Dan Rafael: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Chavez Jr. fading away

August, 25, 2014
Aug 25
Bryan Vera, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.Soobum Im/USA TODAY SportsJulio Cesar Chavez Jr., left, hasn't fought since his decision win against Bryan Vera in March.

Super middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who has fought just once this year, a decision win against Bryan Vera in their March rematch, just doesn’t seem in the mood to get into the ring. That is certainly Chavez’s prerogative, but he’s leaving a lot on the table in his snit with promoter Top Rank and apparent disinterest in boxing.

The negotiations for a January fight with titleholder Carl Froch are going nowhere and very well could be dead as Froch is instead looking at a mandatory defense against British countryman James DeGale because Chavez seems so reluctant to make a deal.

And now Chavez (48-1-1, 32 KOs), who fought just once in 2013 and will fight only once this year, is also passing up the opportunity to win a super middleweight title against Anthony Dirrell (27-0-1, 22 KOs), who claimed the belt on Aug. 16 as he outpointed Sakio Bika in a rematch of their draw. Chavez is Dirrell’s mandatory challenger and not inclined to take that undeserved title opportunity either.

The WBC announced on its website on Monday that Chavez has notified the organization that he will not exercise his mandatory status against Dirrell. The WBC, therefore, said it has approved Dirrell to make a voluntary defense of his title in his next fight while the organization figures out the mandatory challenger.

Keep in mind that Chavez now has not only rejected two different super middleweight title opportunities but also declined to face middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin in a fight that was being put together for July at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

Golovkin had agreed to all terms and would have moved up in weight, but Chavez could not work out his end of the deal with Top Rank, which had already come to an agreement with Golovkin promoter K2 Promotions as well as HBO PPV.

So since Chavez trained all of about a week for his shot against then-middleweight champion Sergio Martinez in September 2012 -- and then failed a postfight drug test and served a nine-month suspension -- he has fought all of twice, both times against Vera, including the first fight which he failed to make weight for and deserved to lose.

Golovkin-Rubio up next?

August, 15, 2014
Aug 15
A few notes from around the boxing world:

• The leading candidate to land an Oct. 18 HBO fight against middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin is interim titlist Marco Antonio Rubio of Mexico, who would have to vacate the interim belt he holds from a competing organization. Rubio has said he signed for the fight, but Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions told ESPN.com that the Golovkin side has not even sent them any paperwork yet, although they have been negotiating. More likely, Rubio signed an agreement with his own promoter, Oswaldo Kuckle. Golovkin’s next fight is ticketed for the Los Angeles area.

“Rubio is a strong option for Gennady to fight,” Loeffler said.

Another possible opponent is Bryan Vera, who fought Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. twice at middleweight, as long as Vera comes through his Big Knockout Boxing fight against Gabriel Rosado on Saturday night.

• The junior middleweight non-title fight between former titlist Canelo Alvarez and reigning titleholder Erislandy Lara on July 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas generated about 300,000 buys on Showtime PPV, according to industry sources. Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions have declined to release the total, but at 300,000 buys -- perhaps slightly more -- the fight grossed around $17 million in U.S. television revenue (although roughly half of that figure goes to the cable and satellite providers). Alvarez won a split decision.

• Former unified lightweight titlist Juan Diaz (39-4, 19 KOs), who headlines a “Solo Boxeo” card on Sept. 6 (UniMas) at the Laredo Energy Center in Laredo, Texas, will face Carlos Cardenas (21-8-1, 14 KOs) of Venezuela, Top Rank announced. The fight will be Diaz’s fifth since ending a three-year retirement in April 2013. Welterweight Brad Solomon (22-0, 8 KOs) is also on the card in a 10-rounder against former title challenger Freddy Hernandez (30-7, 20 KOs).

• Light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara (25-3, 15 KOs), who is from Poland and based in Chicago, has signed with adviser Al Haymon. Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules, who promotes Fonfara, told ESPN.com that the Polish fighter signed on Thursday. Fonfara, due back on a Nov. 1 card in Chicago, is coming off a decision loss challenging world champion Adonis Stevenson -- who is also with Haymon -- on May 24. Fonfara survived two knockdowns in the first half of the fight to mount a huge rally and drop Stevenson in the ninth round of a brutal fight that almost resulted in an upset.

