A few notes from around the boxing world:

•  Flyweight world champion Roman Gonzalez (40-0, 34 KOs), who won an alphabet title and the lineal championship via his ninth-round knockout of Japan’s Akira Yaegashi on Sept. 5 in Tokyo, is returning to Japan to make his first defense against the Philippines’ Rocky Fuentes (35-7-2, 20 KOs) on Nov. 22 in Kanagawa. The fight is on the undercard of junior lightweight titlist Takashi Miura (27-2-2, 20 KOs) of Japan defending against Mexico’s Edgar Puerta (23-4-1, 19 KOs). Teiken Boxing, which promotes Gonzalez, announced the card Monday.

A former strawweight and junior flyweight titleholder, Gonzalez, 27, of Nicaragua, likely will face unified flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada in the first half of 2015 in a rematch of Gonzalez’s decision victory in a fantastic junior flyweight title fight in 2012. But first Gonzalez needs to beat Fuentes, 28, who lost his last fight by decision challenging flyweight titlist Amnat Ruenroeng in Thailand in January.

•  Junior middleweight John Jackson (18-2, 15 KOs), one of the fighting sons of former middleweight and junior middleweight titleholder Julian Jackson, had it rough in his last fight in June on the Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez undercard. After knocking Andy Lee down hard in the first round, nearly knocking him out and dominating the fight, Lee knocked Jackson out cold with a Hail Mary right hand in the fifth round. Now Jackson, 25, of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is scheduled for his ring return, which will be Nov. 15 in Cordoba, Argentina, against Carlos Adan Jerez (40-17-3, 18 KOs). Besides looking to rebound from the loss, Jackson is also seeking a bit of family revenge. Jerez handed Samuel Rogers, Jackson’s cousin, his first loss.

"John knows he got careless against Lee," said Sampson Lewkowicz, Jackson’s promoter. “He knows what he did wrong and paid a heavy price for it. He was beating Andy Lee all over the ring and forgot about his defense. It's something that will never happen again."

•  Some of Golden Boy’s best prospects will be in action on the Nov. 13 edition of “Golden Boy Live” (10 p.m. ET, Fox Spots 1/Fox Deportes) at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. Junior featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr. (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian, headlines the card; junior featherweight Diego De La Hoya (7-0, 5 KOs), Oscar De La Hoya’s first cousin, is in the co-feature; and featherweight Julian Ramirez (12-0, 7 KOs), a nephew of the late former junior lightweight champion Genaro Hernandez, and Chinese heavyweight Taishan Dong (1-0, 1 KO) also are scheduled to appear. All will face opponents to be determined.

•  Japan’s Takashi Uchiyama (21-0-1, 17 KOs), 34, will seek his ninth successful defense when he faces Israel Perez (27-2-1, 16 KOs), 35, of Argentina on Dec. 31 in Tokyo. Uchiyama has not fought since last New Year’s Eve. Perez will be fighting for a world title for the first time. "I have experience. I am in shape and I am very much aware that I am going to bring the championship home,” Perez said. “I will not disappoint and will make my dream of becoming champion of the world a reality. Uchiyama is a good boxer, but not unbeatable.”

Martin Murray card live on ESPN3

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
As soon as Gennady Golovkin finished his second-round annihilation of Marco Antonio Rubio on Saturday night, the discussion turned to who would be his next opponent when he returns to action in February in Monte Carlo, where has fought twice before.

Tom Loeffler, his promoter at K2, said GGG’s ideal opponent for his next fight -- unless one of the really big names steps up, which they likely won’t -- would be longtime middleweight contender Martin Murray of England, who gave then-champion Sergio Martinez a tough night in Argentina in a close decision loss in 2013 and held then-titlist Felix Sturm to a debatable draw in Germany in 2011.

Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) will be ringside at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo on Saturday, when Murray (28-1-1, 12 KOs), winner of three in a row since the loss to Martinez, headlines a card against Italy’s Domenico Spada (39-5, 19 KOs), who is two fights removed from being knocked out by Rubio in an interim title bout. It will be Murray’s second fight in a row in Monte Carlo, and GGG will be there checking him out the man who might be his next opponent.

American fight fans can check out the fight -- and the entire card -- via live stream on ESPN3.com after ESPN acquired the American rights on Tuesday.

The stream begins at 1 p.m. ET and will include five fights. Also on the card:

• Coachella, California’s Randy Caballero (21-0, 13 KOs) will face England’s Stuart Hall (16-3-2, 7 KOs) for a vacant bantamweight world title.
• Strawweight titlist Hekkie Budler (26-1, 9 KOs) of South Africa will make his second defense against former world titleholder Xiong Zhao Zhong (24-5-1, 14 KOs) of China.
• Light heavyweight prospect Eleider Alvarez (15-0, 8 KOs), a Colombia native living in Montreal, will square off with South Africa’s Ryno Liebenberg (16-0, 11 KOs) in a 12-round bout.
• British middleweight Nick Blackwell (15-3, 6 KOs) will face Belarus’ Sergey Khomitsky (29-11-2, 12 KOs) in a six-rounder.

