Dan Rafael: Miguel Cotto

WBC sets mandatories, pushes Floyd-Pac

December, 18, 2014
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The 52nd annual WBC convention is going on this week at the Mirage in Las Vegas, and while I have little use for the sanctioning organization -- one which regularly breaks its own rules -- one element of the convention is significant because it has a direct impact on fights that fans will see.

It comes when spending a day dealing with mandatory defenses in each division.

So here is a division-by-division rundown of what to look for in each weight class as it relates to the WBC’s title. Keep in mind, this is what the WBC has ruled but does not mean the fighters and their handlers won’t go in another direction.

• Heavyweight: Titleholder Bermane Stiverne must make two mandatory defenses as he won a vacant title in May. He meets Deontay Wilder on Jan. 17 and then the winner must face Bryant Jennings. Because Jennings is likely going to challenge champion Wladimir Klitschko for his other alphabet belts on April 25, a final eliminator between Alexander Povetkin and Mike Perez was ordered to determine the second mandatory.

• Cruiserweight: Thabiso Mchunu and Ilungu Makubu were ordered to meet in a final eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger for titleholder Grigory Drozd.

• Light heavyweight: Champion Adonis Stevenson has an optional defense against Dmitry Sukhotsky on Friday night and the winner can take one more optional defense. But, in a highly unusual move, the WBC accepted a proposal made by Main Events promoter Kathy Duva that the winner of the March 14 fight between three-belt titlist Sergey Kovalev and former champion Jean Pascal become the WBC mandatory challenger. Organizations typically do not rank titleholders from other organizations, but the WBC made an exception -- and a welcome one -- in an effort to force Stevenson into fighting the Kovalev-Pascal winner. If the sides do not make a deal and it goes to a purse bid the split will be 50-50, another highly unusual move because usually a WBC titleholder is entitled to no less than 60 percent in a purse bid.

• Super middleweight: Titleholder Anthony Dirrell is expected to make an optional defense in February with the winner obligated to make a mandatory defense against George Groves in the next fight.

• Middleweight: Champion Miguel Cotto is allowed an optional defense, likely against Canelo Alvarez on May 2. Titleholder Gennady Golovkin, who is also the WBC’s interim titleholder, faces Martin Murray on Feb. 21. The Golovkin-Murray winner will be the mandatory challenger for the winner of Cotto’s next fight, be it against Alvarez or somebody else.

• Junior middleweight/welterweight: Floyd Mayweather Jr. holds both WBC belts. Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz proposed an eight-man tournament in each weight division to determine the mandatory challengers, which was approved by the WBC Board of Governors. Nice idea, but it has almost no chance of coming off as planned. Nonetheless, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman commented on it as it relates to a Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight.

“The WBC has participated to allow and encourage in every way the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight to take place,” he said. “The WBC has not set any obstacles or conditions for the fight to take place. The WBC has approved to have a dual championship for the welterweight and (junior middleweight) divisions. Floyd Mayweather is confirmed to hold both titles, and there is no mandatory in either division until we can finalize if he is fighting Pacquiao. There are proposed tournaments to take place in both divisions to keep both divisions active, and to eventually determine the mandatory challengers."

• Junior welterweight: Champion Danny Garcia has a step-aside deal in place with mandatory challenger Viktor Postol. The winner of Garcia’s voluntary defense, which has no date or opponent yet, is required to fight Postol next.

• Lightweight: Jorge Linares and Javier Prieto fight for the vacant belt Dec. 30. Final eliminators were approved to determine the two mandatory challengers, one between Hank Lundy and Dejan Zlaticanin and one between Daniel Estrada and Kevin Mitchell, which is scheduled for Jan. 31.

• Junior lightweight: Titleholder Takashi Miura is in an optional stage and the WBC approved a fight between Stephen Smith and Javier Fortuna for the No. 1 ranking.

• Featherweight: Since there has been no mandatory defense for more than two years, two eliminators are on tap with the winners supposedly to face titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez. The winner of the Jan. 26 fight between Rocky Juarez and Robinson Castellanos will be one challenger. The next challenger is supposed to be the winner of a fight between Marvin Sonsona and Jayson Velez, which is not scheduled yet.

• Junior featherweight: Titleholder Leo Santa Cruz will have to make a mandatory defense against the winner of a March 14 fight between Andres Gutierrez and Hugo Ruiz of Mexico.

• Bantamweight: Titleholder Shinsuke Yamanaka is in his voluntary defense period and there is no mandatory yet.

• Junior bantamweight: A final eliminator between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Jose Salgado was approved. The winner of the unscheduled bout will be mandatory for Carlos Cuadras.

• Flyweight: Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai and Edgar Sosa were approved to fight a final eliminator to become champion Roman Gonzalez’s mandatory.

• Junior flyweight: Pedro Guevara faces Akira Yaegashi for the vacant title on Dec. 30. A final eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger for the winner was also approved. It will be a fight between Jonathan Inguito Taconing and either Ganigan Lopez or Adrian Hernandez.

• Strawweight: Titleholder Wanheng Menayothin is in a voluntary stage until November. A final eliminator between Carlos Ortega and Denver Cuello was approved.

BWAA awards: And the nominees are...

December, 15, 2014
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Terence Crawford AP Photo/Nati HarnikTerence Crawford is one of the candidates to become the 2014 WBAA Fighter of the Year.