Marquez-Alvarado a ratings hit

May, 20, 2014
May 20

A few notes from the boxing word:

• Welterweight star Juan Manuel Marquez’s brilliant performance in a unanimous decision against Mike Alvarado on Saturday night at The Forum in Inglewood, California, was a hit with HBO viewers. According to Nielsen Media Research, the fight drew an average audience of 1.198 million viewers, good for the second-most-watched cable fight of the year so far, behind only another HBO fight, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s rematch with Bryan Vera, which drew 1.39 million viewers. Marquez-Alvarado peaked at 1.322 million viewers for what was Marquez’s first live HBO fight since he knocked out Michael Katsidis in a lightweight world title fight in 2010.

Even Saturday’s co-feature, a junior welterweight eliminator between the unknown Viktor Postol and Selcuk Aydin, which Postol won by devastating 11th-round knockout, drew strong viewership. It had an average audience of 1.002 million, making it the fifth-most-watched bout on cable in 2014. The fight peaked with 1.137 million viewers. The top six audiences for cable fights in 2014 have all been on HBO.

• Philadelphia lightweight contender Hank Lundy (24-3-1, 11 KOs) will stay busy on May 31 when he faces journeyman Pipino Cuevas Jr. (17-11, 15 KOs), son of the former welterweight champion, in a scheduled 10-rounder at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Lundy is closing in on a world title opportunity, especially after his impressive lopsided decision win against Angelo Santana on Feb. 21.

"The whole idea is to stay busy and stay sharp," Lundy said. "That way, when I get the call to fight for a world title, I'll be ready to fight right then and there."

• Junior middleweight Jorge Cota of Mexico has signed a co-promotional deal with Sampson Lewkowicz and Mexico’s Kochul Promotions, Lewkowicz announced. Cota (22-1, 21 KOs), 26, trains in the same stable as former titleholders Fernando Montiel, Hugo Cazares and Jorge Arce.

"I am very excited to be given this opportunity," Cota said. "Sampson is the promoter who can bring me the international fights that showcase my talent and punching power. I will make him and my original promoters, Kochul, very proud with my training and performances."

Cota has won six fights in a row since his lone defeat in June 2012, a seventh-round knockout to Marco Antonio Rubio, who later won an interim world title.

• Cruiserweight contender Thabiso "The Rock" Mchunu (16-1, 11 KOs), of South Africa, whose last two bouts have been in the United States, will have his next fight at home on June 6, a 10-rounder in Pretoria against Julio Cesar Dos Santos (26-2, 23 KOs), of Brazil. Mchunu, 26, had a breakout performance in August when he stunningly -- and easily -- outpointed former heavyweight contender Eddie Chambers, after which Mchunu signed with Main Events to handle his fights in the United States while co-promoter Showpony Promotions puts on his bouts in South Africa.

“I am going to traumatize my Brazilian opponent, Julio Cesar Dos Santos, from beginning to end,” Mchunu said. “He'll take up soccer when I'm finished with him."

Martinez: Injuries have healed

May, 14, 2014
May 14

Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez has not fought since his Argentina homecoming fight 13 months ago, a tight decision victory against Martin Murray. The reason: injuries.

For the second consecutive fight, Martinez injured his right knee, broke his left hand and suffered a cut over his eye. Those were the same wounds he suffered in his previous fight, a lopsided decision against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in September 2012.

Now the 39-year-old Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), who had surgery on his right knee after both fights, is set to return to action after the long layoff and will defend his title for the seventh time. Martinez will face Miguel Cotto, who is seeking to become the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a world title in four weight classes when the two fighters meet June 7 (HBO PPV) at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Of course, much of the prefight discussion has centered on the health of Martinez’s right knee.

“Maravilla” had a media day Tuesday at his training camp in Miami and, to no surprise, proclaimed himself healthy and fit to fight.

“This training camp has been tremendously efficient. Everything has exceeded all of my expectations,” Martinez said through a translator. “The Miami weather and atmosphere has made this [my] most memorable camp in recent history. I couldn’t be happier with the way things have gone thus far.

“I feel great. The time off has allowed my injuries to properly and fully heal, and my entire body has never felt better.”

Martinez is so enthusiastic about his conditioning that he believes he will win the fight and send the 33-year-old Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs) into retirement.

“I know that Cotto is working very hard for this fight with [trainer] Freddie Roach, but there is no doubt in my mind that this will definitely be his farewell fight to what was a great career,” Martinez said.
The likely demise of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Gennady Golovkin fight comes down to what Chavez manager Billy Keane said was Top Rank's "far beneath market value" offer to Chavez.

Middleweight titlist Golovkin was supposed to move up to super middleweight and face Chavez on July 19 in an HBO PPV main event at the Forum in Inglewood, California, but earlier this week Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com the fight was likely off because he was unable to come to terms with Chavez. Golovkin signed for the fight weeks ago.