GGG big on TV as well as at arena

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
videoGood boy Gennady Golovkin’s second-round knockout of Marco Antonio Rubio -- GGG’s 18th KO in a row -- to retain his middleweight title for the 12th time on Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, was a rousing success at the gate to the tune of a standing-room-only crowd of 9,323 as well as on HBO.

It was an electric atmosphere at the stadium, with most in the heavily Mexican crowd cheering for Golovkin against Rubio, a Mexican. In fact, the crowd broke out into chants of “Triple G! Triple G!”

It was such a great crowd and lively atmosphere that Dan Beckerman, the CEO of AEG, the company that owns StubHub as well as the Staples Center a few miles away in downtown Los Angeles, told me after the fight that he thought Golovkin, who was fighting on the West Coast for the first time, would have done a much bigger crowd at the Staples Center and that he very much wants Golovkin to headline there, ideally against Canelo Alvarez or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

So we know Golovkin can sell tickets. He also has drawn well in New York at Madison Square Garden and the Theater at MSG.

But Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) is also clearly a big television draw, too, based on his numbers. Saturday’s viewership on HBO -- which has aired the top 10 cable TV fights this year (and 13 of the top 15) -- only added to that fact.

According to Nielsen Media Research, Golovkin-Rubio averaged 1.304 million viewers for the live, first-time airing. That makes it the second-best-performing fight on American cable television in 2014. Only the March rematch between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera drew more viewers (1.390 million). Golovkin-Rubio peaked at 1.323 million viewers, a healthy figure, especially considering that the fight was up against the Florida State-Notre Dame game, a huge college football matchup, on ABC.

The co-feature on Saturday’s card, Nicholas Walters' devastating sixth-round knockout of Nonito Donaire to win a featherweight world title, also performed well, averaging 1.1 million viewers (fifth best on cable TV in the U.S. this year so far) and peaking at 1.166 million viewers.

Here are the average viewership figures for all six of Golovkin’s HBO fights in chronological order:

• Gregorz Proksa (Sept. 1, 2012): 685,000
• Gabriel Rosado (Jan. 19, 2013): 813,000
• Matthew Macklin (June 29, 2013): 1.1 million
• Curtis Stevens (Nov. 2, 2013): 1.41 million
• Daniel Geale (July 26, 2014): 984,000
• Rubio (Oct. 18, 2014): 1.304 million

Golovkin’s ability to sell tickets and draw viewers means that he is headed for HBO PPV sooner than later and, ideally, a big-name opponent will get into the ring with him. Nobody can use the excuse that he doesn’t bring anything to the table. The fact is he brings money now and lots of it, not to mention big crowds and TV audiences who want to see his “big drama show.”

Goossen Promotions carries on

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
After promoter Dan Goossen died at age 64 on Sept. 29, just a few weeks after being diagnosed with liver cancer, there were many questions about what would happen to his company, Goossen Promotions.

Tom Brown, Goossen’s brother-in-law, close friend and the company matchmaker, said after Dan’s death that the family business would carry on even though it would be impossible to replace their beloved leader.

“It's full steam ahead," Brown said less than a week after Goossen’s death. "I'm working on closing a few things between now and the end of the year. It's not going to be the same without Dan, but he wouldn't want us to just quit. No way. He gave me an opportunity when some people said, ‘Are you crazy?’ So we are going to move forward. He would expect nothing else.”

The first efforts of Goossen Promotions carrying on were unveiled Monday with the announcement of a card -- in Goossen’s honor -- Nov. 20 at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City, California.

“My Dad was the ultimate San Fernando Valley guy and the continuation of this series is the perfect way to honor his devotion to the sport and passion for the Valley. ‘Live at the Lodge’ will be a key ingredient to his legacy,” said Craig Goossen, one of Dan’s four sons, who has been involved in the family business for most of his adult life.

Said Brown: “Dan loved promoting high-quality shows in his hometown. He's been a staple in the Southern California boxing community going all the way back to the Reseda Country Club, where he first made his mark, up to major championship bouts at Staples Center."

The Nov. 20 card, which won't be televised, will be headlined by junior welterweight Lydell Rhodes (22-0, 11 KOs) in a 10-rounder against an opponent to be determined. In the 10-round co-feature, welterweight Wale “Lucky Boy” Omotoso (24-1, 20 KOs) will face an opponent to be named.

Another fight on the card will mark the return of 2008 U.S. Olympian Shawn Estrada (15-0, 13 KOs), who has not fought in two years. Estrada, who has struggled to make weight and not fought since August 2012, will fight an eight-rounder against an opponent to be named at light heavyweight, Brown said.

