The biggest fight that can be made in the United Kingdom right now is, without question, Kell Brook against Amir Khan. It has been a fight the British public has talked about for the past couple of years but now it is red-hot. And it’s a big one in general, not just in the U.K.
Former unified junior welterweight titleholder Khan rolled to a one-sided decision against two-division titleholder Devon Alexander in December in the kind of statement performance that showed he was a serious welterweight contender ready for anyone in the division.
And then Brook, who came to the United States and impressively outpointed Shawn Porter in August to win a title, absolutely shredded mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan in four lopsided rounds on Saturday with a raucous hometown crowd in Sheffield, England, cheering him on.
Brook (34-0, 23 KOs), returning from a serious stab wound to his left leg six months earlier, dropped Dan four times in a spectacular performance to retain his title for the first time and then promptly called out Khan for what would be an enormous fight in England.
“Amir Khan, Juan Manuel Marquez, Brandon Rios -- those are the sort of names I want. Bring them on,” Brook said. “I want to entertain the fans and want them to tell me who they want to see me fight. I think the answer is Amir Khan, and if he’s watching -- let’s do it, come and fight me.
“If you're watching Amir Khan, then get in here with me. I know you're delicate around the whiskers. I’ll take you out."
Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, Brook’s promoter, also wants to make the massive fight.
“There is a little venue available on June 13 called Wembley Stadium,” Hearn said of the famous arena, where a British-record crown of 80,000 turned out last May for the Carl Froch-George Groves rematch. “If Amir Khan is watching give everyone what they want. It is the biggest payday available, and it’s for a world title.”
Khan and Brook have traded barbs before and disrespected each other. They don’t particularly like each other, which just adds heat to a promotion. If ever there was a time to make this fight it is right now.
Brook is free of any mandatory obligations, came out of the fight healthy and is anxious to fight again soon. Khan, who didn’t get either Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao because they are finally going to fight each other on May 2, needs an opponent.
There is none more significant or as interesting for Khan as Brook.
I asked Khan for his thoughts on a fight with Brook after his destruction of Dan. At first Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) claimed he was not interested but then seemed to change his tune.
“He’s only beaten one good fighter, Porter,” Khan said. “He needs some good wins against the likes of Rios, Marquez, [Keith] Thurman, [Marcos] Maidana and the fight will be even bigger.
“I’d love to shut him up, [but] why give someone a payday when they constantly disrespect you all the time? The fight will happen when it’s meant to happen. Before the fight he said I bring nothing to the table, no title and he don’t need to fight me as he’s the champion. Now he’s calling me out.”
Later, I pressed Khan on the issue. If you’d like to shut Brook up, why not do it? I suggested that he could fight Brook, shut him up by winning, claim a welterweight title and make, by far, his biggest payday.
Khan thought about it.
“I agree -- will start the talks,” he said.
As Hearn said: There’s a little venue called Wembley Stadium available on June 13.
Now give the people what they want.
Although Showtime will not produce an “All Access” series and HBO won’t do a “24/7” series in the buildup to the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao megafight -- for which they have partnered for a joint pay-per-view telecast on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas -- each network will produce its own prefight programming.
On Friday, Showtime announced its plans. It will produce the four-part “Inside Mayweather vs. Pacquiao,” a documentary-style series leading up to and covering the fight.
It will debut April 18 immediately after Showtime’s coverage of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Andrzej Fonfara fight that night. Episode 2 will be April 25 (7:30 p.m. ET/PT), Episode 3 on April 29 (10 p.m. ET/PT), and Episode 4, which will serve as the epilogue, is slated for May 9 (time TBA).
The series will focus on Mayweather as he heads into the fight. The HBO programming, which has not yet been announced, will focus primarily on Pacquiao.
“'Inside Mayweather vs. Pacquiao' will not only welcome viewers into Mayweather’s camp before the fight but also give viewers a window into those dramatic and often poignant moments immediately before and after this historic fight,” said Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports executive vice president and general manager.
Top heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist from Great Britain, has a busy schedule upcoming.
On Friday, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced Joshua’s opponent for the card Hearn is promoting on April 4 at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England. Joshua (10-0, 10 KOs), coming off a four-month layoff because of a bad back, will face Jason Gavern (26-19-4, 11 KOs).
