Evgeny Gradovich-Jayson VelezChris Farina/Top RankEvgeny Gradovich makes the fourth defense of his featherweight title against Jayson Velez.
While a potential featherweight title unification between Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters is all the rage, and a fight that promoter Top Rank plans on putting together, the promotional company has another 126-pound titleholder, Evgeny Gradovich, who has also been rolling along.

Gradovich (19-0, 9 KOs), 28, known as "The Mexican Russian" for his aggressive Mexican fighting style, is also every bit as confident as Lomachenko and Walters are when it comes to beating opponents.

It's no different for his fourth defense, which will come against Puerto Rico's Jayson Velez on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET) on the undercard of lightweight titlist Terence Crawford's hometown defense against mandatory challenger Raymundo Beltran at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. The broadcast will open with a replay of Manny Pacquiao's six-knockdown demolition of Chris Algieri to retain his welterweight title last Saturday in Macau.

"I always train hard. I never take a day off and I take all of my fights seriously," said Gradovich, who trained with Robert Garcia in Oxnard, California. "I am the 'Mexican Russian' and know all about Velez and the power he brings to a fight.

"I have to deal with that on Saturday. It won't be that difficult actually."

Gradovich, by the way, grew up with unified light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev. They share the same manager, Egis Klimas, and are good friends. All of Gradovich's previous three title defenses have taken place on undercards in Macau.

Velez, who is regarded as the top fighter in middleweight champion Miguel Cotto's promotional stable besides, of course, Cotto himself, is pumped for his first shot at a world title.

Velez (22-0, 16 KOs), 26, trained for two months in Big Bear Lake, California, with trainer Abel Sanchez, who is most known for his recent work with middleweight machine Gennady Golovkin.

"This is a big fight so I went to Big Bear in the mountains to train for the last two months," Velez said. "We had some cold weather but I was able to totally focus on this fight. We had a great camp and Abel put together a game plan to beat Gradovich."

Kovalev-Pascal under discussion

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
Bernard Hopkins, Sergey KovalevEd Diller for ESPNLight heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev, right, could be back in the ring in March.

Following his one-sided thrashing of the great Bernard Hopkins in a three-belt light heavyweight unification fight on Nov. 8, Sergey Kovalev returned to his home in Los Angeles to meet his newborn son, Aleksandr.

Kovalev was deep in training camp for the fight when his wife, Natalia, gave birth. He didn’t want to break camp and waited until after the fight to meet the baby. Kovalev returned home with two more title belts to add to his collection and jumped into fatherhood, changing diapers and all.

“I already lost track of how many diapers,” Kovalev said. “Beating Hopkins is a little bit more dangerous than changing diapers, but he peed on my hand when I changed him. It is most important to be here with my family.”

While Kovalev will enjoy the next couple of months relaxing with his family, Main Events promoter Kathy Duva is already at work with HBO working on his next fight, which is supposed to take place in March.

The question is whom will he fight? He has a mandatory defense due -- which he inherited from Hopkins -- against France’s Nadjib Mohammedi (36-3, 22 KOs), who is also signed with Main Events and won on the Kovalev-Hopkins undercard. It is not, however, the kind of big fight Kovalev, HBO or boxing fans are looking for.

It is possible that the IBF could grant Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) an exception if he asks for one. It is also possible he could give up that belt, although that seems unlikely.

Whatever happens, Duva and InterBox promoter Jean Bedard are engaged in conversations about a fight between Kovalev and former champion Jean Pascal.

InterBox is pushing hard to have Kovalev come to Montreal, where Pascal is a big draw, to defend against him. Hopkins twice went to Quebec to face Pascal, drawing with him the first time and outpointing him the second.

“There have been some discussions,” Duva told ESPN.com regarding a possible Kovalev-Pascal fight. “But of course we have an IBF mandatory to consider as well.”

Pascal (29-2-1, 17 KOs) also has his own fight to deal with on Dec. 6 (Integrated Sports PPV) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, where he will face Argentina’s Roberto Bolonti (35-3, 24 KOs).

