The May 24 HBO doubleheader featuring heavyweight Bryant Jennings against Mike Perez in a title eliminator and the middleweight showdown between former titlist Daniel Geale and former three-time title challenger Matthew Macklin will take place at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, promoters Gary Shaw and K2 Promotions have announced.
Both fights look like good, competitive bouts on paper. The Jennings-Perez winner will become the mandatory challenger for the fighter who emerges from the winner of the Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola vacant title bout after taking on first mandatory Deontay Wilder.
“The world has been desperately seeking a heavyweight to take over the division, and I believe that person is me,” Jennings said. “By defeating Mike Perez, I will position myself as the mandatory in the WBC.
Said Perez: “My dream has always been to fight for the heavyweight championship. This has been my dream since I first started boxing, and I have sacrificed a lot to get this opportunity. Jennings and I have been on a crash course for a while, and now with so much at risk I’m sure it will bring out the best in both of us. However, as good as Jennings is, I will be victorious.”
The Geale-Macklin winner figures to be in a great spot to land another title shot.
“I'm keen to prove I am still one of the best middleweights in the world,” Geale said. "Macklin is a very tough opponent who likes to go to war, as do I. Our clash of styles could make a fight that steals the show. I will confirm my status as one of the top fighters in the division with a victory. When I win, I still want to fight [Gennady] Golovkin or the winner of [Felix] Sturm vs. [Sam] Solomon.”
Said Macklin: “I'm really excited about the fight with Daniel Geale. He's a good fighter, a former world champion, and he throws a lot of punches like me, so I'm expecting it to be a tough, action-packed fight. After the Golovkin fight [a knockout loss], the win over [Lamar] Russ got me back on track and a much-needed 10 rounds of work. Winning on May 24 against Geale will throw me back into the world title mix, so in many ways this is almost a world title eliminator. It's a great fight between two of the best and most exciting middleweights in the world.”
There were plans to include a third televised fight, light heavyweight Edwin Rodriguez against Marcus Johnson, but the bout was scrapped when Johnson pulled out of the fight, according to Rodriguez promoter Lou DiBella.
You might be asking why HBO would bring Rodriguez back in his next fight after missing weight for a super middleweight title challenge against Andre Ward in November, when he fought poorly and lost a one-sided decision. The reason is because HBO gave Rodriguez a six-figure comeback fight in his contract in the event of a loss. It’s a terrible way to do business and something I have argued with HBO Sports president Ken Hershman about, but he said sometimes that is an onerous part of getting a fight deal done. It shouldn’t be.