Dan Rafael: Juan Manuel Lopez

V-Lom to stay on course for Walters fight

November, 20, 2014
Vasyl LomachenkoChris Farina/Top RankVasyl Lomachenko is facing Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo in Macau on Saturday

After Jamaica’s Nicholas Walters knocked out featherweight titleholder Nonito Donaire in the sixth round of an outstanding performance in October, the immediate discussion turned to a possible unification fight with Vasyl Lomachenko, the gifted former two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist many consider the best amateur in boxing history.

Both fighters are promoted by Top Rank and the fight is a natural. Top Rank’s Bob Arum wants to make the match, HBO can’t wait to put it on and both fighter camps are open to it.

But first Lomachenko (2-1, 1 KO), who won a world title in his third professional fight in June with a masterpiece against then-unbeaten Gary Russell Jr., has his own business to handle. He faces mandatory challenger Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (52-1, 33 KOs) of Thailand on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) on the Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri undercard at the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena in Macau, China.

"When I signed with Top Rank they told me I would fight on the biggest events,” Lomachenko said through a translator. “Here we are, on a big Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view card in Macau. This is really a big, exciting show. As far as my opponent goes, I did not get a chance to see much of his fights. My trainers take care of that. He has a big record and I am taking him as a serious challenger. I'm 100 percent prepared.”

Despite the disparity in records, Lomachenko is the clear favorite against Piriyapinyo, who lost his only other title bout, a decision to then-titleholder Chris John in Indonesia in November 2012. Should Lomachenko prevail, Arum said he will make the fight with Walters, but not immediately.

Thankfully, Arum is not planning a slow marinade, which he tried to do for a hot fight between featherweight titleholders Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa a few years ago, only to watch it disintegrate when Lopez got knocked out twice.

Lomachenko-Walters really is not quite ready to be made yet, but the wait won’t be long if Arum is true to his word.

“By the early summer I want to make that fight,” Arum told ESPN.com from Macau this week. “Both sides want it. That’s what they’ve communicated to me. Egis [Klimas, Lomachenko’s manager] has told me one more fight after this one and then early summer they’re ready to go. The Walters camp is saying the same thing.”

So the idea is a doubleheader in early 2015 and then, if they both win, the showdown after that.

“Maybe they’ll fight on a doubleheader and then go at each other,” Arum said. “I would be just as excited to see that fight as I would be to see Pacquiao-[Floyd] Mayweather. I can’t wait to see Walters fight Lomachenko. It’s really an interesting fight. I know the general public won’t share that enthusiasm but the boxing people and the true boxing fans will.”

Arum said he envisions the fight perhaps taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, which is near a large Ukrainian population. There is also a sizable Jamaican community in New York.

“It’s a tough fight but they both want it and so do I and so does HBO,” Arum said.

Lomachenko did not want to talk about a fight with Walters (25-0, 21 KOs) with another opponent in front of him on Saturday. That is understandable. But given that he has faced top opposition in his brief pro career -- he is so ambitious that he wanted a world title fight in his pro debut but settled for a fight [a loss] before winning one in his third -- it’s hard to imagine Lomachenko not accepting a fight with Walters.

“I trained hard for this fight. I am focused. What is next? I do not know yet,” Lomachenko said. “I am only concerned for my fight this weekend.”
The contracts are filed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission so here's the rundown of the purses for the "Honor & Glory" card on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas:

• In the main event, fought at a catchweight of 155 pounds, Canelo Alvarez will receive a $1.5 million purse but likely will make more based on pay-per-view sales and Mexican television revenue. His promotional company, Canelo Promotions, is also likely getting a nice chunk of change. Erislandy Lara will make a career-high $1 million for his first pay-per-view main event.

• In the featherweight co-feature, former titlist Abner Mares will make $400,000 for his first fight in the 11 months since he lost his title by first-round knockout and opponent Jonathan Oquendo will receive $50,000.

• Former two-division titlist Juan Manuel Lopez will make $125,000 for his junior lightweight bout with Francisco Vargas, who is getting $75,000.

• Interim junior welterweight titlist Johan Perez is making $100,000 while challenger Mauricio Herrera will receive $125,000.

• In a bantamweight title bout on the card but being televised on Showtime before the pay-per-view begins, Tomoki Kameda is making $60,000 for his title defense against Pungluang Sor Singyu, who gets $40,000.
Juan Manuel LopezGabriel Gonzalez/Hoganphotos/Golden BoyFormer two-division titlist Juan Manuel Lopez faces unbeaten Francisco Vargas on Saturday night.
If many had left Juan Manuel Lopez's career for dead after he suffered two knockout losses to Orlando Salido in featherweight world title fights during a three-fight stretch in 2011 and 2012, then pretty much everyone else kicked dirt on it when Mikey Garcia destroyed him in a fourth-round knockout in another title fight 13 months ago.