Pascal is the mandatory challenger for lineal champion Adonis Stevenson’s alphabet belt, so he has options. Talks for a Stevenson-Pascal bout have been very, very difficult, which is one reason Pascal is facing Bolonti, and Stevenson (24-1, 20 KOs), also of Montreal, is fighting Dmitry Sukhotsky (22-2, 16 KOs) on Dec. 19 in Quebec City. The sides are way far apart on the money, although if they can’t make a deal, it would go to a purse bid.

The matchup many want to see is Kovalev against Stevenson, which was the fight that was supposed to happen this month but fell apart earlier in the year when Stevenson walked away from the deal and went from HBO to Showtime.

Kovalev would still like to face Stevenson but wants whatever big fight can be delivered to him.

“I am ready for everyone if it is the right fight,” Kovalev said. “[Stevenson] is interesting fight for everyone. This is the job for my promoter and my manager [Egis Klimas]. I don't think about next fight. Right now I want to spend time with my family. I am going to fly to [my native] Russia for a couple weeks to be with my parents.”

Saunders, Eubank talk until the end

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
British middleweights Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr. have verbally attacked each other throughout the promotion for their fight and talked of their dislike for each other. Take that and add in what is at stake and the fight has the makings of something memorable.

Saunders, 25, a 2008 British Olympian, and Eubank, 25, son of former middleweight and super middleweight titleholder Chris Eubank Sr., meet Saturday (ESPN3.com, 3:40 p.m. ET) at the ExCel Arena in London in the co-feature on the card headlined by the heavyweight world title elimination fight (and rematch) between Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora.

Saunders (21-0, 11 KOs) and Eubank (18-0, 13 KOs) will square off for Saunders’ European, Commonwealth and British titles; this is also an eliminator for the right to be the mandatory challenger for a world title against the winner of the vacant title bout between Matt Korobov and Andy Lee on Dec. 13 in Las Vegas.

Saunders was offended that Eubank skipped out on three news conference appearances before finally showing up at one this week.

“Fair play to Eubank, he’s come here alone without his dad holding his hand,” Saunders said. “He says he deal with me in six or seven rounds, so we’ll see on Saturday night if he’s talking his usual bull. He’s faced nobody in his career. When you read down his record is there a name that you can pronounce? I’m the first name that you can say. I’m not some unknown from Latvia.

“I've not had a silver spoon in my mouth like ol’ Chrissy boy. I’ll keep saying it -- if he beats me on Saturday night I’ll retire full stop. I refuse to lose to Eubank Jr.”

Eubank gave it right back to Saunders.

“I’m here, I came alone, I don’t need anybody to deal with the likes of an average Joe like Billy Joe Saunders,” he said. “I told my dad to stay at home, put his feet up and let me come down here for an hour and listen to what average Joe has to say. Now that my training is done and I’ve got some time to wind down, I’ll see what he has to say.

“Let’s remember -- he’s the champion holding the belts, yet he’s the one calling me out. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? He’s just holding those belts for me, keeping them warm until Saturday night when I take them off him. All I’ll say to him is he’s swimming with a shark, and if he’s doing that he’d better be able to swim very fast.”
Former junior middleweight champion and International Boxing Hall of Famer Terry Norris is looking to raise money for his foundation, the “Final Fight Foundation,” and has consigned a number of pieces of memorabilia for auction from his 1986 to 1998 career.

SCP Auctions has 14 Norris pieces in its current auction, which began Nov. 19 and concludes Dec. 6. All of the Norris items can be seen at scpauctions.com

Among the items on the auction block are his fight-worn, custom-made shoes from his Feb. 9, 1991, victory over Sugar Ray Leonard; his 10K gold 2005 Hall of Fame induction ring; autographed WBC and IBF j.unior middleweight world title belts; an autographed WBC lifetime achievement award belt; the gloves he wore in his 1990 knockout of the year win against John “The Beast” Mugabi to win claim the WBC junior middleweight title; fight-worn gloves from his 1988 win against Steve Little as well as gloves from various title defenses.

Norris (47-9, 31 KOs), 47, and his wife, Tanya, started a foundation whose “mission is to serve as a catalyst for the under-served athletes in health and retirement assistance, during and after their careers.” Norris suffers from the chronic brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, caused by the blows he took during his career. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of his memorabilia will go toward the foundation.

Groves was shaky and he knows it

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
Super middleweight contender George Groves admitted he did not look good in struggling to a seventh-round knockout of Denis Douglin on Saturday in Liverpool, England, on the Nathan Cleverly-Tony Bellew II undercard.

