Dan Rafael: Bermane Stiverne

Junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan has been added to the undercard of the Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola rematch for a vacant heavyweight world title on May 10 at the Galen Center on the USC campus in Los Angeles, promoter Dan Goossen announced on Monday.

Martirosyan (34-1-1, 21 KOs), 27, of Glendale, Calif., will face an opponent to be determined in an eight-round bout, his second since signing with Goossen. In his first appearance, he won a unanimous 10-round decision against Mario Lozano on March 21. That fight was Martirosyan’s first since losing a split decision to Demetrius Andrade for a vacant world title in November.

"Vanes made it very clear upon signing he wanted to stay busy and grow his fan base here in California. The added benefit is his desire to work in the gym under his new trainer, Joe Goossen,” said Goossen, Joe’s brother. “The combination of learning new things with Joe, and staying busy, will allow Vanes to better utilize improved skills in real action.”

The Stiverne-Arreola main event headlines the ESPN telecast. There will be a televised undercard, but Martirosyan’s match is not scheduled to be part of the broadcast.

"My last fight was the first time I felt like a pro," Martirosyan said. "It's amazing even to me. I said being with Joe for only three weeks, he had me understanding the need to work harder and developing some of my other offensive weapons."

Said Joe Goossen, "It's important now, at only 27 years of age, that we prepare Vanes to the fullest of his potential and not allow another opportunity for the world championship to fall through his grip. Activity in the gym and the ring can only help us."

Arreola ready for second chance

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
Heavyweight contender Chris Arreola has the opportunity to accomplish two big things when he faces Bermane Stiverne in a rematch: avenge a loss and become the first fighter of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight world title.

Both will be on Arreola's mind when he and Stiverne meet again on May 10 (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) at the Galen Center on the campus of USC in Los Angeles.

"They are both equally important to me," Arreola told ESPN.com on Thursday, as he and trainer Henry Ramirez were making the drive from their San Diego training camp to Los Angeles for the kickoff news conference. "First, I want to get my revenge, get my rematch and do to him what he did to me but do it on a grander scale.

"And it's a big honor to be fighting for the title and to put a Mexican-American on top of the heavyweight division. I can give a lot of people some kind of inspiration by winning this title. I come from nothing. I came from s---, so anything is possible."

Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs), 33, of Riverside, Calif., and Stiverne (23-1, 20 KOs), 35, a native of Haiti living in Miami, first met in a title elimination fight in Ontario, Calif., last April for the right to become the mandatory challenger for then-titleholder Vitali Klitschko -- who stopped Arreola in the 10th round in 2009 in Arreola's first shot at a title. Stiverne knocked Arreola down and broke his nose in the third round and went on to win a clear unanimous decision as Arreola, who could hardly breathe for most of the fight because of serious damage to his nose.

"I'm a finisher. I'm a shark, and if I see blood, I'm gonna finish you. He had the perfect opportunity to take me out," Arreola said. "I was a dead fish in water, and he didn't capitalize."

Klitschko retired in December, leaving the belt vacant and mandatory challenger Stiverne to face the next leading contender, Arreola, who had rebounded from the loss to knock out Seth Mitchell in the first round of an impressive performance in September.

Arreola said the difference between his first fight with Stiverne and the destruction of Mitchell was his preparation. He said he was not in shape when he fought Stiverne. He trained at home, where he has all kinds of distractions. Many days he didn't even show up at the gym.

[+] EnlargeSeth Mitchell-Cris Arreola
Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsChris Arreola will get his second crack at a piece of the heavyweight title in his May 10 rematch with Bermane Stiverne.
For the fight with Mitchell, Ramirez insisted they go away for camp. They went to Phoenix, where they had one car, and the only one with the key was Ramirez, meaning Arreola could not go anywhere without him. Arreola was in top shape for the fight. They have the same setup for this camp, even though they are in San Diego.

"First and second round, I was winning the fight," Arreola said of the Stiverne bout. "Then, I got complacent. I threw a lazy jab and he came over the top and broke my nose and took me out of the fight. I got complacent against a world-class fighter. You have to give him credit. He's the one who hit. He timed it perfectly. I'm a fighter who will come forward regardless, so every punch he hit me with was excruciating. It hurt bad, but I just kept coming.

"This time I won't get complacent and throw a lazy jab. I will make sure when I throw it that it will be with conviction."