But Lopez, a southpaw with outstanding power, resurrected his career by knocking out former titleholder Daniel Ponce De Leon in the second round of their rematch at junior lightweight on March 15.

Puerto Rico's Lopez, who has won world titles at junior featherweight and featherweight, is looking to put another strong victory in the bank to push himself toward a title shot in a third weight class when he faces Francisco Vargas of Mexico in a scheduled 10-round junior lightweight bout on the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara undercard Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

"I felt very good. I felt very happy," Lopez said through a translator about the win over Ponce De Leon. "Unfortunately, you're only as good as your last fight, and I was coming off a loss to Mikey Garcia, so a lot of people didn't give me the opportunity. But I didn't listen to them. I didn't listen to any of them.

"I only listened to my team. And we knew what we had to do and, obviously, we came out with a spectacular victory. And that's what we look forward to doing this coming fight too."

Said Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya (whose brother, Joel, manages Vargas): "In his last fight, Juanma Lopez showed everybody what it means to be a warrior, what it means to be a true fighter, because he fought with his heart and he showed everybody what he's made of."

On paper, Lopez-Vargas looks like a 50-50 fight and just might be the most action-packed bout on the pay-per-view. A win would boost the winner's title prospects considerably.

It's the prospect of winning a world title in a third weight class that drives the 31-year-old Lopez (34-3, 31 KOs).

"I'm very motivated to put on a great performance, a great fight, and obviously looking forward to winning the world title again, to being a three-time champion," Lopez said. "Winning this fight will put me there, so that's where the focus is.

"My goal is to become world champion again. I'm very proud of what Miguel [Cotto] has done [by winning the middleweight title on June 7]. He gave Puerto Rico a title. And I'm looking forward to doing the same. But for me to do that I have to beat Francisco Vargas, and that's where my goal is right now, that's where my focus is, on Francisco Vargas and to beating him."

Vargas (19-0-1, 13 KOs), 29, who was a 2008 Mexican Olympian, has scored two notable victories in a row, both 10-round decisions against Jerry Belmontes in December and Abner Cotto in March.

He's also looking for a victory Saturday to propel him into a possible world title bout.

"I'm very motivated. I know he has tremendous experience and I know that he's a great fighter," Vargas said through a translator. "But that's what we're working on. We're working with the sparring partners, working very hard, because I know a victory here will get me ready for the world title, and that's what we want."

Officials set for Canelo-Lara card

June, 17, 2014
At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission appointed the officials who will work the “Honor & Glory” card headlined by the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara fight on July 12 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Robert Byrd will referee the junior middleweight main event. The judges will be Dave Moretti, Jerry Roth and Levi Martinez.

For the Abner Mares-Jonathan Oquendo featherweight co-feature, Kenny Bayless will be the referee and Adalaide Byrd, Burt Clements and Glenn Feldman will serve as judges.

Vic Drakulich will referee the Juan Manuel Lopez-Francisco Vargas junior lightweight bout, with the judging panel consisting of Tim Cheatham, Robert Hoyle and Don Trella.

Referee Tony Weeks will work interim junior welterweight titlist Johan Perez’s defense against Mauricio Herrera. The judges will be Lisa Giampa, Max DeLuca and Glenn Trowbridge.

In another bout, which is not part of the pay-per-view broadcast, Tomoki Kameda defends his bantamweight world title against Pungluang Sor Singyu. Russell Mora was appointed referee, and Dick Houck, Patricia Morse-Jarman and Cathy Leonard will judge.

Must-win for Lopez, Ponce De Leon

March, 14, 2014
Juan Manuel Lopez-Daniel Ponce de LeonJoel Colon/PR Best Boxing PromotionsJuan Manuel Lopez, left, and Daniel Ponce de Leon need a win to revamp their careers.

In June 2008, Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez got his first title opportunity against then-junior featherweight beltholder Daniel Ponce De Leon of Mexico and turned in an explosive performance.

Lopez drilled Ponce De Leon in the first round in Atlantic City, N.J., to win the title and start a run of nine consecutive victories in world title fights -- winning eight by knockout -- as he claimed world titles at 122 and 126 pounds and shot up the pound-for-pound rankings.

Lopez, 30, however, has not been the same since getting stopped twice by Orlando Salido in their two featherweight title fights in 2011 and 2012. In his last fight, in June, Lopez was crushed in four rounds by Mikey Garcia trying to win a junior lightweight belt.