[+] EnlargeJulio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Chris Farina/Top RankJulio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s deal to fight Gennady Golovkin fell apart due to financial disagreements with promoter Top Rank.
Keane told ESPN.com Wednesday night that the reason Chavez-Golovkin "is thus far not happening is that we were offered a deal for the July fight that we felt was far beneath market value. Chavez immediately accepted the fight terms because this is the fight that he wants and this is the fight the fans want. But what Julio didn't accept was the extensions that Top Rank wanted in the contract."

At first, Top Rank offered Chavez a deal for the fight that was contingent upon an agreement to extend his promotional agreement with the company. Arum said Chavez's deal runs through October 2015. Keane would not confirm or deny the length of the agreement.

Chavez (48-1-1, 32 KOs), however, did not want to sign an extension and, eventually, Top Rank also put an offer for the Golovkin fight on the table that did not include an extension, but was for far less guaranteed money than if the company got an extension.

Keane said Top Rank was asking for a two-fight extension beyond the fight with Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs), which Chavez did not want to sign.

"We agreed on the purse [offered in the deal with the extension], the venue, the weight, the opponent. We agreed on everything except the two-fight extension," Keane said. "Top Rank was not willing to honor that deal without the extension. Subsequently, they offered a stand-alone fight without the extension but the basic terms included a guarantee for what Julio made for [the first Bryan Vera fight], the same guarantee that Golovkin was getting and less than one-third of the original offer with the extensions, which is obviously far below what is fair for pay-per-view fights of this stature."

According to the California State Athletic Commission, Chavez's official purse for the first fight with Vera in September was $2.5 million (six figures of which was forfeited when Chavez failed to make weight).

Earlier in the week, Arum told ESPN.com of the talks with Chavez, "But what Chavez wants is the bigger purse without the futures. Why would we take a risk losing money on the fight with Golovkin and then we lose the kid as well? If we can make money and then he wants to go on his way, OK. But he can't have it both ways."

As it related to the Chavez offer for Golovkin, Keane added that "the so-called upside on the pay-per-view did not even kick in until Top Rank made multiple millions of dollars, more than Chavez and likely more than both fighters combined. This is why the fight is no longer happening. It's completely disturbing and completely unfair how these negotiations were."

Keane also said that for Chavez's recent fights, Top Rank has tried to get Chavez to sign contract extensions, but that the fighter does not want any extension to be part of a fight negotiation.

Weight penalty for Chavez-GGG

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
Cesar Chavez JrAP Photo/Eric GayJulio Cesar Chavez Jr. would face a $1M fine if overweight for a potential fight with Gennady Golovkin.
Although the proposed Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Gennady Golovkin summer showdown is not yet finalized, the camps are getting there and have agreed on a massive fine if either man is overweight.

The fight, ticketed for the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on July 19 rather than original date of July 12, will be contracted at 168 pounds, which should be no issue for the always-in-shape Golovkin, a middleweight titleholder, who would be moving up for the fight anyway.

Chavez, however, has had his issues, such as blowing weight for the first fight he had with Bryan Vera last fall, which cost him $250,000. There was another penalty built into the contract had Chavez missed weight for the rematch they had on March 1, but Chavez made weight -- even came in a half-pound under.

But Golovkin's team is taking no chances, getting Chavez to agree to a $1 million penalty if he is overweight, Chavez promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com on Friday. The same penalty would apply to Golovkin, Arum said.

Arum said that K2 Promotions' Tom Loeffler, Golovkin's promoter, asked for the million-dollar penalty.

"We had no objection," Arum said. "It goes for both guys. We know there has been a history with Chavez. But he has no problem making 168 now. He made it with ease for the Vera rematch. He wasn't dehydrated on the scale.

"He wanted to prove to everybody that when he does the weight right, he can get down to 168 without any problem. So Tom asked for the $1 million penalty and I said I would check with the Chavez people and they readily agreed."

Loeffler said they asked for the penalty because Chavez is already much bigger than Golovkin.

"We feel $1 million is significant enough that it will make Julio come on weight," Loeffler told ESPN.com. "GGG is a small middleweight and makes 160 very easily, so we don't expect any issues with GGG making weight and he has never been overweight in his entire career.

"We have always said GGG would fight from 154 to 168 if there is a compelling fight at either weight. It doesn't get more compelling than a fight with Julio Jr. The demographics are a perfect fit where GGG has his hardcore fan base with high HBO ratings and Julio is a proven PPV star. It would be GGG's first PPV fight and a great matchup in styles where both fighters are going to come forward [and] 168 makes this a much more compelling fight because everyone knows Julio will be much bigger than GGG on fight night."