As if last week wasn’t busy enough in Las Vegas, where I shuttled between the Cosmopolitan and MGM Grand on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for coverage of both big shows – I hit both press conferences and weigh-ins and watched the early MGM bouts before going to the Cosmo – there was also a Boxing Writers Association of America meeting on Saturday morning at the MGM.

A few weeks ago in Atlantic City there was also a BWAA meeting for those folks in the organization on the East Coast. At that meeting we did the preliminary ballot for the 2014 awards, which will be handed out at the annual banquet in the spring a night or two before a major fight.

On Saturday we finalized the ballot and here is what the full members will be voting on in the coming weeks. The nominees are:

Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year: Terence Crawford, Sergey Kovalev, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Gennady Golovkin.

Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier Fight of the Year: Francisco Rodriguez Jr.-Katsunari Takayama (incredible action-packed strawweight unification), Orlando Salido-Terdsak Kokietgym (interim junior lightweight title bout featuring blazing action and seven combined knockdowns), Lucas Matthysse-John Molina (a back and forth junior welterweight battle featuring five combined knockdowns), Tommy Coyle-Daniel Brizuela (dramatic lightweight slugfest that featured eight combined knockdowns); Terence Crawford-Yuriorkis Gamboa (lightweight title fight that was dramatic and exciting in front of a wild Crawford crowd).

Eddie Futch Trainer of the Year: Abel Sanchez, Freddie Roach, John David Jackson, Naazim Richardson, Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Cus D’Amato Manager of the Year: Egis Klimas, Vadim Kornilov, Al Haymon, Pat Lynch, No award

Sam Taub broadcast award: Marc Payton (retired longtime director of HBO’s boxing broadcasts), Lou DiBella (promoter who spent many years buying the fights for HBO and the creator of “Boxing After Dark”), Seth Abraham (former longtime president of HBO Sports who teamed with DiBella to make HBO into a powerhouse boxing network), Brian Kweder (boxing programmer for ESPN), No award

Bill Crawford award for courage in overcoming adversity: Magomed Abdusalamov, Steve and Livvy Cunningham, Vitali Klitschko, Anthony Dirrell, Kathy Duva

Barney Nagler Long and Meritorious Service award: Michael Buffer (legendary ring announcer), Bob Canobbio (CompuBox founder), Lou DiBella (promoter, former HBO executive), Dr. Margaret Goodman (head of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association and former Nevada ringside physician), Jack Hirsch (outgoing longtime BWAA president)

Marvin Kohn Good Guy award: Dan Goossen (promoter, posthumous), Andrey Ryabinsky (Russian promoter who paid for most of Magomed Abdusalamov’s medical expenses), Ken Condon (longtime casino executive in Atlantic City), Don Turner (trainer), Tami Cotel (HBO boxing production coordinator).
A few notes from around the boxing world:

•  The ongoing litigation over Canelo Alvarez’s promotional contract between Golden Boy Promotions and All-Star Boxing was scheduled to go to trial next week in Dade County circuit court in Florida. However, according to All-Star Boxing promoter Tutico Zabala, the trial has been delayed and won’t start until January. No reason was given for the delay. Zabala is suing Golden Boy, claiming it interfered with his contract with Alvarez. Golden Boy and Top Rank are currently negotiating a spring fight between Alvarez and middleweight champion Miguel Cotto.

•  Former two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming (6-0, 1 KOs) of China suffered a cut over his left eye from a head butt in a lopsided decision victory against Kwanpichit OnesongchaiGym in a November flyweight eliminator on the Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri undercard in Macau, China, so Zou's return (penciled in for February) has been pushed back to March 7 (also in Macau) to give the cut time to heal. Zou is slated to challenge world titleholder Amnat Ruenroeng (14-0, 5 KOs) of Thailand.

•  Fan-friendly cruiserweight prospect Oleksandr Usyk (5-0, 5 KOs), the 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist, will face South Africa’s Danie Venter in a 10-rounder on Dec. 13 at the Sport Palace in Kiev, Ukraine, Usyk's home country. Usyk's training for the fight included two weeks of sparring with cruiserweight contender Ola Afolabi. Venter (19-6, 14 KOs) has won four fights in a row.

“Training was terrific and I learned a great deal sparring with Ola,” said Usyk, who has also trained with heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. “He’s one of the very best cruisers in the world and it was a tremendous experience. I’m getting better with each bout and looking to close out 2014 in style.”

Cotto-Canelo talks on track

November, 13, 2014
Nov 13
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Canelo Alvarez and Oscar De La HoyaDenis Poroy/Getty ImagesOscar De La Hoya doesn't expect ego to get in the way of making Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez.
The inevitable showdown between middleweight world champion Miguel Cotto and former junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez looms as boxing's biggest fight in the non-Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao category. And unlike Mayweather-Pacquiao, it's a surefire pay-per-view hit that very likely will be made for May 2.

Dare I say, Cotto-Alvarez will go down as the biggest fight in the history of the legendary Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry that includes many famous fights, including Salvador Sanchez-Wilfredo Gomez and the two Cotto-Antonio Margarito fights.

Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya knows how big a fight it can be, is keen to make it and believes it will be finalized sooner rather than later. In fact, the camps have already had preliminary discussions on the fight as both sides want it, as does HBO PPV, which would televise it.