“I can’t wait to get into the ring in Newcastle,” the 25-year-old Joshua said. “It’s been frustrating being out of action, but the injury has totally healed up and I will be firing on all cylinders next Saturday.”
Gavern, 37, has faced top names and lost. For example, he got knocked out by Deontay Wilder in the fourth round in August in Wilder’s tuneup fight before Wilder won a heavyweight world title from Bermane Stiverne in January. Most recently, Gavern lost an eight-round decision to prospect Gerald Washington on March 13.
“It's great to see Anthony return from injury and I'm looking forward to seeing him face Jason in Newcastle. It's a nice test on his return,” Hearn said. “Gavern has plenty of experience, but Anthony has plenty of frustration to let out.”
If all goes well, Joshua will be back on May 30 in London in a fight already announced against faded former title challenger Kevin Johnson (29-6-1, 4 KOs), who has never been stopped, on the undercard of lightweight titlist Jorge Linares’ mandatory defense against Kevin Mitchell.
Nonito Donaire has been to the boxing mountaintop. He’s a former four-division titleholder and was the consensus fighter of the year in 2012.
But he was knocked off that mountaintop in a harsh way when he was knocked down twice and badly knocked out by Nicholas Walters in the sixth round in October, losing his featherweight world title in the process.
It was Donaire’s second loss in four fights; he also lost a decision to Guillermo Rigondeaux in their junior featherweight unification bout in April 2013.
As Donaire (33-3, 21 KOs) aims to return from the harrowing knockout to Walters, he has dropped back to the junior featherweight division and has traveled to his native Philippines for what is supposed to be a get-well fight. He has been matched rather softly against William Prado (22-4-1, 15 KOs) on Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, just south of Manila.
Donaire, 32, said he understands how important the fight is for his career even though Prado, 31, of Brazil, has a paper-thin resume and is not expected to pose much of a threat.
“Fans are going to find out where I am at on Saturday night," Donaire said this week.
He will also find out where he is.
"I know exactly what is at stake in this fight,” Donaire said. “It's very important when I get into the ring on Saturday night.”
In the main event, junior flyweight titleholder Donnie Nietes (34-1-4, 20 KOs), of the Philippines, will make his sixth defense when he faces Mexico’s Gilberto Parra (19-2, 17 KOs).
Most boxing fans would probably agree that one of the most anticipated matches in the sport is a light heavyweight championship fight between lineal champion Adonis Stevenson and titleholder Sergey Kovalev to crown the world’s No. 1 fighter at 175 pounds as well as to unify all four of the major alphabet belts.
Kovalev holds three of them, winning one from Nathan Cleverly in 2013 and adding two more with his spectacular performance against Bernard Hopkins last fall. Stevenson holds the other.
It appeared as though Stevenson and Kovalev would fight last fall, but Stevenson walked away from a deal that the Kovalev camp and HBO thought was agreed to.
While Kovalev has beaten the best in the division besides Stevenson in his past two fights -- Hopkins and former champion Jean Pascal by knockout on March 14 -- Stevenson has taken the path of least resistance against decent contender Andrzej Fonfara and a mismatch against Dmitry Sukhotsky. On April 4, Stevenson fights again when he takes on former super middleweight titlist Sakio Bika in a fight that is not anticipated by too many.
The WBC, whose belt Stevenson holds, has made an unusual ruling in the hopes of forcing the showdown. Even though Kovalev holds belts from other organizations, the WBC has made Kovalev the mandatory challenger.
That is a good thing -- a rare thing on which the WBC and I can agree.
However, the WBC made an even more unusual move on Thursday that I just don’t get. It ordered the Kovalev and Stevenson camps to begin negotiating the fight and said if they don’t make a deal a purse bid will be held on April 17.
The fight is mandatory, so why the bizarre rush? Give the sides time to negotiate what could be a complicated deal. Besides, Stevenson (25-1, 21 KOs) fights Bika (32-6-3, 21 KOs) next week and Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) is going to make a mandatory defense against Nadjib Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs) in June or July. The earliest Stevenson-Kovalev could happen (if they both win their interim bouts) is probably September. And I’d bet if it does happen it will be even later in the year.
The WBC is doing a great thing by mandating the fight. It is not doing the right thing by putting such an absurdly fast deadline on the free negotiation period.
Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter, was perplexed by the WBC’s strange ruling.