Arum admitted that such a large penalty would probably generate some publicity for the fight but that was not the reason for doing it.

"In the real world this assures me the weight's not going to be problem," Arum said. "With Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley, I wouldn't give it a second thought [about negotiating a weight penalty] because there is never a problem with the weight. With Chavez we had that terrible experience."

Arum said the reason for the date switch from July 12 to July 19 was because of TV Azteca, his Mexican broadcast partner.

"I got pushback on July 12 by TV Azteca because that is the date of the [soccer] World Cup consolation game," Arum said. "For me, that doesn't mean s---, but for others it means a lot. TV Azteca bought the whole World Cup and that's when the consolation game is, so it's a big deal for them. But everybody ended up loving the 19th anyway, so it was no problem to move. I talked to the Forum people and they were holding the 12th and we got them to switch to the 19th."

By moving the card to July 19, it means Top Rank will have two notable cards on the same day. Arum is also doing another card that date in Macau, China, which will feature Chinese flyweight star Zou Shiming in his first 10-round bout along with other fights Arum says he is working on.

He said junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux could make his next defense on that card -- the last on his contract with Top Rank -- and that Brian Viloria could challenge for a flyweight title on the card.

Arum says the plan is for HBO to televise the card from Macau on "HBO2 or maybe HBO in the afternoon and use it to help drive the pay-per-view for that evening."

Arum and Loeffler both pointed out that the Chavez-Golovkin fight is not yet finalized, although both sides are confident it will get done.

"We're working on getting it completed," Arum said. "Nothing with Chavez is easy, but we're getting there."

Said Loeffler: "It is a fight that both fighters want. It is not finalized yet, but if both fighters want the fight, usually the final details can be sorted out. We are looking forward to the fight happening and from the reaction we have gotten so far believe it would one of the biggest fights if the year -- if the final details can be worked out."

If Golovkin beats Chavez, Loeffler said he would not stay at super middleweight.

"If GGG beats Julio at 168, he would not stay at that weight and come back to 160 to continue his quest to prove he is the best middleweight in the world today," he said.

Chavez-GGG getting closer

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
Gennady GolovkinAl Bello/Getty ImagesGennady Golovkin's toughest test to date could come in the form of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at 168.
Promoters Top Rank and K2 Promotions are getting closer to making what could be one of the best fights of the year: a super middleweight showdown between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin, who would move up to 168 pounds for the 12-round bout.

The fight, which would be on HBO PPV, is being negotiated for July 12 and would take place at the newly renovated Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

"The July fight with Chavez looks good," K2 promotions managing director Tom Loeffler, Golovkin's promoter, told ESPN.com. "It's not finalized [but we are] just working out some final details with Top Rank."

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is also bullish on getting a deal done.

"Tom and I are not far apart," Arum said. "We're getting close on the Golovkin side and I presented everything to the Chavez side and they are getting back to me next week. I think it's coming together."

Arum said his meeting with Chavez manager Billy Keane last Saturday in Los Angeles went well.

"They definitely like the Golovkin fight. They listened to the numbers I laid out and they were very receptive to what I had to say," Arum said. "But you have to finalize everything. But they like the idea of fighting Golovkin. This is a fight that is a win-win for everybody. I have confidence we will get it done because it makes all the sense in the world. But, of course, it's boxing and [sense] doesn't always carry the day."

Arum, however, is confident enough that he said that he already spoke to officials at the Forum and was able to have a concert scheduled for July 12 moved to July 13 to accommodate the anticipated fight, which would be the second boxing event at the arena since its renovation. Top Rank is putting on the first fight on May 17 when Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado face off in a welterweight bout.

Golovkin had been scheduled for a middleweight title defense against Andy Lee on April 26 in an HBO main event at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. However, Golovkin's father recently died and he withdrew from the fight to be with his family in Kazakhstan as well as to observe a ritual 40-day mourning period.

Loeffler said that although the April fight is off and Golovkin is with his family, he is working to get his next fight with Chavez finalized.

"He is still with his family," Loeffler said, adding that if it works in Golovkin's schedule he wants to bring him to Las Vegas for the April 12 rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr.

It would stand to reason that if Golovkin can get to Las Vegas it would be an ideal time to hold a news conference to announce the fight with Chavez.

"It's a tremendous fight," Arum said. "It's the kind of fight that I believe can be right up there [in terms of pay-per-view sales] with Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez [on June 7]. Maybe a little less, but up there."

Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs), 31, made his 10th middleweight title defense on Feb. 1 in Monte Carlo, pummeling Osumanu Adama en route to a seventh-round knockout -- his 16th stoppage victory in a row.

Chavez (48-1-1, 32 KOs), 28, of Mexico, bounced back from a poor performance in a highly controversial decision win against Bryan Vera in September -- for which Chavez also badly missed making weight -- to clearly outpoint Vera in the rematch on March 1. Chavez came in a half-pound under the 168-pound limit and looked strong and motivated.

"Without that performance from Chavez this deal with Golovkin wouldn't work. We wouldn't be able to make the fight and have it be credible," Arum said.

Now it is and it's going to be a helluva lot of fun if they finish the deal.

Arum's Russia trip on hold

March, 5, 2014
Mar 5
Had things gone to plan, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum would now be in Moscow working on a deal to bring regular fight cards there featuring the various Russian boxers he promotes.

Arum had intended to fly from San Antonio (where he promoted Saturday night’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Bryan Vera rematch) to New York on Sunday and then head to Moscow on Monday with Top Rank’s Brad Jacobs.

However, the political turmoil between Russia and Ukraine and the tension between Russia and the United States, caused a change of plans, with Arum not making the trip.

“We were expecting to go and then with what happened we thought it would be inappropriate to go,” Arum told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “I let everyone in Russia that we were supposed to meet with know that we were postponing the trip and they all said that they understood and that we did the right thing. With the president calling for sanctions against Russia and everything going on with Ukraine and in Crimea, I thought it was inappropriate for an American to go over to talk about putting on fights in Moscow.”

So instead of flying to New York on Sunday, Arum got a lift back to Las Vegas in the private jet of a friend of his who had been one of his guests at the Chavez-Vera fight.

However, some of Arum’s stuff is in New York. His wife, Lovey, had already shipped a bag with some of his clothes ahead of time, which he had intended to pick up for the trip to Russia.

So his bag is at his usual New York hotel waiting for him when he arrives in New York next week for the first stop on the press tour for the June 7 middleweight championship fight between Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto.

“So when I get to New York for the press conference my suit will be there waiting for me. Lovey had already shipped my clothes there, so I’ll be reunited with my bag,” Arum said with a laugh.

He said he hopes to reschedule the trip to Russia when the political situation eases.

“Hopefully, the people will come to their right minds and get this resolved on both sides and then I will go,” he said. “I can’t wait to do events in Moscow.”

Arum has signed several Russian fighters and plans to put on cards there involving fighters such as featherweight titlist Evgeny Gradovich and light heavyweight Egor Mekhontsev, the 2012 Russian Olympic gold medalist.

Vera's left hand still swollen

March, 5, 2014
Mar 5

Although Bryan Vera lost his super middleweight rematch by unanimous decision in an action-packed fight Saturday night with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at the Alamodome, he deserves credit for fighting as hard he did with an injury that definitely hampered him.

When Vera came to ringside after the fight to speak to the media, his left hand was extremely swollen and bruised. He injured it early in the fight and was forced to abandon the left jab that had been working pretty well until that point.

Even a few days later, the hand is still swollen, and Vera continues to ice it.

“He went to see the doctor [on Tuesday], to a hand specialist,” manager David Watson told ESPN.com. “But they don’t know yet if the hand is broken. They said Bryan has to wait for the swelling to go down more until they’ll know. His hand is still swollen from his wrist all the way down to his knuckles. That’s why after the fourth round the fight began to turn because he couldn’t use his jab anymore.”

Vera saw a hand specialist in his hometown of Austin, Texas.

“It’s at least badly sprained,” Watson said. “He’s in pain but he can move it a little bit. That fight can be summed up like this -- a guy with one hand survived that kind of battle with Chavez Jr. for eight rounds. That says a whole lot about what Bryan Vera is made of.”

It was as gutsy a performance as you’ll see and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Vera back on HBO sooner than later because of the entertainment he provides. Whatever happens, Watson said, Vera would probably move down to middleweight. Remember, when the first fight with Chavez (48-1-1, 32 KOs) came up, Vera moved up in weight to take it. Vera (23-8, 14 KOs) really is a middleweight.

Vera also had an MRI on his head as a precaution, Watson said. That was the right move. He took tremendous punishment from Chavez, who landed flush right hands to the head all night.

Watson said the test results were clean.

“He’s fine,” Watson said. “The tests were fine. There were no problems at all. It was a tough fight, but he’ll be back.”