"That's the fight that's being talked about the most. Everywhere I go people are asking me about it left and right," De La Hoya told ESPN.com. "This is what's going to happen -- my next move is going to be to give [Top Rank promoter] Bob Arum [Cotto's promoter] a call and start discussing the fight with Bob."

Golden Boy has already had some talks with Top Rank president Todd duBoef and Cotto attorney Gaby Penagaricano.

"Nothing formal," De La Hoya said. "But since Bob is the guy at the helm [of Top Rank] I'm going to give Bob a call. This is the type of fight that can get made easier than most, certainly easier than Pacquiao-Mayweather. The reason I say that is because both guys want to fight."

There are, of course, some issues that need to be settled: the financial split, date and site, among others.

Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs), 24, who recently signed an exclusive contract with HBO, said a big part of the reason for leaving Showtime was because he wanted to fight major pay-per-view fights on the traditional Mexican holidays on which big fights are the norm -- Cinco de Mayo weekend and Mexican Independence Day weekend in September -- but was being blocked by Mayweather. Therefore, De La Hoya said, a Cotto-Alvarez fight would be on May 2 -- which is in line with HBO's preference.

"Second, do we go East Coast or West Coast," De La Hoya said, noting that Alvarez would prefer to fight on the West Coast, where most of his Mexican fans are, and Cotto would prefer to fight in New York, where he is a huge attraction because of the large Puerto Rican community.

"As far as where we go with the fight, whoever wants the fight the most, submit your bid," De La Hoya said.

When it comes to some of the more frivolous aspects of a negotiation -- name of the fight, who walks to the ring last and who is introduced last -- things sometimes get bogged down because of an ego battle. De La Hoya said there would be none of that in Cotto-Alvarez.

"Miguel Cotto is the champion and a great champion, and he is also a star, so he gets the champion status treatment, which means we're fighting for his belt. He walks second if he wants to, all that stuff. None of that will hold up this fight."

Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs), 34, won the middleweight title by scoring four knockdowns in a dominating 10th-round knockout of Sergio Martinez in June. With the win, Cotto became the first Puerto Rican fighter to win world titles in four weight classes and would be making his first defense against Alvarez.

"It's a matter of ironing out details, but in my opinion, nothing can put a stop to this fight, because the most important thing is that both guys want to fight each other," De La Hoya said. "Nobody is scared here."

Of course, there is still the issue of how to divide up all of the money the fight will generate.

"That will all be figured out," De La Hoya said. "Miguel Cotto is not going to let this fight fall through because they are not happy with the money, and Canelo is not calling off a fight because of the money. They will make the biggest purses of their careers fighting each other, even more than when they fought Floyd. This fight does a minimum of 1 million homes [on pay-per-view]. There is plenty of money to go around."

De La Hoya said he sees the fight as a simple 50-50 purse split. He believes Alvarez is the bigger draw but gives respect to the fact that Cotto is a star in his own right and also brings an immensely valuable commodity -- the title that Alvarez covets.

"Miguel Cotto fought Mayweather and did 1.5 million buys on pay-per-view. Canelo fought Floyd and did 2.2 million, 700,000 more than that," De La Hoya said. "Canelo has also done good numbers in his other pay-per-view fights. But you have to respect Cotto and consider he is the champion. I have no doubt this fight will get done.

"That's the beauty of ending the cold war [between Golden Boy and Top Rank]. We can make a huge fight like this together. And the fighters know that if they fight the big fights like this, the money is going to be there."

Macklin set for Heiland, eyes Cotto

October, 30, 2014
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MacklinJoe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsMatthew Macklin is hoping to secure a fourth shot at a middleweight world title.
Middleweight contender Matthew Macklin is going into his world title eliminator against Argentina's Jorge Sebastien Heiland knowing a win will lead him to an eventual fourth shot at a belt.

The winner of the Nov. 15 bout at The 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland, will become the mandatory challenger for world champion Miguel Cotto, although Cotto won't have to face the winner immediately.

Cotto likely will first face Canelo Alvarez in May in a massive fight, with the winner of that bout obligated to next face titleholder Gennady Golovkin, who, by virtue of his acquisition of an interim belt to add to his full title, is next in line.

But Macklin (31-5, 20 KOs) is using the prospect of another title shot as motivation against Heiland (24-4-2, 12 KOs), whom he was initially supposed to face Aug. 30 at the National Stadium in Dublin before the fight was postponed after Macklin's trainer, Jamie Moore, suffered gunshot wounds during an incident in Marbella, Spain.

"Challenging Cotto in New York would be an incredible experience -- to face someone of his stature there. But that's a lot of wins to put together first," said Macklin, who has come up short in title shots against Felix Sturm (by highly controversial split decision), Sergio Martinez (TKO11) and Golovkin (KO3).

Since Macklin would have to wait for a mandatory shot at the belt Cotto currently holds, he would also be interested in challenging the winner of the Dec. 13 vacant title bout between Matt Korobov and Andy Lee. A Macklin-Lee fight has been talked about for years since they both have big Irish fan bases.

"I think Andy has got a good chance," Macklin said. "Styles make fights and Korobov is a technical counterpunching southpaw. He'll give Andy [also a southpaw] room and time and Andy performs better if he's allowed that. He's a class act. If he can win that then me and Andy fighting for the world title is massive. It's a huge fight anyway but a world title is that key element.

"I'll be rooting for him for selfish reasons but also because he's flying the flag for Irish boxing too and he's a good lad, so I hope he does the business for himself and also as it sets up a potential fight for us."