Groves got bruised and cut on the bridge of his nose, and had his hands full until dropping Douglin with two powerful right hands to force the stoppage. In fact, after the fight, Groves (21-2, 16 KOs) gave himself a 5 on a scale of 1-10 in what was a stay-busy fight.

Groves is the mandatory challenger for world titleholder Anthony Dirrell, but that fight is several months away at the earliest, so Groves decided to remain active. He said he was troubled by Douglin’s southpaw style.

“Fighting a southpaw was different and was what I needed,” Groves said. “He was a good fighter, he was good inside and I didn't want to scrap with him inside. Good to get another stoppage and it’s on to the big one now. I want to take the quickest route to a world title and that's the Dirrell fight. I want to be a world champion and bring a world title belt to Britain. I'll be a world champion next year.”

Groves had had two opportunities already, both against British countryman and unified titleholder Carl Froch. In their first fight in November 2013, Froch scored a highly controversial ninth-round knockout in a fight he was losing. In the May rematch, Froch scored a clean eight-round knockout.

Groves has won two fights since, but Froch, who was ringside Saturday working on the Sky Sports pay-per-view, was not impressed by his rival and dogged him about his performance.

“I think he's been Cobra'd. It’s the same with Lucian Bute,” said Froch, who is nicknamed the “Cobra” and also knocked out Bute, who has not been the same since. “(Groves) was in there struggling with a light middleweight. He was getting caught by shots that at world level would knock him out.”

Groves would love a third shot at Froch (33-2, 24 KOs). James DeGale (20-1, 14 KOs), another British contender, who lost a majority decision to Groves in 2011 and also won on Saturday’s card, is one of Froch’s mandatory challengers.

“Let DeGale and Groves fight each other and maybe I will fight the winner, but it's a mismatch,” Froch said. “DeGale beats Groves every day of the week.”

DeGale pressures Froch to fight him

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24

DeGaleAP Photo/Peter ByrneJames DeGale, right, defeated former title challenger Marco Antonio Periban by third-round TKO.
Super middleweight contender James DeGale, the 2008 British Olympic gold medalist, is sitting in a mandatory position for the next shot at one of unified titleholder Carl Froch's belts.

DeGale wants the fight badly, and the fight between countrymen would be a big event in England, but Froch is in no hurry to sign up for the bout.

It's not because Froch is afraid to fight DeGale. That's silly talk. Froch has fought everyone and never backed away from a challenge. But he is nearing the end of his career and his greatest motivation is to have a major fight in Las Vegas, where he has never fought but has wanted to, to follow in the footsteps of other U.K. greats who have played Las Vegas, including Naseem Hamed, Lennox Lewis, Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton.

DeGale put his mandatory status on the line Saturday by staying active against Marco Antonio Periban, a battle-tested former title challenger known for being in tough fights, on the Nathan Cleverly-Toney Bellew II undercard in Liverpool, England.

DeGale (20-1, 14 KOs) looked very good as he surprisingly dusted Periban by third-round knockout. Then he called for the fight with Froch, who was there working on the Sky Sports pay-per-view broadcast.

"I am the mandatory for the IBF title. I want to make history," DeGale said. "I like Carl but it feels like he doesn't want to fight me. I respect him, but I think he's being a bit of a coward not fighting me. Fight me or vacate the title."

Froch heard DeGale's postfight remarks and said he will take his time deciding what he will do next, be it to fight DeGale, find a big Las Vegas fight or perhaps something else. His ideal fight would be to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in Las Vegas, but promoter Eddie Hearn and Chavez promoter Top Rank have been unable to finalize it because of the issues between Top Rank and Chavez, who claims he is a free agent. Top Rank is suing Chavez to compel him to honor what it claims is one more fight on the contract.

"It was a great performance by James," Froch said. "He was landing a lot of big shots and switching, and he did the job with what was in front of him. Boxing is a business. I have a promoter [Matchroom Boxing's Eddie Hearn] and if the fight [with DeGale] makes financial sense, it will happen. I want to fight in Las Vegas, and if anyone has the right to pick and choose where they fight, it's me."

