By Scott Shaffer
Derrick Gainer, Boxingtalk's #11 featherweight, has apparently decided to pass up a world title opportunity rather than fight in an outdoor arena on December 3, 2004. With Jose "Cheo" Rojas poised to travel to the remote island of Borneo to save the date for Chris John's WBA title defense, Gainer is hopeful the WBA will call for purse bids for the John-Rojas winner to face him.
Gainer, who has not fought since a flat performance against Juan Manuel Marquez cost him the WBA featherweight belt over a year ago, was maneuvered into the WBA mandatory challenger's position by Warrior Boxing and had an opportunity to travel to the island of Borneo to face Chris John, the new holder of the WBA 126-pound title (Marquez was promoted to WBA super champion and John won a paper "regular" title). Gainer initially agreed to the purse and also to a journey around the world to Borneo, an island that partly belongs to John's country, Indonesia. However, he balked at fighting in an outdoor arena because he feared the heat. According to the website e-borneo.com, this week's forecast calls for temperatures were in the low to mid 80s. In an e-mail to Gainer and his representatives, WBA executive Renzo Bagnariol wrote, "we at the WBA have done as much as we could to make this fight a reality… we feel very sorry for the great investment that the Indonesian promoter has done in order to organize this fight, and… we may have no other choice than to give Mr. John permission for a voluntary defense."
In passing up the title defense, Gainer should note that even if he goes to purse bids next year, John's promoters could win the bid and schedule the fight wherever they want, even in the same Borneo stadium. Also, Gainer can look at the situation of Travis Simms, who got a letter from the WBA earlier this year that it was ordering Winky Wright to face Simms. Shortly after the letter was written, the WBA changed the rules on Simms and he is still waiting for Wright.
According to boxing website boxeomundial, Jose "Cheo" Rojas is likely to go to Borneo in Gainer's stead. Rojas, a 122-pounder has not fought since May 2003 but he won his last fight against previously undefeated Celestino Caballero who is currently rated #23 at 122-pounds by Boxingtalk and also defeated Genaro Garcia, currently Boxingtalk's #4 bantamweight.