GGG expects a huge 2015

October, 17, 2014
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CARSON, Calif. -- Middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin fought four times in his breakout 2013 and hoped to do it again this year. But when his father died unexpectedly, Golovkin withdrew from an April fight, leaving him with only three appearances this year.

GGG knocked out Osumanu Adama in February, Daniel Geale in July and returns to make his 12th title defense against Marco Antonio Rubio (59-6-1, 51 KOs) on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the sold-out StubHub Center.

But next year, Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs), one of the busiest elite fighters in the sport, has designs on another four-fight year.

“Right now I am focused on Rubio. He’s a strong guy,” Golovkin said. “He is good experience for me. This is my first fight in California, so it’s a big step for me, a big deal for me. But I am ready for a unification fight. After this fight I hope so for a unification. I need Canelo [Alvarez]-[Miguel] Cotto first and then, of course, I want the winner. But [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr., Andre Ward, Carl Froch. Bring me big fight.”

With a win, Golovkin is ticketed for a February return in Monte Carlo, perhaps against British contender Martin Murray. After that he wants a big pay-per-view fight.

Golovkin was supposed to face Chavez at super middleweight on HBO PPV in July. Golovkin agreed to terms, but Chavez backed out. Golovkin would love for the fight to be finalized.

With middleweight champion Cotto likely headed to a spring showdown with Alvarez, the winner would be an ideal opponent and a huge fight for GGG in the second half of next year.

K2 Promoter Tom Loeffler, who represents Golovkin, said he also has been in touch with Eddie Hearn, who promotes super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch, to gauge their interest. That’s a fight Loeffler said that Golovkin would happily travel to Froch’s turf in England for and also fight him at 168 pounds.

Another name that interests Golovkin is super middleweight champion Andre Ward, although he is inactive with no return on the horizon. Ward is going on a year of inactivity while embroiled in a promotional contract dispute.

“If Gennady fought Canelo, Chavez, Cotto, Froch it would be phenomenal,” Loeffler said. “Those are really big fights. People can’t say Gennady doesn't bring a reward. He's still a big risk but he brings a lot of interest and a lot money with him now that HBO has committed their financial support to him. So if everything goes the right way on Saturday we're looking for a huge 2015. I'm convinced there is nobody at 160 pounds who can last 12 rounds with him.”

Golovkin said he won’t be picky about his opponents. He just wants something huge.

“I feel great. Four times [in 2015]. It is my time,” he said. “Next year will be big for me and my team. Right now, I focus on Rubio. In the future, I am ready for anyone. I waited a long time. I want big, big fights with superstars. It doesn’t matter who. Cotto, Canelo, Chavez Jr., Froch. It doesn’t matter. I want big fights for me and my fans. I want great show.”

Canelo headed back to HBO?

August, 29, 2014
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Alvarez/LaraJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesCanelo Alvarez could make HBO his next home in November or December.

In late 2013, when Richard Schaefer still ran Golden Boy Promotions, he and Canelo Alvarez announced that Alvarez would fight three times on Showtime PPV this year: March 8, July 26 and Nov. 22.

Indeed, Alvarez knocked out Alfredo Angulo on March 8 and then outpointed Erislandy Lara, albeit on July 12. Both were on Showtime PPV and both did solid numbers -- a little over 300,000 buys -- considering Alvarez had never before headlined a pay-per-view as the A side of the promotion.

But fight No. 3 of this year? Well let’s just say things aren’t what they were a year ago.

Schaefer resigned as Golden Boy CEO, Oscar De La Hoya has taken the day-to-day reins of the company and he is also quietly trying to repair the company’s fractured relationship with HBO, the network that basically put Golden Boy in business and the network on which De La Hoya became a mega PPV star. It is also the network that grew so tired of dealing with Schaefer and adviser Al Haymon, who controlled many of the fighters on Golden Boy’s cards, that HBO banished Golden Boy fighters from the network.

Canelo isn't going to go pay-per-view. We don't want to saturate the market. He's willing to go live on either Showtime or HBO. We'll see. Maybe another network. He has no contract with any network.

-- Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez
And although Showtime has been the exclusive home for Golden Boy’s biggest cards since, behind the scenes there are issues, namely that many of those cards Golden Boy puts on are controlled by Haymon, and De La Hoya isn’t happy about it. Why else do you think we saw the Danny Garcia-Rod Salka/Lamont Peterson-Edgar Santana mess?

Most of Haymon’s fighters who regularly appear on Showtime are not under contract to Golden Boy, even though GB promotes the cards. This was one of the issues that came between De La Hoya and Schaefer.

There was a recent thaw in the Golden Boy/HBO relationship a few weeks ago when it made a deal to televise the Nov. 8 light heavyweight unification fight between Bernard Hopkins, who is with Golden Boy, and Sergey Kovalev, whom HBO has under contract.

As it relates to Alvarez, he is under contract to Golden Boy and not involved with Haymon. And he got his start on premium cable on HBO and, this is most significant, his biggest fight looms with middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, who is aligned with HBO, which plans to carry Cotto's Dec. 13 title defense against an opponent to be determined on HBO PPV.

Alvarez met in recent days with Golden Boy executives to talk about his next fight and I am telling you there is a good chance that it winds up on regular HBO (and not Showtime or Showtime PPV). That would be a big deal and would likely deliver a huge viewership number for HBO.

