Dan Rafael: 50 Cent

Former featherweight titlist Billy Dib is picking himself up, dusting himself off and aiming for a rematch with Evgeny Gradovich, who took his title in a hard-fought split decision on March 1.

Dib had a rematch clause in his contract with Gradovich, but it wasn't a requirement that the second fight happen immediately. So instead of facing Australia's Dib right away, Russia's Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs) is taking an interim fight and will defend his belt against mandatory challenger Mauricio Munoz (26-3, 12 KOs) of Argentina on July 27 in Macau, China.

Dib (35-2, 21 KOs), meanwhile, will try to rebound from the loss and fight his way into the rematch when he faces Mike Oliver (25-3, 8 KOs) in the scheduled 10-round bout that was elevated to the main event of this week's "Friday Night Fights" card (ESPN2, 9 ET) at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Oliver's hometown.

The original main event -- the first solo promotion for rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's SMS Promotions -- was supposed to have featured light heavyweight prospect Eleider Alvarez (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Colombian Olympian living in Montreal, against Tulsa, Okla., native Allan Green (32-4, 22 KOs), a former world title challenger who participated in the Super Six World Boxing Classic super middleweight tournament. Green, however, pulled out of the fight Friday due to food poisoning.

Dib, 27, is trying to put the disappointment of losing his world title behind him.

"I fought the wrong fight and paid the ultimate penalty," Dib said. "It was really hard for me to lose my IBF belt, which meant so much to me. But the great news is, I know I can win it back. I have to give Gradovich credit for his performance, but it'll be a different outcome in a rematch. I will make a statement in this fight to let world featherweight champions know that Billy Dib is still here."

The 33-year-old Oliver is coming off a 22-month layoff and isn't expected to pose too many issues for Dib. In Oliver's most recent fight, he was knocked out in the second round by former titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez in October 2011. Oliver's two other losses came by third-round knockout, both in 2008.

"He's a crafty southpaw," Dib said of Oliver. "People are going to see a rejuvenated Billy Dib, an aggressive fighter who is coming to fight Oliver. I was shown a lot of love and respect after my last fight in America [the Gradovich fight, which was also in Connecticut], and I will return that love with a devastating performance and knockout victory."
50 Cent-Yuriorkis GamboaChris Farina/Top RankPromoter 50 Cent, left, hasn't been able to secure an interim title fight for Yuriorkis Gamboa.
A few updates on some upcoming fights:

• Former unified featherweight titlist and interim junior lightweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa has never fought at lightweight, but when he makes his debut in the 135-pound division he will be fighting for another interim belt.

Gamboa (22-0, 16 KOs), the Miami-based 2004 Olympic gold medalist, meets 2008 Colombian Olympian Darleys Perez (28-0, 19 KOs) on Saturday (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at Bell Centre in Montreal. He will be on the undercard of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson’s defense against Quebec’s power-punching Adonis Stevenson. But what was originally scheduled as a 10-round nontitle bout became an interim title bout after Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, the rap star and Gamboa’s promoter, paid a recent visit to WBA headquarters in Panama and got the bout sanctioned.

Also on the card, prospect Jose “Sniper” Pedraza (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian, will face Sergio Villanueva (25-2-2, 13 KOs) of Mexico in a scheduled 10-rounder that HBO Latino will air on tape delay at 12:15 a.m. ET.

• East Los Angles junior welterweight prospect Frankie Gomez (15-0, 11 KOs), who is just 21, should gain valuable experience when he faces former titleholder (and now division gatekeeper) DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley (39-20-1, 23 KOs) of Washington, D.C., in a scheduled 10-round main event of a “Golden Boy Live” card (FSN/Fox Deportes) on July 20 at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. Corley is coming off a decision loss in his previous fight, when he traveled to Russia to face Viktor Postal in October, but in his previous two bouts Corley pulled upsets. He outpointed Gabriel Bracero and then stopped Paul McCloskey in the 10th round in Northern Ireland in a stunner. In the co-feature, junior featherweight prospect Randy Caballero (18-0, 10 KOs) will face Puerto Rico's Miguel Robles (12-2-2, 5 KOs) in a 10-rounder. Caballero, who is from Coachella, Calif., is a crowd favorite at Fantasy Springs, where he has fought 11 of his 18 pro fights.

• Former featherweight titlist Orlando Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs), who got dropped four times and lost his title via lopsided eighth-round technical decision to Mikey Garcia in January, will be back Aug. 16 in his hometown of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico, manager Sean Gibbons told ESPN.com. Salido, 32, suffered a right broken orbital bone in the fight, one of the reasons for the extended layoff. Gibbons said there is no opponent yet, but that Salido will be fighting at junior lightweight, possibly in a title eliminator that would put him in line for a crack at titleholder Roman “Rocky” Martinez.