Hearn said Froch would probably decide what he wants to do by the end of the year but added: "He has got to make a decision. The Froch fight is a great fight [for DeGale], the [George] Groves fight is a great fight [for DeGale], but James will fight for a world title in his next fight whomever there is."

Full speed ahead for Joshua in 2015

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
Anthony Joshua Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesHeavyweight Anthony Joshua remained unbeaten with a first-round KO of veteran Michael Sprott.
The ascent of heavyweight super prospect Anthony Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, figures to move into full gear in 2015.

The 25-year-old Joshua blew away faded countryman Michael Sprott in just 86 seconds Saturday at Echo Arena in Liverpool, England, on the Nathan Cleverly-Tony Bellew II undercard. He is already scheduled for his next fight, one that should at least get the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Joshua the rounds he desperately needs.

Joshua (10-0, 10 KOs) is due back on a card Jan. 31 at the O2 Arena in London and will face American Kevin Johnson (29-6-1, 14 KOs), 35, who went the distance with Vitali Klitschko in a lopsided world title challenge in 2009.

Johnson has lost three fights in a row and four of his past five, including to Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora and Manuel Charr, but has never been knocked out.

Joshua, who fought seven times this year, has yet to see the fourth round and Johnson figures to bring him there for the first time.

"I'm glad to get the year out of the way, it has been a busy one," Joshua said. "Kevin Johnson is durable and he has got a lot of experience and quite a lot of mouth, so it should be a fun one."

Promoter Eddie Hearn said Joshua likely will fight for the British title next year on his way to bigger fights.

"We'll take on Kevin Johnson in January and he will be ready to face anyone in the country next summer," Hearn said of Joshua, who has only 17 rounds as a pro in 10 fights.

Unified super middleweight titlist Carl Froch, who worked on Saturday's Sky Sports pay-per-view telecast, was impressed by Joshua's performance and loves his potential -- as do many.

"I know Anthony very well. He'll go on to win world titles," Froch said. "Michael is nearing the end of his career, but when's the last time you saw such a specimen in the heavyweight division as Anthony? He unloads so impressively and tenaciously, it's perfect. Matching him up is a nightmare. Everyone loves him and rightly so. What a fine fighter and person he is. He's the full package."

Notes: Caballero announces retirement

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
Celestino CaballeroDoug Murray/Icon SMIFormer two-division titlist Celestino Caballero called an end to his career at the age of 38.
A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Former junior featherweight and featherweight titleholder Celestino Caballero, 38, of Panama, known as "The Towering Inferno" because he is 5-foot-11 -- huge for a 122-pounder -- has announced his retirement from boxing, ending a 16-year career. Caballero's announcement came several weeks after a 12-round decision loss to Adrian Estrella in a junior lightweight bout on Oct. 4 in Mexico. Caballero (37-6, 24 KOs) was 3-4 in his final seven bouts and beset by long layoffs.

He won a junior featherweight title in 2006 and made eight defenses, including a dominating fourth-round knockout of Steve Molitor on Molitor's turf in Ontario to unify two belts and establish himself as the No. 1 fighter in the weight class. In 2011, he claimed a featherweight belt by going to Japan and outpointing Satoshi Hosono, but Caballero never defended it.

• Promoter Timor Dugazaev, who staged the vacant "regular" heavyweight title bout between Ruslan Chagaev (33-2-1, 20 KOs) and Fres Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs) on July 6 in Grozny, Russia, issued a statement on Monday claiming that Oquendo failed the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's drug screen, testing positive for the banned substances tamoxifin and anastrozole. Chagaev won the fight by majority decision. According to Dugazaev, Oquendo now must pay back his purse based on their bout agreement.

The timing of the announcement is curious since the fight was several months ago. The announcement also came a week after Oquendo's team claimed that Dugazaev never paid Oquendo the full $1 million purse he was owed, in addition to claiming Chagaev owed him a rematch based on the bout agreement he signed.

• England's Brian Rose (26-2-1, 8 KOs), who got knocked out in the seventh round in a mandatory challenge to junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade in June, will look for a second win in a row since that fight when he faces Oklahoma City's Carson Jones (36-10-3, 26 KOs) on Jan. 23 in Manchester, England. Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced the fight on Monday. The fight will be on the undercard of lightweight titlist Richar Abril's defense against Manchester's Anthony Crolla. Jones is familiar to British boxing fans, having fought Kell Brook twice, before Brook won a welterweight world title.