“We had a very good meeting with Canelo and we’re talking with him about opponents,” Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez told ESPN.com on Friday. “We’re actually waiting for the date. He gave us a couple of dates and we’re looking into everything. But he wants to fight late November or early December. We have to work on it.”

The opponent is not set, but it is no secret that Alvarez could face big banger James Kirkland, whose last fight was on HBO (a knockout last December against Glen Tapia in a wild brawl).

Then Gomez caught me by surprise when he added, “Canelo isn’t going to go pay-per-view. We don’t want to saturate the market. He’s willing to go live on either Showtime or HBO. We’ll see. Maybe another network. He has no contract with any network. We’re working on things.”

Whoa.

That is the first time in a lonnngggg time that anyone in a position of authority has specifically stated that Alvarez was a television free agent and, further, used the H-word (HBO) in relation to his future.

It leads me to believe, without question, that Alvarez is likely headed back to HBO for his next fight. I believe it would be part of a deal that would also lock Alvarez into HBO for multiple fights, including a potential spring or summer 2015 showdown with Cotto for the middleweight title.

Let’s look at the late November and early December schedule, which means Nov. 15, Nov. 22, Nov. 28, Dec. 6 or Dec. 13.

Nov. 22 is out because that is Manny Pacquiao’s HBO PPV date with Chris Algieri. Nov. 28 is out because that is already ticketed for Terence Crawford’s next lightweight title defense on HBO. Dec. 13 is out because that is Cotto’s HBO PPV date.

That tells me that if Alvarez returns to HBO, it means a fight on either Nov. 15, which would be a huge telecast on which to promote Pacquiao’s PPV, or Dec. 6, which would be a great way to promote Cotto’s PPV the following week and remind people that wins by Alvarez and Cotto could lead to the super fight after that.

Now that Top Rank, Cotto’s promoter, and Golden Boy, Alvarez’s promoter, say they are ready, willing and able to make fights together, a Cotto-Alvarez fight could get done on HBO PPV without the involvement of Haymon, whom Top Rank does not work with.

All of this is not to say that Showtime couldn’t make a big offer to keep Alvarez for his next fight, but if I were a betting man here’s my take: Alvarez returns to HBO for a fight on Nov. 15 or Dec. 6 with the big payoff coming in May (Cinco de Mayo weekend) or June (Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend) for the biggest fight in boxing this side of Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao.

Check back with me in a few months to see how well my crystal ball works.
Sergio MartinezMike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesSergio Martinez's future depends on what his doctor has to say about his health.

A few weeks after Sergio Martinez got knocked down four times and eventually stopped in the 10th round by Miguel Cotto on June 7 in New York -- a defeat that cost him the middleweight championship -- Martinez vowed to fight on.

But whether the 39-year-old Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KOs) really does continue to box will depend largely on what his doctor has to say, particularly about his knee problems, following an exam due to take place Sept. 16 in New York, Martinez's adviser, Sampson Lewkowicz, told ESPN.com.

Lewkowicz will be with Martinez in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Sept. 6 when junior featherweight titlist Kiko Martinez, whom Lewkowicz promotes and Martinez (no relation) manages, defends his belt in a rematch with Carl Frampton.

Lewkowicz said that following the fight, he and Sergio Martinez will travel to Las Vegas to attend the Sept. 13 rematch between pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana. They will be rooting for Maidana, Martinez’s countryman from Argentina.

“After the fight, we will go to New York together and Sergio will see his doctor,” Lewkowicz said of Dr. Answorth Allen, who is the orthopedic surgeon for the New York Knicks.. “He will have a complete checkup. We will listen to what the doctor has to say and then make a decision about his future."

GGG heading west for next fight

August, 8, 2014
Aug 8
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Gennady Golovkin and Daniel GealeMike Stobe/Getty ImagesMiddleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin, right, could make his next defense on the West Coast.

Although middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin’s overwhelming third-round knockout of former titleholder Daniel Geale was only two weeks ago, plans are already in motion for GGG’s ring return.

Golovkin will make his 12th title defense in the fall (and, undoubtedly, will be eyeing his 18th consecutive knockout). K2 Promotions managing director Tom Loeffler told ESPN.com that HBO is holding a date for Golovkin in October and November, although the Golovkin team prefers to go in October.

Loeffler said he hopes to have the date squared away in the next week or so.

“We are just working on which opponents are available and willing to get in the ring with GGG,” Loeffler said.

That has been a problem for quite some time because few have wanted to face boxing’s most devastating knockout artist. Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs) will not be facing world champion Miguel Cotto, who will have his own Dec. 13 date. Golovkin and Loeffler mentioned the possibility of a unification fight with Australia’s Sam Soliman at the news conference following the Geale bout.

The location of Golovkin’s next bout probably will be on the West Coast. All five of the fights that the Kazakhstan native has had so far in the United States have been in the Northeast: three in New York City, one in upstate New York and one in Connecticut.

Loeffler, who is from Los Angeles, is looking to bring Golovkin to a new market.

“We are exploring options in L.A.,” he said. “Our plan has always been to have a GGG fight on the West Coast because he trains in Big Bear [California] and to compliment the fan base he has built up on the East Coast.”
Miguel Cotto, Sergio MartinezChris Farina/Top RankAfter destroying Sergio Martinez in June, Miguel Cotto, left, is ready for a December return.
Many of us would love to see middleweight champion Miguel Cotto have his next fight against titleholder Gennady Golovkin or junior middleweight star Canelo Alvarez.