Goossen promoted several cards at the Sportsmen's Lodge in the late 1990s and then more shows there in 2012. Like the Reseda Country Club shows in the 1980s and '90s, the idea is to use the shows to help build younger fighters into future contenders and eventually champions. Now his son and brother-in-law will look to carry on his legacy beginning with the card Nov. 20. As Brown said of Goossen Promotions, it’s full steam ahead.

GGG expects a huge 2015

October, 17, 2014
Oct 17

CARSON, Calif. -- Middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin fought four times in his breakout 2013 and hoped to do it again this year. But when his father died unexpectedly, Golovkin withdrew from an April fight, leaving him with only three appearances this year.

GGG knocked out Osumanu Adama in February, Daniel Geale in July and returns to make his 12th title defense against Marco Antonio Rubio (59-6-1, 51 KOs) on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the sold-out StubHub Center.

But next year, Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs), one of the busiest elite fighters in the sport, has designs on another four-fight year.

“Right now I am focused on Rubio. He’s a strong guy,” Golovkin said. “He is good experience for me. This is my first fight in California, so it’s a big step for me, a big deal for me. But I am ready for a unification fight. After this fight I hope so for a unification. I need Canelo [Alvarez]-[Miguel] Cotto first and then, of course, I want the winner. But [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr., Andre Ward, Carl Froch. Bring me big fight.”

With a win, Golovkin is ticketed for a February return in Monte Carlo, perhaps against British contender Martin Murray. After that he wants a big pay-per-view fight.

Golovkin was supposed to face Chavez at super middleweight on HBO PPV in July. Golovkin agreed to terms, but Chavez backed out. Golovkin would love for the fight to be finalized.

With middleweight champion Cotto likely headed to a spring showdown with Alvarez, the winner would be an ideal opponent and a huge fight for GGG in the second half of next year.

K2 Promoter Tom Loeffler, who represents Golovkin, said he also has been in touch with Eddie Hearn, who promotes super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch, to gauge their interest. That’s a fight Loeffler said that Golovkin would happily travel to Froch’s turf in England for and also fight him at 168 pounds.

Another name that interests Golovkin is super middleweight champion Andre Ward, although he is inactive with no return on the horizon. Ward is going on a year of inactivity while embroiled in a promotional contract dispute.

“If Gennady fought Canelo, Chavez, Cotto, Froch it would be phenomenal,” Loeffler said. “Those are really big fights. People can’t say Gennady doesn't bring a reward. He's still a big risk but he brings a lot of interest and a lot money with him now that HBO has committed their financial support to him. So if everything goes the right way on Saturday we're looking for a huge 2015. I'm convinced there is nobody at 160 pounds who can last 12 rounds with him.”

Golovkin said he won’t be picky about his opponents. He just wants something huge.

“I feel great. Four times [in 2015]. It is my time,” he said. “Next year will be big for me and my team. Right now, I focus on Rubio. In the future, I am ready for anyone. I waited a long time. I want big, big fights with superstars. It doesn’t matter who. Cotto, Canelo, Chavez Jr., Froch. It doesn’t matter. I want big fights for me and my fans. I want great show.”

Vasyl next for Donaire-Walters winner?

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
Vasyl LomachenkoChris Farina/Top RankVasyl Lomachenko could be in line for a fight against the winner of Nonito Donaire-Nicholas Walters.
The bout Saturday night between featherweight titleholder Nonito Donaire and secondary beltholder Nicholas Walters (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the sold-out StubHub Center in Carson, California, on the Gennady Golovkin-Marco Antonio Rubio undercard shapes up to be very interesting.

But what comes next for the winner could be even more fascinating.

Top Rank's Bob Arum promotes several of the top featherweights, including Donaire (33-2, 21 KOs) and Walters (24-0, 20 KOs). He also promotes two of the other world titleholders, Evgeny Gradovich (19-0, 9 KOs) and Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1, 1 KO), the brilliant two-time Olympic gold medalist, whose pro record is deceiving.

If Arum has his way -- and he hopes HBO will ante up for it -- he would like to match the winner of Donaire-Walters with Lomachenko, assuming he defeats Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (52-1, 33 KOs) on Nov. 22 on the Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri HBO PPV undercard.

"The winner of Donaire-Walters against Lomachenko is a massive, massive fight, especially if it's Donaire who wins," Arum told ESPN.com. "I would look forward to matching Saturday's winner with Lomachenko if he beats the Thai guy, who is a tough opponent with a great record. The winner of [Saturday's] fight versus Lomachenko is a major event in my opinion.

"But it's an expensive fight. We all know that. I would hope we can make it work. But, hey, even if HBO doesn't want it, I have other means. I can take it to Asia."

Donaire said he is open to any challenge from a top opponent, but also said one of his goals is to get a rematch with Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KOs), who outpointed him in April 2013 to unify junior featherweight belts.