“According to the WBC's [original] ruling, negotiations were supposed to begin after the Mohammedi fight,” she said. “So this came as a complete surprise. We have asked the WBC for a clarification and we are awaiting their response. If they really want to make the fight, it's easy. Negotiate. Their call for a quick purse bid looks to me like a stunt. After all, they seem to need publicity for their fight next week.”
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said the order makes sense to him.
“Sure, they both could lose. They also could have lost their previous fights and many other things could happen,” he said. “The WBC has gone ahead and done everything to secure that the fight, which is the ultimate fight everybody wants to see, happens. This purse bid is securing that both camps will engage in making it happen. No excuses, no going into other directions. And I also [ask] the question: What is wrong with making the purse bid now?”
What’s wrong is that timing is everything. The timing of this order seems like it might do more to hurt the process than help it.
Besides the two significant fights that top the card, the undercard on April 11 at the Barclays Center has a little bit for everyone -- prospects, contenders and a former world titleholder looking to work his way back to a major fight.
Junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia (29-0, 17 KOs) and titleholder Lamont Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs) square off in the main event in a 143-pound nontitle bout and middleweight titlist Andy Lee (34-2, 24 KOs) makes his first defense when he takes on former titleholder Peter Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs) on the “Premier Boxing Champions” card that will be featured on NBC (8:30 p.m. ET).
But there are several other bouts that have been made official for the card, some of which could wind up on NBC Sports Net’s coverage.
One of the preliminary fights matches 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz (16-0, 8 KOs), of the Dominican Republic, against Brooklyn’s Gabriel Bracero (23-1, 4 KOs) in a 10-round junior welterweight fight.
"It's an honor for me to be fighting in New York for the first time and at Barclays Center. I know the Dominican fans are going to come out in full force to support me," Diaz said. “Bracero is a tough fighter, but I have world championship dreams and he is standing in my way."
Bracero could walk to the arena and back home after the fight.
"This is a dream come true for me," he said. "I live in Sunset Park, right down the block from Barclays Center, and I am grateful for this opportunity to fight in front of my hometown fans. I've been through hell in life, but I've never given up on my dream. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible. This is my destiny and I am ready."
Two 2012 U.S. Olympians, both among boxing’s elite prospects, will also be on the card: Staten Island, New York light, heavyweight Marcus Browne and Dallas welterweight Errol Spence Jr. Browne (13-0, 10 KOs) will face Cincinnati’s Aaron Pryor Jr. (19-7, 12 KOs) and Spence (15-0, 12 KOs) meets Colombia’s Samuel Vargas (20-1, 10 KOs).
"I'm happy and excited to fight at Barclays Center for the eighth time," Browne said. "My friends and family are going to come out and support me like they always do, but I am even more excited to be on a card with so many guys I consider great fighters and my friends like ‘Kid Chocolate’ [Quillin] and Lamont Peterson."
Said Spence, “Fighting at Barclays Center for the first time is a great opportunity and I plan on making the most of it. I'm going to work hard in camp to put on a great show for the fans in Brooklyn."
Also, Puerto Rican junior middleweight prospect Prichard Colon (13-0, 10 KOs) will face the Dominican Republic’s Jonathan Batista (14-5, 7 KOs).
Top junior welterweight contender Viktor Postol (26-0, 11 KOs), of Ukraine, will face an opponent to be determined in a 10-rounder. Postol is Garcia’s mandatory challenger but they made a deal for him to step aside so he could fight Peterson. Part of the deal was a spot on the undercard.
Brooklyn’s Luis Collazo (35-6, 18 KOs), a former welterweight titleholder, is also on the card, although he does not have an opponent yet. Collazo will be fighting for the first time in 11 months, since he lost a lopsided decision to Amir Khan on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana I undercard.
"I'm very excited to be fighting at Barclays Center again. I've experienced some of the most incredible moments of my career there," Collazo said. “This will be my fourth fight at Barclays Center and I plan on giving my hometown fans a lot to be excited about."
Brooklyn junior featherweight Heather Hardy (12-0, 2 KOs), a popular New York draw, is also on the card. She will face Renata Domsodi (12-6, 5 KOs) of Hungary.
The welterweight division is loaded with top fighters. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, of course, sit at the top of the division and they are set to finally meet in the big one on May 2.
