- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Here are a few things I have heard from good sources this week:
• It’s not done yet but there is a good chance super middleweight champion Andre Ward will fight in the co-feature (opponent and weight to be determined) of the Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez HBO PPV card, which is not 100 percent set yet but ticketed for Nov. 21 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. If Ward and promoter Roc Nation Sports can work out a deal Ward would give a big boost to an already fantastic main event and get himself some valuable exposure since most people have not seen him fight in a long time. His return from 19-month layoff on June 20, a glorified sparring session with overmatched Paul Smith, was televised on BET and a mere blip in terms of its audience. If Ward does not fight on that card it remains to be seen if there will be room for him on HBO before the end of the year.
• Former junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov, one half of the 2013 fight of the year against Tim Bradley and one half of the front runner for 2015 fight of the year honors against Lucas Matthysse, could be headed for a three-fight deal with Showtime after appearing on HBO in four of his last five fights (with one taking place in Russia that HBO did not broadcast). HBO, however, has not shown much interest in retaining his services even though he is one of boxing’s most exciting fighters (albeit a guy who has lost three of his last five fights). If he goes to Showtime, the first bout of the deal could be in November against former three-division titlist Adrien Broner. It would be desperation time for both of them. Provodnikov lost a majority decision to Matthysse in April and Broner is coming off a decision loss to Shawn Porter in June.
• One undercard fight being discussed for the undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s Sept. 12 fight (likely against Andre Berto on Showtime PPV, not CBS), is the rematch between junior lightweight titlist Rocky Martinez and Orlando Salido. Martinez outpointed Salido on April 11 to reclaim his old belt in a barnburner. It would make sense on that undercard as Martinez recently signed with Mayweather adviser Al Haymon and it would also give the card, which is taking place on Mexican Independence Day weekend, a classic Mexico (Salido) versus Puerto Rico (Martinez) rivalry fight.
• Premier Boxing Champions is due to add another network to its lineup with a deal with Fox Sports 1 due to begin this fall. I am told Gus Johnson, who used to do blow-by-blow for Showtime, will have that role on the PBC on FS1 card. Brian Kenny, the longtime studio host for ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” and then Showtime’s fights after that, is slated to be the host of the shows. The analyst role is still up for grabs.