"I enjoyed watching Carson taking on Kell and he always comes to fight," Rose said. "I think our styles make for a great match up. The atmosphere in the arena is going to be electric that night and I'm looking forward to getting the win and moving up the world rankings."

• Strawweight titleholder Hekkie Budler (27-1, 9 KOs), of South Africa, has been ordered to make his mandatory defense against former interim titlist Jesus Silvestre (30-5, 22 KOs), of Mexico. The WBA has given the sides until Dec. 19 to negotiate a deal. If they don't make one the fight will go to a purse bid.
Puerto Rican junior lightweight contender Jose Pedraza said he is ready for his world title shot.

Pedraza (19-0, 12 KOs), 25, won a clear-cut decision against tough Michael Farenas on Nov. 14 in a title eliminator to become the mandatory challenger for Rances Barthelemy (21-0, 12 KOs) and now looks forward to facing him.

"I'm very excited about my future and I'm very thankful to my promoters Gary Shaw, Lou DiBella and Javier Bustillo for getting me the fights I needed to become the mandatory challenger to fight for the IBF title," said Pedraza, who was a 2008 Olympian. "I've been getting a lot of support from my people here in Puerto Rico and it feels great to be loved by them. I've already started training as I'm eager to get back in the ring. I'm ready to fight Rances Barthelemy and bring home the IBF title."

Shaw came away pleased with Pedraza's performance against Farenas, who had won five in a row since a competitive loss to Yuriorkis Gamboa in an interim title bout in December 2012.

"Pedraza was absolutely outstanding in his fight with Farenas," Shaw said. "He looked fantastic. He has the rare ability to make adjustments in the ring against any style. He proved he can hang with the big boys. Farenas is a big puncher and Pedraza negated everything he brought to the table. Pedraza graduated from top prospect to world title contender in one terrific performance. I believe he is the top 130-pounder in the world, and come early 2015 will prove it when he fights for the world title."
After welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao demolished Chris Algieri to retain his welterweight title with ease as he scored six knockdowns in a landslide decision win on Saturday night at the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena in Macau, (Sunday morning Macau time), Pacquiao and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum made it clear who they want next.

Pound-for-pound king and fellow welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.


Who do you think Manny Pacquiao will fight next?


Discuss (Total votes: 13,415)

It’s the fight the world has wanted to see since a deal fell apart in 2010. Since then there have been other aborted attempts to make the fight, with both camps shouldering blame. It has been a saga never before seen in boxing, where money talks, and what will undoubtedly be the richest fight in history remains unmade.

But Pacquiao, who has said he wants the fight but deferred to Arum, was outspoken about his desire for the fight during the lead up to his bout with Algieri. After the fight, Pacquiao spoke in his strongest language yet about wanting it.

“The people deserve that fight. The fans deserve that fight,” Pacquiao said at the postfight news conference. “It’s time to make that fight happen. It’s been a long time. I want that fight. They’re always denying the fight. I think the fight has to happen.”

For it to happen, CBS/Showtime, which has Mayweather under contract, and Time Warner/HBO, which has Pacquiao under contract, would have to come together for a joint pay-per-view broadcast. They did it once before, in 2002, for another long-anticipated fight between HBO’s then-heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and Showtime’s Mike Tyson. Both were near the end of their careers, and their showdown was the highest-grossing fight in boxing history (at the time).

Arum claims there are talks going on behind the scenes with CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves (a longtime Arum associate) and HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler.

Of course, everyone still needs Mayweather to agree, and he has been reluctant.

So what will it take?

“To answer the telephone. Simple as that,” Arum, who has been one of the impediments in the past, said at the postfight news conference. “I think that fight should happen. I think the boxing fans deserve that fight. if boxing is to be considered a major sport, the fight has to happen and all the nonsense has to cease.

“Everyone should work together to make it happen. There are no more excuses. None. I’ll be by my phone, Manny will be by his phone. We’re ready.”

So what has finally changed?

“We’re tired. Everywhere we go they ask when is it going to happen? When are they going to fight?” Arum said. “I say enough is enough. Just make the fight happen. Let’s get it done and let’s get it done the next fight for each fighter, sometime in the first six months of next year.”