Ponce De Leon also suffered other defeats since facing Lopez, losing twice by decision in 2011 to Adrien Broner and Yuriorkis Gamboa, although he also beat Jhonny Gonzalez to win a featherweight belt in 2012 before being stopped in the ninth round of his first defense by Abner Mares last May. Ponce De Leon rebounded for a decision win against Joksan Hernandez in November and now, like Lopez, faces the crossroads.

Their careers as contenders are at stake when Lopez (33-3, 30 KOs) and Ponce De Leon (45-5, 35 KOs), both southpaws, meet in a 10-round junior lightweight rematch on Saturday night (Showtime Extreme, 7 p.m. ET/PT) at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, on the undercard of the Showtime card topped by junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia’s defense against Mauricio Herrera.

"This is the biggest fight of my career," Lopez said. “We both need to win this fight. This is the last lap of my career. If I lose, that could be the end of my career, even though I don't want my career to end in defeat. I win this fight, I can go on to bigger and better things.”

Said Ponce De Leon, “It's been five years [since our last fight], and I know that Juanma is going to come in strong. He's a great fighter, but I'm coming in fully prepared for this fight."

Lopez looked particularly bad against Garcia -- so bad that career-long promoter Top Rank released him, believing if he continued to fight he would be seriously hurt.

"This is going to be a great fight. He's going to try to get a knockout, I'm going to do my job as well, and definitely the one that is better prepared will come out victorious, and that will be me. I came here to show Puerto Rico and the rest of the world that Juanma Lopez has still some game to show.

“It was not mere coincidence that I won the first fight against Ponce De Leon. I won because I'm a better fighter. On Saturday, Ponce better be ready, because I'm ready and I'm not about losing."

Ponce De Leon said he has put the debacle of the first fight well in his rearview mirror and is aiming for a different outcome this time around.

"I was too overconfident heading into the fight, and he caught me cold in the first round,” Ponce De Leon, 33, said. “But that fight is in the past. I had a different team, manager and trainer, then later on I made some changes. I was different then. I never thought in the ring. Before, I used to always jump on top of my opponents, but now I have transformed into a different fighter. For this fight, I feel good and am 100 percent ready.

"I see Lopez the same way everyone else sees him. He hasn't been the same. He has gone down and is a different fighter. I asked for the rematch a long time ago, and this is the perfect time to be fighting him. Now I look forward to going into the fight in top shape, very well prepared. I want to win this fight. I have everything stacked against me fighting him in Puerto Rico. I don't want to leave it in the hands of the judges. The knockout is important -- it's a must."

Alexander: Yes to Khan, no to Dubai

June, 25, 2013
A few notes from around the world of boxing:

• Welterweight titlist Devon Alexander was in Brooklyn, N.Y., over the weekend for the Adrien Broner-Paulie Malignaggi fight and I had a chance to talk to him at the fight hotel. He’s still sporting the soft cast on the left hand he broke in his knockout win against Lee Purdy on May 18. Alexander said he'll be in the cast for a few more weeks and is still on track for a probable Dec. 7 defense against Amir Khan. However, Alexander said he did not want to fight in Dubai, one of the places where Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer has said was a possibility venue because of the interest there in Khan.

• Newly crowned light heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson, who blasted Chad Dawson to win the title on June 8, was also Brooklyn for the fight and I had a chance to meet him for the first time at the fight hotel. He said that while he was in New York he met with HBO executives, to talk about a plan for his future fights. One possibility is a match with former titlist Tavoris Cloud, who lost his belt to Bernard Hopkins in March. Stevenson, however, said he is more interested in fighting Hopkins, although he has a mandatory due against the reinstated Karo Murat.

• Sauerland Event promoter Chris Meyer said that Murat, who was dropped from a July 13 mandatory shot against Hopkins because he could not obtain a visa to enter the United States, has worked out the paperwork issues. However, when it looked like it might take six months to clear up his problem, Hopkins promoter Golden Boy and Showtime canceled the card. With Murat’s paperwork cleared up, he is the mandatory again, but Showtime has no plans to reschedule the card given its busy -- and expensive -- slate of upcoming shows, according to what Showtime boxing chief Stephen Espinoza told me on Saturday night at the Broner-Malignaggi fight. That would leave the fighters, Golden Boy and Sauerland Event in a tough spot, because HBO has no interest in the fight, either.

• Mexico’s Sergio Thompson (27-2, 25 KOs) has been on a roll since a 2010 split-decision loss to Alisher Rahimov. Thompson has won 13 in a row and made a name for himself with an upset second-round knockout of Jorge Linares in March 2012. The streak has landed Thompson a shot at junior lightweight titlist Takashi Miura (25-2-2, 19 KOs). Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez told ESPN.com the contracts are signed for the fight, which will take place Aug. 17 (Fox Deportes) in Thompson’s hometown of Cancun, Mexico. Miura, who stopped Gamaliel Diaz in the ninth round to win the title in April, will be making his first defense.

