Dan Rafael: Curtis Jackson

Junior middleweight slugger James Kirkland, who has fought just one time in each of the past two years, is seemingly ready for his annual ring appearance.

Kirkland is the leading candidate to be featured in the HBO-televised co-feature of the Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight unification fight on Nov. 8 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw from Austin, Texas, and one of boxing roughest sluggers, has not fought since last December. In that HBO fight, he stopped Glenn Tapia in the sixth round of a slugfest.

HBO has tried multiple times throughout the year to work out a deal with Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Kirkland's promoter, to get Kirkland back on the air, but coming to terms has been very difficult because Kirkland has turned down several offers.

Two of the names that have come up as a possible Kirkland opponents are the crowd-pleasing Javier Maciel (29-3, 20 KOs) of Argentina and former junior middleweight world titleholder Zauerbek Baysangurov (29-1, 21 KOs) of Russia.

Kirkland's camp told ESPN.com he is out of the running to face Canelo Alvarez in December. He had been one of three candidates mentioned by Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya. But Kirkland's camp views a possible fight with Alvarez as a pay-per-view fight, and Alvarez's next fight will be on premium cable (HBO or Showtime, which has not been decided yet).

Another fighter De La Hoya mentioned was junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade, but that is highly unlikely, even before Andrade was approved to face Matt Korobov for a vacant middleweight belt. That leaves the likely Alvarez opponent as former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey, who is -- by far -- the weakest and least interesting of the three names De La Hoya mentioned.
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."

GBP announces changes; more fights

June, 13, 2013
6/13/13
1:15
PM ET
A little of this and a little of that from the world of boxing:

• There’s been a big shake-up behind the scenes at Golden Boy as chief executive Richard Schaefer recently announced a major restructuring of the staff of the world’s No. 1 promotional company.

Chief operating officer David Itskowitch is leaving the company after six years, effective July 31, which set off a slew of changes. Bruce Binkow, the chief marketing officer, will also now be the COO, and longtime vice president of operations Armando Gaytan will also assume the newly created position of deputy COO and has been promoted to senior VP of operations. Chief of staff Robert Gasparri will take on the role of VP of operations. Schaefer also announced that attorney Arnold Joseph, who has done work for the company for years, is joining the staff full-time as general counsel. Longtime director of communications and events Monica Sears was promoted to VP of operations and digital marketing coordinator Nicole “The Spark” Sparks is moving up to director of marketing. Marylyn Aceves is returning to the company as VP of public relations.

“Given his contributions to Golden Boy Promotions over the past six years, David Itskowitch's departure from the company is significant and he will be missed, but with the restructuring we have implemented we will have a smooth transition that will ensure the continued success of Golden Boy Promotions,” Schaefer said.

• Golden Boy announced the full undercard for its June 22 Showtime tripleheader at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. In addition to the TV fights -- welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi defending against lightweight titleholder Adrien Broner, the heavyweight rematch between Johnathon Banks and Seth Mitchell and Sakio Bika-Marco Antonio Periban for a vacant super middleweight belt -- junior middleweight prospect Julian Williams (12-0-1, 7 KOs) will face chin-challenged former titleholder Joachim Alcine (33-4-1, 19 KOs) in the most notable other bout. Three of the other bouts will involve members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team: Staten Island light heavyweight Marcus Browne (4-0, 4 KOs), who always has a fan section cheering for him at Barclays, bantamweight Rau'Shee Warren (4-0, 2 KOs) and lightweight Jamel Herring (3-0, 2 KOs).

• Promoters Lou DiBella and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson announced that they have acquired the rights to “Tapia,” a documentary on the late former five-time world champion Johnny Tapia, who died in May 2012 at age 45. The world premiere of the documentary will take place at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Saturday. The film, directed by Eddie Alcazar, chronicles Tapia’s tumultuous personal and professional life using first-person narration from Tapia himself, archival footage and personal photos. Alcazar spent many hours with Tapia filming, including in the weeks before Tapia’s death. Those last interviews are included in the film, as are interviews with Mike Tyson, trainer Freddie Roach (who trained Tapia at one point during his career) and Teresa Tapia, Johnny’s widow.

“I was drawn to the intensity of this project,” Jackson said. “His story resonated with me because like Tapia, I too lost my mother to violence and grew up with limited means. It’s a heartfelt story and it was important for me to get involved with bringing this to a broader audience.”

Said DiBella, who, when he programmed boxing at HBO, put Tapia on the network, “This is not a boxing film, but a film about tragedy, triumph, demons and redemption. Johnny gives us an honest assessment of his strengths and frailties; he reminds us of the power and resiliency of the human spirit.”

• European light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer (40-2, 31 KOs), a former world titleholder, will make his second defense against Italy’s Stefano Abatangelo (17-2-1, 6 KOs) on Aug. 24 in Schwerin, Germany, Sauerland Event announced. Abatangelo is 11-0-1 in his past 12 fights. Braehmer is the mandatory challenger for world titleholder Nathan Cleverly, who he could meet later this year. Also on the card is supposed to be the return of former middleweight and super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham (36-4, 28 KOs) against Willbeforce Shihepo (20-6, 15 KOs). In his last fight, Abraham was destroyed in four rounds and lost his super middleweight belt to Robert Stieglitz in their March 23 rematch.

• Some interesting stats from last Saturday’s head-to-head clash between the HBO and Showtime cards. According to Nielsen Media Research, HBO’s undercard fight of Yuriorkis Gamboa-Darleys Perez drew 947,000, which increased to 1,024,000 viewers for the Adonis Stevenson-Chad Dawson main event. Showtime, which had a tripleheader, drew a measly 207,000 viewers for the Jermell Charlo-Demetrius Hopkins opener, which grew to 471,000 for the Erislandy Lara-Alfredo Angulo co-feature and then 594,000 for the Marcos Maidana-Josesito Lopez main event. Although Showtime (which is in about 8 million fewer homes than HBO) had the better overall card for sure and has seen its boxing viewership on an overall upswing, the dreadful Gamboa-Perez undercard fight on HBO still drew 353,000 more than Showtime’s main event.


Promoter/rap star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson started off slowly in the promotional game.

The first fight he was involved in was when he made a deal with Top Rank to put his top fighter, Yuriorkis Gamboa, on the HBO PPV undercard of Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV last December.

For his second foray, Fiddy's SMS Promotions teamed up with promoter Lou DiBella to put on an ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" card on March 1. But it was really DiBella’s staff that did the heavy lifting for that event in which Billy Dib, one of Jackson’s fighters, lost a split decision and his featherweight world title to Evgeny Gradovich in the main event at the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn.

And last Saturday, he had Gamboa on an HBO card in Montreal promoted by Yvon Michel and Gary Shaw.

Now with a little experience under his belt, Jackson is promoting his first card solo-style, another "FNF" show, which takes place July 5 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn.
Jackson was in Hartford on Wednesday for a news conference to announce the card.

Dib originally was going to headline the card, but when a main event-worthy opponent could not be lined up, Jackson made a deal to bring in the fight between light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Colombian Olympian living in Montreal, and Tulsa, Okla., native Allan Green (32-4, 22 KOs), who participated in the Super Six World Boxing Classic super middleweight tournament.

Alvarez-Green was originally supposed to be on the May 25 Jean Pascal-Lucian Bute undercard in Montreal. When Bute got hurt and the show was postponed, promoter Yvon Michel shifted the fight to last Saturday’s Adonis Stevenson-Chad Dawson undercard. But it was pulled off that show for various reasons and ultimately, a deal was made with Jackson to have the fight headline the ESPN2 card.

Australia’s Dib (35-2, 21 KOs) will also be on the card in a non-title bout in the co-feature against Mike Oliver (25-3, 8 KOs) of Hartford. Dib has a rematch clause with Gradovich and if Dib beats Oliver and Gradovich retains his title against Mauricio Munoz on July 27 in Macau, the rematch is expected to follow.

"I'm excited because this is the first show put together by SMS Promotions,” Jackson said. “It's been a learning experience. We've been part of shows but never did the promotional job. I'm not far from home in Farmington [Conn.]. We've put together a real event with some of the best fighters in the world, good prospects and some local fighters. We're creating a platform for fighters to progress and I want to be part of it. Overall, it's a great opportunity to do things a little differently. I've associated myself with some big name fighters.

"The Hartford area has a long boxing history with Hall of Famer Willie Pep and other world champions and top contenders [and champions] like Battling Battalino, Marlon Starling [who was in attendance at the news conference], Kid Kaplan, Tyrone Booze and 'Iceman' John Scully.”

Jackson will also have three of his other fighters on the card, lightweight prospect Mark Davis (16-0, 5 KOs), a former two-time U.S. national amateur champion, junior welterweight Luis Olivares (3-0, 2 KOs) and junior welterweight Donte Strayhorn (1-0, 0 KOs).

Oliver hasn’t fought since being knocked out in the second round by former featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez in October 2011 and is in a tough fight against Dib.

“I haven't fought in over a year, but I'm back,” Oliver said. “My last fight was against 'Juanma,' but that was in Puerto Rico and this fight is in my hometown, Hartford. I know you don't believe me 50, but I'm going to beat your guy.”
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
4/11/13
1:46
PM ET
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.”

Pacquiao will earn at least $26M

December, 6, 2012
12/06/12
4:40
PM ET

LAS VEGAS – The contracts have been submitted to the Nevada State Athletic Commission so the purses are official for the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV card on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET, $59.95) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Pacquiao’s contract figure is $8,595,000, but that does not tell the full story. It was supposed to be $10 million, according to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, but it goes down as less because Top Rank is being paid back money that it has advanced Pacquiao. But regardless of what the commission contract says, Arum told me that Pacquiao’s guarantee -- the minimum he will earn -– is $26 million. He has chance to earn much more depending on how well the pay-per-view sales are.

Marquez’s bout contract with the commission is for $3 million, but Arum said that he is guaranteed at least $6 million. Like Pacquiao, he will earn more on the upside if the pay-per-view hits certain figures.

On the undercard, Yuriorkis Gamboa is due to earn $50,000. It seems like a very low figure but it could be because he owes new promoter Curtis Jackson (aka rapper 50 Cent) money for buying out his contract from Top Rank earlier this year. So the promoter could be getting a larger chunk of the overall money being paid for the fight since Jackson laid out seven figures to buy Gamboa’s contract out. Michael Farenas, his opponent for their vacant interim junior lightweight title bout, is due to earn $70,000.

Lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez gets $175,000 while challenger Mercito Gesta gets $50,000. Patrick Hyland will earn $75,000 while Javier Fortuna will get $60,000 for their vacant interim featherweight title bout.

Lightweight Jose Ramirez, the 2012 U.S. Olympian, will earn $4,000 for his scheduled four-round pro debut while opponent Corey Siegwarth will make $2,500.

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