But there are other talented fighters, including titleholder Kell Brook, who, naturally, would love a shot at the winner of Mayweather-Pacquiao to unify the four major titles. The Mayweather-Pacquiao winner will emerge with three belts and Brook holds the other major one in the division.
To have a prayer at getting that long shot, however, Brook (33-0, 22 KOs) first will need to retain the belt when he makes his first defense against Montreal’s Jo Jo Dan (34-2, 18 KOs) on Saturday (Showtime, 6:15 p.m. ET) at the Motorpoint Arena his hometown of Sheffield, England.
“As a fan it's amazing that fight has been made,” Brook said of Mayweather-Pacquiao, which he plans to attend. “We needed to see it and I can't wait. It's up there with the huge fights of the past. People consider them to be the best and they are going to settle it on May 2.
“I would love a unification with the winner. I think Floyd will win. Manny would have given him more problems a few years ago but I would have still chosen Floyd then, too. He is very smart, he can control the pace of a fight and he's in Vegas [his hometown], so it all sways to him, and being undefeated makes him feel unbeatable. Manny has lost and knows the feeling. They will both go through the mill in training but Floyd has the edge.
“Everyone has wanted to see Floyd take on Manny and it will cement his legacy -- but only if he stays away from me. You can argue that he will be up there with the legends of the sport if he wins and stays unbeaten. He is there alongside Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson, and so on; you have to put him up there.”
The other big fight for Brook would be one that has been talked about for years against countryman Amir Khan, a former unified junior welterweight titlist, who cemented his status as a top welterweight contender with a near-shutout of former titleholder Devon Alexander in December.
“I am at the stage now that I need big fights to get me excited,” Brook said. “I am always pushing myself in the gym and I am always competitive in the gym, but fights with the likes of Khan really motivate me and put a spring in my step to get in the gym and push on.
“The precedent has been set [for big British showdowns] with [Carl] Froch and [George] Groves fighting at Wembley, Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton are looking likely to fight, and so should me and Amir. I want to please the fans and I am sure Khan does, so I want to make the fight happen. He needs to fight a genuine big welterweight and that's me.”
A few notes from around the boxing world:
• Ahead of challenging for a vacant junior welterweight world title, 2014 ESPN.com fighter of the year Terence Crawford has vacated his lightweight title. Crawford (25-0, 17 KOs) won a 135-pound world title on the road in Scotland with a masterful performance in a unanimous decision win against Ricky Burns last March and made two defenses, an electrifying ninth-round knockout of Yuriorkis Gamboa in June and a virtual shutout decision of No. 1 challenger Raymundo Beltran in November. Crawford will face Thomas Dulorme (22-1, 14 KOs) for a vacant 140-pound belt on April 18 (HBO, 9:45 p.m. ET/PT) at the College Park Center on the campus of the University of Texas Arlington.
• If representatives for middleweight contenders Hassan N’Dam (31-1, 18 KOs) and David Lemieux (33-2, 31 KOs) do not make a deal a purse bid will be held on April 7 at IBF headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey, for the vacant title bout. They will meet for the 160-pound belt recently stripped from Jermain Taylor, who was unable to make a mandatory defense against N’Dam because of the criminal charges he faces. Lemieux is embroiled in litigation over his contract. Montreal promoter Yvon Michel claims he broke their contract when he signed with Golden Boy in January. However, the fight may go on with the legal issues being settled after the fight.
• Camille Estephan, manager of former heavyweight titleholder Bermane Stiverne, told ESPN.com that Stiverne has resumed training and that he hopes to line up a fight for him in July. Stiverne (24-2-1, 21 KOs), 36, who lives in Las Vegas, became the first Haitian-born fighter to win a heavyweight world title when he knocked out Chris Arreola in the sixth round in May 2014. But Stiverne was outclassed in his first defense, losing a near-shutout decision to mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder on Jan. 17 in Las Vegas.
• With the Sergey Derevyanchenko-Elvin Ayala middleweight fight off as the main event of the ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” card on April 17 at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, because of Ayala’s legal issues, promoter Lou DiBella and the network are hoping to have hot junior middleweight prospect Tony Harrison in the main event if they can come up with a suitable opponent. Harrison (20-0, 17 KOs), 24, of Detroit, headlined FNF on March 6 and crushed Antwone Smith in two lopsided rounds.