• Although neither side is talking publicly, super middleweight champion Andre Ward and promoter Dan Goossen are headed to an arbitration hearing on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Ward, for reasons that have not been disclosed, is seeking to break his promotional contract with Goossen, who has promoted Ward for his entire career, including negotiating for him to have his world title shot against Mikkel Kessler during the Super Six in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, Calif.

• Puerto Rican featherweight contender Orlando Cruz (20-2-1, 10 KOs), who made headlines last year as the first active boxer to announce he was gay, was supposed to fight Friday night on promoter Tutico Zabala’s Telemundo-televised card. However, Zabala told ESPN.com on Monday that he pulled Cruz from the show. The reason, Zabala said, was because after Mikey Garcia was stripped of his featherweight title for not making weight for his June 15 defense against Juan Manuel Lopez, the WBO ordered Cruz to face the former titlist for the vacant belt and Zabala and Cruz didn’t want to risk the surefire title shot.

• Top Rank announced two UniMas cards: July 13 at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, Calif., headlined by junior lightweight Alejandro Perez (17-1-1, 11 KOs) against Edgar Riovalle (35-14-2, 25 KOs) with light heavyweight prospect Trevor McCumby (11-0, 9 KOs) on the undercard, and Aug. 10 at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pa., headlined by featherweight Gamalier Rodriguez (21-2-3, 15 KOs) facing Jorge Pazos (19-5-1, 13 KOs).

• Top Rank also finalized one of the undercard bouts for the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez HBO PPV undercard on Oct. 12: light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan (18-0, 11 KOs) against Anthony Caputo Smith (14-1, 10 KOs).

Martirosyan fit for June 15 bout

May, 29, 2013
Junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan's thumb is feeling better, and he's ready to fight again.

[+] EnlargeVanes Martirosyan
Landry Major/Getty ImagesVanes Martirosyan has recovered from a fractured right thumb and will appear on the undercard of the June 15 Mikey Garcia-Juan Manuel Lopez fight.
Martirosyan (32-0-1, 20 KOs), a 2004 U.S. Olympian from Glendale, Calif., suffered a fractured right thumb while training for a fight on the April 6 card in Macau, forcing him off the show. Now healed, Martirosyan has been added to the untelevised undercard of the Mikey Garcia-Juan Manuel Lopez featherweight title fight on June 15 (HBO) at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Martirosyan, who is coming off a ninth-round technical draw against Erislandy Lara in a November world title eliminator, will face Ryan Davis (24-10-3, 9 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder.

Obviously, this isn't a big fight for Martirosyan, who will ease back into action off the injury in hopes of landing a more significant fight later in the year. That's probably a good bet, especially now that he has signed with manager Cameron Dunkin, who also handles such top fighters as Garcia, Timothy Bradley Jr., Nonito Donaire and Brandon Rios.

"They contacted me and said they wanted to be with me," Dunkin said of Martirosyan and his family. "We talked a long time and got along great and said 'Let's do the deal.' He's a helluva fighter. He's only 27, strong and fast. He hits hard. He's a real talent, and I always want to work with fighters who have a lot of talent. We'll do this fight June 15 and then push him to a bigger fight."

Several fighters represented by Dunkin will be part of the June 15 show, including lightweight Terrence Crawford (20-0, 15 KOs), former Russian Olympic middleweight Matt Korobov (19-0, 11 KOs) and Quebec power-punching welterweight prospect Mikael Zewski (19-0, 15 KOs).

Crawford, of Omaha, Neb., who beat Breidis Prescott at junior welterweight as a late substitute on March 30, is moving back down to his more natural lightweight to face Mexico's Alejandro Sanabria (34-1-1, 25 KOs) in the 10-round televised co-feature. Korobov will face experienced veteran Ossie Duran (28-10-2, 11 KOs) in an eight-round fight, and Zewski will meet Damian Frias (19-7-1, 10 KOs) in an eight-rounder.

In another fight on the card, 22-year-old blue-chip prospect Oscar Valdez (4-0, 4 KOs), a two-time Mexican Olympian, will face Gil Garcia (5-4-1, 1 KO) in a six-round junior featherweight fight.

Top Rank, which is putting on the Garcia-Lopez show, also announced a card on June 29 (UniMas), which will take place at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla.

Featherweight contender Robert Marroquin (23-2, 16 KOs) of Dallas will face Nicaragua's Daniel Diaz (19-5-1, 15 KOs) in the scheduled 10-round main event. Junior welterweight Jose Ramirez (3-0, 2 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Avenal, Calif., will fight an opponent to be determined in a four-rounder.
After former featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez got knocked out by Orlando Salido in a world title fight for the second time in March 2012, it seemed like Lopez was poised to make the move to junior lightweight.

He had talked about issues making the featherweight limit of 126 pounds and after nearly a year layoff -- caused by his suspension after the Salido rematch because of the accusations that the referee stopped the fight because he had wagered on the outcome -- Lopez returned in February. His two fights (both knockout wins) since ending the layoff were both contested at 128 pounds, halfway between the featherweight and 130-pound junior lightweight limits.

But Lopez is going to fight at featherweight, at least for the time being, and is all set to challenge titleholder Mikey Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs), who won his belt from Salido in January. The fight is June 15 (HBO, 10:15 p.m. ET/PT) at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

It appears as though Lopez (33-2, 30 KOs) is taking his training seriously and that making weight won’t be an issue. At this week’s Puerto Rico commission’s 30-day weight check, Lopez scaled 138 pounds, well inside the allowable weight of 144.9.

“We are working to make the weight and to get the best condition,” Lopez said. “Our goal was to make 139 pounds [Thursday] and we made 138, it’s so good. We are one month before the fight and I’m feeling very good with the training. As we made two fights [in February and April] this year, I kept in the gym all the time. We want to be in 131 or 132 pounds next week and work with that weight for the finals weeks, but I’m so good -- eating good and in a good mood.”

Although his weight is fine, he did have a gym mishap this week. He suffered a bruise on his face after falling.

“In reaction work with the medicine ball, I slipped on the on the wet racetrack and fell,” Lopez said. “Unbelievable. That’s the first time in my career.”
Andy LeeChris Farina/Top RankAndy Lee is looking for his second straight victory after losing to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
A little of this and a little of that from the boxing world:

• Middleweight contender Andy Lee (29-2, 20 KOs), 28, of Ireland, gets back in action May 15 on promoter Lou DiBella’s Broadway Boxing card at B.B. King Blues Club in New York. Lee will be seeking his second win in a row following his seventh-round knockout loss to then-titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June. Lee will face Darryl Cunningham (28-4, 11 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout. It will be Lee’s second fight since the untimely death of longtime trainer and close friend Emanuel Steward. Lee has since moved his base from Steward’s hometown of Detroit back to the United Kingdom to train with Adam Booth.

"I'm very much looking forward to this fight,” Lee said. “Having lived in New York for two years, I know firsthand what a great fight town it is. The New York fight fans are a very knowledgeable crowd, and I intend on putting on a first-class performance for them. I want to thank my promoter Lou DiBella for giving me this chance to showcase my skills as I look to rebuild myself into title contention.”

• When featherweight titlist Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia makes his first defense against Juan Manuel Lopez on June 15 in Dallas, the HBO co-feature will feature Terence Crawford in a lightweight fight against Alejandro Sanabria (34-1-1, 25 KOs) of Mexico, according to Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti. Crawford (20-0, 15 KOs), 25, of Omaha, Neb., had his coming-out party March 30 when he filled in as a late substitute to face junior welterweight Breidis Prescott on the HBO-televised co-feature of the Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios rematch. Crawford dominated, but when he faces Sanabria, he will drop down to his more natural lightweight division, Moretti said.

• Welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s lopsided decision win against interim titlist Robert Guerrero in Saturday’s Showtime PPV main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will be replayed on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT). The telecast will open with a replay of Abner Mares' ninth-round knockout of Daniel Ponce De Leon to win a featherweight world title, the third weight class in the past three years that Mares has won a championship in.

• The hunt for an opponent for Cleveland junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs) is, at last, over. After weeks of back-and-forth between DiBella, Nelson’s promoter, and HBO, they finally settled on Argentina native Luciano Cuello (32-2, 16 KOs), who will face Nelson on June 29 in the opening bout of an HBO tripleheader at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) defends against Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) in the main event with super middleweights Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KOs) and Brandon Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs) meeting in the co-feature. Cuello’s only two losses came against well-known Mexican stars before they won their world titles -- a unanimous 10-round decision to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2009 and a sixth-round knockout against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2010.

• Junior welterweight titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8 KOs) will make his first defense, a mandatory, against former titlist Souleymane M'baye (40-4-1, 22 KOs) on July 13 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Allakhverdiev was supposed to defend his title for the first time against Prescott on March 30 on HBO on the Alvarado-Rios II undercard, but he injured his right elbow and withdrew. The fight will be on the same card as the final of the Monaco Million Dollar Super Four final between Denis Grachev (13-1-1, 8 KOs) and Edwin Rodriguez (23-0, 15 KOs), who will meet at a catchweight of 171 pounds because Grachev is a light heavyweight and Rodriguez is a super middleweight. In the March 30 semifinals in Monte Carlo, Grachev advanced with a decision win against former light heavyweight titlist Zsolt Erdei and Rodriguez outpointed Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna.

• Covina, Calif., lightweight John Molina (25-2, 20 KOs) is on the comeback trail seeking his second win in a row following his 44-second knockout loss to Antonio DeMarco in a September world title fight. Molina, who rebounded for a fourth-round knockout win against Dannie Williams in January, will face Andrey Klimov (15-0, 8 KOs) of Russia in a scheduled 10-rounder on June 7 at the Little Creek Casino and Resort in Kamilche, Wash., in the main event of ESPN2’s "Friday Night Fights,” promoter Dan Goossen announced. In the super middleweight co-feature, Farah Ennis (20-1, 12 KOs) of Philadelphia meets Anthony Hanshaw (23-2-2, 14 KOs) of High Point, N.C.

Updates: Chavez, Garcia, more

April, 25, 2013
A few fight and fighter updates:

•  Former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., whose first fight since losing his belt to Sergio Martinez and subsequent suspension for testing positive for marijuana after the fight was being planned for either June 15 or 22, will be delayed a few weeks. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com that Chavez, who is likely to fight at about 164 pounds, will instead fight July 13 (HBO). Arum said the likely opponent is Brian Vera and that the fight would be in Texas or Mexico.

•  With Chavez moving into July, Arum said featherweight titlist Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia would tentatively take the June 15 HBO date for his first defense. The two opponents under discussion remain former titlist Juan Manuel Lopez and Orlando Cruz. Prospect Terrence Crawford, who easily outpointed perennial junior welterweight contender Breidis Prescott on March 30 as a late substitute on the Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios II undercard, is being penciled in for the opening television bout. Crawford fought Prescott at junior welterweight but he is likely to go down to lightweight, where he has fought most of his career.

•  Junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, who unified titles on April 13 with a decision victory against Nonito Donaire, has nothing specific planned yet for an encore, but Arum said he would meet with HBO in the coming weeks to talk about his next bout.

•  Junior middleweight titlist Ishe Smith's first defense (and a mandatory) against Carlos Molina will take place July 19 in Las Vegas, Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules told ESPN.com. Margules, who promotes Molina, made a deal for the fight with Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe to promote the bout a few weeks ago, but now the date is locked in. Smith, the first native of Las Vegas to win a world title, will get to make his first defense in his hometown. TV arrangements are pending.

Asia next for Manny Pacquiao?

March, 30, 2013
LAS VEGAS -- Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is leaving for Macau, China on Sunday to promote his company's card there next Saturday, which is headlined by the pro debut of Chinese national hero Zou Shiming, a two-time Olympic gold medalist. But this isn't likely to be Arum's last trip to promote a fight in Asia.

Arum told ESPN.com on Friday that Manny Pacquiao -- whomever he fights next -- will probably fight next in Asia.

"He is fighting in September," Arum said. "I don't know against who and I'm not exactly sure where, but it looks like Macau or Singapore."

The April 6 card in Macau will be put on at The Venetian resort, which also has a casino in Las Vegas and Singapore. Arum said casino officials are anxious to host a Pacquiao fight and would make the call as to which Asian property it would be held at -- the one in Macau or Singapore.

"They own both properties there, so it doesn't matter," Arum said.

Pacquiao's potential opponents come as no surprise. They are the same ones Arum has been mentioning for weeks: Juan Manuel Marquez, in a potential fifth meeting against the man who drilled him in a December shocker that was the 2012 fight of the year; welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., in a rematch of the highly controversial split decision Bradley received in June; or Brandon Rios, should he defeat Mike Alvarado in their rematch on Saturday.

"It will be one of those three guys, at 147 [pounds]," Arum said. "My idea would be if [Pacquiao] fought Marquez, we do Bradley against Rios if Rios wins."

Arum added that Pacquiao's Asian fight would take place in the morning local time in order to accommodate a live prime-time HBO PPV broadcast in the United States.

Arum also touched on a couple of other topics:

•  Former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is currently serving a nine-month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for a positive marijuana test stemming from his loss to champ Sergio Martinez on Sept. 15, but he will fight on either June 15 or June 22. The date is at issue because Arum and the commission disagree over precisely when Chavez is eligible to fight.

"There's a philosophical question -- when the nine months are up," Arum said. "Our argument is it's up June 15. They said originally it's up the 16th. But they might change that."

Arum spent time at Friday's Rios-Alvarado weigh-in huddled in deep conversation with Bill Brady, a member of the Nevada commission, discussing the issue.

Arum said the Chavez fight, which will be on HBO, will take place at the AT&T Center in San Antonio and be fought at a catchweight between middleweight and super middleweight, probably 164 pounds. Arum said the focus is on three potential opponents: Brian Vera, who won his fight Friday night and is from Austin, Texas, and two fighters from Great Britain, former title challengers Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin. However, Arum said that Macklin was offered the fight but didn't want to fight above 160 pounds.

• Mikey Garcia, who was also at Friday's weigh-in, won a featherweight title in January in dominant fashion against Orlando Salido. Garcia's first follow-up fight likely will be in July, Arum said. He said Top Rank president Todd duBoef was meeting with HBO executives on Saturday to talk about the particulars. Arum said the likely opponent will be former titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez, who will first fight on April 20.

"Mikey will fight maybe a catchweight fight against JuanMa Lopez," Arum said. Lopez has trouble making 126 pounds. His previous fight was at 128 pounds, as will be his April 20 bout.

Top Rank and HBO are talking about Garcia's fight headlining a tripleheader. Arum said the other fights that likely would be on the card are featherweight titlist Evgeny Gradovich's first defense -- a mandatory against Mauricio Munoz -- and a heavyweight fight involving prospect Andy Ruiz, possibly against fellow prospect Joe Hanks.

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.

Garcia-Lopez fight in the works

March, 6, 2013
Garcia-SalidoChris Farina/Top RankUnbeaten Mikey Garcia is likely headed toward a showdown with Puerto Rican star Juan Manuel Lopez.
Featherweight titlist Mikey Garcia could be headed to sunny Puerto Rico for his first defense against island star and former titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said Tuesday that he is working on that fight, which he wants to hold in San Juan, and is talking to HBO about a May date.

"It's not done yet, but that's what we're working on," Arum said. "May 11 or May 18, probably, because of the schedule. I'll tell you one thing -- one way or another that fight ain't ending in a decision."

HBO isn't planning to televise a card on May 4 in order to avoid a conflict with the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Guerrero bout on Showtime PPV and because it already has the Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch super middleweight title rematch on May 25 (and probably will also have the Jean Pascal-Lucian Bute light heavyweight bout on that date).

Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs), 25, of Oxnard, Calif., won a 126-pound belt Jan. 19 at New York's Madison Square Garden Theater via lopsided eighth-round technical decision against Orlando Salido, who was knocked down four times. The fight ended when Salido broke Garcia's nose with an accidental head butt at the end of the eighth round and Garcia was unable to continue.

Cameron Dunkin, Garcia's manager, said his fighter's nose is healed and he will be ready for whichever May date they get.

"His nose is good and he'll be ready to fight, no doubt," Dunkin said. "We're fine with that fight. We like that fight. [Lopez] is a tremendous puncher and he's a really good attraction. I think it's a good fight for Mikey and for boxing."

While it makes the most economic sense to have the fight in Puerto Rico, where Lopez (32-2, 29 KOs), 29, is a star, Dunkin said he still needs to discuss the location with Garcia, his brother and trainer Robert Garcia and their father, Eduardo Garcia.

"My job is to call them and tell them that's what [Top Rank] wants to do and let them hash it over," Dunkin said.

The two defeats of Lopez's career came by knockout in all-action title fights with Salido. Lopez lost his belt by eighth-round stoppage in 2011 and by 10th-round stoppage two fights later in March 2012.

He served a suspension for remarks he made immediately after the second fight in which he accused referee Roberto Ramirez Jr. of stopping the fight because he had wagered on the outcome.

Lopez returned Feb. 2 and stopped Aldimar Silva Santos in the ninth round at 128 pounds.

BWAA awards ballot set

December, 28, 2012
Brandon Rios and Mike AlvaradoChris Farina/Top RankMike Alvarado and Brandon Rios went toe-to-toe in an all-action fight last October.

Over the course of two meetings, one on Dec. 1 in New York on the day the Austin Trout-Miguel Cotto fight and one on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas on the day of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV, members of the Boxing Writers Association of America met to finalize the ballot for the organization’s annual awards.

Over the next week or so, members will begin to receive their ballots, which are due back by Jan. 19. The winners will be honored at the annual BWAA awards dinner (public can purchase tickets). The date and location is not set, but it likely will take place around a major fight in the spring.

Here’s a look at who is on the ballot in each category:

• Fighter of the year: Nonito Donaire, Danny Garcia, Robert Guerrero, Juan Manuel Marquez and Brian Viloria.

• Fight of the year: Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado, Roman Gonzalez-Juan Francisco Estrada, Guerrero-Andre Berto, Orlando Salido-Juan Manuel Lopez II, Viloria-Hernan Marquez and Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV.

• Trainer of the year: Nacho Beristain, Eric Brown, Robert Garcia, Ruben Guerrero, Virgil Hunter.

• Manager of the year: Luis DeCubas Jr., Cameron Dunkin, Frank Espinoza, Gary Gittelsohn, Al Haymon.

• Long and meritorious service to boxing: Bob Canobbio (CompuBox), promoter Lou DiBella, promoter Kathy Duva, referee Steve Smoger, Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler.

• Excellent in broadcast journalism: Bruce Beck (my broadcast partner at Epix), Max Kellerman (HBO), Tony Paige (WFAN radio), Bob Papa (HBO), Travis Pomposello (Epix executive producer), Dan Rafael (ESPN and Epix -- and honored to be nominated). Nominees in this category can only win once and it’s open to broadcasters, TV executives and production people.

• Good guy: Don Chargin (Hall of Fame promoter), Steve Farhood (Showtime), Norm Frauenheim (writer), Scott Ghertner (MGM and Mandalay Bay media relations), Wladimir Klitschko (heavyweight champ).

• Courage in overcoming adversity: Alfredo Angulo, Johnathon Banks, Danny Jacobs, Peter Quillin, Paul Williams.

Big card in the works to start '13

November, 14, 2012
Mickey GarciaChris Farina/Top RankMiguel Angel "Mickey" Garcia could headline the first HBO show of 2013 against Orlando Salido.

HBO and promoters Top Rank and K2 Promotions are working on a good looking potential tripleheader for Jan. 19 at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York: Orlando Salido-Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia in a featherweight title fight, Gennady Golovkin in a defense of his middleweight belt and Juan Manuel Lopez against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in an all-Puerto Rican battle.

It’s not done yet, but they’re working on it. It would kick off HBO’s 2013 boxing schedule.

The Jan. 19 HBO date and the venue belonged to K2 Promotions to put on a fight with Golovkin, who was so impressive in his HBO debut on Sept. 1, when he blitzed Grzegorz Proksa in a four-round destruction.

At the same time, HBO was working with Top Rank on a Feb. 2 card in Puerto Rico on which Salido would defend against Garcia in a fight that was originally supposed to take place last week. But it was postponed after Salido broke a finger when it was slammed in a car door. Garcia fought a replacement opponent, former titlist Jonathan Barros, and got safely through the fight by scoring a rather sensational face-first knockdown in the eighth round, after which Barros quit.

The other fight on the proposed Feb. 2 card was former featherweight and junior featherweight titlist Lopez, who was knocked out twice by Salido in very exciting fights, and Vazquez, also a former junior featherweight titlist.

However, HBO has been working with Top Rank and K2 to combine the shows and to do it in New York on Jan. 19, mainly because of the costs associated with shipping an HD truck to Puerto Rico for the telecast.
Salido-Garcia is a done deal, according to Top Rank, Salido’s management and HBO. However, the two other fights are both fluid situations.

Golovkin is going to fight on the card, but lining up a solid opponent has been tough. There was discussion of a catch weight fight against super middleweights Edwin Rodriguez or Thomas Oosthuizen. But neither will wind up happening, mainly over their financial demands. HBO also was not all that jazzed about Golovkin facing either of them and was not looking to throw more money at either opponent to get the fight done. HBO’s preference is that Golovkin defend his title at 160 pounds rather than fight a catch weight fight, so it looks like Golovkin will stay at 160 pounds and defend his title.

Among the potential opponents who have been brought up are Marco Antonio Rubio (who lost a clear decision on HBO to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a title fight in earlier this year), Fernando Guerrero (a one-time blue chip prospect and Al Haymon client) and Brian Vera (who knocked out Andy Lee a few years ago and then lost every round to him in a rematch on HBO 13 months ago). I’m told that Rubio turned down the fight and that HBO (thankfully) rejected Vera. HBO would accept Guerrero, but there might be an issue between Haymon and K2 over future contract options. So we’ll see who they come up with for Golovkin.

As for Lopez-Vazquez, it ain’t easy, even though it’s a really good fight. Top Rank has not been able to work out the money yet with the fighters and there is also a matter of weight.

Lopez is talking about moving up to junior lightweight and wants the fight at 130 pounds, according to Top Rank, while Vazquez would be willing to go to the 126-pound featherweight division for the fight. Enough money could probably convince them to work it out, but with the fight moving from Puerto Rico to New York there is less green to work with.