Hughes News & Views: No blond, no foul? Think again
By David Hughes
TERRE HAUTE — Some of you probably wondered why no results from Saturday’s cage-fighting card at the Zorah Shrine Temple appeared in the Tribune-Star this week.
Well, it’s because there were no fights.
On Saturday afternoon, promoters called off the event because too many of the scheduled fighters backed out at the last minute. That meant Terre Haute’s Shane Meehan would not get his chance to battle Fort Wayne’s Justin Wade for the vacant North American Boxing Council heavyweight championship in mixed martial arts.
Indianapolis promoter Fred Berns sent a fax to the Tribune-Star, addressed to me, offering reasons for the cancellation Saturday. But because I was out of town covering the Indiana State football game Saturday and off work Sunday and Monday, I did not see the fax until Tuesday.
In the fax, Berns mentioned names of three out-of-town fighters who pulled out Saturday morning. He added that one of them was supposed to bring “two additional fights” and another fighter couldn’t make it with three other fighters he was slated to bring.
Berns said another fighter, one not referred to in the previous paragraph, quit answering his phone Friday when promoters sought confirmation of his arrival.
“We are very sorry for letting everyone down,” said Berns, who promoted several of Terry Ray’s boxing cards in the 1990s. “In my 39 years in this business, this was by far the worst experience with fighters I have ever had. It’s not unusual for several fighters not to show up. That happens all the time. This time, we went from 11 fights to three overnight.
“Our main event was still intact, but you cannot go on with three bouts. Apparently MMA fighters are unusually undependable. I have learned a valuable lesson and will not get involved in MMA again.”
Berns apologized in the fax to Meehan, but Meehan doesn’t sound ready to accept it. He holds Berns and promoter Tony Delk responsible for the snafu, marking the second time this year that a cage-fighting card featuring Meehan was canceled on short notice.
Meehan said he called Delk on Saturday morning and Delk told him that he was in the process of transporting the cage to the Shrine Temple.
But Ray, who was helping train Meehan in boxing, called later to inform Meehan that Berns had canceled the card. Meehan eventually found out that the cage had arrived at the Shrine Temple before it was quickly removed.
Meehan is upset because he said Berns “guaranteed” Friday at least 10 fights would take place, with the possibility of an 11th and 12th.
“I wanted more,” Meehan said. “But if we had to do it with 10, we’d do it with 10.”
Meehan said he had already paid a $500 deposit of the $1,000 needed to rent the Shrine Temple, adding that he won’t get that money back. He also had paid $1,000 to Berns so Berns could purchase insurance for all the fighters.
Meehan said he is refunding all tickets purchased through him, but not tickets purchased through Ticketmaster. He said Berns and Delk must deal with that.
The Shrine Temple also lost money in the confusion.
Shrine Temple recorder Dale Jeffery told me Thursday that he learned about the cancellation at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The card was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
“We had everything ready and a lot of people had bought tickets,” Jeffery said. “We had employees lined up to work.”
Jeffery said the Shrine Temple lost out on potential concession sales, adding that the office phone rang constantly Friday and Saturday as people were calling to ask about ticket availability.
“That [promotional] outfit isn’t gonna get another rental at our place,” he said in disgust.