Chavez draws a healthy audience

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4

Inside the ring, former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s fights are almost always highly entertaining. And outside the ring, there’s always drama, too. That has made him one of boxing’s biggest attractions, and his television viewership figures are a testament to that.

Chavez’s lopsided but action-packed decision win against Bryan Vera in their super middleweight rematch on Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio drew another strong audience for HBO.

The fight drew 1.390 million viewers and peaked at 1.531 million viewers for the live airing, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The fight drew only slightly less than Chavez-Vera I in September, which generated an audience of 1.416 million viewers and was the second-most watched fight cable fight of 2013 (behind only the 1.555 million viewers drawn by Miguel Cotto’s third-round knockout of Delvin Rodriguez on Oct. 5).

Besides the strong performance from Chavez-Vera II, the opening fight between Orlando Salido and two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko, going for a featherweight world title in only his second pro fight, drew 1.017 million viewers -- a 30 percent increase over Salido’s previous appearance on HBO, when he lost to Mikey Garcia in January 2013.

Lomachenko lost a split decision to Salido (who was stripped of his belt for missing weight) but his quest to win a belt in his second fight drew a lot of media attention, which almost surely helped generate interest in the fight.

Chavez is likely to be back on HBO in July -- opponent to be determined. With a victory, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum intends to bring him back in the fall on HBO PPV with middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin as the central target, although super middleweight titlist Carl Froch (should he beat George Groves in their May 31 rematch) and former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal are other possibilities, according to Arum.

Martirosyan to face tough Cuello

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
Junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan’s main event on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” on March 21 will come against rugged Luciano Cuello of Argentina.

The fight, announced Tuesday, will take place at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif., and will be Martirosyan’s first appearance since parting ways with career-long promoter Top Rank and signing with Dan Goossen last month.

“Vanes said he's ready to go and we're wasting no time," Goossen said. “We're excited to give boxing fans in Southern California and those watching on [ESPN2] an opportunity to see Vanes at Morongo against a very tough and experienced fighter in Cuello. There is a lot to gain for both fighters, which always brings out the absolute best in them.”

Martirosyan (33-1-1, 21 KOs), 27, of Glendale, Calif., is coming off a very disappointing performance in November, when he looked awful in a decision loss to Demetrius Andrade for a vacant world title.

The 29-year-old Cuello (33-3, 17 KOs) figures to be a tough opponent. His only losses have been to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2009, a sixth-round knockout loss to Canelo Alvarez in 2010 and a strong performance in a close loss to Willie Nelson in June 2013 on HBO.

Cuello rebounded from the loss to Nelson with a fourth-round knockout of Juan Jose Dias in Argentina in November.

No U.S. TV for GGG's Feb. 1 fight

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
Gennady Golovkin and Curtis StevensJoe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsWith Gennady Golovkin not fighting April 26 following the death of his father, the card was canceled.
Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin was boxing’s breakout star of 2013.

The new darling of HBO’s boxing franchise drew 1.41 million viewers for his Nov. 2 destruction of Curtis Stevens. That was the third-most viewed fight on HBO -- and on all of premium cable -- for the year, trailing only HBO fights involving established stars Miguel Cotto and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and represented yet another increase in Golovkin’s viewership numbers.

But with Golovkin (28-0, 25 KOs) wanting to maintain a busy schedule -- he fought four times last year and hoped to do the same again this year -- K2 promoter Tom Loeffler made a deal for him to fight Osumanu Adama on a Feb. 1 card being put on by South African promoter Rodney Berman in Monte Carlo without HBO’s involvement. It was a similar deal to what Golovkin did last year, when one of his fights was on a Berman card at the same Monte Carlo casino against Nobuhiro Ishida. That fight was on a small American pay-per-view.

But HBO now holds exclusive North American television rights to Golovkin’s fights and initially could not accommodate him in its Feb. 1 schedule, not to mention the network was not too thrilled with Adama (22-3, 16 KOs) as the opponent, even though Adama is a noted tough guy who has never been stopped and gave then-titleholder Daniel Geale a very good fight in 2012.

HBO eventually made the right decision -- perhaps it heard the outcry from fans and media -- and changed its mind, deciding to try to work things out to televise the fight. It made sense since GGG is one of the most exciting fighters in boxing and as hot with the public as they come.

So the plan for the lower-budget fight was for HBO to televise it in the afternoon on its HBO2 channel. The network even planned to send its crew and announcers ringside to Monte Carlo. For weeks, they worked on the logistics. But on Tuesday everyone involved finally realized it was not going to work and pulled the plug.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Golovkin’s fight will not have American television coverage unless something changes drastically in the next two weeks.