Manny Pacquiao is a heavy favorite to retain his welterweight title against Chris Algieri when they meet Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) in Macau, China (where it will be Sunday morning).

So if things go as many expect, and the PacMan comes through, then what? Of course, many hold out hope that his next fight will be the one we’ve all wanted for years against fellow welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.

But we’ve all heard the talk for years and even though Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who represents Pacquiao, said there are serious talks for the fight, let’s take it with a grain of salt for the time being until presented with more evidence than just Arum’s word.

So who’s next for Pacquiao if not Mayweather?

“There are a lot of opponents,” Arum said. “Let’s see how Jessie Vargas looks on the card.”

Vargas is defending his secondary junior welterweight title against former lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco on the Pacquiao-Algieri undercard.

“What happens if Diego Chaves upsets Tim Bradley?” Arum said of the main event of his Dec. 13 HBO card.

Another possible opponent, and one more intriguing than either Vargas or Chaves, is unified junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia.

Garcia is promoted by Golden Boy, but there are no issues between the companies in making fights any longer. But Garcia is also managed by Al Haymon and that is a huge problem because HBO has essentially banned his fighters from the network. Garcia is also a regular these days on Showtime, although he has fought some of his most significant fights on HBO.

“What happens if Oscar [De La Hoya of Golden Boy] is right and he can free up Danny Garcia to fight Pacquiao? There are a lot of what-ifs,” Arum said. “We’re concerned about Algieri. He’s a top opponent. After that we’ll look around.”

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, wants Mayweather but said Garcia would be a good second option.

“Garcia is a tough guy and one thing about Garcia is he will throw,” Roach said. “He is a heavy puncher. He knocked out Amir Kahn. I think he is a very good opponent for Manny Pacquiao. I think Manny would box a little more and not exchange as much.

“It's a fight I would like to see and a fight the fans would love to see, and that's what we want to give the people -- good fights.”

Roach to Floyd: 'Step up to the plate'

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
Trainer Freddie Roach wants his star fighter, Manny Pacquiao, to get a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. as much as anyone and has no problem speaking out about it.

Roach is in Macau, China, getting Pacquiao ready for his welterweight title defense against junior welterweight titleholder Chris Algieri at the Cotai Arena in Macau, China on Sunday morning. With the time difference, HBO's live telecast will air Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET).

But in the final prefight conference call with boxing media members on Thursday, the subject of Mayweather naturally came up. That came as no surprise, especially since Top Rank’s Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, has been talking once again about the prospect of a deal for the fight the public has wanted for years.

After taking a few slaps at Algieri, including a knockout prediction (“about three” rounds) and saying that he was “in way over his head” and that he would be “overwhelmed” by Pacquiao’s speed, Roach addressed a Mayweather fight once again.

“I’m going to have to tell Manny, 'Don’t beat up Algieri too bad because Mayweather will run even more,'” Roach said. “He’s scared of us now, and he’s going to be more scared of us after we destroy this guy. Mayweather, you know, show some balls and step up to the plate.”

While Roach has never hidden his desire for the fight, Pacquiao has only recently begun to be more outspoken about his desire to face Mayweather, who has been reluctant to make the fight.

“He’s been talking more and more about Floyd,” Roach said. “The more time goes by, the more he talks about it. Manny wants the fight badly. After seeing Floyd’s last couple fights, he wants him even more. He just wants to prove he’s the best fighter in the world, and he’ll take that zero and give [Floyd] his first one.”

Like everyone, Roach is frustrated that the fight has gone unmade for nearly four years since it first became the focus of the boxing world.

“I’ve been waiting for this fight for a long time,” Roach said. “I’m anxious for this fight. I like challenges. Mayweather is a challenge. He’s a good fighter but, obviously, I’m tired of people asking me about if the fight’s going to happen and so forth because I can’t give them a real, true answer because this guy keeps running away and running away and running away.”
J'Leon Love, Marco PeribanHarry How/Getty ImagesMarco Antonio Periban, left, is one fight removed from a competitive decision loss to J'Leon Love.
Super middleweight contender James DeGale is on the verge of a world title fight. He became one of unified titleholder Carl Froch's mandatory challengers by knocking out Brandon Gonzales in the fourth round of a final eliminator on May 31.