Neither is going to happen, however. At least not next. I know none of us like that. Just accept it.

It seems doubtful a Golovkin fight will ever happen, and an Alvarez showdown -- for my money, the biggest fight in boxing outside of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao fight -- probably would not take place until the spring of 2015, if it can even be made.

But Cotto plans to fight again this year, which is a good thing. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says the date is Dec. 13 at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which is essentially the Puerto Rican star’s home arena.

Arum has also said that he would like for Cotto’s next fight to be on regular HBO, as opposed to HBO PPV, mainly because his June fight with Sergio Martinez was a huge disappointment in terms of the pay-per-view sales. But even if Arum wants it on HBO, it is still likely to be on HBO PPV because I’m told Cotto wants to be on pay-per-view and that HBO likely won’t be able to afford the level of license fee to have him on the network.

So whom can Cotto fight that would A) make for a good fight; B) draw a big crowd at MSG (although not necessarily a big PPV audience) and C) be a fight in which the challenger has a reasonable chance to win but a fight in which Cotto will be the favorite so as not to put Cotto-Alvarez into too much jeopardy.

Hello, Andy Lee!

He is a possible opponent for Cotto.

Top Rank and Cotto’s camp still need to go over the particulars of what Cotto wants for the December fight. But Top Rank has Lee on its short list for Cotto and Lou DiBella, Lee’s promoter, said he and Arum have spoken and that the fight is a possibility.

Frankly, if Cotto isn’t fighting Golovkin or Alvarez, Cotto-Lee makes a lot of sense.

Remember, Lee, who has been on HBO a few times, was supposed to fight Golovkin in April on the network, but the fight was canceled after Golovkin’s father died. He is a legitimate contender and it probably would be a crowd-pleasing fight.

When the Golovkin fight was canceled, Lee wound up winning a small-time fight in Denmark on April 12 and then fought John Jackson on the June 7 Cotto-Martinez pay-per-view undercard, surviving a hard knockdown in the first round to rally for a highlight-reel fifth-round knockout victory. That means that Lee and Cotto are on the same schedule.

Lee is also Irish, and the Irish fans in New York have always supported their fighters by gobbling up tickets.

[+] EnlargeAndy Lee
Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesAndy Lee of Ireland, left, could be Miguel Cotto's next opponent in December.
“Bob knows we won’t price ourselves out. He knows we want the fight and knows Andy sells a lot of tickets,” DiBella said. “I really believe you’ll have a similar crowd to what Cotto-Martinez drew, and Andy really wants the fight. Bob and I have worked together on fights before. I’m sure HBO would like Andy as an opponent, and I know the Garden loves the fight. Bob and I talked about it, and he knows we want the fight.

“Andy has wanted the opportunity to fight a legend. If you’re a fighter and you don’t want to fight a future Hall of Famer and the middleweight champion of the world, you’re not a real fighter. Andy Lee is a real fighter. It’s a tremendous fight. Say what you want, but Andy can crack and he showed he can overcome adversity against Jackson.”

Arum and DiBella have made plenty of fights together over the years, including some that were more complicated than a Cotto-Lee match would be, such as the Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. pay-per-view in 2012.

“All my dealing with Top Rank have been good. We have always worked well together, and when there is a fight that we have tried to make, there’s never been a fight we couldn’t get done,” DiBella said. “If Bob and Cotto want to make this deal, we’ll make it very easily. We could do it in one phone call.”

Lee (33-2, 23 KOs) challenged then-titleholder Chavez for his world title in June 2012 and was stopped in the seventh round of a competitive fight. Lee, a 30-year-old southpaw, has won five fights in a row since.

By stopping Martinez in the 10th round, Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs), 33, became the first Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in four weight classes, further enhancing his Hall of Fame credentials.
Moments after Gennady Golovkin drilled Daniel Geale in the third round on Saturday night at New York's Madison Square Garden to retain his middleweight belt for the 11th time, GGG called for a unification fight with Miguel Cotto.

"I am very happy and now I only want unification fights. I want Cotto," Golovkin said. "I want to fight Miguel Cotto and I want to fight him next. I want to prove to the world that without a doubt that I am the best middleweight in the world. That is very important to me."

On June 7, also at MSG, Cotto made boxing history, becoming the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a world title in four weight classes when he dominated and stopped Sergio Martinez in the 10th round to win the legitimate 160-pound championship, along with an alphabet belt.

Golovkin and Cotto are both slated to fight one more time this year but nobody should go holding their breath that it will be against each other, no matter how much Golovkin wants it.

"Certainly, it's up to Miguel who he wants to fight but I think the Canelo [Alvarez] fight is a much more attractive fight," Top Rank's Bob Arum, Cotto's promoter, told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "Even though I love Golovkin and [K2 Promotions managing director] Tom Loeffler -- and nobody can say that Golovkin isn't a great fighter -- it's risk-reward in boxing. We don't know about Golovkin's ability on pay-per-view."

More likely, Golovkin will fight in October or November. Cotto is penciled in to fight again in December at the Garden, and likely not against anyone nearly as tough as Golovkin so as not to jeopardize the possibility of the Alvarez fight next spring.