With six weeks to go to the fight, Arreola said he is already in good boxing shape, and it appears as though he is being truthful based on how he looked during the interview about the fight on last week's edition of "Friday Night Fights" on ESPN2.

"Not only am I at a decent fighting weight already, I don't let myself balloon anymore," Arreola said. "I let myself get up to 280, 290 before. I can't believe I let myself do that. Live and learn. I got to stay ready, so I don't have to get ready [immediately before the fight]. I'm 255 now and only 15 pounds from my fighting weight. I want to come in the high 230s, no higher than 241. I want to be lighter on my feet.

"I know he is going to run, and I will have to chase him down. He's the predator, and I'm Arnold Schwarzenegger. I have to hunt his ass down. I'll be able to cut off the ring, throw more flurries, be on the inside and work. I'm a Mexican fighter. I just like fighting. I like staying in the pocket. Don't get me wrong, Stiverne's a good puncher. He dropped me. I didn't drop him. We have to even up the score. I don't dislike him. I don't like him. He's just another person I have to fight with. I respect him as a man and a fighter, but, other than that, I don't see calling him to have a beer."

Solis, Thompson need wins

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
It seems there is finally some movement in the heavyweight division as the contenders are facing each other.

Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola will square off in a May 10 rematch for a vacant title. Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora are fighting a rematch on July 26, with the winner ticketed for a mandatory shot against champ Wladimir Klitschko. Czar Glazkov outpointed Tomasz Adamek in a highly entertaining fight on Saturday night. And a fight between unbeaten up-and-comers Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez is in discussions.

There is yet another heavyweight fight on the schedule, pitting two of the better big men in the division.

Former title challenger Odlanier Solis, a 2004 Olympian for Cuba who has since defected, and two-time challenger Tony Thompson of Washington, D.C., will square off Saturday in Tekirdag, Turkey -- the country where Solis' promoter, Ahmet Oner, is from. Solis turned pro in 2007 and lives in Miami.

Solis, 33, and Thompson, 42, are both aiming to put themselves back into the title picture.

Solis (20-1, 13 KOs) suffered a first-round knockout loss to then-titlist Vitali Klitschko when Solis’ knee gave out in their 2011 title fight. After multiple surgeries on his knee, Solis has won three in a row.

Thompson (38-4, 26 KOs) got mandatory title shots against Wladimir Klitschko in 2008 and 2012 and was knocked out both times. But Thompson scored two big wins last year by knocking out British hope David Price in two upsets.

Thompson lost a decision to Kubrat Pulev in his last fight in August, which was an eliminator to become Wladimir’s mandatory.

Solis and Thompson both really need to win Saturday to keep themselves on the fringes of landing a big fight.

“This is a do-or-die fight. If Solis beats Thompson, I will lead him to another world title fight. But if he loses, it might be all over,” Oner said.

Said Solis, “Tony Thompson doesn't know what's coming for him. My only goal is to become heavyweight champion of the world. And I won't let anybody stop me on my way."

Jennings, Perez discuss eliminator

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
An interesting fight between two of the top up-and-coming heavyweights has been ordered -- and both sides are interested.

Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez, who have both had their recent fights on HBO, have been ordered to fight each other in a world title elimination bout. The WBC title is vacant and will be filled by the winner of the May 10 rematch (on ESPN) between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola. Under the WBC rules, if the organization elects to follow them -- not always a given -- the winner of a vacant title is supposed to make back-to-back mandatory defenses.

The Stiverne-Arreola winner is already mandated to face Deontay Wilder in the next fight following Wilder’s first-round knockout of Malik Scott last Saturday.

The second mandatory defense is supposed to be against the winner of Jennings-Perez. The sides are supposed to negotiate and if they don’t make a deal a purse bid will be held on April 25, as per the letter the WBC sent to both camps on Monday.

“Jennings and Perez want to fight each other,” Gary Shaw, Jennings’ promoter, told ESPN.com. “Jennings is very athletic and we believe he has the speed and movement to beat Perez. Perez, in his last fight, showed he had trouble with speed and movement. Jennings is not going to stand in front of him with no head movement and try to catch bombs. That is not his style.”

Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, made his HBO debut on Jan. 25, knocking out previously undefeated Artur Szpilka of Poland in the 10th round in New York. It was a dominant performance for Jennings, who was ahead 88-82 on all three scorecards at the time of the knockout.

Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs), a 28-year-old southpaw, a native of Cuba living in Ireland, has had his past two fights on HBO. In November, he won a unanimous decision in a grueling 10-rounder that turned tragic as his opponent, Magomed Abdusalamov, suffered a brain injury, spent a month in a coma and is lucky to be alive, although he’ll never be the same. Perez returned Jan. 18 and, dedicating the fight to Abdusalamov, fought a 10-round draw with Carlos Takam in Montreal.

“We have always been interested in the Jennings fight for Perez,” K2 promoter Tom Loeffler told ESPN.com. “I think it is a great fight between two undefeated heavyweights that have both appeared on HBO. I have been speaking to Gary and we are waiting on a confirmation on a television date for us to put this fight on. The winner is in a great position with a guaranteed title fight and I think the winner of Jennings-Perez becomes the WBC heavyweight champion.”

If Shaw and Loeffler cannot make a deal and the fight goes to a purse bid, the split would be 60-40 in favor of Jennings, who is the higher rated fighter.

Stiverne-Arreola II lands on ESPN

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
Arreola-Mitchell Tom Hogan - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsAfter stopping Seth Mitchell in September, Chris Arreola is set to avenge his loss to Bermane Stiverne.

Almost two months ago promoters Dan Goossen and Don King made a deal and avoided a purse bid for the rematch between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola, the leading contenders to fight for the alphabet heavyweight world title that Vitali Klitschko vacated in order to turn his attention full-time to Ukrainian politics.

Goossen and King pledged to work together to generate the most money possible from the fight. But weeks went by and they were still missing the key ingredient, a television deal.

That search has come to an end. The fight will land on ESPN, multiple sources involved in the event told ESPN.com on Wednesday.

Yes, regular ESPN. Not ESPN2, home of “Friday Night Fights.” Not an Internet stream on ESPN3. The fight will air live on the big daddy, ESPN, on May 10, a Saturday night in prime time at 8 p.m. ET, along with at least one undercard bout to be determined.

Also to be determined is the venue, but the TV deal has been agreed to and it is significant for boxing that ESPN, which has televised the sport for the network's entire existence but not at the very top level, is involved. According to my sources, this is a big commitment from the network.

From what I understand, ESPN is hoping to put on three or four similar-level boxing events a year going forward. If that happens, it means another serious player in American televised boxing.

When Stiverne and Arreola met in an April 2013 title eliminator, HBO televised the fight but it was not interested in the rematch. Showtime, from what I am told, had only lukewarm interest. Epix is out of boxing for the time being. ESPN made perfect sense and made a strong pitch to get the fight.

In the first fight, Stiverne (23-1, 20 KOs), 35, of Canada, broke Arreola’s nose on a knockdown in the third round and went on to win a decision. Stiverne was next supposed to fight Klitschko for his title, but after several delays in a purse bid for that fight, Klitschko retired. That left Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs), the next highest-ranked contender, to face Stiverne for the vacant belt.

Stiverne has not fought since beating Arreola, of Riverside, Calif., because of the delays in trying to make the fight with Klitschko. Arreola, however, rebounded to score an impressive first-round knockout of Seth Mitchell in September.

There had been reports that King had made a deal to bring the fight to Cancun, Mexico, on June 21, but those were inaccurate.

Stiverne waits patiently for shot

January, 4, 2014
Jan 4
Bermane Stiverne and Cristobal Arreola Joe Miranda/Goossen Tutor PromotionsBermane Stiverne, left, will need to defeat Cristobal Arreola a second time to claim a world title.
Heavyweight contender Bermane Stiverne won his fist title elimination bout in June 2011 by knocking out Ray Austin in the 10th round. It was a dubious eliminator, given that few held Austin in high regard, but it was nonetheless sanctioned as one by an alphabet organization.

Two fights later, in April 2013, Stiverne, still waiting for a title shot, outpointed Cristobal Arreola in what was billed as a final eliminator to get a crack at titleholder Vitali Klitschko.

But Stiverne is still waiting because Klitschko repeatedly put off the fight, forced purse bids to be postponed and then vacated his belt last month altogether in order to concentrate on his political career in Ukraine.

The move has left Stiverne in a seemingly perpetual wait for a shot at a world title. With Klitschko's apparent retirement, Stiverne (23-1, 20 KOs) is supposed to face Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs) in a rematch for the now-vacant belt. According to the Arreola camp, there has been no headway in negotiating a deal, meaning the fight is likely headed to a Jan. 17 purse bid followed by a wait to schedule the bout.