A fight between DeGale, a 2008 British Olympic gold medalist, and countryman Froch would be a big fight in England. But DeGale also knows the fight, if it ever happens, is still several months away, at the earliest.

So rather than sit around and wait for a fight that might not materialize, DeGale (19-1, 13 KOs) has elected to stay busy. Instead of fighting a no-hoper, he will take on tough Mexican brawler Marco Antonio Periban (20-2-1, 13 KOs), a former world title challenger, ont on Saturday (AWE, 1 p.m. ET) at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England on the Nathan Cleverly-Toney Bellew II undercard.

Periban, who lost a debatable majority decision for a vacant world title to Sakio Bika in a brutal fight in June 2013, said he is planning to derail DeGale's title shot.

"Bika was a more difficult challenge than anyone DeGale has ever faced," Periban said. "He was very difficult. To have a fighter like him in front of you who is so strong and so resilient is hard. Bika is also considered one of the best punchers in the division at this moment. I did a good job after a good training camp and it made me realize that I'm at the level of the division's strong fighters.

"This division is the hardest one at the moment. A lot of experts believe that. That's an added motivation knowing that I'm up there fighting the best. That speaks well of me, it shows that I'm doing a good job and I just need to work harder to win a world title."

Periban is 0-2-1 in his last three fights with the loss to Bika starting the winless streak. He fought a draw with favored Badou Jack 14 months ago and also lost a competitive decision to J'Leon Love in May, although he had Love hurt.

"I should have knocked Love out in the fifth round but then the referee made a big mistake," Periban said. "He pushed me when I was going for Love and I almost went out of the ring. Floyd Mayweather [Love's promoter and mentor] had mentioned in the pre-fight press conference that Love was almost like his son. Perhaps there was a lot of favoritism towards him.

"I don't feel like I'm undefeated because unfortunately the records show that I lost. It's harder to impress the judges away from home. I do feel like I have a lot of experience now, in terms of catching the judges' eyes in other countries. This is really important."

DeGale said he wanted a quality opponent even though he is close to a title shot.

"A lot of people are saying, 'Why are you taking this fight, James?' The guy is a former world title challenger, he’s boxed Sakio Bika, he has boxed some good opponents. Why are you taking this fight because you’re so close now to a world title,'" DeGale said. "The simple answer is that I want to box the best that I can. Fighting Periban and beating him, I'm going to get some credit after. I don’t have to take this fight, I could have taken a routine eight-rounder against a journeyman but I told [promoter] Eddie Hearn, 'I don’t want that, get me someone I’m going to get credit for after. This guy is going to come to fight but the better the opposition the better I’ll box."

The card, which is on Sky Box Office pay-per-view in the U.K., also includes junior featherweight titlist Quigg defending against Hidenori Othake; bantamweight titlist Jamie McDonnell defending against Javier Chacon; super middleweight contender George Groves against Denis Douglin; Callum Smith squaring off with Nikola Sjekloca in a super middleweight title eliminator; and heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua, a 2012 British Olympic gold medalist, facing journeyman Michael Sprott.
Freddie Roach and Antonio DeMarco Chris Farina/Top Rank Antonio DeMarco, right, is fighting to help with his 13-year-old sister's cancer treatment.

Former lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco traveled to the Philippines about a month ago to join trainer Freddie Roach in Manny Pacquiao’s training camp. Shortly after DeMarco’s arrival, he was shocked by what he heard on a phone call to his home in Tijuana, Mexico.

On that call, he learned that his 13-year-old sister, Mariana, had been diagnosed with bone cancer in her shoulder. DeMarco was distraught, but he plans to fight for his sister. He wants to make a statement to her that he is not a quitter and that she should also fight through her difficult situation, which includes chemotherapy treatments. DeMarco, whose boxing income helps support his family, also needs the purse the fight will provide.

DeMarco will challenge secondary junior welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas on the Pacquiao-Chris Algieri undercard at the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena in Macau, China on Sunday morning. Given the time difference, HBO's live telecast will air Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET).

"When I heard the news, I nearly pulled out of this fight,” DeMarco said through a translator. “But I decided to fight in her honor. I want her to live and be the beautiful person she is."