Gaby Penagaricano, Cotto's adviser, said he wasn't surprised to hear Golovkin call out Cotto and said the fight would be one of the various possibilities they'd consider.

"I saw it on Saturday. Not surprised," Penagaricano told ESPN.com. "Everyone wants to call out the big names, right? We have not begun to discuss options for the next fight. Probably I will be sitting down with Miguel in the coming days to start planning. It's a fight to consider. I am sure we will be discussing it soon among other options."

Golovkin's name is sure to come up, but I just don't happen to think it will be a serious consideration because why would Cotto, who is winding down his great career, gamble by fighting a beast like Golovkin and risk the much bigger payday that would go with a possible fight with Alvarez?

One piece of good news from Arum is that he said Cotto's fight in December probably won't be on pay-per-view, no doubt in part because the numbers for the June fight with Martinez were so disappointing.

"I don't think it will be," Arum said. "I think we have to start doing more live premium television shows, so I don't think this will be on pay-per-view. It would be on HBO. We are meeting with HBO this week in Las Vegas and we'll be talking about it.

"We have to realize that pay-per-view, no matter if it's boxing, MMA or wrestling, the numbers are way down. People aren't buying the pay-per-view like they used to buy. You can see it in Cotto-Martinez, in [Floyd] Mayweather's [relatively] dismal numbers and in [Manny] Pacquiao's less-than-glorious numbers for the [rematch with Timothy] Bradley fight in April."


Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the unified junior middleweight champion, but he is also the unified welterweight champion -- thanks to the sanctioning organizations breaking their own rules and allowing him to hold two belts in each weight class.

When Mayweather returns in September, he is planning to fight at welterweight for the second bout in a row.

That leaves Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara as the two top junior middleweights in the world, especially considering that in Miguel Cotto’s last fight he stopped Sergio Martinez to win the middleweight world championship.

So when former unified titleholder Alvarez and reigning titlist Lara meet on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) in the main event of Golden Boy Promotions’ “Honor & Glory” card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, it will be for bragging rights as the best junior middleweight in the world.

However, the scheduled 12-round fight is being contested at a maximum weight of 155 pounds, one over the division limit. Therefore, Lara’s world title will not be at stake.

It wasn’t Lara’s call. He wanted to defend his belt for the first time. It was Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs) who declined to fight for the title and since he is the star of the show, Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) had no choice but to agree or risk losing the most significant fight of his career.

It seems odd given how much fighters love belts, but Alvarez said he doesn’t care about the title.

“Titles are always nice, but for me this fight is bigger than a title fight,” Alvarez said through a translator. “This fight is for my honor and glory to bring to the Mexican people. It is a fight for honor and it is a fight that people wanted to see.”

Lara won a vacant interim belt by stopping Alfredo Angulo in the 10th round 13 months ago and then defended by easy decision win against Austin Trout in December. But not long after that fight, Lara was elevated to a full titleholder.

He is not happy about his title not being on the line against Alvarez, and he has a theory as to why.

"Canelo can't make the weight so he refused to fight for the title,” Lara said through a translator. “It's very disrespectful and my motivation to beat him has increased because of it."

Indeed, Alvarez had to change the contract weight of his March fight against Angulo from 154 to 155 at the last minute, so maybe Lara is on to something.

Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya dismissed that notion, as did Alvarez.

“This fight is not about a title. This fight is about honor and glory,” De La Hoya said.

Added Alvarez, “I feel very comfortable at 154, and I'll be here for the next few years, if not the rest of my career. I don't know yet. It's when my body tells me otherwise that it's time to move then we'll do it. But I'm very comfortable right now at 154.”

And also, apparently, quite comfortable not fighting for a title.

Martinez simmers over slights

June, 6, 2014
Jun 6
5:46
PM ET

NEW YORK -- Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez is a proud man, so it took a lot for him to swallow a bit of pride and be dictated to by Miguel Cotto when it came time to make a deal for their showdown on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at Madison Square Garden.

Although Martinez, like Cotto, will someday likely enter the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and has been a fine champion for several years, he does not have the economic muscle that Cotto has (or the drawing power).

Maybe Martinez does in Argentina, where his homecoming defense against Martin Murray last year drew nearly 50,000 to a soccer stadium in Buenos Aires. But in New York? No way. This is Cotto’s town, where he has sold more tickets than anyone in recent decades, and this is also his weekend, that of the annual Puerto Rican Day parade in New York.

Cotto has also been involved in several high-profile pay-per-view fights, while this will be Martinez’s second fight as a pay-per-view headliner. So when it came time to make a deal, Cotto’s side asked for -- and got -- basically everything it asked for.

A catch weight of 159 pounds? Yup.

Cotto’s name first in the promotion even though Martinez is the champion? Yup, that’s why the official name of the fight is Cotto-Martinez.

Cotto will also walk to the ring last and be introduced last, the slots usually reserved for the champion.

It has drawn the ire of Martinez and his team throughout the promotion.

“I don’t consider it a lack of respect, just absurd requests and absurd demands,” an annoyed Martinez said. “I have put that in the past.”

Said promoter Lou DiBella, “This was not an easy negotiation. We had to keep calling Sergio with more concessions that a champion doesn’t generally have to make, and at that time he was not pleased. And I think that came out at some of the press conferences very clearly as well as some of the interviews. If you saw the ‘Face Off with Max Kellerman’ [on HBO] you could see that he was upset about certain things, but I think he has channeled that to his benefit. Right now he is fixated on giving Cotto a beating and walking out of Madison Square Garden with [the] championship belt.