"The rematch was one of the fights I requested," Donaire said. "I know if I am at my best, I have more than enough to beat him. I want to make that rematch happen. As a fighter and champion, you don't want leave things the way it is."

Donaire moved up to featherweight after the loss but said if Rigondeaux didn't want to come up to 126 pounds, he would be willing to meet him at 124, right between featherweight and junior featherweight.

However, in addition to having Walters in front of him, there is also zero public demand for a Rigondeaux rematch because of how bad the fight was thanks to Rigondeaux's utter lack of engagement.

"If they are willing to do the fight, that would be great. But is [HBO] willing to pay for that? Maybe they don't want to pay for it," Donaire said. "But that's a fight I requested."
Brandon Rios, Mike Alvarado Josh Hedges/Getty ImagesThe all-action rivalry between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado has produced two memorable wars.
Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios have split two epic fights, both scorching thrillers and fight of the year candidates.

In October 2012, Rios stopped Alvarado in the seventh round and Alvarado exacted revenge in March 2013 by winning a decision (and a vacant interim junior welterweight title).

From the moment the second fight ended a third fight was inevitable, and Top Rank and HBO have talked about making it for January. But now it just might -- surprise -- happen on Dec. 20.

That is what HBO and Top Rank are talking about, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told ESPN.com.

Arum said that HBO set aside "significant money" to put on a Canelo Alvarez fight with Golden Boy Promotions on Dec. 6 in conjunction with Alvarez's recent signing of a long-term deal with the network. But an ankle injury knocked Alvarez off the date and he won't fight until 2015.

"When Canelo said he couldn't go on Dec. 6 that freed up a considerable amount of money which, like most corporations, if they don't spend it this year it goes back to the company and they get a new budget next year," Arum said. "So we are seeing if they can use some of those funds set aside for the Canelo fight for Rios-Alvarado on Dec. 20 and add a show to the schedule for the consumers.

"HBO told us they want the fight but we hadn't discussed it for this year. This came out of the blue after Canelo said he wasn't fighting on Dec. 6."

HBO still plans to do a card with Golden Boy on Dec. 6, but it won't be for nearly the same price tag the show with Alvarez would have cost.

Top Rank president Todd duBoef has been talking to HBO Sports president Ken Hershman about the deal. DuBoef said he has talked to both fighter camps about the prospect of moving up the date of the fight from early 2015 to Dec. 20.

Arum said if Rios-Alvarado III -- which would be at welterweight -- happens on Dec. 20 the likely venue would be the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, just outside of Alvarado's hometown of Denver. Arum said the arena is on hold. Alvarado fought there last October and was stopped in the 10th round and lost his junior welterweight world title to Ruslan Provodnikov.

Alvarado (34-3, 23 KOs), 34, has lost two fights in a row, to Provodnikov and a decision to Juan Manuel Marquez in May. Former lightweight titleholder Rios (32-2-1, 23 KOs), 28, of Oxnard, California, has lost two of his last three bouts, the second fight to Alvarado followed by a lopsided decision loss to Manny Pacquiao last November. Rios bounced back with a ninth-round disqualification win against Diego Chaves on Aug. 2.

In addition to the Rios-Alvarado III talks, Arum said HBO has agreed to buy the vacant middleweight title bout between Matt Korobov and Andy Lee with the fight ticketed to either be part of a Dec. 13 tripleheader topped by Timothy Bradley Jr.-Chaves or on the proposed Rios-Alvarado III undercard on Dec. 20.

"Korobov-Lee is definitely going to be this year," Arum said. "It's just matter of if it will be Dec. 13 or Dec. 20."

Stiverne-Wilder deal getting closer

October, 15, 2014
Oct 15
The long slog to make the mandatory fight between heavyweight titleholder Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder is inching closer to the finish line.

[+] EnlargeBermane Stiverne
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesHeavyweight titlist Bermane Stiverne moved one step closer toward seeing his bout with unbeaten Deontay Wilder become a reality.
One of the open issues in making the fight was for Stiverne to come to an agreement with his promoter, Don King, on their side of the deal. On Wednesday, they did, according to Stiverne manager Camille Estephan.

"I made a deal with King that we're very satisfied with financially," Estephan told ESPN.com. "But we are still very anxious to get a date for the fight and a site. I can't speculate about Wilder but I think it's time for him and his team to stop talking and make the fight."

A specific date and venue is key and one of the reasons why Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya, whose company represents Wilder, said they couldn't sign a contract from King. Even though De La Hoya said they had made a financial deal, the date and site were not set.

Estephan said the biggest thing on the Stiverne side was working out the money.

"Don still doesn't know the site or the date but in our agreement the fight is supposed to be either in December or in the first quarter of next year," he said. "I have made a proposal to Don to bring the fight to Quebec City [Stiverne grew up in Canada]. He likes it but he can't give me a commitment yet.

