Dan Rafael: Adrien Broner

Tyson's promotional company on the rocks

December, 13, 2014
A few notes from around the boxing world:

•  Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson and Garry Jonas, who partnered 17 months ago to found promotional company Iron Mike Productions, are in the midst of a split, according to multiple sources. Tyson and Jonas have had a falling out and are going their separate ways, according to the sources. The Tyson and Jonas camps declined comment to ESPN.com.

Jonas apparently will have some of his fighters begin working with powerful adviser and manager Al Haymon and plans to remain in boxing promotion. Tyson also may remain in the promotional business and it would seem logical that he would retain the name of the company. What will happen to the fighter contracts owned by Iron Mike Productions is unclear, but the company has several fighters on its roster, including exciting welterweight Sammy Vasquez, lightweight Monty Meza Clay, welterweight Felix Diaz (a 2008 Olympic gold medalist) and blue chip prospects Erickson Lubin, a junior middleweight, and Ievgen Khytrov, a middleweight.

•  Former three-division titleholder Adrien Broner (29-1, 22 KOs) is penciled in for his next fight on March 7 against an opponent (and television network) to be announced. Broner is coming off a 12-round decision win against Emmanuel Taylor in a junior welterweight bout on Sept. 6. Broner has won two fights in a row since losing his welterweight belt by clear unanimous decision to Marcos Maidana in their action-packed fight in December 2013, after which Broner dropped down to junior welterweight.

•  Middleweight contender David Lemieux’s 10th-round knockout of Gabriel Rosado in an action-packed fight on Dec. 6 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, averaged 908,000 viewers for Lemieux’s HBO debut. It peaked at 1.161 million. Middleweight Hugo Centeno Jr.’s sensational fifth-round knockout in the middle bout of the tripleheader averaged 750,000 with a peak of 815,000. Welterweight Thomas Dulorme’s hard-fought decision win against Hank Lundy in the opener averaged 672,000 with a peak of 778,000.

Andre Berto back in action

August, 31, 2014
Andre Berto and Jesus Soto KarassRonald Martinez/Golden Boy/Getty ImagesAndre Berto returns to the ring for the first time since a tough loss to Jesus Soto Karass last year.

After 14 months out of action because of a seriously injured right shoulder, former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto is ready to fight again.

On July 27, 2013, Berto tore a tendon in his shoulder during the second round of a fight with Jesus Soto Karass in San Antonio. Berto showed immense toughness by fighting with the injury into the 12th round, when he finally got knocked out in the all-action fight.

The loss was Berto’s third in four fights. Surgery and rehab followed. Surely some self-doubt did, also.

But Berto (28-3, 22 KOs), of Winter Haven, Florida, gets back in the ring against Philadelphia’s Steve Upsher Chambers (24-3-1, 6 KOs) for a scheduled 10-round fight at a maximum weight of 149 pounds on Saturday night (Showtime, 9:30 ET/PT) in the opening bout of a tripleheader from U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati.

Former three-division titlist Adrien Broner headlines the card in his hometown in a junior welterweight bout against Emanuel Taylor with junior welterweight slugger Lucas Matthysse facing Roberto Ortiz in the co-feature.

Berto finishes training camp with Virgil Hunter in Oakland, California, on Monday and heads to Cincinnati on Tuesday.

"The shoulder is feeling good and we've had a tremendous camp,” Berto said. “I was able to get out here really early for this fight and train with all the great champions in our gym. I'm just excited to get back under the lights and perform on Sept. 6," Berto said.

Berto trained alongside fighters such as Andre Ward, Abner Mares, Alfredo Angulo and Amir Khan.

Besides the three fights on Showtime, preliminary fights from the card will air on Showtime Extreme (7 ET/PT).

The two scheduled 10-round fights set to air on Showtime Extreme are:

• Junior welterweight Michael Perez (20-1-2, 10 KOs) of Newark, New Jersey, against South Carolina's Jared Robinson (15-1, 7 KOs).

• Three-time U.S. Olympian Rau'shee Warren (11-0, 3 KOs), who will be fighting in his hometown for the first time as a professional, taking on Jose Luis Araiza (34-8-1, 25 KOs) of Mexico in a bantamweight match.

In untelevised bouts, two of Warren’s 2012 U.S. Olympic teammates will fight: Cleveland middleweight Terrell Gausha (11-0, 6 KOs) and New York lightweight Jamel Herring (8-0, 5 KOs), who are both in scheduled eight-round bouts.

Broner awaiting opponent

July, 25, 2014
Adrian Broner, Carlos MolinaEthan Miller/Getty ImagesAdrien Broner, right, is still looking for an opponent for his Sept. 6 fight.

Former three-division titleholder Adrien Broner, who will headline a Sept. 6 Showtime card (probably in his hometown of Cincinnati), said he’s been training for about a month in Washington, D.C., while awaiting word on who his opponent will be for the junior welterweight bout.

“I’m chilling at camp but I still don’t got an opponent,” Broner told ESPN.com on Thursday night. “I really don’t care who I fight Sept. 6. Somebody got to come to Cincinnati to get their ass kicked.”

Broner (28-1, 22 KOs), who turns 25 on Monday, lost his welterweight belt to Marcos Maidana in December and then moved down to junior welterweight, where he returned on May 3 (on the Floyd Mayweather-Maidana undercard) and easily outpointed Carlos Molina in 10 rounds.

“By the end of the year, I should have a junior welterweight world title,” Broner said.

One name mentioned as a possible opponent for Broner is former lightweight titlist Paul Spadafora. Although Golden Boy said that fight is not in the works, Broner said if they met “Spadafora would get his ass knocked out.”

A more likely opponent is Emanuel Taylor (18-2, 12 KOs), who dropped and outpointed Karim Mayfield on ESPN2 on July 18.

“I heard it could be the guy that just beat Mayfield,” Broner said. “So if I fight him I can shoeshine his ass. What’s his name? I don’t know him. He’s probably a guy who got my autograph. Adrien Broner is willing to fight anyone who will fight him. I think I can make 135 [lightweight], but I don’t want to fight at 135 because they’ll say I’m just bullying the little guys.”

Broner said he is comfortable training to fight at the junior welterweight maximum of 140 pounds, and after Thursday’s session he weighed 145 pounds. He is on the same card as top junior welterweight contender Lucas Matthysse, who is fighting an opponent to be named.

Unfortunately, Broner and Matthysse are not facing each other. That’s a very appealing fight, and Broner said he would be up for it.

“This is what they should do -- they should give me and Lucas Matthysse a warm-up fight at 6 and 7 [p.m.] and then we could fight each other at 11,” he said. “But I don’t know who I am fighting and I don’t care. I just want to fight. I just want somebody to show up on Friday, Sept. 5, at the weigh-in.”
Adrien Broner Al Bello/Golden Boy/Golden Boy/Getty ImagesAdrien Broner will return as a junior welterweight to headline a tripleheader Sept. 6.

Junior welterweight contenders Adrien Broner and Lucas Matthysse are both penciled in for Sept. 6 returns on Showtime, although not against each other.

Golden Boy Promotions is working on putting together a tripleheader for the show, which Broner (28-1, 22 KOs) would headline in his second fight since moving down to junior welterweight after losing his welterweight belt to Marcos Maidana in a terrific fight in December. Broner bounced back from a loss on May 3 on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Maidana undercard to win a one-sided 10-round decision against Carlos Molina.

“Broner would be the main event with Matthysse as a co-feature. I can confirm that,” Golden Boy Promotions vice president Eric Gomez told ESPN.com. “We don’t have a confirmation on a third fight yet. I gave [Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza] a few ideas. He’s supposed to let me know. He’s willing to do a tripleheader, but the third fight is up in the air.”

So are the opponents for Broner and Matthysse, although Gomez has a list of potential foes he said he and Espinoza are discussing.

Although Gomez would love to match Broner and Matthysse with each other at some point, people should not read into their appearance on the same card as any sort of official prelude to such a fight.

“No, they are not fighting each other [on Sept. 6],” Gomez said. “I would love for them to fight each other, but right now it’s just two guys who need to fight. These are two exciting fighters and two of the top guys in the division fighting on the same card.”

The location for the card has not been determined. Gomez said that Broner would like it to be in his hometown of Cincinnati, which is a possibility. South Florida and San Antonio, where Maidana beat Broner, are other possibilities.

Matthysse (35-3, 33 KOs), a big puncher from Argentina, lost a decision in a high-profile fight to unified junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia last September on the Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez undercard and bounced back to stop John Molina in the 11th round in April in a fantastic fight, one that is a leading fight of the year candidate.

Carlos Molina ready for Broner

April, 30, 2014

LAS VEGAS -- Southern California junior welterweight Carlos Molina laughs about it, but sometimes it’s not that funny. He’d like everyone to know that he is not the same guy as the incarcerated junior middleweight titleholder from Mexico who lives in Chicago.

The other Carlos Molina was supposed to defend his world title on March 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but was arrested a few days before the fight on an outstanding warrant for not registering as a sex offender. Molina was later discovered to be in the United States illegally, the fight was canceled, and he remains in custody.

This Molina is younger, smaller and ready to fight former three-division titleholder and heavy favorite Adrien Broner (27-1, 22 KOs) in a 10-round junior welterweight bout on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana undercard.

“People confuse us a lot, like the media or on Twitter,” Molina said Tuesday during a gab session with boxing writers. “There were a few places where they put up my picture, my face, and I was like, ‘Hold up, it’s not me. Do your homework.’”

Even his own family has gotten mixed up.

“We get confused all the time. Some of my family members, when he would fight, they’d call me [and say], ‘Hey, good luck on your fight.’ No, it’s not me,” he said, laughing.

But it hasn’t always been a laughing matter.

He said there have been publications or television programs that used his photo with a story about his namesake and his legal problems.

“There were a few stories with my face,” said Molina, 28, who has never met the other Molina. “I got on the phone with my manager, Frank Espinoza, and he pretty much took care of it.”

As for Saturday’s fight, Molina (17-1-1, 7 KOs) brushed off Broner’s assertion that he will be nothing more than a “punching bag with arms and legs.”

“I think the only fight he probably ever saw me [in] was me against Amir Khan,” Molina said of his 10th-round knockout loss in December 2012, the last time Molina fought. “I just fought a completely wrong fight. Amir Khan and [Broner’s] style is completely different.

“He’s gonna be surprised when I’m in there showing my speed and boxing ability. I’ve been in Southern California my whole life. We got a great amateur system there. In the pros, we got great sparring. He’s gonna be surprised at my abilities.”

Molina’s younger brothers, Javier and Oscar Molina, were both Olympians. Javier represented the United States in 2008 and Oscar represented Mexico in 2012.

“I think we come from a good pedigree,” said Carlos Molina, a standout amateur in his own right.

Broner-Molina added to May 3 card

March, 26, 2014
First came the announcement that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana would meet in a welterweight unification fight May 3 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in one of the year’s biggest fights.

On Monday came the announcement that former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan would move up to welterweight to tangle with former titleholder Luis Collazo in a strong co-feature.

And on Tuesday came the announcement of the remaining two fights on the pay-per-view: former three-division titleholder Adrien Broner, moving down to junior welterweight and coming off his December loss to Maidana, against Carlos Molina, who hasn’t fought since a knockout loss to Khan in December 2012, and super middleweight J’Leon Love against Marco Antonio Periban in what should be a competitive fight in the opener.

With the announcement of the two final bouts also came comments from those four fighters. Here’s what they had to say:

• Broner (27-1, 22 KOs): "I had minor setback, but I am back on May 3. Everybody needs to understand that I just took a loss. I haven't lost it. I'm still ‘The Problem,’ and anyone can get it, whether you are Afri-can, Puerto Ri-can, Domini-can, Cuban or Mexi-can."

• Molina (17-1-1, 7 KOs): "I am so excited to be able to fight on a card of this magnitude against Adrien Broner. Sure he's tough, but we all saw what happened in his last fight when he was under pressure. I have the boxing ability and punching power to beat him, and that is exactly what I plan to do on May 3."

• Love (17-0, 10 KOs): "It is always an honor to be on the same card as my boss, Floyd Mayweather. I train with him in the gym every day and see what it takes to compete at the highest level in boxing. I can't thank Floyd and Mayweather Promotions enough for these opportunities. My opponent is a very tough competitor, but I have no doubt that I will be victorious and move one step closer to a world championship. May 3 can't get here soon enough."

• Periban (20-1-1, 13 KOs): "This is a great opportunity for me, and I will represent my country and Mexican boxing fans all over the world on this Cinco de Mayo weekend. J'Leon Love might be a member of 'The Money Team,' but that won't matter on May 3, when he has to face someone like me. We'll see who comes out victorious. I will not let my people or my country down."

Dawson latest to join Haymon

March, 8, 2014
LAS VEGAS -- Powerful adviser Al Haymon usually signs top titleholders, contenders and elite prospects. He is not known for signing reclamation projects, but that is exactly what he has done by adding former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson to his star-studded stable, Sam Watson, Haymon’s right-hand man, told ESPN.com on Friday at the Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo weigh-in.

Watson said the plan is to get Dawson back in the ring “probably in May.”

“Chad’s still only 31,” Watson said. “We know he’s had some tough times but he can fight. And all he wants is an opportunity. We’ll get him an opportunity. The rest is up to him.”

Dawson (31-3, 17 KOs), a southpaw from New Haven, Conn., was long one of the best fighters in the world and the class of the light heavyweight division. As recently as April 2012, he easily outpointed Bernard Hopkins in their rematch. Dawson also owns two wins apiece against Antonio Tarver and Glenn Johnson and wins against Adrian Diaconu and Tomasz Adamek.

But things went south very quickly for Dawson after the Hopkins win, getting knocked out twice in a row. After the Hopkins win, he dropped down to super middleweight -- an ill-advised moved -- and challenged champion Andre Ward, who cleaned his clock and stopped him in the 10th round of an utterly one-sided fight.

Dawson returned in June 2013 and lost the light heavyweight title when Adonis Stevenson -- who signed with Haymon two weeks ago -- drilled him in the first round for the 2013 knockout of the year.

Dawson is a promotional free agent following the expiration of his contract with Gary Shaw, but it would seem likely that he will wind up fighting on a Golden Boy card since Haymon does nearly all of his business with the company.

Haymon represents numerous top fighters, most notable pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. But there are so many more, including junior featherweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz (who is on Saturday night’s Alvarez-Angulo card and the reason Watson is in Las Vegas), Marcos Maidana, Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Beibut Shumenov, Devon Alexander, Deontay Wilder, Peter Quillin, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Luis Collazo, Paulie Malignaggi, Chris Arreola, twins Jermell and Jermall Charlo, and Stevenson.

Luis Collazo signs with Al Haymon

March, 3, 2014
Luis CollazoMaddie Meyer/Getty ImagesSigning with powerful adviser Al Haymon will open many doors for welterweight Luis Collazo.

Add one more guy to the list of fighters who undoubtedly will say at his next news conference or after his next victory, “I’d like to thank Al Haymon.”

Former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo became the latest fighter to sign with Haymon, the most powerful adviser in boxing, whose vast stable includes many of the best fighters in the world, including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Marcos Maidana, Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Peter Quillin, Deontay Wilder, Devon Alexander, Lucas Matthysse and many others.

Collazo, 32, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is coming off a second-round knockout of Victor Ortiz, another Haymon client, on Jan. 30.

"I'm excited to be joining Team Haymon," Collazo said. "I'm looking forward to the doors this opportunity is going to open for me. I can't wait to get this partnership going."

Collazo (35-5 18 KOs), who held a welterweight world title from 2005 to 2006, has won four in a row and put himself in position for a major fight in a deep 147-pound weight class.

"I'm looking forward to a big year ahead and signing with Team Haymon is just one of the first steps," Collazo said. "He works with a lot of guys in my division and with this new step in the right direction, I'm sure I will be fighting some of them in the near future."

Collazo, like everyone else, would love a piece of Mayweather and the big payday that goes with it. Collazo called out Mayweather after knocking out Ortiz, who had previously been knocked out by Mayweather.

"God willing I'll get the chance to be in the ring against Mayweather and prove what I've always thought, that I'm the best in the world,” Collazo said.

Haymon, as always, had no comment.

Mayweather: Khan can get fight

March, 3, 2014
Floyd Mayweather Jr.Getty ImagesFloyd Mayweather Jr. made $105 million in the last 12 months, according to Forbes Magazine.

Even though pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. has decided to fight fellow welterweight titlist Marcos Maidana on May 3, rather than the undeserving Amir Khan, Mayweather continued to taunt Khan on how he could get a fight with him.

Mayweather wrote on his Twitter account that if Khan could beat Adrien Broner -- one of Mayweather’s pals -- he would fight him.

“I don't have an easy fight on May 3, 2014, so I can't over look Maidana but Amir Khan, if you and Adrien Broner end up fighting each other on my show and you win (which you won’t), I'll fight you,” Mayweather wrote.

Mayweather is due back in action in September and if he beats Maidana, Khan could potentially be the opponent. But a bitter Khan, however, didn’t take the bait, tweeting, “FM is full of s---. Just like (his) 'my next opponent ' poll.”

Mayweather posted a poll on social media in which fans could vote for whom they preferred Mayweather fight on May 3. The only choices were Khan and Maidana. Khan won the vote on Mayweather’s poll, but he picked Maidana anyway. Maidana buried Khan on polls conducted by other outlets, including ESPN.com.

Rumors have swirled since Mayweather announced that he would fight Maidana last week that Khan, a former junior welterweight titleholder, and Broner, a former three-division titleholder who lost his welterweight title in a 12-round beatdown Dec. 14 to Maidana, would meet on the May 3 Showtime PPV undercard.

However, don’t count on it.

“[It’s] very unlikely,” Showtime Sports chief Stephen Espinoza told ESPN.com on Monday. “It's my understanding that Broner is going down to 140 and that Khan wants to fight at 147, so the weight classes don't match. Fighting at a catch weight doesn't help either of them in terms of adjusting to the new weight. It’s a good 'fantasy boxing' matchup, but it doesn’t fit with each guy’s objectives going forward.”

Stevenson signs with Haymon

February, 19, 2014
Al HaymonRamon Cairo for ESPNPowerful adviser Al Haymon works behind the scenes with some of the best fighters in boxing.
Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson surprised many on Tuesday when he signed with powerful adviser Al Haymon.

Stevenson signed the papers in California with Sam Watson, Haymon's right-hand man. Watson said he has known Stevenson for a while and that Stevenson has wanted to sign with Haymon because the boxer has seen what Haymon has been able to do for his numerous clients.

"This is a big signing for me," Stevenson told ESPN.com. "I've known Sam a long time and wanted to be with Al. It will be better for me and my career and give me better opportunities."

Said Watson, "It's big fights for Adonis."

What is unclear is whether the signing will have an impact on the game plan already in motion for Stevenson, or if it just means that Haymon will work to get Stevenson a better deal for the fights that are in the works.

Stevenson (23-1, 20 KOs) is supposed to be back in action for his third title defense on May 24, when he is planning to headline an HBO card in his hometown of Montreal against Chicago-based Poland native Andrzej Fonfara (25-2, 15 KOs). However, that fight is not signed yet. A Stevenson victory would supposedly lead to a fall unification showdown with titleholder Sergey Kovalev, who fights his interim bout against Cedric Agnew on March 29 in Atlantic City, N.J., in the main event of his own card. That fight is not signed either, and Haymon may have other ideas for Stevenson.

Haymon, of course, is essentially a recluse and does not speak to the media, so don't expect to hear from him on the matter.

However, it is common knowledge that HBO -- which has made Stevenson-Kovalev one of its 2014 priorities -- and Haymon are on the outs following the defection last year of Haymon’s No. 1 client, Floyd Mayweather Jr., to Showtime.

Additionally, Haymon represents numerous Golden Boy fighters, including Marcos Maidana, Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Beibut Shumenov, Devon Alexander, Deontay Wilder, Peter Quillin, Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman. After Mayweather left HBO, the network banned Golden Boy fighters and those boxers wound up on Showtime, even though HBO had poured considerable resources into many of them.

HBO did make one exception for a Haymon fighter -- when Edwin Rodriguez (who is promoted by Lou DiBella, not Golden Boy) fought super middleweight champ Andre Ward in November. However, the deal for that fight was way down the road to being completed before Rodriguez signed with Haymon. Perhaps it will be the same thing with regard to Stevenson and the fights against Fonfara and Kovalev that are being lined up for him by promoter Yvon Michel.

Watson said Haymon and Michel spoke on Tuesday about the signing and had a "good conversation."

Michel told ESPN.com that he expected to still go forward planning the fights with Fonfara and Kovalev.

"Adonis' goals have not changed," Michel said. "He wants three fights [in 2014], wants to unify the titles, be considered in the top five pound for pound before the end of the year and keep winning by spectacular knockout. I can also add making a lot of money. We are still moving forward in our negotiations. Al Haymon is certainly a great asset for Adonis and for us and his presence can only be positive."

Said Stevenson, "We haven't made any fights yet but whatever my promoter and Al say I should do, that's the way I'm going to go. I'll fight anybody. Al has a plan that will be good for me. I'm ready for anything. My job is to knock everybody out."

Watson said that Haymon has also signed John Molina (27-3, 22 KOs), the former lightweight title challenger who fought at junior welterweight in his last fight in November. Watson said Molina plans to continue to fight at 140 pounds.

A lot to be thankful for

November, 26, 2013
Paulie MalignaggiNick Laham/Getty ImagesPaul Malignaggi could get another title opportunity ... if he defeat Zab Judah on Dec. 7.

Several fighters are training over Thanksgiving for their Showtime fights on Dec. 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Dec. 14 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

But while they won’t get stuff themselves with turkey on Thursday, they’re still thankful for what they have. Golden Boy’s media relations team asked the featured fighters on the two shows what they are thankful for year.

Dec. 7 fighters

Paulie Malignaggi (training in Brooklyn): "[I am thankful for] My family and my true friends, especially those that have stuck with me from the start."

Zab Judah (training in Las Vegas): "I am thankful for this time and that I get to be together with my family."

Devon Alexander (training in St. Louis): "I am very thankful just to be living and in the position I'm in to help a lot of kids and inspire them too. I'm really thankful for so many things in my life, but I can't mention them all because then the list would go on and on.”

Shawn Porter (training in Las Vegas): "I am most thankful for family because they are the most important thing to me.”

Erislandy Lara (training in Houston): "I am most thankful for being in the United State of America and for the freedom I have been given."

Austin Trout (training in Houston): "First and foremost I am most thankful for God, the Son of Jesus. Also, I am thankful for the love from my family, friends and fans. I have so much that I am grateful for including my health and career that allows me to provide for family."

Sakio Bika (training in St. Louis): "I am most grateful to have my family. Also, I am thankful that I have my health and a roof over my head because in this world there are a lot of disabled and homeless people."

Anthony Dirrell (training in Del Rey, Fla.): "I am most thankful for my family and getting this (super middleweight) world championship title opportunity. What I have been through has been amazing with the cancer (Non-Hodgkin lymphoma) and the motorcycle accident. Having the opportunity to recover and fight for the title means a lot to me."

Dec. 14 fighters

Adrien Broner (training in Colorado Springs, Colo.): "I am thankful to God for giving me the ability to take care of family, friends and children."

Marcos Maidana (training in Oxnard, Calif.): "I'm thankful for this opportunity that Golden Boy Promotions is giving me. I'm really excited about this fight because of the many more opportunities that will come my way if I win. I'm also grateful to the fans, all the Mexican fans that are showing me their support."

Keith Thurman (training in Clearwater, Fla.): "I am most thankful for my career in boxing. Boxing is the only job that I have ever had and the only job I have ever wanted and I am truly grateful for that."

Jesus Soto Karass (training in Los Angeles): "I am most thankful for my life and my family. I am grateful to have the love of my wife, kids, parents and siblings. I have the best in life with them. I am also grateful for my health."

Leo Santa Cruz (training in Los Angeles): "I am most thankful for my family, especially my brother. He still suffers from his illness [lupus], but he is doing much better.”

Cesar Seda (training in Salinas, Puerto Rico): "I am thankful to God for my health and all of the good things in life that have happened to me and my beautiful family. I know that this Thanksgiving I won't be able to be with my wife, kids, mother or my grandparents and the rest of my family, but they understand the sacrifice that I am making for their good. This Thanksgiving I pray that God blesses the whole world and that he brings a lot of peace. I am so grateful for the new opportunity he gave me to fight for a world title again."

Beibut Shumenov (training in Las Vegas): "As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I am most thankful for my family. My father and mother raised me to be the person I am today and the continuous love and support from my brother, Chingis.”

Tamas Kovacs (training in Budapest, Hungary): "I am very thankful for my family and feel very grateful every day to see my kids and my wife. When I am preparing for a fight my family is always on my mind and in my heart. In my career I am very grateful for the opportunity that I can fight for the WBA title.”

WBC announces mandatory fights

November, 6, 2013
Floyd Mayweather Jr.Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsFloyd Mayweather has to decide soon on an opponent for his next fight.

As much as I rail against the WBC’s rule-breaking and divisional rankings, those rankings affect the mandatory fights that are made for the organization’s belt. So that makes its annual convention notable in that many of those mandatory situations are clarified.

This year’s convention is going on this week in Bangkok, where organization officials, promoters and managers gathered to argue and debate the rankings and mandatory fights that are not yet set.

Here’s a look at some of the key rulings related to mandatory fights made Wednesday:

• Heavyweight: The situation with titleholder Vitali Klitschko is up in the air. He is running for president of Ukraine in 2015 and has made no decision about his boxing career, even though his mandatory defense against Bermane Stiverne is way overdue. Klitschko addressed the crowd at its opening, but not about his boxing plans. Stiverne, however, was still traveling to Thailand on Wednesday, so the debate was put off until at least Thursday.

• Super middleweight: Titleholder Sakio Bika must make two mandatory defenses. The first is against Anthony Dirrell on Dec. 7. The winner of the fight was approved for one optional defense. Marco Antonio Periban and James DeGale were ordered to meet in a semifinal eliminator with the winner ordered to meet Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to determine the second mandatory challenger. Keep in mind that these orders are the WBC’s wishes and that often what it lays out does not wind up happening because either a fighter decides to go in another direction or, as often happens, the WBC ignores its own ruling.

• Middleweight: If champion Sergio Martinez, sidelined with a knee injury, can’t make his mandatory defense against Marco Antonio Rubio, Rubio will be ordered to face Domenico Spada for the interim belt. This will be interesting because Martinez has no interest in Rubio and instead hopes for a June pay-per-view megafight with Miguel Cotto. It seems that Martinez, who has been very loyal to the WBC, will be allowed to face Cotto upon his return from injury with Rubio settling for the interim title bout for the time being.

• Junior middleweight and welterweight: Floyd Mayweather Jr. holds the WBC title in both divisions, as well as another alphabet junior middleweight title. Holding titles in multiple weight classes is against sanctioning organization rules, but that hasn’t stopped the WBC from allowing Mayweather to get away with it for 1 years. Finally, the WBC ruled that Mayweather must decide which division title he wants to keep by Dec. 15. If Mayweather doesn’t notify the WBC, however, I won’t believe it would strip him of the title until I see it happen. He is one of the WBC’s favorite sons in that he fills the coffers with enormous sanctioning fees.

• Junior welterweight: Danny Garcia’s last fight in September was his mandatory against Lucas Matthysse, but a final eliminator to determine the next mandatory was approved between Viktor Postal and Selcuk Aydin.

• Lightweight: Adrien Broner has the title, but he also won another organization’s belt this year -- in the welterweight division -- and has been allowed to keep both since the summer, which is against the rules. Broner is never going to see 135 pounds again -- did you see how he looked on Showtime on Oct. 26? -- but his request to wait to make a decision until after his Dec. 14 welterweight defense was approved. Daniel Estrada is the mandatory challenger. What should have happened is that Broner should have been forced to pick, and if he picked the welterweight belt (which he obviously would do), interim titlist Omar Figueroa should have immediately been elevated. But that would be too easy.

• Junior featherweight: A final eliminator between Hugo Cazares and Andres Gutierrez was approved to determine Leo Santa Cruz’s mandatory.

• Bantamweight: An eliminator was approved for Stephane Jamoye to face Julio Ceja, with the winner to fight Suriyan Sor Rungvisai in a final eliminator to determine Shinsuke Yamanaka’s mandatory.

• Junior flyweight: Adrian Hernandez’s mandatory will be the winner of an eliminator between Javier Mendoza and Yodmongkil Wor Saengthep.

• Strawweight: A final eliminator was approved between Wanheng Menayothin and Osvaldo Novoa to determine Xiong Zhao Zhong’s mandatory challenger.

Broner, Maidana fire first shots

October, 31, 2013
Marcos Maidana, Richard Schaefer and Adrien BronerEthan Miller/Getty ImagesMarcos Maidana and Adrien Broner headline a stacked card from the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The stacked Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana card will close out the year for the American premium cable schedule on Dec. 14 (Showtime) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, where those involved gathered on Thursday for the kickoff news conference.

Broner (27-0, 22 KOs) is making the first defense of his welterweight title against mandatory challenger Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs) in the main event. Interim welterweight titlist Keith Thurman (21-0, 19 KOs) will face Jesus Soto Karass (28-8-3, 18 KOs) in the co-feature.

There are also two other world title bouts on the card as junior featherweight titleholder Leo Santa Cruz (25-0-1, 15 KOs) makes his first defense when he faces Cesar Seda (25-1, 17 KOs) and light heavyweight titlist Beibut Shumenov (13-1, 8 KOs) meets Tamas Kovacs (23-0, 14 KOs).

The card will also feature the return of former welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs) from an 18-month layoff because of a broken jaw. He was supposed to fight Alfonso Gomez, but now is in need of an opponent after Gomez suffered a hand injury this week and withdrew.

Here's what the fighters had to say about the card, which Golden Boy Promotions is calling "Danger Zone," even thought it already used the same name a few years ago for Oscar De La Hoya's pay-per-view fight against Ricardo Mayorga.

• Broner: "Maidana is one-dimensional and not in my league. I'm a Ferrari and he's a go-kart and my fans will see that in my return to Texas. It's been over four years since I've fought [in Texas] and I'm going to put on a show. Watch me light Maidana up like a Christmas tree on Dec. 14."

• Maidana: "Everyone knows that Broner has a big mouth, but that doesn't bother me, because his mouth can't fight for him. Whether he has the guts to stand in front of me or if he runs I'll definitely go for the KO and, either way, I'm leaving the ring with the belt."

• Thurman: "Soto Karass is a tough guy, there's no question about that, and I respect him a lot. But his style is tailor-made for me and I expect to defend my title and win by knockout."

• Soto Karass: "Thurman is a young, talented fighter with good power, but as I proved in my fight with Andre Berto, when I'm on top of my game, no one can beat me. I will become a world champion on Dec. 14."

• Santa Cruz: "I'm looking forward to getting back in the ring and making my debut in Texas against Cesar Seda. Seda is a quality fighter and a top contender, but I'm not ready to give up my belt to him or anyone."

• Seda: "I admire Santa Cruz for his talent and his accomplishments, but styles make fights, and I have the style to beat him and bring the world championship back to Puerto Rico."

• Shumenov: "I am excited to be back in the ring and to compete on such an amazing event. It's been a long time [18 months] for me, and I'm hungry to beat Kovacs in impressive style and retain my title."

• Kovacs: "It has been my dream to fight in the United States against the best in the world, and on Dec. 14 I finally get my chance. Shumenov is a great champion, but I am confident in my ability to take his title."

Broner-Maidana, Alexander-Khan closer

September, 14, 2013
Marcos Maidana, Richard Schaefer and Adrien BronerEthan Miller/Getty ImagesGolden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer (center) is working on a deal for Adrien Broner (right) to face power puncher Marcos Maidana in December.

LAS VEGAS -- Although the focus of the week has been on Saturday night’s Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez showdown at the MGM Grand, a lot of other stuff has been going on, especially with so many of Golden Boy’s fighters in town for the fight. Here’s a look at the latest:

• Part of Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer’s plans this week was to get closer to finalizing a deal for welterweight titlist Adrien Broner to face mandatory challenger and former junior welterweight titlist Marcos Maidana. The fight is supposed to headline a Dec. 14 Showtime pay-per-view card at the MGM Grand. Schaefer is now convinced it will get done after the fighters nearly came to blows on Thursday night at the Shawn Porter-Julio Diaz card.

“Maidana stood up and walked over to Broner during the undercard and I knew I better stand up and be right there,” Schaefer said. “I could tell this is not going to be a 'nice to see you' conversation.”

Schaefer was in the middle of the confrontation that began when Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs) told Broner (27-0, 22 KOs), “Let’s fight,” to which Broner responded, “Let’s do it.”

“It got very heated and Maidana almost threw a punch,” Schaefer said. “Broner said, ‘I don’t want to wait until December, let’s get it on now. But we have to wait to December so let’s get [the deal] done.’ I’m gonna get it done. It’s a helluva matchup. Maidana wants to knock his head off. Both fighters made it clear to me they want to fight each other. That spark was lit [Thursday] night."

• Welterweight titlist Devon Alexander, former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan are in town with their teams, and Schaefer said a deal for them to meet “will get done.” Assuming he’s right, the fight will take place Dec. 7 (Showtime) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., not Dubai, which had been a possibility.

I talked to Alexander (25-1, 14 KOs) and he said he was anxious for the deal to be finalized. Schaefer said he met this week with Alexander adviser Al Haymon as well as Khan (28-3, 19 KOs) and his team and is in the process of working out the particulars.

“What we need to work out is the financial stuff,” Schaefer said. “Devon has the title and feels he deserves the most money. But Khan has the multifight deal with Showtime, so he has the TV date and he thinks he deserves more money. I think it should be a 50-50 split and I will try to get that done.”

• Interim lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs), who won his belt by decision in an epic July 27 slugfest against Nihito Arakawa, is out for the rest of the year. I ran into Figueroa the other night and he said the hands he hurt in the fight would keep him out. He said he would let the hands heal and look to return in early 2014 to defend his belt. By that time he likely will be the full titleholder since Broner eventually will vacate it and stay at welterweight, where he also has a title.

Schaefer said he thought it was good for Figueroa to rest after such a brutal fight.

“It was quite a slugfest. He’s a young kid, so there’s no rush,” Schaefer said. “Let his hands heal, let him rest after that fight and first quarter of next year he will be back when his hands are 100 percent.”

• Junior welterweight contender Dierry Jean (25-0, 17 KOs) of Montreal has signed a co-promotional deal with Golden Boy, Schaefer said. Jean is the mandatory challenger for titlist Lamont Peterson (31-2-1, 16 KOs), who is also promoted by Golden Boy. The signing means they will likely be able to avoid a purse bid and make the fight, which has been ordered. Schaefer said he will find a spot to put the fight on before the end of the year.

Picking Mayweather-Alvarez

September, 11, 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Canelo Alvarez is the biggest fight of the year, but if you look at the picks compiled by Showtime, Mayweather is the overwhelming favorite to win Saturday night’s pay-per-view headliner at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Showtime polled 69 fighters and media members. The result was 60 picks for Mayweather, seven for Alvarez and two picked a draw.

Here’s a look at how some of the fighters see the fight:

• Mike Tyson: "I've only seen Canelo fight twice -- against [Josesito] Lopez and [Austin] Trout. Trout gave him some trouble and he isn't as experienced and as technically skilled as Floyd is. Floyd stays in tip-top shape and is a very relaxed fighter. He is at his peak. It's going to be hard for anybody to beat Floyd now unless he doesn't train. Floyd has transcended the game so much that the best fighters out there now try to emulate his style. Floyd wins by a decision."

• Lennox Lewis: "Mayweather will win because of his speed and experience. He's been at this level before so that will also be an advantage. He's the best until proven otherwise. Canelo is talented, young, strong and dangerous -- makes it all the more exciting."

• Zab Judah: "Mayweather is too fast and has great timing. I just don't see Canelo hitting him. I don't see Canelo being able to do anything to Floyd."

• Adrien Broner: "Floyd Mayweather will win by KO in the late rounds.”

• Paulie Malignaggi: "You can't count Canelo out because he's a natural junior middleweight, so he has a chance. But at the end of the day it's Mayweather winning on points."

• Cristobal Arreola: "[Mayweather has] the experience and he's been in a lot of big fights before. That is not to say Canelo hasn't, but Mayweather has been in more and knows what to do in a fight of this magnitude. I think Canelo took this fight two fights too soon. Mayweather by decision."

• Seth Mitchell: "Floyd's boxing IQ is just too great. His offense, defense is just too good."

• Rafael Marquez: "The winner of this fight is the boxer with the most intelligence and power, and I hope it is going to be Canelo."

• Gary Russell Jr.: "In order for Floyd to beat Canelo, he has to keep Canelo on the outside and outbox him and pot shot him. Floyd needs to make it clear that he's landing the cleaner and more effective punches. For Canelo to win, he needs to make the fight ugly and finish his combinations with a hook. He has to make it ugly and rough for Floyd. If Canelo makes it close, he will win."

• Carlos Molina: "At first it looks like Mayweather's experience and speed will be too much for Canelo. But then you think about it and Canelo is young and strong. This is boxing. You just never know. I would say at this point it is 60-40 Mayweather."

• Lucas Matthysse: "If the fight goes the distance then Floyd Mayweather will win. But if Canelo Alvarez fights intelligently, he could win the fight."