Arturo Gatti couldn't make Fight Night Champion. It's not because he's dead - so's Sugar Ray Robinson, and he's in the game. It's just that negotiating likeness agreements with boxers is head-bangingly more frustrating than in any other sports game.
Answering whining customer complaints about the omission of some fighters - most of them known only to boxing cognoscenti - Fight Night producer Bryan Hayes took to the EA Sports forums yesterday with a candid explanation. Gatti is the biggest name not on the list, but as Hayes explains, he "died under very suspicious circumstances.
"Sorry that we weren't able to re-do that contract in the wake of that. We would have signed him for an extra two years way back if we had known he was going to die," Hayes said, adding an eye-rolling smiley for effect.
Of the rest, granted Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera aren't no-names. But Hayes was struck by how many boxers behaved as if they were - that is, didn't know the value of their brand. Or overestimated the value and insisted on ridiculous contract terms. Others just didn't pick up the phone. (Technically, Gatti couldn't either.)
"All of the boxers that we lost were contacted, some of them several times by myself personally," Hayes wrote. "I'm not kidding when I say this, sometimes we just don't hear back. Even from people we worked with previously. I personally had communications with one boxer - and his three different managers - over the course of six months."
Hayes added that "it's not like boxing is chock-full of stand-up guys accustomed to a strict code of business ethics - nor is it populated by an abundance of athletes with a realistic perception of their brand value and/or mainstream appeal."
That said, "Some guys are absolutely great. Very professional and very helpful."
I counted 14 fighters who were present in Fight Night Round 4 or its DLC but are not on the list for Fight Night Champion. They are:
Amin Asikainen Arthur Abraham Arturo Gatti Cory Spinks Edwiin Valero Erik Morales Fernando Montiel Jorge Arce Kermit Cintron Marco Antonio Barrera Nate Campbell Paulie Malignaggi Tomasz Adamek Vivian Harris
Having Fight Night Champion Roster Complaints? Brizzo Explains... [Operation Sports]