Stiverne, a low key guy, is content to wait however long it takes to get the shot at the belt.

"I believe that good things happen to those who wait," Stiverne said. "I also believe that one of my best qualities is to be patient for things that I want and care about in life, especially if I'm putting in work at 110 percent.

"I am not disappointed that I won't be fighting Klitschko. All I care about right now is to get my hands on that green belt and to be the first Haitian heavyweight champion of the world. I have the best team in boxing to take care of this matter. It is not my concern about where or when. My job is to be ready when the time and date comes. As far as I'm concerned this will be the first time I fight [Arreola]. My performance will be impeccable and very painful. I will knock his ass out."

Camille Estephan, Stiverne's manager, said he hopes that Stiverne promoter Don King can either make a deal with Arreola promoter Dan Goossen or win the purse bid to bring the fight to Canada as Stiverne lives in Montreal.

Estephan said that Stiverne has been training all along in anticipation of the title fight.

"Although we've been patiently waiting, we have not been sitting idle," he said. "Bermane has been hard at work, perfecting his skills and abilities, and his time waiting has been an investment. We will show that the sacrifice and efforts during that time has, without doubt, produced the best heavyweight in the world. Bermane is eager to show that in his upcoming performance."

V. Klitschko decision put off again

December, 2, 2013
The wait for heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko to decide his boxing future is on hold yet again, this time for another two weeks, until Dec. 15.

Klitschko, who is now more politician in Ukraine than heavyweight boxer, owes Bermane Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs) a mandatory defense, which is way overdue. The purse bid for the fight has been put off multiple times and, when Klitschko said a few months ago that he had a hand injury and would be out for the rest of 2013, was then called off.

The situation was supposed to be addressed at the WBC's annual convention last month, but Klitschko was granted a delay for a decision on his plans until Nov. 30. But on Sunday, Klitschko announced that he has been given until Dec. 15 to make a decision on what he wants to do.

It's very clear that the WBC hasn't followed its own rules on mandatory defenses and has given Klitschko unusual latitude: The 42-year-old Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) hasn't fought since a fourth-round knockout of Manuel Charr in September 2012, and his mandatory was due months ago.

V. Klitschko decision put off again

November, 7, 2013
KlitschkoAP Photo/Sergei ChuzavkovThe wait continues for a decision on what Vitali Klitschko's near future holds: pugilism or politics.

The mystery of what heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko will do next will go on for a little while longer.

Klitschko is running for president of Ukraine in 2015, but he also has an overdue mandatory defense to make against Bermane Stiverne. The purse bid for the fight was put off multiple times and then called off altogether when Klitschko said he had a hand injury and would be out for the rest of 2013. Then Klitschko recently announced that he would run for the presidency of his country.

The situation was supposed to be addressed on Wednesday during the mandatory meetings at the annual WBC convention in Bangkok, Thailand. However, Stiverne and promoter Camille Estephan were traveling and did not arrive at the convention until Thursday -- the closing day -- and the issue was put off yet again.

Tom Loeffler, managing director of Klitschko's K2 Promotion, said that Klitschko requested that the issue be put off until Nov. 30, when he will apparently announce his plans for the mandatory defense. The 42-year-old Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs), who hasn't fought since a fourth-round knockout of Manuel Charr in September 2012, could also retire. Stiverne and Estephan accepted Klitschko's request.

"We are willing to wait to make this fight happen, and we are looking forward to making this fight happen," Estephan said.

Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs), who is 35, became Klitschko's mandatory challenger via lopsided 12-round unanimous decision against Cristobal Arreola on April 27.

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.

Arreola-Mitchell fight nearly set

July, 31, 2013
The fight isn’t a done deal yet but a good-looking heavyweight bout between former title challenger Cristobal Arreola and Seth Mitchell is nearly finalized.

Assuming the deal is done -- and both fighters are supposedly already in training for the bout -- it will take place Sept. 6 at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. Showtime is expected to broadcast the fight.

“Both guys are willing to fight each other and we’re trying to get everything done,” Eric Gomez, matchmaker for Mitchell promoter Golden Boy, told ESPN.com. “It’s an exciting fight because these guys will go at it.”

They are both excellent punchers and generally mix it up in their fights. It’s the kind of fight that will boost the winner big-time and really damage the future prospects for the loser.

Arreola (35-3, 30 KOs), 32, of Riverside, Calif., fought for a world title in 2009, getting stopped in the 10th round by Vitali Klitschko.

