Dan Rafael: Mickey Bey
A few notes from around the boxing world:
• When Rances Barthelemy relinquished his junior lightweight belt to move up in weight, that left Puerto Rico's Jose Pedraza and Billy Dib of Australia, the IBF's leading available contenders, to meet for the vacant title. However, when Dib passed on the fight to instead challenge Japan's Takashi Miura for his version of the 130-pound world title, the IBF went to its next contender and has ordered Pedraza (19-0, 12 KOs) to meet Russia's Andrey Klimov (19-1, 9 KOs), who has won three bouts in a row since doing absolutely nothing in a shutout loss to Terence Crawford in October 2013. The Pedraza and Klimov camps have until April 12 to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered.
• If the promoters for lightweight titlist Mickey Bey (21-1-1, 10 KOs), who is with Mayweather Promotions, and mandatory challenger Denis Shafikov (35-1-1, 19 KOs), who is with Top Rank, do not make a deal for the fight there will be a purse bid on March 26. According to Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti, he has been negotiating the bout with Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe. "We've had an open dialogue and we're hopeful to make a deal," Moretti told ESPN.com.
• In the lead-up to the junior middleweight bout between former unified titleholder Canelo Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs) and big puncher James Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), HBO will debut a 30-minute edition of "24/7 Alvarez/Kirkland" to preview the bout, which will take place May 9 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Liev Schreiber returns as narrator of the Emmy Award-winning series.
• Former bantamweight and featherweight titlist Hozumi Hasegawa (33-5, 15 KOs), 34, of Japan, will end a 13-month layoff by facing rising Mexican junior featherweight contender Horacio Garcia (29-0, 21 KOs), 24, of Mexico, on May 9 in Kobe, Japan. Hasegawa has not fought since being demolished by Kiko Martinez in a junior featherweight world title bout in April 2014 in Osaka, Japan. Hasegawa said for his comeback fight he wanted to be tested. "I don't like to fight an easy opponent but a strong foe that will test my current power, which will certainly motivate me to work hard," he said.
• Lightweight titleholder Mickey Bey (21-1, 10 KOs), who won a world title by decision against Miguel Vazquez in September, injured his right hand in the fight and had surgery in October. But Bey, 31, of Cleveland, told ESPN.com on Saturday that he has been cleared by his doctor to resume training. Bey is next due to face mandatory challenger Denis Shafikov (35-1-1, 19 KOs), 29, a southpaw from Russia, who stopped Rustam Nugaev in the ninth round in August to earn the title shot. The fight will go to a purse bid if Mayweather Promotions, which represents Bey, and Shafikov promoter Top Rank cannot make a deal.
• Future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins, the former middleweight and light heavyweight champion has been added to HBO’s broadcast team of the fight between light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev and former champion Jean Pascal on March 14 (9:45 p.m. ET/PT) at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Hopkins will work as an analyst alongside Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman and unofficial scorer Harold Lederman. Hopkins, of course, has faced Kovalev and Pascal. In his last fight in November, he lost a decision to Kovalev in a unification fight. Hopkins fought to a draw with Pascal in 2010 and outpointed him in their 2011 rematch. HBO’s usual expert analyst on “Word Championship Boxing” telecasts is Roy Jones Jr., but Jones serves as one of Pascal’s trainers and will be in his corner.
• The 90th annual Boxing Writers Association of America awards dinner will be held April 24 at Capitale in New York. Among the award winners, Terence Crawford will receive his fighter of the year award and Lucas Matthysse and John Molina will receive their awards for participating in the fight of the year. Tickets are available to the public ($200 per person). For more information check the BWAA website at www.bwaa.org.
• Main Events won a WBC purse bid on Friday in Dallas for the cruiserweight title elimination bout between southpaws Thabiso Mchunu (17-1, 11 KOs), of South Africa, and Ilunga "Junior" Makabu (18-1, 17 KOs) of Congo. Main Events, which promotes Mchunu, bid $140,100 to beat Makabu promoter Tiozzo Promotions, which was the only other bidder and offered $84,500. It is a 50-50 split so each fighter will earn $70,500.
Main Events said it planned to put on the fight this spring in Mchunu's native South Africa. The winner of the bout will become the mandatory challenger for world titleholder Grigory Drozd (39-1, 27 KOs) of Russia.
Mchunu, 26, has won seven fights in a row. Makabu is unbeaten since getting knocked out in the first round of his 2008 pro debut.
