Six weeks ago, Bernardo Pinango of Venezuela held off Frankie Duarte for 15 tough rounds at the Forum to retain his World Boxing Assn. bantamweight championship belt.
This week, however, Pinango has been forced to give up the belt because of weightier matters--it no longer fits.
At 26, Pinango has conceded that he no longer can keep his waistline and the rest of his frame trim enough to weigh in at the 118-pound bantamweight level. So he has relinquished his title and will fight as a super bantamweight, the 122-pound category.
"He found there was just too much difficulty in getting down to that weight," said Pinango's manager, Luis Spada, by phone from his home in Panama. "So he has sent a letter to the WBA, informing them of his decision."
What next? Claimants to the title are surfacing around the globe. The lawsuits soon could follow in a division that has been thrown into chaos. And at the center of it all is Duarte, 32, the West Los Angeles fighter who is not ready to give up his dream of a title.
Before the blood around Duarte's eyes had dried after last month's title fight, talks began for a summer rematch at the Forum.
Pinango may now be gone, but the talk of a Forum fight hasn't stopped. Here are the possible scenarios:
Pinango had been scheduled to fight Takuya Muguruma of Japan, ranked No. 6 by the WBA, later this month. Had he won, Pinango then would have gone on to meet the No. 1 contender, Chan Park of Korea. Park now might meet the No. 2 contender, Azael Moran of Panama, for the title, either in Panama or Korea. Spada likes this scenario. He's also Moran's manager.
The Muguruma people feel their man should get the title shot since he already was set to fight Pinango. He would now step in and fight Park.
If Park isn't ready for an immediate fight, Spada has offered to put Moran in against Muguruma with Park fighting the winner.
Still with us?
Now if Moran should wind up in the title fight, and if he should win, Spada still sees a title defense this summer against Duarte, ranked 10th by the WBA.
"There's a good chance that will happen," Spada said. "I don't have any problem with it. They took good care of us when we were out there. I think a Forum fight would be a good possibility."
And a good attraction, said John Jackson, director of the Forum's boxing program.
"We would want to be in a position to get that fight," Jackson said. "We are more than ready to make it."
So is Dan Goossen, Duarte's manager.
"It doesn't surprise me that the thought of fighting Frankie again has driven Pinango into the super bantamweight division," Goossen said. "But I still think Frankie deserves another title shot. I think things can be worked out. I believed Luis Spada when he told me after the last fight that we would get another shot. He's a man of his word. I would love to have the fight back at the Forum, but we will go anywhere in the world."