Friday, May 20, 2011
Khan antes up to get Bradley in ring
By Dan Rafael
MONTREAL -- When I hit the town Thursday to cover Saturday night's rematch between light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal and former champ Bernard Hopkins, I had a chance to chat at length with promoters Richard Schaefer and Gary Shaw, both of whom are involved in the show.
In addition to Pascal-Hopkins, Schaefer and Shaw are involved in trying to finalize a deal between junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan (with Schaefer's Golden Boy Promotions) and Timothy Bradley Jr. (with Shaw -- until his contract runs out this summer).
If Timothy Bradley Jr. is as anxious to face Amir Khan as he has claimed, will he accept the champ's new and improved terms?
They have so far been unable to close a deal for the July 23 HBO fight because Bradley has balked at Shaw's minimum guarantee of $1.3 million against 80 percent of their side's profits, so Schaefer has been talking to other opponents.
However, Khan apparently really, really, really wants the fight. Schaefer told me Khan authorized him to make it a straight 50-50 deal. Under the original proposal (which was fair), they would split everything 50-50, except Khan would keep his British pay-per-view money. This week, Schaefer said Khan told him to give Bradley's side 50 percent of the U.K. TV money, too -- even though we all know Bradley is no draw whatsoever and adds little to the pay-per-view in terms of real money.
That's how badly Khan wants the fight.
Shaw told me Schaefer had indeed made him that offer. Shaw also said he raised his minimum guarantee to Bradley to $1.4 million (a career high by $200,000) against 80 percent of the profits his side would receive.
Yet according to both promoters, the Bradley camp has not yet accepted -- and Shaw and Schaefer are somewhat stunned. If what they say is accurate, I am, too.
The alternative opponents Schaefer is discussing are Marcos Maidana (in a rematch), Robert Guerrero, Zab Judah and Erik Morales. HBO would accept all of them in place of Bradley if it had no other choice, and frankly, any would likely do better ratings and generate better gates than Bradley. I think all four are probably better fights inside the ring. Khan would also make more money against any of them because he would have to pay them less than the incredible offer on the table for Bradley.
But Khan wants to prove he is the best at 140 pounds, so he is putting his money where his mouth is. Will Bradley, the one who called out Khan in the first place, do the same?
• It's always fun to hang at the fight hotel bar. Late Thursday, I sat with Shaw and Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz. They were talking about a possible lightweight fight between Antonio DeMarco, who Shaw promotes, and Jorge Linares, who is with Golden Boy. That's a pretty nice fight.
• Schaefer mentioned he'd talked to Showtime's Ken Hershman and that the target date to reschedule the final of the network's four-man bantamweight tournament between titleholder Joseph Agbeko, whose case of sciatica caused the fight to be postponed in April, and Abner Mares is Aug. 13. Cross your fingers.
• Schaefer also told me Erislandy Lara, who is with Golden Boy, could be the one to get the call to fight Paul Williams on July 9 after HBO rescinded its approval of Nobuhiro Ishida as his opponent after the match was crushed by fans and media alike. Williams-Lara ain't much better, folks. Lara looked awful in his last fight in a March draw with Carlos Molina on ESPN2.
• Hopkins mentioned to a few writers at the gym for his final workout on Thursday that his wife is pregnant and due with their second child in about a month. I have a feeling that if it's a boy, he won't be named Donovan.
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• For a great laugh, you gotta check out this week's season premiere of Comedy Central's "Tosh.0," in which comedian Daniel Tosh paid a visit to Manny Pacquiao's recent training camp and took a punch from the pound-for-pound king. Best part was the end of the segment, when Tosh looked into the camera and said, "See, Mayweather. That's how a man behaves."
• I'm not a big fan of women's boxing, but a fight I would definitely tune in to watch is Jin Mosley, Shane Mosley's ex-wife, against Bella Gonzalez, his model girlfriend. Their Twitter war this week has been epic.
• If you ever decide to punish yourself by watching Pacquiao-Mosley again, at least make it a drinking game. Whenever they touch gloves, drink. You'll be feeling good by about the fourth round.
• The Brandon Rios-Urbano Antillon lightweight title bout July 9 on Showtime will be a can't-miss action fight.
• I just hope Denis Lebedev doesn't hurt Roy Jones Jr. when they meet on Saturday in Moscow.
• I was pretty impressed by the way Daniel Geale fought Sebastian Sylvester to claim a middleweight belt. I sure wouldn't mind seeing Geale on American television in a solid fight.
• Someday, super middleweight titlist Andre Ward is probably going to be ranked No. 1 on the pound-for-pound list. His virtual shutout of Arthur Abraham in the Super Six semifinals last week was just the latest performance against a top opponent in which Ward has barely lost a round. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist hasn't lost a fight since he was a 12-year-old amateur. As for Abraham, have you ever seen a guy look so good at middleweight then so absolutely awful at super middleweight?
• I thoroughly enjoyed the Jorge Arce-Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. fight on the Pacquiao-Mosley undercard. Arce has been one of my favorite fighters to watch for many years. He brings it every night, win or lose. All the credit in the world to Arce for pulling the mild upset to claim a junior featherweight belt, which made him a three-division titleholder. He does not, however, get credit as the first Mexican to win a major world title in four divisions. He's won them at junior featherweight, junior bantamweight and junior flyweight. The flyweight trinket he held for all those years was a bogus interim title.
• I'm still depressed over the breakup of heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko and actress Hayden Panettiere because I had not yet had a chance to meet her.
• I'm excited that welterweight prospect Thomas Dulorme of Puerto Rico will get some prime TV exposure when he opens the June 10 edition of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" against former titlist DeMarcus Corley, who isn't what he once was but always comes to fight. Dulorme has all kinds of potential.
• I've been asked numerous times in recent weeks what I think about the proposed fall fight between former super middleweight titlist Jeff Lacy and MMA fighter Nick Diaz, who are supposed to meet in a boxing match. Here is what I think: I don't care and am not interested. It means nothing and will prove nothing in the never-ending boxing versus MMA debate because Lacy is badly faded.
• I love that heavyweight contender Cristobal Arreola is getting back in the ring May 27 on ESPN2, just 13 days after his fight on last Saturday's Ward-Abraham undercard. Good for him for staying as active as possible.
• As far as this week's main event on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" goes, I have just one thing to say about Joel "Love Child" Julio's bout against Anges Adjaho: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the Love Child.
• Happy birthday to a couple of my favorite boxing people, who celebrated their big days on Tuesday: promoter/madman/friend Lou DiBella (51) and the great Sugar Ray Leonard (55), my childhood boxing hero, who it has been a thrill to meet and get to know a little bit over the years.
• DVD pick of the week: Because I'm in Montreal to see if Hopkins, 46, can make history by becoming the oldest fighter to win a world title when he faces Pascal, it got me thinking about when George Foreman pulled off a massive upset of Michael Moorer to set the record as the oldest fighter to win a world title. So I went back to Nov. 5, 1994, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where Moorer was easily beating the old and slow Foreman through nine rounds. He led 88-83, 88-83 and an absurd 86-85 on the scorecards going to the 10th round, which is when Foreman blinded him with a jab and then landed a flush, short-range right hand to the point of Moorer's chin. Moorer dropped flat on his back and took the full 10-count from referee Joe Cortez. Foreman looked to the sky then knelt in prayer in a corner as the arena erupted into bedlam, and HBO's Jim Lampley made perhaps the most memorable call of his career: "It happened! It happened!"