"But I wanted to get our deal done. We are satisfied. We did what we had to do. We don't want to wait anymore. One of the reasons we're very happy to make a deal for the fight is because this is the fight we want and Bermane wants to make a statement in this fight and increase his market value with a good performance against an undefeated, American Olympic medalist."

A purse bid for the fight has been delayed multiple times as the sides have worked toward and agreement.
CunninghamCourtesy The Cunningham FamilySteve Cunningham has a good reason to fight: his daughter Kennedy.
In April, heavyweight Steve Cunningham gutted out a 10-round decision win against Amir Mansour in a thriller. Cunningham was down twice, Mansour once, and it was a terrific fight.

Cunningham (27-6, 12 KOs), a former cruiserweight titleholder, made no secret of the main reason he was fighting -- to earn money to help pay for expensive medical care for his daughter Kennedy, who has a serious heart ailment and is in need of a transplant.

That is once again the main reason why Cunningham, 38, of Philadelphia, will climb back into the ring to face Natu Visinia, 30, of Lakewood, California, in a 10-round heavyweight main event Saturday night (NBC Sports Network, 9 ET) at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.

Visinia (10-0, 8 KOs) is an unknown. He has never been in a fight scheduled for longer than six rounds and faced only two opponents with winning records (6-1 and 3-1).

"Visinia is a big kid. He's a dangerous kid,” said Naazim Richardson, Cunningham’s trainer. “Steve is a real veteran. He's seen a lot. He responds well in the ring. He has courage and talent, and he is a great ambassador for our sport.

"At the end of the fight, you will see how he neutralizes the big strong guy, and that is what is important."

What also is important is Cunningham’s efforts to raise money for his daughter. While he is fighting in his hometown for the second fight in a row -- after 11 years spent not fighting there -- his daughter and wife, Livvy, are 300 miles away in Pittsburgh so they can be close to Kennedy’s doctors in the event a heart becomes available. Steve stayed at home to care for their two sons, Cruz and Steve Jr.

"With Livvy and Kennedy in Pittsburgh, I miss them dearly," Cunningham said. “But I get paid to do a job, and it needs to get done."

So far, a fund the Cunninghams created has raised more than $25,000 to help with the expenses associated with Kennedy's medical care. She was born with a congenital heart defect.

Anthony Joshua keeps on trucking

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
Blue-chip heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua isn’t about to slow his schedule after crushing Denis Bakhtov, an experienced opponent many thought would extend Joshua a bit, in the second round Saturday in London.

Joshua (9-0, 9 KOs), who was in his first scheduled 10-rounder and claimed his first professional regional title, let his hand fly and tore Bakhtov apart, setting the stage for a quick return against British journeyman Michael Sprott in Liverpool, England, on Nov. 22 on the undercard of the Nathan Cleverly-Tony Bellew rematch.

“I thought he was going to be taking me five or six rounds but it's going well and I'm putting the work in at the gym and it's paying off on fight night,” Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, said of his quick dismissal of Bakhtov. “I think it's my accuracy really more than the power. I haven't been doing much strength work recently because I have been in the gym so much, so I think speed and accuracy is getting me through right now.

“He came out game and as a fighter you can tell someone wants to have a go. He tried to slip in a left hook and I adjusted and thought, 'OK, this is what you are bringing to the table.’ I was back at The O2 (Arena) and in London for the first time in a while so the adrenaline was pumping.”

Joshua, who turns 25 on Wednesday, is now turning his attention to Sprott (32-22, 17 KOs), an experienced fighter and a former British champion.

It’s doubtful that Sprott, 39, will last long against Joshua, however. Long-faded former title challenger Kali Meehan knocked him out in the first round in June and Sprott has been stopped 12 times. Joshua has not been extended into the fourth round yet.

As far as Joshua is concerned, the Sprott fight will end the first phase of his pro career.

“People have been saying since my second fight, 'he needs to stop fighting tin cans' and all that," Joshua said. "It takes time, though, and if I keep beating people, then I am going to move up, so if I beat Michael then I am sure we'll be stepping up in 2015. We've done Bakhtov and got the WBC international belt and now we're looking at Sprott, so by the end of 2015 it will be interesting to see where we are.”
A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Former flyweight and junior flyweight titleholder Brian Viloria (34-4, 20 KOs), who has won two fights in a row since losing his unified flyweight belts to Juan Francisco Estrada by decision in April 2013, is on course for another title shot. Viloria is scheduled for a stay-busy fight on Top Rank's Dec. 6 card in Glendale, California, against an opponent to be determined. But, according to manager Gary Gittelsohn, that fight will be followed by "a more meaningful fight" on a Feb. 14 card Top Rank is planning in Macau and then a possible title fight in the spring.

"Although we don't yet have opponents for either bout, Brian is anxious to grab another world title," Gittelsohn said. "So I will be working with Top Rank to see what's possible for Feb. 14th."

