A junior welterweight unification match between undefeated titleholders Devon Alexander, who has two belts, and Timothy Bradley Jr., who has one, is one of boxing's most anticipated fights.
HBO has been hot for the match for quite some time and has it penciled in for Jan. 29, the week before the Super Bowl, a date the network typically holds for a major fight. Fans and media have been clamoring for the fight between the two young Americans with star potential.
Promoter Gary Shaw, who handles Bradley, and Don King, who promotes Alexander, met with HBO on Aug. 19 and reached an agreement with the network on a license fee for the fight. I don't know the exact number but I would guess it's in the $2.5 million ballpark.
But just because Shaw and King reached terms with HBO doesn't mean the fight was made. That was the easy part. Now the promoters must make deals with their fighters and management.
Although I do think the fight will ultimately be made (because neither guy has too many high-profile options at the moment and I don't think HBO is going to hand either a date if they are not fighting each other), it's not necessarily going to be so easy.
Shaw extended a $1.1 million offer to Bradley and manager Cameron Dunkin almost two weeks ago. Shaw says he has not received a response of any kind. Not yes, not no and not "let's talk about it." Nothing but silence.
On the other side, Kevin Cunningham, Alexander's manager and trainer, told me that he has yet to receive an offer from King. In fact, Cunningham said he has not heard anything from King since Alexander's Aug. 7 victory against Andriy Kotelnik, a fight that did big business in Alexander's hometown of St. Louis, drawing nearly 10,000 fans for his first headline fight there.
"We haven't heard from our promoter. We haven't been offered anything," Cunningham said.
Cunningham didn't seem too upset by the lack of communication with King, adding, "I don't want to hear from Don unless the deal is right, because there's no way Devon is going to consider fighting Tim Bradley without being offered a fair offer. I've worked with Don on purses. I've taken less money on several occasions in the past to make a fight happen. But in this fight here, this kid has to get every penny due him. You're talking about the two best junior welterweights in the division, three world titles on the line, both guys are undefeated. This is the biggest fight you can make in the division. There's no other fight in boxing you can make like this with three titles, best in the division and both undefeated.
"This fight has major ramifications and they need to be compensated fairly. And I don't think Tim Bradley will take the fight either if the money isn't right. I ain't upset about not hearing from Don. I'm good. I don't need to hear from him until he has the right deal. I don't want to hear from Don until he has good news."
Cunningham went on to make the point that Alexander-Bradley is the kind of fight boxing needs, especially at a time when so many other important fights that fans want to see aren't being made, especially Manny Pacquiao against Floyd Mayweather.
"People are so sick and tired of the fights they want to see not get made," Cunningham said. "That's driving fans away from this sport. They don't want to see the bulls--- fights the networks and promoters and managers are doing as favors. That's killing this sport. This fight here has to be made. They need to do what's right. Everybody involved, everybody responsible for this. Promoters, networks, whatever. If they want this fight to be made they know what's fair. That's all we're asking for."
Cunningham listed off a bunch of fights that should be made.
"To save our sport and attract casual fans, these fights have to happen," he said. Among the fights on his list: Pacquiao-Mayweather, Alexander-Bradley, Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana, Juan Manuel Lopez-Yuriorkis Gamboa, Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye and Miguel Cotto-Andre Berto.
"UFC wouldn't stand a chance against this line-up," Cunningham said.
As for Alexander-Bradley, the one fight on his list he can help make or break, Cunningham said, "We have an opportunity to make a big fight, so let's get it made. This fight needs to get made and the guys got to get paid. I feel positive about this fight. I think it will get done. HBO wants the fight, the fans want the fight, we really want the fight, but both of these kids have to be compensated equal to the level of the fight."