Berto back, DeMarco-Broner, more
When I was on my recent 11-day road trip to Oakland to cover Andre Ward-Chad Dawson, followed by a week in Las Vegas covering the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez-Josesito Lopez cards, I heard a lot of stuff from a lot of people in the boxing business. And now I'm getting around to writing the highlights of what I heard:
• HBO is working on a Nov. 24 card that would be headlined by former welterweight titlist Andre Berto, who, after a positive steroid test knocked him out of a June rematch on Showtime with Victor Ortiz, was recently licensed in California. Berto's probable opponent? Junior middleweight titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage. Berto told me when I saw him in Oakland that he would move up in weight for the fight. He was licking his chops to get back into the ring, calling himself a "caged animal."
• Promoter Gary Shaw told me that he had made a deal with HBO for lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco to defend against former junior lightweight titlist Adrien Broner on a Nov. 17 card that likely would take place in Atlantic City, N.J. Shaw said he was waiting to hear if HBO can make a deal with the Golden Boy/Broner side, but that he and DeMarco -- who needed less than a minute to blow out John Molina on the Ward-Dawson undercard -- were ready to go. Assuming the card comes off, heavyweight Seth Mitchell would face Johnathon Banks in the opener, a fight rescheduled after Mitchell's hand injury forced him out of the fight originally scheduled for July 14.
• Although Miguel Cotto's Dec. 1 fight at Madison Square Garden against junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout will take place on Showtime -- HBO also made a strong bid -- Top Rank's Bob Arum said he offered Cotto a guaranteed $13 million to take the rematch with Manny Pacquiao. When the Cotto side rejected that, Juan Manuel Marquez became Pacquiao's opponent for the Dec. 8 HBO PPV card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Arum also said that Pacquiao had agreed to fight Cotto at as heavy as 150 pounds. Cotto will make far less than $13 million against Trout, but there is still a good possibility of a megafight with Alvarez if Cotto beats Trout. HBO didn't want to buy Trout-Cotto as a one-off. It wanted a commitment from Cotto for a second fight -- meaning Alvarez, who just went over to Showtime for the Lopez fight. No way was HBO going to pay in the $3.5 million range for Trout-Cotto if there was a possibility that the big fight between Cotto and Alvarez would go to Showtime.
• Arum also said that he has two new television deals in place for next year. Top Rank has long been heavily involved in promoting Hispanic fighters, especially Mexicans, but hasn't had a regular outlet since the end of its deal with Fox Deportes. But next year, Arum said, Top Rank will put 12 shows on Telemundo (which will increase its boxing presence from 12 annual cards to 24) and 24 more on Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate," where Top Rank once ruled the roost before Golden Boy took over as the main provider.
• Arum also said he was working with HBO to finalize a fight for welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., who was passed over for a rematch by Pacquiao. Arum and HBO both said the date for Bradley's return is Dec. 15. Arum said several names had been discussed, including junior welterweight Ruslan Provodnikov and a possible rematch with junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson (whom Bradley schooled in their first fight). Arum said he was also open to making a deal with Golden Boy for Bradley to face interim titlist Robert Guerrero. (That's a good fight, but don't hold your breath.) Another fighter Arum said he was open to matching Bradley with is British contender Kell Brook.
• HBO's contract with former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan has ended, but the network is still interested in putting on his next fight. However, it doesn't want the kind that was offered by Golden Boy. One HBO executive said the network was offered a Khan fight for December against Humberto Soto. But HBO isn't interested in two guys who were drilled in their most recent fights -- especially Soto, an older guy fighting well above his best weight.
• According to the California State Athletic Commission, the Ward-Dawson super middleweight championship fight in Oakland -- Ward's hometown -- on Sept. 8 sold 7,611 tickets for a gate of $706,469. There were 1,038 complimentary tickets. Those are solid numbers that show Ward has a fan base, one that should only grow as he gains more recognition as one of the best fighters in the world.