Arreola is also coming off a unanimous decision loss to Bermane Stiverne in April. That was a world title eliminator for the right to fight Klitschko. But Stiverne dropped Arreola and badly broke his nose in the third round. Somehow, Arreola was able to make it to the final bell. However, he was not really in the fight after that round. He needed surgery on his nose after the fight.

Mitchell (26-1-1, 19 KOs), 31, of Brandywine, Md., was a late starter to boxing after turning to the sport when a knee injury wrecked his pro football chances after playing linebacker for Michigan State. He was viewed by many as a future title challenger until he ran into Johnathon Banks, a big underdog who dropped him three times and knocked him out in the second round in November. Mitchell avenged the loss on June 22, winning a unanimous decision in a very cautious performance.

“We’re working to get this fight done,” said Dan Goossen, Arreola’s promoter. “It’s a great fight for both fighters and I think it’s a great fight fans’ fight. They’ll both come at each other. Fans really love the heavyweights, especially ones that like to get in there and bang with one another.”

Goossen said Arreola’s nose is just fine now.

“He’s breathing well. He’s fine,” he said. “He had a little surgery on it and a few weeks later he was good to go.”

Time to make Klitschko-Stiverne

July, 30, 2013
Deeply involved in politics in his home country of Ukraine and 42 years old, heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko has made no secret that he is not long for boxing.

When he stopped Manuel Charr in the fourth round on a terrible cut in September to retain his world title for the ninth time, it loomed as a possible career finale because he had been talking about retirement even before the fight.

Since that win, Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) has not said he was going to retire, but he has also not said he would fight again. However, it seems as though he does intend to fight at least once more because his team at K2 Promotions has been negotiating his mandatory defense with Don King, promoter of Bermane Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs), who earned the title shot with a dominant upset decision against Cristobal Arreola in their April 27 title eliminator.

The mandatory is due, and a purse bid should have already taken place if the sides were unable to make a deal. Although the sides seem no closer to making one now, even after months of discussion, the purse bid has been postponed at least twice.

According to Stiverne manager Camille Estephan, the most recent date for the purse bid to take place was July 22, but that was before the WBC granted Klitschko another extension, forcing another delay in the bidding process. Why multiple extensions have been allowed is unclear.

"It's a bit frustrating to hear only two days before the scheduled purse bid that it has once again been postponed,” Estephan, CEO of Eye Of The Tiger Management, said. “We are waiting for a new date. At this point, we have worked really hard to secure potential venues.”

Stiverne, who is based in Las Vegas, lived for years in Canada. Estephan said Ottawa's Canadian Tire Centre and Montreal's Bell Centre are possible locations -- but only if their side gains control of the fight at a purse bid. If K2 Promotions controls the fight, Klitschko surely would want it to take place in Germany.

“Regardless, Bermane is ready now, or in a few months, and the longer Klitschko plays politics rather than man up and fight, the more ready we will be and the older he will get,” Estephan said. “Bermane will KO him wherever and whenever it happens.”

What should happen is that the sides be given a firm purse bid deadline. If they make a deal, great. If not, conduct the purse bid and let’s get on with this fight already.

Arreola, Stiverne ready for action

April, 26, 2013
Bermane Stiverne and Cristobal Arreola Joe Miranda/Goossen Tutor PromotionsAfter multiple delays, heavyweights Bermane Stiverne and Cristobal Arreola will finally square off.
In 2011, former heavyweight title challenger Cristobal Arreola fought five times. That's a lot for a top contender, especially a heavyweight. But in 2012, the activity fell to just one fight in February, in part because of injuries.

His 2013 opened with more delays. Arreola and Bermane Stiverne have been set to duke it out in a title elimination fight for the right to become titleholder Vitali Klitschko's mandatory challenger. But injuries and first the postponement and then the cancellation of the Andre Ward-Kelly Pavlik super middleweight title fight (because of Ward's shoulder injury) in January forced Arreola-Stiverne to be rescheduled three times.

Stiverne is looking for his first title opportunity. Arreola would be in line for a rematch with Klitschko, who stopped him in the 10th round in 2009.

Finally -- assuming nothing else bad happens between now and when the bell rings -- they will get it on Saturday night at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., not far from Arreola's hometown of Riverside. The fight is the opener of HBO's split-site tripleheader that will also include two fights from Argentina, middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs) defending against Martin Murray (25-0-1, 11 KOs) in the main event and welterweight Luis Carlos Abregu (34-1, 28 KOs) of Argentina against Montreal's Antonin Decarie (27-1, 8 KOs).