DeMarco, 28, said his sister’s prognosis is good, but it has still been difficult for her and their family.

“We had some tough days,” Roach said. “A couple of days he started thinking about [his sister] and he was crying. He cares about his family and his sister a lot, and it was very hard for him to be away from his family and not be able to care for her. The best way to care for her is to win this fight. I think we turned it around and turned it into a positive. DeMarco is in great shape, and I expect big things out of DeMarco.”

In October 2011, DeMarco won a vacant lightweight world title against Jorge Linares, who had dominated the fight until suffering terrible cuts and was eventually stopped in the 11th round.

DeMarco went on to make two successful defenses before he was whitewashed in an eighth-round knockout loss to Adrien Broner in November 2012. After that, DeMarco (31-3-1, 23 KOs) moved up in weight and won three fights in a row to set himself up for a shot at the Roy Jones Jr.-trained Vargas (25-0, 9 KOs) of Las Vegas.

Vargas, 25, heard about the plight of DeMarco’s sister and offered him support.

"Antonio spoke to me about his sister,” Vargas said. “This is devastating news. I am praying for her as well.”

Vasyl LomachenkoChris Farina/Top RankVasyl Lomachenko is facing Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo in Macau on Saturday

After Jamaica’s Nicholas Walters knocked out featherweight titleholder Nonito Donaire in the sixth round of an outstanding performance in October, the immediate discussion turned to a possible unification fight with Vasyl Lomachenko, the gifted former two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist many consider the best amateur in boxing history.

Both fighters are promoted by Top Rank and the fight is a natural. Top Rank’s Bob Arum wants to make the match, HBO can’t wait to put it on and both fighter camps are open to it.

But first Lomachenko (2-1, 1 KO), who won a world title in his third professional fight in June with a masterpiece against then-unbeaten Gary Russell Jr., has his own business to handle. He faces mandatory challenger Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (52-1, 33 KOs) of Thailand on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) on the Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri undercard at the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena in Macau, China.

"When I signed with Top Rank they told me I would fight on the biggest events,” Lomachenko said through a translator. “Here we are, on a big Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view card in Macau. This is really a big, exciting show. As far as my opponent goes, I did not get a chance to see much of his fights. My trainers take care of that. He has a big record and I am taking him as a serious challenger. I'm 100 percent prepared.”

Despite the disparity in records, Lomachenko is the clear favorite against Piriyapinyo, who lost his only other title bout, a decision to then-titleholder Chris John in Indonesia in November 2012. Should Lomachenko prevail, Arum said he will make the fight with Walters, but not immediately.

Thankfully, Arum is not planning a slow marinade, which he tried to do for a hot fight between featherweight titleholders Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa a few years ago, only to watch it disintegrate when Lopez got knocked out twice.

Lomachenko-Walters really is not quite ready to be made yet, but the wait won’t be long if Arum is true to his word.

“By the early summer I want to make that fight,” Arum told ESPN.com from Macau this week. “Both sides want it. That’s what they’ve communicated to me. Egis [Klimas, Lomachenko’s manager] has told me one more fight after this one and then early summer they’re ready to go. The Walters camp is saying the same thing.”

So the idea is a doubleheader in early 2015 and then, if they both win, the showdown after that.

“Maybe they’ll fight on a doubleheader and then go at each other,” Arum said. “I would be just as excited to see that fight as I would be to see Pacquiao-[Floyd] Mayweather. I can’t wait to see Walters fight Lomachenko. It’s really an interesting fight. I know the general public won’t share that enthusiasm but the boxing people and the true boxing fans will.”

Arum said he envisions the fight perhaps taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, which is near a large Ukrainian population. There is also a sizable Jamaican community in New York.

“It’s a tough fight but they both want it and so do I and so does HBO,” Arum said.

Lomachenko did not want to talk about a fight with Walters (25-0, 21 KOs) with another opponent in front of him on Saturday. That is understandable. But given that he has faced top opposition in his brief pro career -- he is so ambitious that he wanted a world title fight in his pro debut but settled for a fight [a loss] before winning one in his third -- it’s hard to imagine Lomachenko not accepting a fight with Walters.

“I trained hard for this fight. I am focused. What is next? I do not know yet,” Lomachenko said. “I am only concerned for my fight this weekend.”