LAS VEGAS -- While Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is busy hyping the third Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. fight that takes place on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, he is also in the process of finalizing a June 11 HBO card at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Arum hoped to make a deal with junior lightweight Nicholas Walters, a former featherweight titlist, to face featherweight titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko in the main event, for which Lomachenko would move up in weight.
But Arum told ESPN.com on Wednesday that he was unable to come to terms with Walters and has moved on. He said the new fight close to being finalized would see Lomachenko, the two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist, still move up to junior lightweight but challenge Puerto Rico’s Roman “Rocky” Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs) for his world title in a fight that actually makes more sense for the arena because the fight is on the eve of the annual Puerto Rican Day parade in New York.
Arum said Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs) asked for $1 million to fight Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs), which was about as much as the HBO money for the fight. He said Walters came down some and that Top Rank was willing to lose some money on the fight but that Walters declined Top Rank’s final offer of $550,000 (by far a career-high purse). Walters could have made as much as $850,000 because Lomachenko, guaranteed $850,000, was willing to give Walters $300,000 from his purse if Walters beat him.
Arum said Walters was unwilling and they moved on to Martinez, who retained his title in a split draw with former titlist Orlando Salido in an action-packed rematch in September.
The June 11 co-feature, Arum said, will pit lightweight Felix Verdejo (20-0, 14 KOs), a rising Puerto Rican star and 2014 ESPN.com prospect of the year, against Mexican contender Jose Felix Jr., so long as Verdejo wins a keep-busy fight on April 16 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Arum is also working on a July 23 HBO PPV card on which junior welterweight titlist Terence Crawford will likely meet titleholder Viktor Postol in a unification fight. Arum said he is close to having the fight done. He also said that while he initially hoped to put the card on at Staples Center in Los Angeles; he has a deal now for it to take place at the MGM Grand.