- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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For months, Top Rank talked about putting on a July 14 pay-per-view card at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but now it looks like the talk is over and there won't be a show.
Originally, Top Rank's Bob Arum said the card would be headlined by Mexican star Juan Manuel Marquez, who won an interim junior welterweight belt in April, and that junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire would fight in the co-feature.
Then Arum said Donaire wouldn't be on the card because the company would give him his own date (probably June 30 on HBO). Even without Donaire, Marquez would still headline, Arum said. But no deal had been finalized with a television company to distribute the event and Marquez had no opponent.
Top Rank was talking to HBO about working on the show, and Top Rank certainly could have done it on its own, but time is running short to mount a legitimate pay-per-view promotion.
Then came the usual steady stream of discussion about whom Marquez would fight. Junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson was originally mentioned, but he instead accepted a rematch with Amir Khan (which was supposed to have taken place last Saturday but was canceled when Peterson tested positive for a synthetic testosterone).
Other names were mentioned for Marquez: fellow Mexican star and future Hall of Famer Erik Morales (a fight I've wanted to see for about a decade), former titlist Zab Judah, former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios (coming off a gift decision against Richard Abril that most sane people thought was a very obvious Abril victory) and the utterly unknown Mercito Gesta, a talented Filipino lightweight who is, alas, nowhere near ready to face a fighter of Marquez's caliber.
In the end, after all the talk, Top Rank pulled the plug on the event Monday because Marquez elected not to fight on the pay-per-view. From what I hear from those around Marquez, the financial package wasn't to Marquez's liking. Plus, he didn't want to fight Rios, the opponent Top Rank wanted him to face.
Marquez had previously said he preferred a southpaw opponent (Judah and Gesta would have fit) in anticipation of a possible fourth fight with Manny Pacquiao, a left-hander, in the fall.
Now Marquez might instead wait to see what happens in the June 9 Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. fight. If Pacquiao wins, Marquez figures to be at the top of the list for Pacquiao's November opponent.
Arum had been in talks with Main Events' Kathy Duva about a Marquez-Judah fight, but according to Duva, Arum told her Monday that "Marquez has decided not to fight at all in July."
Zanfer Promotions, which has a promotional contract with Marquez but works closely with Top Rank, said it is possible Marquez could still fight this summer -- but in Mexico on July 21 or July 28, likely against a lesser opponent.