• Puerto Rican junior middleweight Jorge Melendez (26-2-1, 25 KOs), a Miguel Cotto protege, is on his third opponent for his “ShoBox: The New Generation” main event Friday night (Showtime, 11 ET/PT). Melendez was due to face Mexico’s Luis Grajeda (14-1, 10 KOs) in the scheduled 10-rounder. When Grajeda dropped out -- for no reason other than he decided against taking the fight, according to Showtime -- Lanardo Tyner (30-8-2, 19 KOs) stepped in. However, even though Tyner is coming off a 12th-round knockout win on May 9 in Dallas, he was suspended under the normal Texas rules that say a fighter must be off three days for every round he fought in his most recent fight, which keeps him out until after Friday. So now it’s Nick Brinson (14-1-2, 6 KOs) stepping in on short notice. Puerto Rican bantamweight Jonathan Vidal (17-0, 9 KOs) faces Mario Munoz (13-0-1, 10 KOs) of Mexico in the eight-round co-feature.

• Japan’s Koki Kameda (30-1, 17 KOs) will make his seventh title defense when he faces the Philippines’ Mark John Apolinario (17-2-3, 4 KOs) on July 23 in Tokyo. Odd stat about Apolinario: He’s got three draws in his past four bouts, including back-to-back draws with Roberto Vasquez in interim title bouts.

Gamboa, Andrade in the news

April, 11, 2013
50 Cent-Yuriorkis GamboaChris Farina/Top RankPromoter 50 Cent, left, hasn't been able to secure an interim title fight for Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Three notes from the fistic world:

• Interim junior lightweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa is supposed to fight June 8, but it has not been easy for promoter Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and HBO to finalize the opponent. Gamboa is supposed to fight at lightweight and an agreement was made for him to face Juan Carlos Burgos, who was on the bad end of a draw with junior lightweight titleholder Rocky Martinez in January. However, according to Artie Pelullo, Burgos’ co-promoter with Thompson Boxing, after accepting an offer from Jackson for the fight about a month ago, Jackson came back to them recently apologizing for being unable to pay the dollars they had agreed to.

“So the fight is off,” Pelullo told ESPN.com. “I made a deal with 50 Cent for a certain number but a month later he was unable to deliver the number he was supposed to pay me and then he wanted us to take seriously less money and I said we couldn’t do that.”

Pelullo said he has talked to Top Rank’s Carl Moretti about the possibility of a Martinez-Burgos rematch.

Meantime, the search continues for a Gamboa opponent. At one point the fight was going to take place at its own site and be part of an HBO split-site card topped by the Chad Dawson-Adonis Stevenson light heavyweight championship fight at the Bell Centre in Montreal. But now, according to the network, if Gamboa fights June 8 the bout will be in Montreal on the Dawson-Stevenson undercard.

• Junior middleweight Demetrius Andrade (19-0, 13 KOs) of Providence, R.I., is on the cusp of getting a world title shot. The 25-year-old former world amateur champion and 2008 U.S. Olympian has great talent but faced pretty soft opposition so far as a pro but is now the mandatory challenger for titleholder Zaurbek Baysangurov (28-1, 20 KOs), 28, of Russia. A purse bid is scheduled for Friday morning at WBO headquarters in Puerto Rico.

Pelullo and Joe DeGuardia, Andrade’s co-promoters, told ESPN.com that they are in talks with K2 Promotions Ukraine promoter Alexander Krassyuk but that they are prepared to go to the purse bid.
“We are trying to make a deal, trying to work it out,” Pelullo said.

The minimum purse offer is $200,000. HBO has shown interest in Andrade but for some reason has not committed to this fight, which is easily the most interesting of Andrade’s career. Baysangurov, who will be making his third defense, is a good fighter but not nearly as quick as Andrade. Still, it’s a very solid fight on paper. Pelullo and DeGuardia said they and Andrade are willing to fight Baysangurov in Russia or Ukraine but, obviously, would like to win the bid and hold the bout in the United States. Their chances of winning a purse bid would be greatly enhanced if they knew HBO would buy the fight so they could know what kind of money they have available to make a more intelligent bid.