Chinese star Zou Shiming, the two-time Olympic gold medalist, is likely to fight for a world title in the Feb. 14 main event. If Zou wins a belt, Gittelsohn said the plan would be for Viloria, a Filipino-American from Hawaii, to challenge Shiming after that in what would be a big fight in Macau.

• Lightweight prospect Felix Verdejo (15-0, 11 KOs), the 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian and rising star, returns to headline a UniMas-televised card on Dec. 13 in Philadelphia, according to promoter Top Rank. Verdejo is slated to face Spain's Karim El Ouazghari (16-5-2, 4 KOs) in an eight-round bout.

• Junior welterweight prospect Jose Ramirez (11-0, 8 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian and growing draw, will headline a UniMas-televised card at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California, his home region, against David Rodela (17-9-3, 7 KOs) in an eight-rounder, Top Rank announced. In the co-feature, junior featherweight prospect Jessie Magdaleno (19-0, 15 KOs) will face Erick Ruiz (13-1, 6 KOs) in an eight-rounder. Heavyweight hopeful Andy Ruiz (22-0, 16 KOs) is due to face Kenny Lemos (12-8-2, 8 KOs) in an untelevised bout.

• Lightweight Jerry Belmonontes suffered a right wrist injury in training camp and has withdrawn from his bout with Edner Cherry on Saturday night in Philadelphia on Main Events' "Fight Night" card (NBC Sports Net, 9 ET). Main Events announced that Osumanu Akaba (31-6-1, 24 KOs) will replace Belmontes and face Cherry (32-6-2, 17 KOs) in the co-feature of the card headlined by heavyweight Steve Cunningham against Natu Visinia.
One of the more anticipated fights in boxing is the mandatory bout between heavyweight titleholder Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder. The sides continue to discuss a deal, but there has been very little movement for the past few weeks, from what I am told.

Usually when that is the case, the organization mandating the fight calls for a purse bid. And yes, the WBC has ordered a purse bid for the fight. But it has also postponed it multiple times and has most recently left the date of a bid open-ended. There has been talk that it would announce a new date this week, but even if that happens, will it actually hold the bid or just postpone it again?

It’s almost as if the WBC doesn’t want to force a bid so as not to upset the men calling the shots, namely Al Haymon (Wilder’s adviser) and Don King (Stiverne’s promoter). Haymon is the adviser for numerous fighters tied to WBC titles, including Floyd Mayweather Jr., who represents a lot of income. King has been close to the WBC for decades and has generated millions for the organization.

Everyone else involved in Stiverne-Wilder, from what I am told, would love there to be a purse bid because of the 800-pound gorilla in the room: Roc Nation Sports.

Roc Nation Sports, music mogul Jay Z’s company that in August made public its intention to promote boxing, is just waiting for the chance to overwhelm the competition with a massive bid. That’s what it did when it blew away two other bidders for Peter Quillin’s middleweight mandatory defense against Matt Korobov. But once Haymon, who runs Quillin’s career, lost control of the fight, he persuaded Quillin to give up the title and a career-high payday of more than $1.4 million with no other fight scheduled.

Haymon’s bad blood with Jay Z (and Beyonce, Jay Z’s wife) goes back to their paths crossing in the music business, and it seems that Haymon, who does not speak to the media, has no intention of assisting in Roc Nation’s entrance into boxing. King’s reticence in allowing a giant purse bid is unclear, but what is clear is that he and Haymon are doing everything in their power to prevent a purse bid. King did not return a call seeking comment.

Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya said he has talked with King about a deal and that they have reached agreement on the financials but still have no date, site or TV deal, a prerequisite to any competent promoter agreeing to sign an agreement. Besides, De La Hoya isn’t even Wilder’s official promoter. He can’t do anything on Wilder’s behalf without Haymon’s OK. Golden Boy has no promotional agreement with Wilder, or with most of the Haymon fighters it works with.

In Wilder’s case, he did have a contract with Golden Boy. However, according to a source with direct knowledge of the deal, when he signed a contract extension the deal had a “key man” clause in it pertaining to Richard Schaefer. It said that if Schaefer ever left Golden Boy, Wilder could exercise the clause, freeing him from the agreement.

When Schaefer resigned in June, I am told, Haymon invoked the clause. The same thing happened with another Golden Boy fighter who is with Haymon and had the same language in his agreement, Robert Guerrero.

Jay Deas, Wilder’s trainer and manager, told ESPN.com on Monday that Wilder is not under contract to Golden Boy but did not get into the details of the “key man” clause, saying those were things that Haymon handles.

But with Wilder’s lack of a promotional agreement somewhat common knowledge in the industry, Roc Nation president Michael Yormark visited Wilder and Deas at Wilder’s home base in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in mid-September, spent two days there and offered Wilder $2 million for the Stiverne fight as the first bout of a five-year contract with Roc Nation Sports, according to a source with knowledge of the offer.