“Look, there were a lot of concessions that were made due to Cotto’s star value and concessions that he wanted that a champion doesn’t normally give, but Sergio’s attitude was that he wanted Miguel Cotto and he wanted this fight badly. He thought it was a great opportunity and he always wanted to fight in the big room at Madison Square Garden before he retired and to prove himself at the ‘Mecca of Boxing,’ and in order to get the fight we had to swallow some things we didn’t want to swallow.”

Indeed, during the kickoff news conference a couple of months ago, Martinez lashed out at Cotto, saying, “Don’t forget one thing,” Martinez said (in Spanish). “We are gonna fight because I am the champion and I’m coming into the ring first and he’s coming in second, otherwise there would be no fight. I go to the blue corner and I really don’t care, because I’m the champion, and if it wasn’t for that he won’t fight.

“I will be introduced first in the ring because if it wasn’t that way Cotto would not fight me. I can imagine on June 7th that he’s going to ask for rose petals, otherwise he won’t walk into the ring.”

Cotto’s take on Martinez’s ire was calm and cool. He knows the deal, since he entered fights with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather as the titleholder but the B-side of those promotions and had to make similar concessions as Martinez has.

“If Sergio has any kind of issue with anything about this fight, he can discuss it with his guy [DiBella],” Cotto said. “We closed the deal a long time ago.”

Of Martinez taking the role as the B-side of the promotion, adviser Sampson Lewkowicz was practical.

“I prefer to be at the short end of the stick and be the B-side and win the fight.” he said.

NEW YORK -- There is plenty of opinion on who will win the fight between middleweight champ Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at Madison Square Garden. How about some celebrity and athlete picks?


Mike Tyson: “This will be a defining moment for Cotto. If he gives his absolute best and uses everything he has learned from his experience in boxing, he will give a great account of himself. I would like to see him do well because he has gotten some bad breaks in his career. He is going to have to cut Martinez off in the ring because he is a great mover. He's like a tango mover when he boxes. My personal opinion, I think this is going to be one of the greatest fights of the year. I am looking forward to taking my wife on a great date night to celebrate our fifth anniversary.”

Felix Trinidad: “It is an interesting fight for the boxing world and also for Team Cotto. Cotto should win by decision.”

Sugar Ray Leonard: “I've met both of these incredible fighters with such a wonderful demeanor outside the ring, and the question is who has the most boxing ingredients left at this point in their career? Sergio always will have that power, which never leaves a boxer even past his prime, and Cotto will always have that knowledge to break down an opponent during the fight. A slight edge to Cotto, but don't bet the house. Good luck to two great fighters and decent men!”

Rosie Perez: “Both are excellent fighters. And most have Martinez winning this match. And no disrespect to Sergio, who I love. But are you kidding me? How can I not root for my fellow Boricua? I'd be run outta town! Win, lose or draw, Miguel Cotto!”

Brandon Jacobs: “I am a big Cotto fan. I think he's outmatched in this fight. He's the smaller guy, plus his hand speed isn't faster. I'd love for Cotto to beat this guy, but I don't think it's going to happen.”

Micky Ward: “Sergio by close decision. He must use his smarts or Cotto will take it.”

Reggie Miller: “Martinez will take it. He's bigger, stronger and more physical.”

If there’s one thing Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach likes to do, it’s predict a knockout victory for his fighter. So it comes as no surprise that he is calling for Miguel Cotto to knock out middleweight champion Sergio Martinez when they meet Saturday night (9 ET, HBO PPV) at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

“I think we win in four rounds,” Roach said. “Miguel's ring generalship alone will win this fight.”

Martinez’s response?

“Freddie Roach is excellent at telling jokes, and this is one of the best jokes he has ever told,” he said.

Roach said Cotto is “one of the hardest punchers” he has ever worked with -- and Roach has worked with many quality punchers, such as Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya.

“We are working every day on the mitts with my body protector on, and that doesn’t help that much anymore," Roach said. "Miguel goes right through that. His punching power is great, his speed has been good, and everything is right where I want it to be. Miguel is one of the hardest workers I have been with, and he is the most disciplined fighter I have ever worked with. We have a great relationship, and it will show in the fight.”

Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs), never one to make predictions, seemingly agreed with Roach’s prediction without saying it in so many words.

"I understand why Freddie is so confident and is saying the things he is saying,” said Cotto, who is seeking to become the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a world title in four weight classes. “He believes in me. We have worked hard in the gym. The work is almost done.

"Martinez is a world champion. I am prepared to fight, and I want to promise my fans I will do my best to win the world championship."

Cotto, who won titles at 140, 147 and 154 pounds, is moving up to 160, and Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) does not believe his power will follow him up the scale again.

“Of course, I realize that Miguel does not have the same power at this weight that he had at 147, but I am the one that has the power in this case,” Martinez said. “I am the power puncher of the two of us. But the most important fact in this fight is going to be the intelligence that I am going to be able to use in this fight.

“I'm sure that I will win the fight by knockout because I'm training in a very hard and intense way and with such motivation that every day I'm hitting harder, throwing more punches. Whatever Cotto will do in the ring doesn't matter to me; I don't care. What is important is for me to be the day of the fight in the same state that I'm working right now. ... It is going to be an early stoppage.”

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