(A champion no more.)
Just when KJ Noons was starting to focus on the boxing career he wants so badly, Elite XC has decided to lighten his luggage for him by stripping him of the lightweight title. From a release sent out late last night:
“We are stripping KJ of his championship belt for refusing to defend against Diaz,’’ Lappen said. “It’s a very unfortunate situation but we cannot have belt-holders who refuse to fight the top contenders. We want champions who will fight anyone, anytime, anyplace. That’s the mentality all champions should have.
“I feel very bad for KJ because I like him a lot on a personal level and have always thought he could be a big star. He’s charismatic, has a very exciting fighting style and is a top level fighter. So I’m obviously disappointed that he has chosen to take this stance.
“I don’t understand why he would turn down a chance to be a headliner on CBS on Oct. 4. KJ then turned down the fight again when we offered him a headlining spot on our next SHOWTIME date against Nick. From my view, it is a fight against a top-named opponent in Diaz (someone who beat the No. 1 fighter in the world in his weight class), a fighter KJ has bad blood with and most definitely a fight the fans really wanted to see. It seemed like a great opportunity for KJ to me.
“Personally, I do not think it was a smart career move, but I’m sure he sees it differently. KJ has two more fights remaining on his contract, so we are still looking forward to having him fight for us again soon, but not as our world champion.’’
Aside from the awkward phrase “top-named opponent” — which seems like the worst possible way of saying that a guy isn’t ranked in the top ten but people know him anyway — Elite XC actually makes a firm case here. Even if Noons doesn’t feel that Diaz deserves the shot, and even if he isn’t satisfied with the money he’d get for it (at the rate he agreed to when he signed the contract), the fact is that it’s the fight that both the Elite XC brass and the fans most want to see.
If you want to be the champ, that’s the fight you’ve got to take. If you go out and beat Nick Diaz on network TV, that can only help your popularity and your fight purses down the road, right? For whatever reason, Noons doesn’t see it that way. Enjoy your boxing career, young man.