That is an astronomical number for the fight and would be about 10 times more than Wilder has ever made for a bout. Under a purse bid, Wilder is entitled to 30 percent of the money, meaning somebody would have to bid nearly $7 million for him to make the same amount. A $7 million bid for the fight would be as stunning as any purse bid amount ever. Even Roc Nation would be unlikely to bid close to that much.

I’m told Wilder and Deas were very interested in the Roc Nation offer, which was on the table until Sept. 26. When Haymon didn’t reply to the offer, it was taken off the table.

Deas acknowledged that Roc Nation did approach them about a deal and said, “I think they’ll do great things, but Al is handling that whole thing. We’re letting Al do what he does. We’ll have to see how it plays out.”

Yormark declined to comment but did say that he believed Wilder had star potential and was the kind of athlete Roc Nation Sports wants to work with.

Deas didn’t want to discuss the particulars of the contract offer but said he and Wilder have a good relationship with Yormark and Roc Nation Sports boxing COO David Itskowitch, who worked closely with them when he was at Golden Boy.

“I like Dave and Michael, so you never say never,” Deas said. “But Roc Nation knows that Al is the guy they would have to talk to. But we talked to them and we appreciate their interest.”

Stiverne, like Wilder, wants the fight -- preferably for the big money likely to accompany a purse bid.

“I’m very happy to see Bermane is in great shape and ready to go,” Camille Estephan, Stiverne’s manager, told ESPN.com on Monday. “We want this fight to happen ASAP and we want a resolution. We’re tired of waiting and we want a date and site and the opportunity for Bermane to make a statement with his performance.”

For that to happen, the WBC needs to put its foot down immediately, which means following its rules, ordering a purse bid and allowing it to happen. And then let the chips -- and a boatload of Roc Nation Sports money -- fall where they may, regardless of what Haymon and King want.

Garcia, Postol reach an 'agreement'

October, 13, 2014
Oct 13
Danny Garcia and Lamont PetersonGetty ImagesThe agreement with Viktor Postol could open a door for a 2014 Danny Garcia-Lamont Peterson fight.

When the WBC announced on Saturday that the purse bid for the mandatory fight between junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia and Viktor Postol, the organization’s No. 1 contender, had been canceled the initial thought was that the camps had made a deal for a pretty interesting fight.

Usually, a purse bid is delayed when the camps tell the organization they are close to a deal, so perhaps it was true all along that the reps for Garcia (Golden Boy and adviser Al Haymon, although it is Haymon who calls the shots) and Postol (co-promoters Elite Boxing and Top Rank and manager Vadim Kornilov) were getting closer to making the fight.

And when a purse bid is canceled it usually means a deal has been struck. In the case of Garcia-Postol a deal was struck -- but not for the fight.

Instead, the WBC announced that “both parties have reached an agreement, the specific details of which will be announced in the near future.”

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman went so far as to say, “I am extremely satisfied with the good faith agreement reached by the parties involved which will generate very good opportunities for the fighters, which is the top priority for all of us involved in this great sport."

What Sulaiman and nobody else will say is that there is almost no chance that Garcia and Postol ever share the ring and that is a shame. Sulaiman using the phrase “good faith” made me laugh because, in my opinion, there is nothing about this deal that is in “good faith.”

The deal they made was for Haymon to pay Postol a substantial fee to step aside and not force the mandatory fight, with both fighters permitted to take optional bouts within the next four months, after which Postol will still be the mandatory challenger (assuming he wins his interim bout).

All that this means, in my view, is that Garcia has no intention of ever facing Postol (26-0, 11 KOs). Or, rather, that Haymon has no intention of allowing the fight to happen since he has no control over Postol, who looked excellent knocking out Selcuk Aydin in the 11th round of the title eliminator in May on HBO on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado undercard and who would give Garcia a very hard night.

Sounds familiar, right? This Garcia-Postol fight avoidance is the same thing Haymon did by having middleweight titlist Peter Quillin vacate his belt in August in order to avoid facing dangerous mandatory challenger Matt Korobov (for a career-high purse of more than $1.4 million) since Haymon did not control Korobov. That happened after the purse-bid deadline was extended time and again on Quillin’s behalf until the WBO finally gave a hard deadline. A half hour before that hard deadline, Quillin vacated.

[+] EnlargeViktor Postol
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesViktor Postol defeated Selcuk Aydin by stoppage last May.
“There is a step-aside agreement that we have finalized with Al and Golden Boy,” Kornilov told ESPN.com, although he declined to reveal the dollar figure. “Postol and Garcia will both [have] an option to take other fights in the next four months and then Postol will again be in the mandatory position.”

Kornilov said the agreement calls for the interim bouts to take place by the end of February with the Garcia-Postol fight due within 90 days after that, assuming they both win the interim bouts.