• Former heavyweight title challenger Dereck Chisora (15-4, 9 KOs) of England has a new opponent for his fight on April 20 in London, Argentina’s Hector Alfredo Avila, promoter Frank Warren announced. The fight is on the undercard of light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly’s mandatory defense against Robin Krasniqi and will be part of the Epix telecast in the United States. Chisora is seeking to end a three-fight losing streak -- his rip-off split-decision loss to Robert Helenius, a decision loss to heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko and a fifth-round knockout loss to former titleholder David Haye last July. As usual, Chisora is talking a big game. “I’m back in business and I’m on the road back to the world title,” Chisora said. “I’m looking to destroy Avila first at Wembley Arena and then face one of the other so-called rivals next. If it’s David Price then great. I know he wouldn’t be able to stand up to my power and he’d be a good step in the right direction for me.”

Dib, Franco negotiating title bout

January, 3, 2013
Featherweight titlist Billy Dib of Australia thought he’d be defending his title against mandatory challenger Mauricio Munoz of Argentina in his next fight. However, there’s been a change of plans.

Now, Dib is likely to face Miami-based Cuban defector Luis Franco (11-1, 7 KOs), who lost a controversial split decision to Munoz (26-3, 12 KOs) in an October eliminator for the right to challenge for the title.

Dib-Munoz went to a purse bid in November and Warriors Boxing’s Leon Margules was the lone bidder at $50,000. Margules is also an attorney and bid on behalf of his most famous client, rapper 50 Cent (real name: Curtis Jackson), whose SMS Promotions handles Dib.

However, before setting the date and location of the fight, Munoz dropped out. According to the IBF, it received a letter from Munoz’s doctor citing an unspecified injury. Under the IBF rules, it did not have to wait until he was available to fight and instead went to the its next highest-ranked featherweight, Franco.

The Dib and Franco camps have until Jan. 14 to reach an agreement or a purse bid will be ordered.

Dib (35-1, 21 KOs) will be making his third title defense.

50 Cent-De La Hoya Twitter tiff

July, 26, 2012

Boxing fans know rapper 50 Cent -- real name Curtis Jackson -- as Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s best buddy. He has been at Mayweather's side during episodes of HBO's "24/7" and is a regular at Mayweather's fights and press conferences.

But now he may also be poised to become Mayweather's promoter when the fighter is released from jail following a domestic abuse conviction. The pound-for-pound king, who entered the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas on June 1 for an 87-day sentence, is due to be released Aug. 3 for good behavior.

Although Mayweather has worked with Golden Boy Promotions on a fight-by-fight basis for all six of his bouts since 2007, they do not have a long-term agreement.

50 Cent recently received a promoters license from the New York State Athletic Commission for his company TMT Promotions. The acronym stands for "The Money Team," which is what Mayweather, the highest-paid athlete in the world last year ($85 million), according to Forbes magazine, calls his crew. 50 Cent is also in the application process to receive a promoters license in Nevada, according to Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

On Wednesday night, 50 Cent and Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya -- whom Mayweather defeated in his first fight with Golden Boy in their record-shattering pay-per-view fight -- mixed it up on Twitter, with 50 Cent including in their exchange, "I don't gamble, Floyd do, but I bet you [that] you won't be promoting Floyd Mayweather no more. TMT PROMOTIONS."

Although both had deleted the tweets that were part of their spat by Thursday morning, several more messages were sent, including the one that seemed to set off the back-and-forth, when De La Hoya wrote: "Everyone wanting to be a boxing promoter? Good luck. Easier said than done."

50 Cent responded to De La Hoya with a series of tweets that included, "Sweetheart, I'm surprised you would respond to me and Floyd starting company the way you did" and "Baby girl, @oscardelahoya, baby girl you hear me, stop hating STOP IT RIGHT NOW."

Although it has been common knowledge in boxing circles that 50 Cent was pursuing a promoters license, De La Hoya at one point answered him with, "You're a boxing promoter? Didn't know, but good luck. Maybe we can work [together] someday. #success #nextgeneration #GBB #TMT."

50 Cent's response: "Great back pedal. Can you swim backwards like that too, girl? LOL. I [accept] that as [an] apology."

Mayweather, a welterweight champion, moved up in weight and claimed a junior middleweight title for the second time when he outpointed Miguel Cotto on May 5 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a fight that sold a whopping 1.5 million pay-per-view units. During the lead-up to the fight, Mayweather said he planned to fight again following his jail sentence and before the end of the year.

Two other free-agent fighters on the verge of signing with TMT Promotions are former featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa, a 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist who is tight with Mayweather, and super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell, a 2004 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist and Super Six World Boxing Classic participant.

Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer couldn't be reached for comment, nor could Leonard Ellerbe, one of Mayweather's advisers and the CEO of Mayweather's own promotional company, Mayweather Promotions.