Three days after Andrew Cancio lost his junior lightweight world title, Golden Boy Promotions, whom he had publicly voiced displeasure with going into the fight, released him from his contract on Tuesday.
“I’m not happy with what has transpired but my goal is to become a world champion again and work with a promotional company that will provide me with the opportunity,” Cancio told ESPN in a statement. “I’ll be back stronger than ever and I greatly appreciate the loyal support of my fans and I look forward to returning to the ring in the New Year.”
Cancio had become one of boxing’s feel-good stories in 2019. Disillusioned with his career and having suffered a knockout loss to Joseph Diaz in September 2016, Cancio retired. But he returned 19 months later and in his third fight back was given an unexpected shot at 130-pound world titlist Alberto Machado in February. Machado was a huge favorite, but Cancio hammered him with body shots and knocked him out in the fourth round to win the title in front of his fans at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
When Machado exercised his contractual option for an immediate rematch, Cancio did it again, punishing him to the body and stopping him in the third round.
Cancio won a title and defended it all while maintaining his day job as a line worker for a Southern California gas company. He used work vacation days during training camp and fulfilled media obligations on his lunch hour.
But Cancio (21-5-2, 16 KOs), 31, of Blythe, California, also yearned for bigger purses and exposure and was unhappy that his second defense, a mandatory against Rene Alvarado, whom he had stopped in the eighth round of a 2015 nontitle bout, was taking place again at Fantasy Springs, where Cancio is a popular ticket seller.
Alvarado dominated Saturday’s fight, opening a bad cut over Cancio’s left eye and laying a beating on him for most of the bout until referee Raul Caiz Sr. stopped it moments after the end of the seventh round.
“He wanted bigger purses and he wanted to fight in bigger venues,” Golden Boy president Eric Gomez told ESPN. “He didn’t think Golden Boy was providing that for him so we released him and wish him all the best. I hope he finds what he’s looking for.
“He voiced his concerns about being with Golden Boy and he wasn’t happy. I thought we did a great job with him. We brought him back when he came out of retirement. We got him a world title shot. He was a main event on Saturday. I guess he thought it wasn’t enough for him, so we released him even though he was still under contract for a while longer.”
Heading into the fight with Alvarado, Cancio was unhappy with Golden Boy for what he perceived as a lack of promotion. He believed Golden Boy was going to put him in the co-feature position on the high-profile Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev card in Las Vegas on Nov. 2, but when Golden Boy worked out its issues with rising lightweight star Ryan Garcia it instead put him in that slot. Cancio spoke out against Golden Boy’s decision in an article published in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, the day of Cancio’s rematch with Alvarado.
“I sell out Fantasy Springs, but I would like Golden Boy to move me around to different spots so I can get a bigger fan base,” Cancio told the newspaper. “I’m not the promoter. I don’t know how to go about that. I’m just the fighter who wants to make money for my family. I just have to keep winning and move forward to get big fights and big money so I can step aside from the gas company a little bit.
“I feel like a lot of the promotion is focused on Canelo and Ryan Garcia. I feel that Garcia hasn’t fought anybody yet. As a co-main event, on a big card, with no belt, I think that’s a little bit ridiculous. I haven’t had a conversation with (Golden Boy CEO) Oscar (De La Hoya). … I haven’t sat down with him. I haven’t talked with him. I just want to be treated as a world champion and not just some guy who got lucky. I didn’t get lucky. I worked my butt off to get here. I don’t want to be working, and fighting, my entire career. I want to focus on boxing. In order to do that, I need to make the big money in bigger venues.”
Ray Chaparro, Cancio’s manager, said he’s not surprised that Golden Boy cut Cancio after the loss because of the issues.
“I expected it to happen if Andrew would’ve lost because they weren’t letting the story go,” Chaparro said. “Andrew did a story with the Los Angeles Times, and from early that week, Wednesday night, with Eric Gomez calling me personally upset — and the story hadn’t been released, yet. But because Andrew made a statement, I knew that the future was going to be bleak.
“I anticipated that the future was going to be, ‘Well, there goes negotiations for anything above (the contracted) minimum.’ And a lot of that affected the fight because from Wednesday night, from me catching it from Eric — he said, ‘I’m f—— pissed, Ray’ — (to) Thursday you could feel the vibe when we got (to Fantasy Springs).”
Chaparro added that he has reached out to promoters such as Top Rank and Matchroom Boxing as well as Premier Boxing Champions.
“There’s a lot of interest in Andrew,” Chaparro said. “He’s angry right now. I just told him to enjoy his Thanksgiving, and let me work. And that’s what we’re doing.”
Steve Kim contributed to this report