“This option worked out well for all of us at this time and we decided to let Garcia fight a big fight that they are planning before defending [against] Postol,” Kornilov said.

Kornilov holds out hope that Garcia will ultimately face Postol, but more likely what is at work here is that Haymon bought enough time to finally match Garcia with another of his fighters, fellow titlist Lamont Peterson, in the unification bout that should have happened in August but instead resulted in each fighting separate bouts on the worst card of the year as they each blitzed pathetic opponents for premium cable money in pure mismatches.

So perhaps Philadelphia’s Garcia (29-0, 17 KOs) and Peterson will meet, or maybe Garcia will fight somebody less threatening than Postol. And then my prediction is that Garcia will vacate his WBC belt. He could hang on to the other alphabet belt he has or, more likely, move up to welterweight, which Garcia talked about doing in the wake of his poor performance in a controversial majority decision win against Mauricio Herrera in March. Garcia said he had trouble making weight for the fight.

For Ukraine’s Postol, accepting the step-aside deal was a no-brainer. He’s receiving a six-figure payout to wait no more than seven months to either fight Garcia for a big purse (as unlikely as that is of actually happening) or to get a shot at the vacant belt while also being able to take an interim bout against a handpicked opponent.

“[That’s] exactly why we decided to do this, and the bonus was significant,” Kornilov said. “We want to have Viktor fight by the end of the year, but we have an agreement that he fights on Garcia's undercard as an option if we want to.”

If Postol indeed fights on Garcia’s next undercard that is probably about as close as they will ever get to sharing the ring, because this so-called agreement is nothing more than a means for Garcia -- really Haymon -- to avoid the fight.
Juergen Braehmer will make the third defense of his light heavyweight belt on Dec. 6 at the EWE Arena in Oldenburg, Germany, promoter Sauerland Event announced. However, Braehmer does not yet have an opponent.

He is coming off a decision win against Argentina’s Roberto Bolonti in June.

“I’ve kept in great shape since my last fight,” said Braehmer, 36, of Germany. “I’m looking forward to getting back into the ring and defending my title for a third time. It is not just about the victory for me. I want to prove that I am the best fighter in my weight category. I will put on a great show for the fans in Oldenburg and show everyone that I am the man to beat at 175 pounds.”

Braehmer (44-2, 32 KOs) holds a secondary belt. The organization’s main titleholder is the great Bernard Hopkins, who is set to meet Sergey Kovalev in a title unification match on Nov. 8 (HBO) in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Braehmer recently signed a contract extension with promoter Sauerland Event.

“We are very happy to continue our work with Juergen. He became a world champion (for the second time) in late 2013 and now we want to feature him in career-defining fights so that he can cement his legacy as one of Germany’s great champions,” promoter Kalle Sauerland said.
England’s Anthony Joshua, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, will face what should be his toughest professional test so far when he tangles with Denis Bakhtov on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.

Not only will the 24-year-old Joshua (8-0, 8 KOs) box in his first scheduled 10-rounder (although he has never seen the fourth round yet), but he will also be facing his best opponent so far. Bakhtov (38-9, 25 KOs), 34, of Kazakhstan, has won two fights in a row and has been stopped only twice in his nine defeats. He is supposed to give Joshua rounds, which he desperately needs. But Bakhtov also has a lot of experience against opponents such as former world title challenger Manuel Charr, former cruiserweight titlist Juan Carlos Gomez and contender Czar Glazkov.

“I've spoken to people about Bakhtov and the hard-core boxing fans know he's a test,” Joshua said. “It's quite interesting and all it says is that I am fighting people who have operated at a good level. There's no rush. I need to get more fights and more rounds under my belt and I am happy to do that. I like sparring with the champs, I hope to be able to do more (sparring) with Wladimir Klitschko.”

Joshua was in Klitschko’s camp as he was preparing for a fight with Kubrat Pulev, although it had to be postponed until next month because Klitschko suffered a biceps injury.

Fighting an opponent such as Bakhtov seems like the perfect step up for Joshua, who is in no hurry. He’s in this for the long haul.

“I don't need rounds that are going to slow my career down, unnecessary rounds,” Joshua said. “A guy giving me all sorts of problems and hitting me hard, this is a physical sport and tough fights do take years off you. I don't need those sorts of fights and rounds, and I am getting the rounds in during sparring. It will happen in the ring and when I get that opponent that does go further then I will probably say that I am happy that I got the rounds in.

“They need to look a bit deeper than someone’s height and physique. Klitschko waited 17 fights to win this [regional] belt and look at what he has achieved. Even though it took him that long it is about how you start but how you finished. I’ve started off well but it’s about pacing yourself correctly and making sure I get it right.”

In Saturday’s main event, Wales' Lee Selby meets Australia’s Joel Brunker in a featherweight eliminator with a mandatory shot at titleholder Evgeny Gradovich at stake.