<
>

Valdez, Ramirez on Pacquiao-Bradley III PPV undercard

Unbeaten featherweight Oscar Valdez will fight on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley III undercard. Chris Farina/Top Rank

On April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr. will meet for the third time at the same arena where they had their first two forgettable fights. What does Top Rank promoter Bob Arum have in store for the HBO PPV undercard?

We talked about that on Tuesday. Arum would like to have it wrapped up by Tuesday, when he will host the kickoff news conference for the card in Los Angeles, followed by another press conference in New York on Thursday.

If Arum can work it out, he would like to have super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham (44-4, 29 KOs), of Germany, make his mandatory defense against Mexico’s Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (33-0, 24 KOs) in the co-feature. Even though Top Rank lost the purse bid for the fight on Wednesday, giving control of the fight to Abraham promoter Team Sauerland, they are still talking about the fight possibly taking place on the Top Rank card.

Two fighters who will be on the April 9 pay-per-view telecast in scheduled 10-rounders are two of Top Rank’s best prospects, featherweight and two-time Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez (18-0, 16 KOs) and junior welterweight and 2012 U.S. Olympian Jose Ramirez (16-0, 12 KOs), a Mexican-American from Avenal, California.

Arum said Valdez likely will face former featherweight titlist Evgeny Gradovich (21-1-1, 9 KOs) in a fight that would be a considerable step up for Valdez. Gradovich lost his world title to Lee Selby by eighth-round technical decision in May and although he has won two fights in a row since, he has looked a bit shaky. He would still be the best opponent Valdez has faced.

“I’m trying to finalize that fight,” Arum said. “I’d like to get it done by the end of the week so we can announce it on Tuesday at the press conference in L.A.”

Russia’s Gradovich had been mentioned as a possible challenger for junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire on April 23 in the Philippines. However, Gradovich was 128 pounds for his shaky victory against Jesus Galicia in Spain last week and Arum said getting down to 122 would be a problem for him. Arum said Donaire is more likely to defend against Hungary’s Zsolt Bedak (25-1, 8 KOs), whose only defeat came by 10th-round stoppage to Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in a 2010 junior featherweight world title bout.

Arum said Ramirez would face Denver’s Manny Perez (25-11-1, 6 KOs), who has won three fights in a row since a third-round knockout loss to former welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz in December 2014.

“This undercard is going to highlight young Hispanic fighters that we have high hopes for,” Arum said.