Monday, September 24, 2012
Bradley-Guerrero a possibility?
By Dan Rafael
During fight week for Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Top Rank promoter Bob Arum spent quite a bit of time in the media center at the Wynn Las Vegas talking up the fight, as well as the other fights he was working on.
One was a Dec. 15 fight for welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., who needs a dance partner after he failed to land a rematch of his controversial June win against Manny Pacquiao, who opted instead to face Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time. Not only did Bradley lose out on Pacquiao, he also lost out on Marquez, who was the other option.
Arum mentioned a few other possible opponents for Bradley, but the one who raised eyebrows was interim welterweight titlist Robert Guerrero.
My initial thought was that it would be a tremendous fight between two of the best young American fighters in the sport and that I'd love to see it. But I also thought it was unlikely to happen because Arum promotes Bradley while Guerrero is with Golden Boy, and we all know the drill there. Unless forced by a purse bid outcome, the bitter rivals simply refuse to do business with each other. They have consistently deprived fight fans of meaningful and good matches. Bradley-Guerrero, my thought was, would simply be another.
However, I'm happy to report that there is work being done behind the scenes to facilitate a Bradley-Guerrero fight for Dec. 15, likely in Miami. And if it comes off, there's a good chance that Yuriorkis Gamboa, who relinquished his featherweight title to move up in weight, would be on the undercard.
But back to the proposed main event, which is by no means a lock. In fact, I remain skeptical that it will be made.
Still, Top Rank claims it wants to make the fight happen. Bradley's side is also interested. Team Guerrero very much wants the bout, and Golden Boy, although not gung-ho, is at least willing as long as it can work out a deal it's comfortable with.
Cameron Dunkin, Bradley's manager, told me Monday that their side is ready to make the fight.
"We're fine, we accepted it. We're waiting on [Top Rank]," Dunkin said. "We haven't gone through all the numbers, but they asked us if we would accept the fight and we said yes. We're fine with Guerrero as the opponent. Now it's a matter of getting the deal done."
HBO wants the fight, too, and is working hard behind the scenes, acting more or less as the go-between because Top Rank and Golden Boy don't communicate. But as long as both companies are willing, it shouldn't take all that much to construct separate license fee deals with each promotional company.
Guerrero (30-1-1, 18 KOs) looked very good in July when he moved up to 147 pounds after an injury-induced 15-month layoff and won a clear decision in a good fight against tough-as-nails Selcuk Aydin to win an interim belt.
Guerrero and his team very much want the fight with Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) for the encore. Guerrero was already rebuffed by Adrien Broner and, although Golden Boy offered him a fight with Andre Berto, Guerrero didn't want the fight because he didn't think it sent the right message to face a guy who was just busted for steroid use.
But Bradley? Bring him on. He has a belt, an unbeaten record, the need for an opponent and a win, no matter how controversial, against Pacquiao.
"Team Guerrero wants the fight," co-manager Luis DeCubas Jr. told me Monday. "It's the best fight for the fans, and the winner of the fight emerges as top contender for Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. If Robert beats a fighter the caliber of a Timothy Bradley, there's nobody who can say Robert isn't a top-10 pound-for-pound guy or can't be there to fight Mayweather or Pacquiao. This is the fight Robert wants."
If there is one hang-up at the moment, it's that DeCubas and co-manager Bob Santos need to work out a deal on how to split the money Guerrero's side would get with Golden Boy, which hasn't been easy.
"Hopefully, we're able to work something out," DeCubas said. "The fans deserve this fight."
Santos said if the fight happens, there's a decent chance it would be to unify two of the major belts. Mayweather holds a full title and Guerrero owns the interim version, but there's a chance Mayweather's belt will be vacated because he hasn't defended it since his win against Victor Ortiz in September 2011, and who knows when he will fight next?
"By the time Dec. 15 rolls around, most likely the WBC will make Robert the full champion and this fight with Bradley would be a unification fight," Santos said. "Besides that, this is the best fight for both guys outside of if they could fight Mayweather or Pacquiao. We're willing to do it. They're willing to do it. So let's do it."
One of the reasons I remain skeptical that Bradley-Guerrero will come off is because Amir Khan, who is with Golden Boy, is supposed to return Dec. 15. His HBO deal is up, and I fully expect him to wind up on Showtime, which has handed over virtually all of its dates to Golden Boy. Why would Golden Boy compete against itself by putting Guerrero on a Top Rank card on HBO?