• The promoters for lightweight titlist Mickey Bey (Mayweather Promotions) and mandatory challenger Denis Shafikov (Top Rank) did not reach a deal by Friday's IBF-imposed deadline, meaning the fight will go to a purse bid in about 10 days. Bey (21-1-1, 10 KOs), 31, of Cleveland, won the belt by split decision in a terrible fight against Miguel Vazquez in September. Shafikov (35-1-1, 19 KOs), 29, a Russian southpaw, has won two bouts in a row since he lost his only world title fight, a decision to Vazquez last February. The IBF said Bey-Shafikov is due on or before March 13.
While Mayweather faces Marcos Maidana on May 3 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Golden Boy is putting on another card May 2 (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes) headlined by junior middleweight titlist Erislandy Lara’s first defense against former titlist Ishe Smith at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino down the street. It just adds to the week of boxing festivities.
On Tuesday, Golden Boy unveiled the undercard for Lara-Smith. It will be a televised tripleheader and includes lightweight Mickey Bey against Alan Herrera in a scheduled 10-rounder and Jesus Cuellar defending his interim featherweight belt against former junior featherweight titlist Rico Ramos.
"With the entire boxing world focusing on Las Vegas, we're giving fans another stacked card the night before [Mayweather-Maidana],” Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said. "Two championship fights and a great matchup between top prospects will get the weekend started right.”
Cleveland’s Bey (19-1-1, 10 KOs), who is promoted by Mayweather, is seeking his second win in a row since his stunning last-minute knockout loss to John Molina in July. Bey was way ahead on all three cards when he was stopped in the 10th and final round. Mexico’s Herrera (32-5, 21 KOs) has won six of his last seven bouts, although he’s coming off a six-round decision loss.
Southpaw Cuellar (23-1, 18 KOs), of Argentina, will be making his first interim defense. He outpointed Claudio Marrero on ESPN2 in August to win the vacant belt.
Ramos (23-3, 12 KOs), of Los Angeles, held a 122-pound belt in 2011 and 2012 but lost it by sixth-round knockout to Guillermo Rigondeaux in his first defense. That started a 1-3 rut, but Ramos has won two in a row.
Lightweight Mickey Bey (19-1-1, 9 KOs) has fallen ill and was forced on Tuesday to pull out of his fight against Alan Herrera (32-5, 21 KOs). They were scheduled to meet Friday night in the co-feature of Showtime’s “ShoBox: The Generation” quadrupleheader at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y.
The Floyd Mayweather-promoted card will go on with the other three televised bouts (9:30 p.m. ET/PT). In the main event, super middleweight J’Leon Love (16-0, 9 KOs) faces Vladine Biosse (15-2-2, 7 KOs) in a 10-rounder. Super middleweight Badou Jack (16-0, 9 KOs) will meet Dereck Edwards (26-3-1, 13 KOs), also scheduled for 10 rounds, and middleweight Chris Pearson (13-0, 10 KOs) faces Lanardo Tyner (31-8-2, 20 KOs) in the scheduled eight-round opener.
Meanwhile, welterweight Danny O’Connor (23-2, 7 KOs) suffered a left elbow injury in training, forcing him to pull out of a March 17 fight with Andrew Farmer (17-2, 7 KOs). The bout was supposed to headline a special St. Patrick’s edition of “Golden Boy Live” (Fox Sports 1, 8:30 p.m. ET) at the House of Blues in Boston.
Instead, middleweight Julian Williams (14-0-1, 8 KOs) will face former welterweight title challenger Freddy Hernandez (30-6, 20 KOs) in the main event.
In the main event, super middleweight J'Leon Love (15-0, 8 KOs) will face Lajuan Simon (23-4-2, 12 KOs), who fought for a middleweight world title and got starched in the first round by Gennady Golovkin in December 2011 and has not fought since.
Also on the televised quadrupleheader, lightweight Mickey Bey (18-1-1, 9 KOs) faces Carlos Cardenas (20-6-1, 13 KOs); super middleweight Badou Jack (15-0-1, 10 KOs) squares off with Rogelio Medina (31-4, 25 KOs) and middleweight Chris Pearson (9-0, 8 KO's) faces Acacio Ferreira (14-0-1, 12 KOs).
Love will be fighting for the first time since a no decision against Gabe Rosado in May, a fight Love won by split decision before the result was changed to a no decision when he tested positive for a banned diuretic he used to help him make weight for the middleweight contest. Love was fined and suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Jack is coming off a draw against Marco Antonio Periban in Las Vegas on Sept. 12, two nights before his promoter, Floyd Mayweather Jr., cruised past Canelo Alvarez.
Bey is winless in his past two fights. In February, a third-round knockout win was changed to a no decision because Bey tested positive for extremely high levels of testosterone. In his July return, Bey, way ahead on all three scorecards, got knocked out by John Molina in the final minute of the 10-round fight.