• DiBella said he has moved Derevyanchenko to a “ShoBox: The New Generation” card on April 10 (Showtime) in Brooklyn, New York. DiBella said he will face an opponent to be determined and open a tripleheader that includes junior middleweight Frank Galarza against Sheldon Moore in the main event and middleweight Ievgen Khytrov against Aaron Coley in the co-feature. Lightweight Ivan Redkach was due to headline the card in a world title eliminator against Dejan Zlaticanin, who recently signed with adviser Al Haymon (who also represents Redkach). However, DiBella said the fight will be delayed because Zlaticanin could not be ready to fight in April.
Cruiserweight titleholder Marco Huck is headed for his first fight in the United States.
Huck, one of boxing’s most crowd-pleasing fighters, has fought 40 of his 41 fights in his native Germany, with one coming in neighboring Switzerland. But he is poised to defend his title June 12 in Chicago against mandatory challenger Krzysztof Glowacki (24-0, 15 KOs), a 28-year-old southpaw from Poland, on a Spike TV-televised “Premier Boxing Champions” card, a source with knowledge of the agreement told ESPN.com.
On Monday, the WBO announced that a deal was reached between Huck and Glowacki. so the purse bid scheduled for the next day was canceled.
Huck has been in litigation with promoter Sauerland Event over his contract, arguing it expired in December. Sauerland Event, however, claims the deal runs through at least late April, although it appears as though Sauerland is not doing much to try to stand in the way of the June fight.
In October, Huck announced he would not renew his contract with Sauerland Event and had formed Huck Sports Promotion. But he was unable to find a television to deal to his satisfaction in Germany, one of the reasons he accepted an offer to come to the U.S. for the PBC fight. When he announced the formation of his promotional company last fall he said he wanted to fight in the United States and eventually challenge heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
When Huck does fight, he will not have longtime trainer Ulli Wegner in his corner, as Wegner is under contract to train Sauerland Event fighters. Instead Huck will be trained by Las Vegas-based trainer Don House, known to many as the trainer of former heavyweight titleholder Bermane Stiverne.
Huck and House worked out together over the course of a few days several months ago and hit it off. House told ESPN.com that he is going to Germany in a week or so to finalize their deal and begin training him for the June 12 fight. House said they would likely spend about four weeks training in Europe and then train for the final four weeks in the United States.
“I like that he’s aggressive. I think I’m gonna have to slow him down but I like what he brings,” House said. “He’s hungry. I like a kid like that. He likes to fight. He wants to do four or five fights a year. He wants to fight and that’s a novelty to me because not all the guys you work with are hungry like that.”
Huck (38-2-1, 26 KOs), 30, has held his title since 2009 and has made 13 defenses, tied with England’s Johnny Nelson for the most in division history. A win against Glowacki will set the division record.
According to former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr., he and Huck have had personal conversations about fighting each other later this year. But if Huck takes care of Glowacki his next challenger could be B.J. Flores (31-1-1, 20 KOs). Flores is due to appear on the June 12 undercard and if he and Huck both win, they would square off next.
Beloved British boxing star Ricky Hatton, who knows a thing or two about a title defense in front of a large home crowd, is expecting big things out of countryman Kell Brook.
Brook (33-0, 22 KOs), 28, will defend his welterweight world title for the first time on Saturday (Showtime, 6:15 p.m. ET) at his hometown venue, the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England. He will face mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan (34-2, 18 KOs), 33, of Montreal.
“I was very impressed with the way Kell won his world title,” Hatton said of Brook’s strong performance against Shawn Porter in Carson, California, to win a 147-pound belt in August. “I know as well as anyone how hard it is to go to America and beat one of their champions and, although it was quite a close fight, Kell was exceptional. He's had a few problems out of the ring in the past couple of months (a leg injury suffered in a stabbing last fall), but that's just made him hungrier for success and it seems like everyone in Sheffield is getting behind him now.
“A lot of people might not know much about his opponent, but you don't get to be a mandatory challenger without being a world class fighter and he'll give his all. That said, I think Kell will shine and then move on to those big fights he's chasing for later in the year.”
Hatton is the former junior welterweight world champion, a former welterweight titlist and one of the most popular British fighters in history. He drew sold-out crowds to arenas in England, particularly in his hometown of Manchester, but also had his biggest fights in the United States, winning his welterweight belt in Boston against Luis Collazo and losing by knockout to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas mega fights.
