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The Price for Flipping the Script

(Originally Posted in

Last Saturday night at the Forum in Inglewood, California on the Lucas Matthysse-Tewa Kiram undercard, a stiff-legged Breidis Prescott walked the ring, taking shots and clumsily missing his own.

Pitted against solid, but utterly unspectacular Argentine Marcelino Lopez, the battle-weary 34-year-old Colombian was there, but not really present. And, predictably enough, he was dropped in the fifth round by a right hand, then put down again by another right hand just seconds later. Buzzed and in no condition to continue, Prescott would take the full ten count. It was his fourth straight loss and the fifth out of his last six.

Most distressing for the veteran opponent, however, was the fact that this loss likely cost him a big payday in the UK against comeback-minded Amir Khan, who was blown away in fifty-four seconds by Prescott nearly a decade ago. Rumors had Khan eager to avenge that most embarrassing defeat as the first bout in his three-fight deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.

Sadly for Prescott, a Khan rematch represented the high-profile payday he had been waiting on ever since he scored that shocking upset.

Whereas Khan found himself fast-tracked to a WBA title fight for a minor “international” belt three months after Prescott had knocked him old cold, Prescott walked around with nothing to do for five months, only able to parlay his Upset of the Year glory into a go-nowhere feature with Humberto Toledo on Friday Night Fights.

Less than a year later, Khan won his first world title against Andriy Kotelnik while Prescott was firmly on the path to becoming a professional opponent and fall guy, matched tough against house fighters for short money. The story being told was of Khan’s learning experience and return to form, not the 24-year-old Colombian kid's rise-from-nowhere Cinderella story.

What one learns from REALLY being around boxing is that the only Rocky stories are those in the movies and those reserved for fighters with the right connections. Without the right people behind you, the path to stardom is exceedingly narrow, narrow to the point of almost not existing at all.

Like in Prescott’s case, when a fall guy ruins the set-up and manages to somehow win, it does little to upset the momentum of the money fighter. And, if anything, flipping the script may actually cost the underdog money, earning him the reputation of a B-side who doesn’t act like a proper B-side and is, therefore, utterly unreliable in the role promoters have cast him in.

Most often, a fall guy who manages to overcome the physical odds, escape the judging, and actually walk away with a win is merely going to be marched into a bigger set-up next time against a better, badder A-side. And this will keep happening until he finally loses and can be sent back to the lower tier.

This is what happened to Prescott.

Since the Khan upset in 2008, the one-time top Colombian prospect has gone 10-12 as an almost perpetual B-side, flown around the world to lose to fighters looking to feed off the name value of a guy who once beat Amir Khan.

For a guy like Prescott, there was very little time given to regroup and rebuild after defeats or setbacks. Post-Khan, he was booked as a professional opponent until he became a professional opponent.

And this is the story of most script flippers who never reap the benefits of upsetting the applecart, unless the business decides that they should be a star.

The last half of the story for these fighters, however, is even more unpleasant than the first act. A lifetime of punishment for modest-to-poor paydays usually means money issues and health issues post-retirement. And, since they aren’t “stars,” there will most likely be nobody around to give them a helping hand.

Hopefully, Prescott had the foresight to prepare for his rough road.

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