkmanship was suddenly a reality. Daly, mustering a degree of battered dignity, faced the press corps and the eight outraged fighters to say: 'I've tried desperately to convince my partners to keep the faith. I offered them as much security as I could but it was not quite good enough.

'It seems I was ready to take the shots, but Mr Arum wasn't'

Frank Bruno, who had been due to fight Ray Mercer, is usually the gentlest of men outside the ring, but was shaking with anger as he said: 'I feel very let down by Bob Arum and the promoters. They were supposed to be top professionals, the creme de la creme. I thought they were the business, but to be quite honest they've been unprofessional, totally unprofessional.

'To cancel a promotion just like that without consulting anyone is very serious. A lot of money has been going into this. Top Rank are big promoters and they should have dug deep in their pockets - they've made enough money out of fighters over the years.

'It's tough for all the fighters, and for the people who worked five days a week to afford to come over here and support us. It's disgusting. It's staggering.'

Mickey Duff, who plans to sue Arum and Top Rank on behalf of Bruno and his other boxer, Billy Schwer (due to challenge Rafael Ruellas for the IBF lightweight title), said: 'What kind of promoters are these? I've been in the business 45 years and I've never cancelled a show just because I was going to lose money. I'd rather cut my throat than do that.

'If there's been a more bizarre week than this in boxing, I don't remember it.'

The show has been tentatively rescheduled for 17 December in Connecticut, Arum announced yesterday.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Negotiator - OTE £24,000

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic individual is r...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - West Midlands - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - Yorkshire & Humber - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?