A Brook win could put him in position for an eventual unification fight with the Mayweather-Pacquiao winner.
Hatton retired for good in 2012 and is now a promoter. He is expected to be at Saturday’s fight in Sheffield because one of the boxers he works with, promising Sheffield middleweight Adam Etches (18-0, 15 KOs) is on the undercard against Ukraine’s Sergey Khomitsky (29-11-3, 12 KOs).
“This is a very tough fight for Adam,” Hatton said. “Khomitsky has mixed it with all the top middleweights and it isn't that long ago he gave Martin Murray a hell of a fight.
“I think this is a chance for Adam to really show what he's capable of. Everyone knows how hard he hits, but with this guy he'll have to use his boxing skills as well. People don't usually pick Khomitsky as an opponent so this shows how confident Adam is.”
A few notes from around the boxing world:
• Junior featherweight Oscar Escandon (24-1, 16 KOs), 30, of Colombia, will defend his interim belt against Moises Flores (22-0, 16 KOs), 28, of Mexico, on April 18 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, on the undercard of the light heavyweight bout between former middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (48-1-1, 32 KOs) and Andrzej Fonfara (26-3, 15 KOs). The Escandon-Flores bout is ticketed for the Showtime Extreme coverage of the card with Chavez-Fonfara headlining on Showtime. Junior welterweight up-and-comer Amir Imam (16-0, 14 KOs) will likely be on Showtime in the co-feature against an opponent to be determined. Escandon claimed the interim belt via an extremely controversial split decision against Tyson Cave in December in a fight almost everyone thought Cave clearly won.
• Junior lightweight titlist Takashi Uchiyama (22-0-1, 18 KOs), 35, of Japan, will make his 10th defense when he meets Jomthong Chuwatana (9-0, 4 KOs), 25, a muay thai champion from Thailand, on May 6 at the Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo, Watanabe Promotions announced. In another world title bout on the card, junior flyweight titleholder Ryoichi Taguchi (21-2-1, 8 KOs), 28, of Japan, will make his first defense when he faces former strawweight titleholder Kwanthai Sithmorseng (49-3-1, 26 KOs), 30, of Thailand.
• Japan’s Kosei Tanaka (4-0, 2 KOs), 19, will fight Mexico’s Julian Yedras (24-1, 13 KOs) for the strawweight world title vacated by unified titlist Katsunari Takayama, who still has another belt, on Feb. 20. They will meet on May 30 in Komaki, Japan. Tanaka, who turned pro in November 2013, was 46-5 as an amateur and turned pro at 18.
"I wish to win the belt in my fifth bout, unify the belts in my sixth and then move up to win the second world belt in the seventh bout within this year," said Tanaka, who has big-time aspirations.
Bantamweight titleholders Tomoki Kameda of Japan and England’s Jamie McDonnell, who have had a deal in place to fight since late last year as long as they both successfully retained their titles in interim bouts (which they did), will meet on the Omar Figueroa-Ricky Burns undercard on May 9 (CBS), according to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, McDonnell’s promoter. However, the fight, part of an Al Haymon “Premier Boxing Champions” card, likely is not going to be to unify their 118-pound belts as originally planned.
Kameda (31-0, 19 KOs) holds the WBO version of the title and McDonnell (25-2-1, 12 KOs) holds the “regular” version of the WBA belt, and the WBO understandably said it will not sanction a unification bout with a secondary titlist when the true WBA titleholder is Juan Carlos Payano.
However, Hearn told ESPN.com that the fight will go on regardless of whether it’s to unify titles or not. Most likely it will be McDonnell who will defend his belt.
“Great fight whichever way it’s done,” Hearn said.
The card’s location is not set yet. It could take place in San Antonio, which was where Hearn thought it was supposed to be, but it could also wind up in Hidalgo, Texas.
The card likely will also include another bout that is close to being finalized: former junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout (28-2, 15 KOs) against Australia’s Anthony Mundine (47-6, 27 KOs), a former super middleweight titlist who later dropped down to junior middleweight.
Trout has won two fights in a row since back-to-back losses to Erislandy Lara and Canelo Alvarez in a title unification bout. Mundine lost a decision to former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey in April but rebounded for a disputed split decision win against Sergey Rabchenko in November.
With interest in the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao mega-fight off the charts, television networks around the world are bidding on the fight. One of the major bidding wars was between Sky Sports and BoxNation for broadcast rights in the United Kingdom.