It will be Arreola's first fight in 14 months. Stiverne, 34, who was born in Haiti and lives in Las Vegas, has not fought since last April.

Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs), 32, whose own illness was responsible for the latest delay from March 9 to Saturday, said regardless of the postponements he is ready to roll.

"I get frustrated when I get injured at the gym or when I get sick, but when I have to wait for a fight, it doesn't frustrate me because I have worked my butt off for the entire year since 2011," Arreola said. "Even though last year I only fought once, I know that when I fight again that I am ready to go. I'm hungry to fight. When I go to [stablemate Josesito Lopez's] fight or any other fight, I get antsy. I get that motivation to fight and get in there."

Stiverne, who was barely audible and seemingly disinterested when he met the media for the announcement news conference in Las Vegas late last month, is also ready to go after all the delays.

"I just want to get it done," he said. "I might be wrong but I don't believe that he was sick. I got frustrated with all of the delays but I am patient. If I have to wait again, I would do it. This is a fight that we've been talking about for three years."

Arreola is a big puncher, but so is Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs), although he is not nearly as experienced against quality opponents. But Arreola basically dismissed Stiverne's power.

"I wouldn't say that he has humongous punching power. Every heavyweight has punching power but if you get caught you're going to sleep," Arreola said. "I don't really care about his punching power or his professional record as much as I do about his amateur record because to me amateur experience means the world [and Stiverne was a top amateur]."

Although the winner is due to get a shot at Klitschko, it remains to be seen if he will fight again. It's no secret that Klitschko, now heavily involved in politics in his native Ukraine, is considering retirement.

"If Klitschko decides to retire then he retires," Arreola said. "It's a dawn of a new era. That's me. It's my time. It's my time to shine. If he chooses to retire, that's good. He did his time. Let him step away. But if I get the rematch that would be even better."

Stiverne said before he thinks about the title fight, he wants to deal with Arreola.

"Chris has fought for a world title so I have to respect that," Stiverne said. "Any fighter would have to. It's something you got to respect. Chris brings the heat. I believe whatever heat he brings, mines is hotter. Mine is more damaging than his. I just can't wait for this fight to happen."

Fight updates: Garcia-Lopez, etc.

March, 12, 2013
Christobal ArreolaBryan Crowe/FightWireImages.comHeavyweight Cristobal Arreola finally has a site for his title elimination bout with Bermane Stiverne.

Top Rank still hopes to make a featherweight title defense for Mikey Garcia against former titlist Juan Manuel Lopez, but the scheduling of the bout is unclear as the promotional company works with HBO for Garcia's next date. Top Rank had hoped for him to make his first defense against Lopez in May. However, Lopez, who is co-promoted by Peter Rivera, is being lined up to fight a second tune-up since being out of the ring for nearly a year. That bout is probably going to take place on April 20 in Mexico City, Top Rank's Carl Moretti told ESPN.com. It would be on the undercard of the fight between Victor Terrazas and Cristian Mijares, who meet for a vacant junior featherweight title. If Lopez fights April 20, it means he would not be available to fight Garcia in May. So the fight could be pushed back to June or perhaps Garcia will make a defense in May or June and then meet Lopez later in the year.

• The heavyweight title elimination fight between Cristobal Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs) and Bermane Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs) on April 27 now has a home. It will take place at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., promoter Dan Goossen told ESPN.com. Arreola, who is from nearby Riverside, Calif., is a bit of a draw there. The winner of the bout will become the mandatory challenger for titleholder Vitali Klitschko. Arreola-Stiverne will open an HBO split-site tripleheader. The other two bouts will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs) will have a homecoming fight against England's Martin Murray (25-0-1, 11 KOs) in the main event with welterweights Luis Carlos Abregu (34-1, 28 KOs) of Argentina and Antonin Decarie (27-1, 8 KOs) of Montreal meeting in the co-feature.

• The October junior welterweight fight between former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) and Mike Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs) was one of the best fights of 2012 and one of the best fights in recent years. They battled hard in violent fashion until Rios stopped Alvarado on his feet in the seventh round. It was so good they are meeting again on March 30 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, this time with a vacant interim 140-pound title at stake. The first fight was so good that HBO, which aired the fight and will also broadcast the second bout, will debut "Road to Rios/Alvarado II," a 15-minute show that will preview the rematch. It will premiere Saturday night at 12:15 a.m. ET/PT, or immediately following the conclusion of the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Ruslan Provodnikov telecast -- whichever comes first. The special will look back at the first encounter and profile each fighter.