“After extensive collective efforts, logistics to produce the fight from Monte Carlo could not be resolved,” HBO said in a statement given to ESPN.com. “We have tried for the past month to find a way to televise Gennady Golovkin vs. Osumanu Adama on Feb. 1 from Monte Carlo.

“Unfortunately, the venue could not accommodate our production needs. We spent weeks looking at creative ways to produce a telecast for the HBO2 service from Monte Carlo and it simply could not get resolved. We are grateful for all the assistance from Tom Loeffler and K2 in trying to get us accommodated.”

The casino seats only 900 and its small size could not handle another broadcast position inside the room and that was a huge issue, according to HBO. The casino could not even accommodate an HBO production truck in order to do the transmission of the event.

If Golovkin wins, he is due back on HBO on April 26 from the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, where he fought two of his fights last year. But if you want to watch the Feb. 1 fight you’ll unfortunately have to hunt for a stream on the Internet.

Irish bragging rights: Lee-Macklin?

December, 11, 2013
Former welterweight titleholders Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah just concluded their hyped “Battle of Brooklyn” on Saturday night with Malignaggi winning the decision and earning the “King of Brooklyn” tag. So how about we move two divisions north for a middleweight turf battle for Irish bragging rights?

Who’s up for a showdown between Ireland’s Andy Lee and Matthew Macklin, who is from England, but Irish by family heritage? Good fight, right? I sure think so and so does Lee, who tossed out a challenge to Macklin on Tuesday.

It’s been a fight that has been discussed a bit here and there, especially because Lou DiBella promotes both of them. It would be big in Ireland and would surely draw a crowd in New York, where the Irish fans are terrific and very supportive of their fighters.

“Matthew and I have both fought recently, we're both from Ireland, we're both middleweights, we're similarly rated, we're both in a similar position in our careers,” Lee said. “So let’s give the boxing public the fight they crave for and let the best man win.

“This is a massive fight in Ireland, Boston, Chicago or New York and will pack any venue. I am ready for the fight, we both have the same promoter, Lou DiBella. Therefore, the fight can easily be put together.”

If they were to fight, the winner would certainly put himself in a great position to earn another title fight.

Lee (31-2, 22 KOs), 29, has won three fights in a row since his 2012 stoppage loss in a world title fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., including a second-round blowout of Ferenc Hafner on Nov. 23.
Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs), 31, is 0-3 in world title fights, getting stopped by Sergio Martinez (in a highly competitive fight) and Gennady Golovkin but also getting ripped off against Felix Sturm in a terrible split decision.

Macklin righted his ship after the loss to Golovkin last June by winning a clear 10-round decision on HBO against Lamar Russ in an excellent performance on Saturday night on the James Kirkland-Glen Tapia undercard in Atlantic City, N.J. (I consider the horrible Guillermo Rigondeaux-Joseph Agbeko match to be the walk-out bout, and people really did walk out.)

“The fight would be a critical moment in both fighters’ careers,” Lee said. “A win for either of us would propel us to a world title fight again. Whoever wins the fight will go on and whoever loses the fight will have to either pack it in or start again. It is a fight I want. People talk about it all the time, so let’s make it happen.”

DiBella said it’s possible. But. There’s always a but, right?

“Macklin’s first choice is to fight Felix Sturm again,” DiBella said.

That’s a fight DiBella said could happen. Sturm won a title on Saturday by second-round knockout of Darren Barker, who re-injured his hip and could not continue. It’s an injury that could cause Barker to retire. If Barker doesn’t retire, he has an immediate rematch option to fight Sturm again, which would leave Macklin without the title fight. But if Barker does retire, Macklin could very well face Sturm next.

“Macklin is waiting to see what happens with Barker and Sturm,” DiBella said. “In the meantime, we’re in a holding pattern. But [Macklin-Lee] is a great fight. It could happen.”

WBC announces mandatory fights

November, 6, 2013
Floyd Mayweather Jr.Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsFloyd Mayweather has to decide soon on an opponent for his next fight.

As much as I rail against the WBC’s rule-breaking and divisional rankings, those rankings affect the mandatory fights that are made for the organization’s belt. So that makes its annual convention notable in that many of those mandatory situations are clarified.

This year’s convention is going on this week in Bangkok, where organization officials, promoters and managers gathered to argue and debate the rankings and mandatory fights that are not yet set.

Here’s a look at some of the key rulings related to mandatory fights made Wednesday:

• Heavyweight: The situation with titleholder Vitali Klitschko is up in the air. He is running for president of Ukraine in 2015 and has made no decision about his boxing career, even though his mandatory defense against Bermane Stiverne is way overdue. Klitschko addressed the crowd at its opening, but not about his boxing plans. Stiverne, however, was still traveling to Thailand on Wednesday, so the debate was put off until at least Thursday.

• Super middleweight: Titleholder Sakio Bika must make two mandatory defenses. The first is against Anthony Dirrell on Dec. 7. The winner of the fight was approved for one optional defense. Marco Antonio Periban and James DeGale were ordered to meet in a semifinal eliminator with the winner ordered to meet Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to determine the second mandatory challenger. Keep in mind that these orders are the WBC’s wishes and that often what it lays out does not wind up happening because either a fighter decides to go in another direction or, as often happens, the WBC ignores its own ruling.

• Middleweight: If champion Sergio Martinez, sidelined with a knee injury, can’t make his mandatory defense against Marco Antonio Rubio, Rubio will be ordered to face Domenico Spada for the interim belt. This will be interesting because Martinez has no interest in Rubio and instead hopes for a June pay-per-view megafight with Miguel Cotto. It seems that Martinez, who has been very loyal to the WBC, will be allowed to face Cotto upon his return from injury with Rubio settling for the interim title bout for the time being.

• Junior middleweight and welterweight: Floyd Mayweather Jr. holds the WBC title in both divisions, as well as another alphabet junior middleweight title. Holding titles in multiple weight classes is against sanctioning organization rules, but that hasn’t stopped the WBC from allowing Mayweather to get away with it for 1 years. Finally, the WBC ruled that Mayweather must decide which division title he wants to keep by Dec. 15. If Mayweather doesn’t notify the WBC, however, I won’t believe it would strip him of the title until I see it happen. He is one of the WBC’s favorite sons in that he fills the coffers with enormous sanctioning fees.

• Junior welterweight: Danny Garcia’s last fight in September was his mandatory against Lucas Matthysse, but a final eliminator to determine the next mandatory was approved between Viktor Postal and Selcuk Aydin.

• Lightweight: Adrien Broner has the title, but he also won another organization’s belt this year -- in the welterweight division -- and has been allowed to keep both since the summer, which is against the rules. Broner is never going to see 135 pounds again -- did you see how he looked on Showtime on Oct. 26? -- but his request to wait to make a decision until after his Dec. 14 welterweight defense was approved. Daniel Estrada is the mandatory challenger. What should have happened is that Broner should have been forced to pick, and if he picked the welterweight belt (which he obviously would do), interim titlist Omar Figueroa should have immediately been elevated. But that would be too easy.

• Junior featherweight: A final eliminator between Hugo Cazares and Andres Gutierrez was approved to determine Leo Santa Cruz’s mandatory.

• Bantamweight: An eliminator was approved for Stephane Jamoye to face Julio Ceja, with the winner to fight Suriyan Sor Rungvisai in a final eliminator to determine Shinsuke Yamanaka’s mandatory.

• Junior flyweight: Adrian Hernandez’s mandatory will be the winner of an eliminator between Javier Mendoza and Yodmongkil Wor Saengthep.

• Strawweight: A final eliminator was approved between Wanheng Menayothin and Osvaldo Novoa to determine Xiong Zhao Zhong’s mandatory challenger.

Golovkin showing star power

November, 6, 2013

Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin is blossoming from cult status to mainstream boxing star in front of our eyes, if his fight Saturday night was any indication.

Golovkin stormed past Curtis Stevens to retain his title for the ninth time with a stellar performance in the eighth-round knockout victory -- his 15th KO in a row -- and people clearly liked what they saw, based on the viewership figures for the HBO-televised bout from the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The broadcast attracted 1.410 million viewers (and peaked at 1.566 million), according to Nielsen Media Research. That is a 29 percent increase over Golovkin’s previous bout on June 29, also on HBO, which drew 1.097 million viewers.

The victory against Stevens ranks as the third-most watched cable fight of 2013, all three of which were HBO fights. Golovkin-Stevens trails only fights involving far more recognizable stars -- Miguel Cotto’s third-round knockout of Delvin Rodriguez on Oct. 5 had an average audience of 1.555 million viewers, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s controversial decision win against Bryan Vera on Sept. 28 drew 1.416 million viewers.

Golovkin is due to return Feb. 1 against an opponent to be determined in Monte Carlo. Even though K2 Promotions’ Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, and HBO do not have a deal for the fight at this point, it would seem that based on Golovkin’s rocketing star, the network would (and should) make an effort to show his next fight. There are few fighters in boxing today more exciting and dominating than Golovkin (28-0, 25 KOs).