And the winner is...Sky Sports.
Sky Sports announced on Tuesday it had secured the rights to the fight and will televise it on Sky Box Office pay-per-view.
"This fight has everything and is set to be one of the biggest sports events of the year,” said Barney Francis, Sky Sports managing director. “As the home of boxing in the U.K. and Republic of Ireland, we're thrilled to be awarded the rights. We'll provide Sky Sports viewers with the best possible build-up across our channels and outlets and the best coverage of the fight itself from our team in Las Vegas."
The analysis of the fight will be handled by Sky’s usual team of Adam Smith, former world cruiserweight titleholder Johnny Nelson and former lightweight champion Jim Watt, as well as other experts.
While the pay-per-view price in the United States has not been officially announced it is expected to be $90 or $100. The cost for viewers watching on Sky Box Office in the U.K. is £19.95 -- about $30 (which is higher than usual for U.K. boxing pay-per-views).
For several years Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have been the rainmakers in boxing. Everyone in and around the 147-pound division they dominate would love a crack at them. Potential glory and certainly millions of dollars go along with such an opportunity.
Of course, Mayweather and Pacquiao are, at long last, fighting each other on May 2 in what undoubtedly will be the richest prizefight in history.
But once that fight is in the books, and should either man fight again -- and who knows because both stand to make nine figures apiece -- they will need an opponent. Among the various names that come up as potential opponents, realistic or not, are unified junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia and titleholder Lamont Peterson.
The upcoming fight between Garcia and Peterson is significant in its own right; they are scheduled to meet on April 11 (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET) in the main event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, in the network's second "Premier Boxing Champions" card.
Garcia (29-0, 17 KOs) and Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs) are meeting in a nontitle fight at a catchweight of 143 pounds. Both fighters say they are considering moving up to the welterweight division full-time.
They were asked on a recent teleconference call to discuss their showdown if they were interested in meeting the Mayweather-Pacquiao winner. Peterson was not all that jazzed about it.
"I'm not worried about fighting Floyd Mayweather at all," Peterson said. "That's a long shot from here. He maybe has one more fight after this, so I won't hold my breath on that. Not worried about it. Never think about it. Just continue with my career and right now focus on April 11th."
Garcia was prominently mentioned as a possible Mayweather opponent before Mayweather settled on facing Marcos Maidana last year. He also said he wasn't paying much attention to the possibility of getting a shot at the winner, although he would like it down the line.
"I'm not worried about the fight either," Garcia said. "I'm focused on the task ahead. Maybe in the future, but as of right now, at the end of the day it's always a fighter's dream to fight Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. Everybody wants to fight the best fight. So maybe in the future, of course. But right now, I'm focused on April 11th."
Bantamweight titlist Randy Caballero had recent surgery to remove a cyst from his foot and is probably going to be sidelined for about six months, according to manager Cameron Dunkin.
Because the 24-year-old Caballero (22-0, 13 KOs) is going to be out for an extended period, the IBF, whose belt he holds, is doing something it rarely does. It will sanction an interim title, which it uses only in situations when a titleholder is injured and will be out for an extended period.
The IBF has ordered Ryosuke Iwasa (19-1, 12 KOs), 25, of Japan, to face European champion Lee Haskin (31-3, 13 KOs), 31, of England, for the interim belt. The winner of the bout will be obligated to face Caballero in Caballero's first fight back.
Caballero is expected to make a full recovery, but the injury forced him to cancel his first title defense, which had been scheduled against Alberto Guevara on Feb. 27 at the Fantasy Springs Resort in Indio, California -- Caballero's home venue where he has fought numerous times.
"He's fine and thankfully it's nothing that will keep him out long term," Dunkin said. "This kid worked so hard to win that title but [the cyst] was giving him a lot of pain and it had to be removed."
Caballero's mandatory defense is due April 25, so he has nine months to face the winner of Iwasa-Haskins -- by Jan. 25. If Caballero is not ready to fight by then he will be stripped and the Iwasa-Haskins winner will become the full titleholder. That said, Caballero should be back well in advance of the deadline, according to Dunkin and promoter Golden Boy.
Caballero won a unanimous decision against England's Stuart Hall on Oct. 25 in Monte Carlo to claim the vacant 118-pound belt.