Salgado-Mendez II gets TV slot

February, 21, 2013
Juan Carlos SalgadoKazuhiro Nogi/Getty ImagesThe rematch between Juan Carlos Salgado and Argenis Mendez found a home on U.S. TV.

A few updates on some upcoming fights:

• American fans will have a chance to see the rematch between junior lightweight titlist Juan Carlos Salgado (26-1-1, 16 KOs) and Argenis Mendez (20-2, 10 KOs). HBO bought the rights to the March 9 bout and will air it on HBO Latino (8:30 p.m. ET).

The fight takes place in Costa Mesa, Calif., on the undercard of the heavyweight eliminator between Cristobal Arreola and Bermane Stiverne. Arreola-Stiverne is part of an HBO-split site tripleheader that also includes light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud against Bernard Hopkins and welterweight Keith Thurman against Jan Zaveck from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. HBO did not have room for a fourth fight on its telecast, but made a deal for Salgado-Mendez II to air on its Spanish-language channel. I hope we will see more of this sort of thing from HBO, sort of like how Showtime Extreme has done a great job televising preliminary bouts for Showtime cards.

March 9 is a big night for HBO -- a live title fight on HBO Latino followed by the network tripleheader and then, immediately following the tripleheader on HBO, there will be a new edition of “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley.”

• Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said that the return of former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan, slated for April 20, will move to April 27 (Showtime). Nothing official yet with regard to the site or opponent, although he is likely to fight in his native England.

• Polish light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara suffered a hand fracture, forcing him to withdraw from the main event of the March 22 ESPN “Friday Night Fights” card. He was due to face Nicholson Poulard. Fonfara will be out for at least four weeks, but if he needs surgery he could be sidelined for three to six months. ESPN2 is working with the promoters to put together a new main event, but still has a quality co-feature that could possibly move up to the main event spot -- Donovan George, who is moving down to middleweight, against David Lopez.

• An injury has knocked light heavyweight prospect Mike Lee off the March 16 Timothy Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov card. Top Rank has also added hot junior featherweight prospect Jessie Magdaleno to the card in an eight-rounder.

Arreola-Stiverne finds new home

January, 15, 2013
Cristobal ArreolaAP Photo/Reed SaxonCristobal Arreola's bout with Bermane Stiverne has been added to HBO's telecast of Cloud-Hopkins.
The heavyweight title elimination bout between Cristobal Arreola and Bermane Stiverne is on the move again.

A network source told me the fight is now headed from March 2 to March 9 to be part of a split-site HBO telecast that will be headlined by the Tavoris Cloud-Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight title fight already scheduled for the date.

Cloud-Hopkins, a fight Golden Boy and Don King are putting on, will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., while Arreola-Stiverne, a fight promoter Dan Goossen is promoting, will take place at a Southern California site to be announced.

HBO and Goossen have been working it out over the past couple of weeks since a shoulder injury to super middleweight champ Andre Ward forced the cancellation of his March 2 fight with Kelly Pavlik.

Ward-Pavlik was originally supposed to take place Jan. 26 with Arreola-Stiverne as the co-feature. When Ward-Pavlik was postponed to March 2, Arreola-Stiverne was moved with it. When Ward-Pavlik was canceled because Ward's injury was more serious than originally diagnosed, the heavyweight fight was going to stay on March 2 and move up to the main event of a smaller card.

Instead, HBO has significantly beefed up its March 9 telecast with the addition of the heavyweight fight.

Welterweight prospect Keith Thurman (19-0, 18 KOs), 24, is also supposed to fight on HBO -- for his third consecutive bout -- on March 9 at the Barclays Center. The leading candidate to face him is 36-year-old former titleholder Jan Zaveck (32-2, 18 KOs), who lost his belt by spirited fifth-round knockout to Andre Berto on HBO in September 2011. Zaveck has fought only once since after being sidelined for most of 2012 with an elbow injury.

The way the telecast could shake out would be for Thurman's fight to open the broadcast followed by a shift to the West Coast for the Arreola-Stiverne bout and then a return to Brooklyn for the Cloud-Hopkins main event.

The winner between Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs) and Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs) will become the mandatory challenger for heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko.