Dan Rafael: Gary Shaw

Darleys PerezCarlos Baeza/Thompson BoxingDarleys Perez, left, is confident entering his vacant interim title shot against Argenis Lopez.
Colombian lightweight Darleys Perez was an undefeated fighter, although largely untested, when he stepped up to face Yuriorkis Gamboa for a vacant interim lightweight belt last June.

Perez lost a unanimous decision to the quicker Gamboa, but returned in December to score a near-shutout eight-round decision against journeyman Dunis Linan in December.

Now the 30-year-old Perez (29-1, 19 KOs) finds himself in another fight of note, taking on Argenis Lopez (19-0, 7 KOs), 24, of the Dominican Republic, for the same now-vacant interim lightweight belt on Saturday night at the Sheraton Hotel in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

"I've had plenty of time to reflect on my defeat to Gamboa," Perez said. "I've came back with a win against Linan and my confidence is where it needs to be moving forward. Lopez is coming to fight as am I, so I'm expecting to face a fighter who is determined to take food off my table. I'm not going to let it happen. I've worked too hard get back in this position and Lopez better be ready to die in the ring because I am.

"I've only fought once in the last 12 months but I've been training hard while I was on down time. I'm healthy, in great shape, and I'm ready to go the distance if need be. I'm going to Lopez's hometown so I'll be gunning for the knockout as I don't want to leave any doubt in the judges' minds."

The winner will be in position to challenge Richar Abril for the full title, although he has not fought since March 2013, in part because fights have been canceled.

Gary Shaw, Perez's promoter, said he would try to set up an Abril-Perez fight if Perez wins on Saturday.

"If he comes out victorious, which I believe he will, then I'll be working to get him a title shot against the champion, Richar Abril," Shaw said. "Right now he must focus on Lopez and bring home the victory."

Gonzales signs with Shaw

April, 3, 2014
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 Thomas Oosthuizen, Brandon Gonzales Will Hart/K2 Promotions Brandon Gonzales, right, who fought to a 2013 draw with Thomas Oosthuizen, has a new promoter.
Super middleweight Brandon Gonzales, who likely will face British contender James DeGale in a title elimination bout, signed with promoter Gary Shaw on Thursday.

Gonzales (18-0-1, 10 KOs), 29, of Sacramento, Calif., had previously been ordered to participate in an eliminator against Maxim Vlasov, but the fight never happened because Gonzales had other promoters claiming that he was under contract. According to Shaw, those issues have been resolved, allowing him to sign with Shaw.

His biggest fight came last June, but he fought to a draw on HBO against the favored Thomas Oosthuizen. He came back from the draw to outpoint Jonathan Nelson in November on the undercard of stablemate Andre Ward's super middleweight title defense against Edwin Rodriguez.

"I know Gary can deliver the big fight," Gonzales said. "All I want is an opportunity to accomplish my goal of becoming a word champion. I've worked my way up the rankings by winning tough fights and now I'm ranked No. 3 by the IBF. I feel the urgency to take my career to the next level and that's why I signed with Gary Shaw. Together I know we can do big things."

Shaw said getting Gonzales a major fight is a priority; he is in position to become a mandatory challenger for the winner of the May 31 rematch fight between titleholder Carl Froch and George Groves.

"Brandon Gonzales is a fighter with a lot of heart and talent and I'm happy he's part of the GSP family now," Shaw said. "He's highly ranked and a nice win will get him in position to fight for a world title. I look forward to Gonzales being in some big fights. He's a tremendous individual who I have a lot of respect for because he has come up the hard way, winning fights without the support that most contenders have on the way up."

Geale calls for GGG showdown

February, 24, 2014
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Daniel Geale Matt King/Getty ImagesDaniel Geale, right, is calling out middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin.
Former middleweight titlist Daniel Geale, who returned to the win column Wednesday by knocking out Australian countryman Garth Wood in the sixth round, is now calling for a fight with titleholder Gennady Golovkin.

There’s two ways to look at that. On the one hand, it’s good to see Geale call for a fight with a guy most people do not want to face. GGG has been destroying opponents and is a sure loss for most opponents. On the other hand, it’s kind of easy to call out Golovkin when you have no chance to be his next opponent -- because you already declined the opportunity.

Golovkin returns on April 26 (HBO) at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York and Geale (30-2, 16 KOs) has already passed on the fight. He claims that because of the date, he cannot face Golovkin because he would have no Australian television revenue because the pay-per-view company that would handle the bout already has a UFC event scheduled the same day.

So what Geale is really doing is throwing his hat into the ring as a candidate for Golovkin this summer, should he defeat likely April 26 opponent Andy Lee.

"My ambition is to recapture a world title and bring it back to Australia,” Geale said. "I will do whatever it takes to regain my status as the middleweight champion of the world. With Wood out of the way, the doors have opened for other big fights. I believe Gennady Golovkin and I would make for a great fight. If HBO can bring that fight to fruition, then I'm all for it. Golovkin needs to fight someone of my caliber to be considered elite. The fans deserve a great competitive fight and that's what Golovkin and I bring to the table.

"I would have fought Golovkin already had there been a PPV date [in Australia], but there was none available. My promoters, Gary Shaw and Garrie Francisco, believe this fight can happen and that's the direction I want to go. The same style I fought against Wood is what I anticipate would be successful against Golovkin. It would be a great fight for the fans."

Geale’s win against Wood was his first since losing his world title by split decision to England’s Darren Barker in a great fight in August in Atlantic City, N.J.

Dulorme-Mayfield in works

February, 18, 2014
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The deal is not done yet but a fight between junior welterweights Thomas Dulorme and Karim Mayfield is in the works for HBO’s March 29 “Boxing After Dark” telecast from the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., according to the promoters for both boxers.

If the bout is finalized -- and Gary Shaw, Dulorme’s promoter, and Top Rank, which represents Mayfield, are working on it -- it would open the telecast headlined by light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev (23-0-1, 21 KOs) making his second defense against Cedric Agnew (26-0, 13 KOs).

The card belongs to Main Events’ Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter, so getting a fight involving Shaw on it was difficult. But HBO, which wanted this specific match, basically gave her no choice but to accept the fight. Shaw once was the chief operating officer of Main Events before a falling out with Duva, after which he left the company and started his own promotional outfit.

Dulorme (20-1, 14 KOs), 24, of Puerto Rico, remains a quality prospect even after getting knocked out in the seventh round when he was overmatched with Luis Carlos Abregu on HBO in October 2012. Dulorme has won four fights in a row since and this would be his first bout since his recent hiring of trainer Robert Garcia.

Mayfield (18-0-1, 11 KOs), 33, of San Francisco, has been fairly inactive, fighting only once in 2013. But in the fight before that (in October 2012), he outpointed Mauricio Herrera, who is getting a shot at junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia on March 15.

Dulorme makes another change

February, 11, 2014
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Last week welterweight prospect Thomas Dulorme of Puerto Rico announced he had left longtime trainer Jose Bonilla to join the stable of Robert Garcia in Oxnard, Calif.

On Tuesday, Dulorme (20-1, 14 KOs) announced that he has further changed his team, buying out two of the three promoters who owned stakes in his promotional contract.

Gone are Lou DiBella and Javier Bustillo of Universal Promotions, who had signed Dulorme along with Gary Shaw in 2012. Shaw will remain as Dulorme’s promoter.

"I bought the parts of my contract that belonged to Lou DiBella and Javier Bustillo, but Gary Shaw stays in,” Dulorme said. “I felt that lately those businesses were not going well and I had to do something about it. But this is nothing personal against DiBella and Bustillo because they have been very important in my career and I learned a lot from them. But, still, this is just plain business.

Shaw told ESPN.com he is aiming for the 24-year-old Dulorme to return to action in April.

Dulorme was as a red-hot prospect until he was overmatched against the more experienced and stronger Luis Carlos Abregu, who knocked him out in the seventh round in October 2012. Dulorme has won four fights in a row since.

GGG likely to face Andy Lee

February, 5, 2014
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You can cross former middleweight titlist Daniel Geale off the list of potential opponents for Gennady Golovkin’s April 26 HBO fight at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

You can also cross off James Kirkland, another of the three leading candidates.

You know what that means? That means GGG likely will face former title challenger Andy Lee.

“We're close. We’re talking, and Andy wants the fight,” Lou DiBella, Lee’s promoter, told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “Andy believes he can win, and this is a fight that he wants.”

Geale (29-2, 15 KOs) is scheduled to face Australian countryman Garth Wood on Feb. 19 in Geale’s first bout since losing his belt to Darren Barker in a great fight in August in Atlantic City, N.J., but he was viewed as the leading candidate to try to slow down the Golovkin train.

But he’s now out of the picture. Geale and promoter Gary Shaw both said that the reason is because if he fights Golovkin on April 26 -- the firm date for Golovkin’s next fight, mainly because that is when the MSG Theater is available -- the bout would not be televised in Australia, where most fights of consequence are on Main Event PPV. On April 26, Main Event PPV is already slated to air a UFC pay-per-view.

With no Australian television revenue, that would leave Geale without an important piece of his overall revenue for a fight with Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs), who is coming off last week’s bruising seventh-round knockout of Osumanu Adama in Monte Carlo.

“We weren't ducking him," Geale told Fox Sports Australia. “If they had given us a week later or a week before, it would have been perfect. But they wouldn't budge on the date and I want the people of Australia to be able to see a fight like that. Golovkin has built his name up so well; he's stopped pretty much everybody he's been in there with. I don't want to go over there [to the U.S.] and do something great and nobody see it."

Shaw told ESPN.com, “I agree with Geale. He wants his fights to be shown in Australia. Hope he gets the next fight with enough time to secure a TV network. Geale has never been afraid to fight GGG and continues to believe that he has a chance.”

[+] EnlargeGennady Golovkin
Didier Baverel/Getty ImagesAfter stopping Osumanu Adama on Saturday, Gennady Golovkin, left, is ready to get back in the ring as soon as April.
Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), the vicious junior middleweight puncher who would have to move up in weight for the fight, was also in the running. In fact, some at HBO preferred him over Geale as GGG’s opponent.

But according to sources involved in the talks, Kirkland’s camp has rejected the fight. Instead, there’s a good chance that Kirkland, of Austin, Texas, will wind up on the April 26 HBO undercard with the understanding that if Kirkland and Golovkin both win they would meet in the summer.

That left Ireland’s Lee (31-2, 22 KOs), HBO’s third choice but the one guy willing to take the fight and the guy who probably can significantly boost ticket sales. New York’s Irish fight fans are very loyal to their fighters.

Lee has won three low-level fights in a row since being destroyed in a seventh-round knockout loss to then-middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June 2012.

I don’t think Lee stands much of a chance against Golovkin, but I didn’t think Geale or Kirkland did either.

Wach pulls out of Jennings fight

November, 30, 2013
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Promoter Gary Shaw and HBO thought they had a deal for heavyweight Mariusz Wach to face American up-and-comer Bryant Jennings on Jan. 18 -- until Wach and promoter Global Boxing Promotions pulled out on Friday.

Shaw told ESPN.com that he has “no clue” why Wach and his team pulled out of the fight, but that he had prepared a contract reflecting the terms they had agreed to.

“I prepared the (provision-of-services agreement) and hand-delivered it along with a bout agreement on Wednesday afternoon,” Shaw said. “They pulled out on Friday with no reason (given). Global Boxing Promotions told (HBO’s) Peter Nelson we had a deal and that is what I put in (the agreement).”

Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs) is due to fight on the undercard of the Jan. 18 matchup between former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal and former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute at the Bell Centre in Montreal in his first fight since recently signing with Shaw and co-promoter Antonio Leonard.

Wach (27-1, 15 KOs), who is from Poland but based in New Jersey, figured to be a solid test for Jennings. Wach went the distance with heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in a one-sided loss to him in November 2012. Wach, however, had not fought since because he tested positive for steroids after the fight and was suspended.

With Wach out, the search is on for a new opponent to face Jennings. Shaw said some potential opponents have been rejected by HBO (such as Travis Kauffman and Lateef Kayode) while Main Events declined the fight for Czar Glazkov.

Bryant Jennings layoff over

November, 27, 2013
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Heavyweight Bryant Jennings fought five times in 2012 (winning all of them) and, because of such regular activity on nationally televised cards, emerged as one of the hottest heavyweights in the division. Then came an utterly forgettable 2013 in which he fought just once against a nobody and slipped from the minds of many.

But now, having signed with a new manager (James Prince) and new co-promoters (Gary Shaw and Antonio Leonard), Jennings is primed to get 2014 off to a good start with a high-profile HBO fight.

HBO and Shaw are still haggling over a deal, but Jennings is penciled in to open the Jan. 18 card at the Bell Centre in Montreal on the telecast headlined by the long-awaited light heavyweight showdown between former champion Jean Pascal and former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute.

“I'm really excited about the opportunity for Jennings to appear on HBO. I think this is where a career accelerates to the next level,” Shaw said.

Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, doesn’t have an opponent yet, but the leading candidate is former title challenger Mariusz Wach (27-1, 15 KOs), who turns 34 next month. Wach, a native of Poland based in New Jersey, has not fought since heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko routed him in a near-shutout decision in a December 2012 title defense in Germany because he tested positive for steroids after the fight and has been under suspension.

“Wach is a fighter who went 12 rounds with one of the [Klitschko] brothers. He is big, roughly 285 [pounds], 6-foot-8, and will be a terrific test for Jennings, as to whether he can handle a man this size,” Shaw said. “As a heavyweight, he is going to have to fight many different size fighters, unlike a specific weight class, where the size and weight are roughly the same.”

Jennings signs with Shaw, Leonard

October, 9, 2013
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Heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings of Philadelphia on Wednesday signed with promoters Gary Shaw and Antonio Leonard after buying out his existing agreement with Russell Peltz.

The 29-year-old Jennings, who is closing in on a mandatory title shot, rose quickly thanks to a big 2012 in which he won five televised bouts, including three by knockout. He has fought only once in 2013, a sixth-round knockout of Andrey Fedosov on June 14.

“I'm glad I'm finally moving forward in my career with a great team,” Jennings said. “Gary Shaw and Antonio Leonard are two great promoters who have been in this sport for many years and have promoted some of the biggest fights in boxing history. I'm ecstatic to be managed by James Prince, because he's guided the careers of many world champions and his knowledge as a boxing manager is impeccable. It's truly a blessing to have these experienced gentlemen working on my behalf. I'm ready to take my career to the next level.”

Peltz and Prince had been working on making an HBO fight for Jennings against top contender Tomasz Adamek for Nov. 2, but when the deal fell apart, it caused friction between Peltz and Jennings. Ultimately, Peltz sold the contract in a deal engineered by Prince.

“It was strictly a business decision,” Peltz told ESPN.com. “My contract with Jennings was still good. It had close to two years still to run, but I sold the contract. I made a deal with Prince. I thought it was for the best.”

Shaw has seen his fortunes fade with a shrinking stable and some significant defeats, so the signing of Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs) is a huge lift for his company.

"First off, I want to say I'm very thrilled to be working side by side with my good friends Antonio Leonard and James Prince," Shaw said. "We've worked harmoniously together in the past when we had [late lightweight champion Diego] Corrales, and it was an astonishing journey. Now we've come together again with an outstanding heavyweight in Bryant Jennings.

“From what I've seen, Jennings has the personality and talent to become a star in this sport. He's a very kind young man who brings an exciting style to the heavyweight division. I'm very pleased to add Jennings to our rich history of great fighters here at [Gary Shaw Productions], and I'm working hard with Antonio and James to get him in a big fight. He'll be in the ring very soon."

Shaw said he is targeting a January return for Jennings.

“We’re going to try to get him on premium cable and get him in with the elite fighters,” Shaw said. “He’s ready for a larger step. He’s gone through the lower ones in the rankings. I got the opportunity to sign him, and I jumped at it.”

Dulorme regroups despite setback

August, 16, 2013
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Thomas Dulorme, Carlos AbeguCourtesy of HBOAfter losing to Luis Carlos Abregu, right, in October, Thomas Dulorme is trying to get back on track.
There is no doubt that welterweight Thomas Dulorme took a big step backward when Luis Carlos Abregu knocked him out in the seventh round in October.

At the time, Dulorme was a red-hot prospect. He had been scoring big knockouts and had the attention of the media and HBO, which put on the Abregu fight and was super interested in him.

Since the loss, Dulorme and his team have regrouped, and he is being moved a bit slower. At 23, there is no hurry. He needs to be developed properly and not rushed into a fight he isn’t ready for, which is what happened with Abregu.

Since the loss, Dulorme (18-1, 13 KOs) has won both of his fights against modest opposition, a first-round knockout of Eddie Brooks in Puerto Rico, where Dulorme lives, followed by an eight-round decision against Ben Ankrah in April.

Dulorme’s rebuilding will continue against New York’s Frankie Figueroa (20-5-1, 13 KOs) on Saturday night at the Revel Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., on the undercard of Daniel Geale’s middleweight title defense against Darren Barker.

While Geale-Barker will air live on HBO along with the junior featherweight title bout between Jonathan Romero and Kiko Martinez, Dulorme-Figueroa will be taped and air on HBO Latino immediately following the conclusion of Geale-Barker, at approximately 12:30 a.m. ET.

"I'm just excited to get back into the ring,” Dulorme said. “Staying busy keeps me focused and motivated. My head is never clearer than when I am preparing for a fight. It takes a toll on most fighters, but I'm centered and very relaxed. I owe the fight game a lot, and I am doing this for my fans, the people who believe in me. I want to show my supporters that their belief in me is based on actual ability, and when I am on top, I will share that moment with those who stuck by me, especially my promoters Gary Shaw, Javier Bustillo and Lou DiBella.”

Even with the setback against Abregu, Dulorme said he believes he can still win a world title.

“If you're not in the sport to become champion, then what's the point? I have every intention on winning a title one day, and I know that it is a real goal, one that I have control of accomplishing,” he said. “I have a strong support group and plenty of people in my corner that believe in me, but from this point on, I must make believers out of everyone else. Come fight night, I will make believers out of anyone who may still have doubts.”

Shaw said he believes Dulorme can regain the form that made him such a dynamic prospect.

“Thomas is a young fighter and young guys are always finding themselves, but he is special because he is so far ahead of his age group,” Shaw said. “The maturity level he displayed after his setback was tremendously inspiring. He will challenge for a world title, and he has the potential to be one of the best fighters in the division period.”

Perez hoping to shock Gamboa

May, 14, 2013
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Yourkis GamboaChris Farina/Top RankYuriorkis Gamboa stands in the way of Darley Perez's upset hopes in their June 8 lightweight bout.
As an amateur fighter, Darley Perez was a 2008 Olympian for his native Colombia. As a professional, he is undefeated but a bit too old to still be called a prospect and not proven enough yet to be called a contender.

But now that Perez (28-0, 19 KOs) is taking on fellow unbeaten (but far more experienced) Yuriorkis Gamboa (22-0, 16 KOs) on June 8 (HBO) at the Bell Centre in Montreal on the undercard of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson's defense against Adonis Stevenson, we ought to get some answers about just how good Perez can be as a pro.

Gamboa, after all, was a Cuban Olympic gold medalist in 2004 and has won two pro world titles at featherweight and an interim title at junior lightweight. Now Gamboa is moving up in weight again, this time to lightweight, where he will face Perez.

"I wouldn't dare take Gamboa lightly," said Perez, 29, who has fought primarily in the United States since 2010. "I'll train hard for a tough fight and he'd be well-advised to do the same because I'm a top fighter. I will prove to everyone that I am a world-class fighter and the rest of the world will figure out what I already know after June 8th."

Gary Shaw, who co-promotes Perez with Thompson Boxing, said they have been patient trying to get Perez this kind of high-profile fight and are confident he will make the most of it.

"You have to understand that we've been waiting on an opportunity like this for Perez to make his mark," Shaw said. "Some may feel like it is Darley's chance to pull off the shocking upset, but I see it as more of a coming-out party. We've had him caged in waiting for the chance to unleash the beast and we could've pulled the trigger a couple fights back and then the world would be aware of his chances in this fight. But because we knew that an opportunity like this was only a matter of time we waited and now he will show he's been a top contender all along."

Gamboa, 31, who is promoted by rap star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, will be fighting for only the second time since his dominant eighth-round technical decision against Daniel Ponce De Leon in Sept. 2011. In his last fight, Gamboa looked a bit shaky in a decision win against Michael Farenas in December to claim an interim belt at 130 pounds on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV undercard.

Gamboa sees the fight with Perez as a steppingstone to winning another world title, this one at lightweight.

"I keep looking to prove my worth and will now do so in trying to win a fourth world title in a third weight class, the lightweight division," Gamboa said. "I like challenging myself [and] June 8th I plan on showing my best yet again."

Quillin after unification fight

May, 9, 2013
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Middleweight titlist “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin has looked quite impressive in his recent fights.

In his last three bouts combined, decisions against Winky Wright and Hassan N’Dam (to win a belt) and a seventh-round knockout of Fernando Guerrero on April 27, Quillin (29-0, 21 KOs) has scored 11 knockdowns. He dropped Wright once, N’Dam six times and Guerrero four times.

Now Quillin wants to unify the titles, even though it won’t be easy for those fights to be made.

"I want to fight one of the other champions,” Quillin said. “Sergio Martinez would be my first choice, but he's injured and out for the rest of the year. [Daniel] Geale is the IBF champion, and that, right now, looks like the easiest unification fight to make.”

Gennady Golovkin, who defends against Matthew Macklin on June 29, also holds a belt. But the reason that unification fight is unlikely is simple: Quillin is with Golden Boy Promotions, which has all its notable fights on Showtime at the moment. Martinez and Golovkin are HBO fighters, which makes either of those bouts nearly impossible to make. Geale, who is with promoter Gary Shaw, has no network allegiance in the United States. However, Shaw is close to HBO, and Showtime is doing business with Golden Boy only these days.

Still, Quillin wants people to know that he is ready, willing and able to unify 160-pound belts.

“We'll fight anybody in a unification or major fight,” said John Seip, who co-manages Quillin with Jim McDevitt. “Peter was awesome in his last fight. He really hurts his opponents with both hands. He connected on 50 percent of his power punches against Guerrero, and that's an astronomical number. Nobody in this division can handle him. It's a numbers game now. The promoters and networks have to put egos aside and give fans what they want with Peter in a major fight.

“You don't make big money winning the world title belt; you do retaining it, and now it's time for Peter to reap the fruit of his labor. The biggest market in boxing is in America, and a unification fight belongs here. Martinez is out with injuries, [Julio Cesar] Chavez [Jr.] won't fight us, Golovkin has a fight at the end of June, but Geale interests us.”

Jennings, Kovalev on June 14 card

April, 24, 2013
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Heavyweight Bryant Jennings, one of the fresh faces in the division, will return to action June 14 to face Russia’s Andrey Fedosov.

Jennings-Fedosov will headline a “Fight Night” tripleheader (NBC Sports Network, 9 p.m. ET) at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pa.

Jennings (16-0, 8 KOs), 28, of Philadelphia, broke out in 2012 by winning five fights, four of which were nationally televised on “Fight Night.” After such a busy year -- in which he went from unknown to being mentioned as a possible opponent for heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko -- the pace is slowing this year. The fight with Fedosov will be Jennings’ first of 2013.

He was supposed to face Franklin Lawrence (19-2-2, 14 KOs) and Lawrence’s promoter, Gary Shaw, had signed a contract for the fight, but Lawrence did not sign his paperwork after agreeing to the fight and would not even take a phone call from his manager or promoter to discuss it.

So now Fedosov (24-2, 19 KOs), 27, who is from Russia but based in Los Angeles, got the fight.

Also on the card, light heavyweight contender Sergey Kovalev (20-0-1, 18 KOs), 30, of Russia, who is coming off an impressive knockout of former titlist Gabriel Campillo, meets Cornelius White (21-1, 16 KOs), 31, of Houston, in a light heavyweight title eliminator that will make the winner the next mandatory challenger (after current mandatory Karo Murat) for titlist Bernard Hopkins.

In the opener, Bethlehem's Ronald Cruz (17-1, 12 KOs), 26, faces Jaime Herrera (10-2, 5 KOs), 24, of Franklin Park, Ill. Cruz will be looking to bounce back from his first loss, a decision to Antwone Smith in September.

Future is bright for Geale

January, 30, 2013
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Daniel Geale/Anthony MundineMatt King/Getty ImagesDaniel Geale made a good case for himself on Wednesday as one of the best middleweights in the division.

I woke up early on Wednesday, came down to my office before dawn and watched a nice Internet stream as Daniel Geale toyed with Anthony Mundine to retain his middleweight title in Sydney, Australia.

Geale, who I consider the best middleweight in the world not named Sergio Martinez, outclassed Mundine in a battle of Australians as Geale gained revenge for his only loss, a 12-round split decision against Mundine in 2009. Since then, Geale’s star has risen while the overrated Mundine’s has sunk.

The rematch was an entertaining fight, but it was all Geale, who didn’t look like he had even been in a fight afterward. The scores were all for Geale, 117-111, 117-111 and 116-112. As far as I am concerned it wasn’t even that close. I had it 119-109 for Geale.

Geale, 31, worked him over with combinations, landed a lot of solid right hands and forced him backward for much of the fight. The slower, stiffer Mundine (44-5, 26 KOs), 37, did not look like he had much on the few punches that landed either.

Mundine is obviously living in a fantasy world, because after the fight, he tweeted, “Hate seriously blind people! I dictated (the fight), caught him with more shots and power shots! Told you this would happen if didn’t KO him.”

Caught him with more shots? Ummm, OK. Whatever. Mundine has always been a sore loser, so it’s no surprise that he is as delusional as ever.

But forget Mundine’s nonsense. This is about Geale (29-1, 15 KOs), a fine fighter who romped to victory in an encore to his upset split decision win against Felix Sturm (in Germany) in September to unify middleweight belts, even though he was forced to vacate one of the titles in order to take this big-money rematch with Mundine instead of facing Gennady Golovkin in a mandatory defense.

I’d love to see Geale-Golovkin as much as anyone, but I can’t blame Geale for going home for a big fight for big money instead of facing the very dangerous Golovkin for less money.

Geale-Golovkin could become a big fight. Geale is ready to come to America and Golovkin is gaining steam here after two knockout wins in his last two fights, both on HBO and in the United States. HBO wants to sign Golovkin to a contract.

After the fight, Geale, who is with American promoter Gary Shaw, said he wants to come to America to fight and Shaw has also said he wants to bring him here. Geale should be welcome here with open arms. He has an aggressive fan friendly style and he’s very well spoken. I met him and interviewed him in September in Las Vegas and he made a great impression. Fans in the United States will love him.

Since I don’t happen to think a Golovkin fight will be made right away, and Geale still wants to fight in the U.S., the perfect fight would be against contender Matthew Macklin, the Irishman from England, who lives in New York. Macklin is also an exciting fighter and has nothing lined up at the moment.

Macklin, who is with promoter Lou DiBella (who is partners with Shaw on some fighters and could make a deal with him in probably about 15 minutes) gave Martinez, the real middleweight champion, a run for his money in a very spirited fight in last March. Macklin dropped Martinez in the seventh round before being stopped in the 11th round.

In the fight before that, Macklin challenged then-titleholder Sturm for his belt and lost a split decision that was one of the worst of 2011. Many, myself included, thought Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) beat Sturm easily but was robbed in a hometown decision.

Geale-Macklin is a can’t-miss fight that would make a lot of sense for HBO – which is heavily invested at middleweight and super middleweight because of its ties to Martinez, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Golovkin and Andre Ward.

Macklin told me after Geale’s victory that it’s a fight he wants. He also tweeted about it: “I beat Sturm, didn't get the decision, he did get decision. Let’s get it on! Fight makes sense to everyone. The only reason it doesn't happen is if Geale doesn't fancy it.”

Give Geale a little time to enjoy his victory and Shaw, DiBella and HBO a chance to talk and I think it might happen.

Contracts signed for Peterson-Holt

January, 10, 2013
1/10/13
5:53
PM ET
Lamont Peterson and Amir KhanAl Bello/Getty ImagesLamont Peterson returns to the ring for the first time since his split decision win against Amir Khan.

The deal between junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson and mandatory challenger Kendall Holt, which was agreed to last Friday, is now finalized with the contracts signed and submitted to the IBF, which is sanctioning the bout.

The fight is Feb. 22 on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” and will take place at the Washington, D.C., Armory in Peterson's hometown.

Gary Shaw, Holt’s promoter, won the purse bid for the fight last month. The IBF requires contracts to be filed within a couple of weeks of the purse bid, but it gave Peterson manager/trainer and father figure Barry Hunter a few extra days to return the paperwork because of the recent death of his mother. Former titlist Holt (28-5, 16 KOs) already had filed his contract and Peterson’s was returned on Wednesday, according to Shaw.

The fight will be Peterson’s first since December 2011, when he won a controversial split decision against Amir Khan. Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs) later tested positive for a banned substance -- synthetic testosterone -- which forced the rematch in May to be canceled. He has not fought since.

Peterson looked in tremendous shape when I saw him train this week in Washington, although I got there just after he had sparred with Raymond Serrano (18-1, 8 KOs), who is getting ready for his fight with Emmanuel Taylor on Jan. 25 on Showtime’s “ShoBox.” Hunter said he has been training regularly since he began training for the aborted Khan rematch.

Hunter also told me that lightweight Anthony Peterson (31-1, 20 KOs), Lamont’s brother, would be on the Feb. 22 card. Anthony hasn’t fought since appearing on the Peterson-Khan undercard. Hunter said he had some nagging injuries that kept him sidelined.

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