Mayweather is also promoting fights now and part of the deal was that Showtime would give his Mayweather Promotions' stable exposure, which comes in the form of television dates. That's why when "ShoBox: The New Generation" returns on Dec. 6 at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, Wash., it will be a tripleheader featuring three of Mayweather's fighters, none of whom won their last fights.
Showtime said that middleweight J'Leon Love (15-0, 8 KOs) will headline with super middleweight Badou Jack (15-0-1, 10 KOs) in the middle fight and lightweight Mickey Bey (18-1-1, 9 KOs) in the opener. There are no opponents yet for the scheduled 10-round bouts.
It's quite obvious that without Mayweather flexing his considerable muscle and pushing for his guys, this would not be a "ShoBox" card. But Showtime used the dates it gave Mayweather Promotions as a chip to sweeten the deal with Mayweather.
Love was awarded a very debatable split decision on May 4 against Gabriel Rosado on the Mayweather-Robert Guerrero undercard. However, the result was changed to a no decision because Love tested positive for a banned diuretic he used to help him make weight for the middleweight contest. Love was fined and suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and this will be his first fight since the suspension.
Jack was disappointing in a 10-round draw against Marco Antonio Periban in Las Vegas on Sept. 12, two nights before Mayweather's win against Canelo Alvarez.
Bey is winless in his last two fights. In February, a third-round knockout win was changed to a no decision because Bey tested positive for extremely high levels of testosterone.
In his return from a toothless suspension in July, Bey, leading widely on all three scorecards, got knocked out by John Molina in the final minute of the 10-round fight.
It was his demands for random blood and urine testing for himself and opponents in recent years that led many other top fighters to negotiate specific drug-testing protocols with opponents in their fight agreements.
So it was a bitter disappointment when one of the most prominent fighters under the Mayweather Promotions banner -- unbeaten lightweight Mickey Bey Jr. -- flunked a postfight drug test after his most recent bout.
In February, Bey scored an impressive third-round knockout of Robert Rodriguez in a nationally televised fight in Las Vegas. However, Bey tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone and was suspended and fined by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
But Bey, a 30-year-old from Cleveland now living in Las Vegas, got off with a slap on the wrist.
The fight result was changed to a no-decision and he was suspended for only three months and fined $1,000 of his $8,000 purse. His testosterone level was not just high, it was off the charts.
According to the Nevada commission, Bey's drug screen showed his testosterone to epitestosterone ratio (T/E) being greater than 30-to-1. Nevada allows a ratio of 6-1. Bey's ratio was the second-highest ever in Nevada history, according to commission executive director Keith Kizer.
Bey has maintained his innocence, but that is hard to believe. Frankly, he should count himself lucky. By getting only a three-month suspension, the punishment had no real teeth because he is not missing a fight or the accompanying purse that goes with it.
So Bey (18-0-1, 9 KOs) will be back -- and rewarded, in a sense, because he is headlining another national TV card -- when he faces John Molina (25-3, 20 KOs) on Friday night (Showtime, 10 ET/PT) at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Also on the card, Las Vegas-based light heavyweight prospect Badou Jack (14-0, 10 KOs), a 2008 Olympian for Gambia, takes on Farah Ennis (21-1, 12 KOs) of Philadelphia in what should be Jack's toughest fight to date.
Bey declined to discuss his positive drug case, offering only, "I'm very respectful of the Nevada State Athletic Commission's due diligence and their decision and I'm really looking forward to putting on a great performance."
Bey wants to put the failed drug test behind him and is taking a big step up in competition against Molina, an experienced fighter and a hard puncher in desperate need of a victory, having lost two of his past three fights.
"I'm definitely in with a good opponent," said Bey, who is trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr. "A top, solid fighter who has a lot of good wins. We know he's going to bring it, which will only bring out the best in me.
"This is a major fight because there are huge plans ahead for me after this. There is no way I am taking Molina, or anybody, lightly."
Molina, 30, of Covina, Calif., challenged for a lightweight world title last September, but he was smashed in 44 seconds by Antonio DeMarco in an embarrassing performance. Molina rebounded with a solid fourth-round knockout of Dannie Williams in January but then lost a decision to Andrey Klimov on June 7.
With his career in trouble, he knows how important beating Bey is.
"Perception-wise, this is a very important fight for me, and it's certainly in my best interests to get a victory," Molina said. "I know what's ahead of me with a win. A win puts me right back in the thick of things. Mickey Bey is a helluva fighter and a helluva boxer. Our styles will make for an explosive fight.
"I think for them to put in a guy against me who has had just one fight in a year and a half shows a lot of guts on their part. I applaud them for that, but I'm not sure they are getting who they think they're getting. They see a guy who's lost a couple of times, but there is more to me than that."