Days before Christmas, Aussie boxer Paul Fleming has been left out of pocket and angry at the circumstances which led to his recent fight being cancelled.
Fleming was due to meet Samir Ziani in an intriguing super-featherweight clash in Dubai at the weekend.
Former WBA heavyweight champion Lucas Browne was set to fight Manuel Charr in the main event, while Alex Winwood completed a trio of Australians on the card.
All three were left in the lurch when the event was scrapped at the last minute after the Middle East Professional Boxing Commission withdrew the promoter’s license.
Fleming has been left with many questions and very few answers from event organiser, Iconic Promotions Dubai.
The undefeated, world-rated southpaw said he began to suspect something was amiss when there was a delay in receiving his flight tickets, seeing him depart Sydney two days later than originally planned.
Once he landed, he was told he’d be fighting on Tuesday and not Saturday, before things then “went south really quick.”
“I don’t even know what really went on,” Fleming told Sports News.
“I heard the guy’s on the run, they can’t even find him.
“I heard from the promoter’s mouth that they were going to push the fights back until Tuesday.
“You never know what’s true or not but I heard some sponsors fell through, that’s why they had to move it to Tuesday.
“Everyone just wanted to be compensated for our time and effort.
“To do this so close to Christmas, a lot of people were relying on that money for Christmas.
“I went over there to earn money and it cost us money.
“Now I’ve got to go back and smooth it over with my sponsors.”
It’s a tough blow for the Queensland-born fighter who has now had two fights fall over in the space of a couple of months.
Fleming said the promoter in Dubai had breached the terms in fighters’ contracts and failed to comply with the standards of the local boxing authority.
“People didn’t have hotel rooms, Alex Winwood didn’t have a hotel room, some of the Indonesian fighters didn’t have enough rooms,” Fleming explained.
“There was no money for us to get food. This was all in the contracts too.
“I’ve never seen anything like it.
“The commission over there were the ones that pulled the fight.
“[The promoter] hadn’t done a lot of the things that needed to be done.
“With the commission over there, we need brain scans before we fight.
“We didn’t have enough time to get the brain scans and get the results back in time for the fight.”
Having been forced into a late change of plans after his November 30 bout with Billel Dib was scrappedFleming had put himself through the wringer to get ready for Ziani.
Prior to heading to Dubai, “Showtime” told Sports News he’d sparred 50 rounds in two weeks with former opponent Bruno Tarimo.
The situation has left Fleming, who is 29-0-1 as a professional, in a tough spot at a difficult time of year.
“I’m not a 25-year-old bloke anymore, I really put my body through a lot over the last two weeks before I left,” he said.
“All the stress and everything I put my family through.
“That’s time and brain cells, you can’t get that back.
“I’ve got six kids, I’ve just put my wife through hell with the training camp and you think it’s going to be all worthwhile, you’re going to come back with a pay check and a couple of titles.
“If I didn’t have this fight, I would have stayed home and hustled and made some money for Christmas but now I’ve spent money that I didn’t really have to go over there and not get anything.”
After the event fell apart, Fleming paid his own way home rather than wait until his scheduled flight on Wednesday.
“Some of the boys went dune buggying and sightseeing, I didn’t come over here to dune buggy or go on the sand dunes or waterslides,” he said.
“I could have stayed there until Wednesday and had a little holiday but I’m like, ‘Nah, I want to go home ASAP.’
“I didn’t come over for that, I came over to fight.”
Despite yet another disappointing turn of events, the 34-year-old said he’s determined to continue his pursuit of a world title.
“Why do these things keep happening? It’s always the way with me,” he said.
“It feels like it’s a video game and it’s always bosses, it’s always the hardest levels to beat.
“There’s always hurdles to overcome.
“But I’m not going to stop. I’ve still got the fire.”