Dan Rafael: Tavoris Cloud

Stevenson, Cloud stay on target

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
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Adonis StevensonRichard Wolowicz/Getty ImagesLight heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson is on weight for his Sept. 28 defense with Tavoris Cloud.
With a month to go before light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson defends his title against former titleholder Tavoris Cloud on Sept. 28 (HBO) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, both fighters are on target to make the 175-pound weight limit.

Stevenson (21-1, 18 KOs) and Cloud (24-1, 19 KOs) both submitted to their required 30-day weight check and were well inside the limit.

They could have weighed as much as 193 pounds, but at his training camp in Traverse City, Mich., Stevenson was 186 pounds while Cloud, at his Ocala, Fla., training camp, was 188.

They will also be required to check their weight seven days ahead of the fight and can be no more than 184 pounds, which doesn't appear will be an issue for either.

Stevenson won the title in sensational fashion, drilling Chad Dawson with a booming left hand in just 76 seconds on June 8 and will be making his first defense against Cloud.

Cloud lost his version of the title in his last fight, getting taken to school by the master, Bernard Hopkins, in a decision loss on March 9.

Haye-Fury finds U.S. TV home

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
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Tyson Fury, David HayeClive Rose/Getty ImagesAmerican fans will be able to watch the David Haye-Tyson Fury fight on TV.

Since the fight was made it was unclear where American fans could watch the very interesting all-British heavyweight showdown between rising heavyweight contender Tyson Fury and former titleholder David Haye, which takes place on Sept. 28 in Manchester, England.

Worry no more.

HBO has made a deal for the American rights and will broadcast the scheduled 12-round fight between Fury and Haye, who have talked smack throughout the promotion, as part of an unprecedented tripleheader from three countries.

“Haye versus Fury is going to be entertaining,” said HBO Sports president Ken Hershman, who decided to go after the fight even though he already had two other bouts scheduled from two other locations. “It features two heavyweights who as much as they want to win also don't want to lose to this fighter in particular.”

The network has televised plenty of split-site doubleheaders in its 40 years of boxing coverage, but this will be the first time it has had three fights from three locations.

"HBO subscribers love big events and that is what we plan on delivering on Sept. 28. Three exciting bouts from three different countries,” Hershman said.

I agree with him. After opening with Haye-Fury on a few hours’ delay (no decision has been made yet whether HBO will also air it live in the afternoon), the telecast will shift to Montreal for light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson’s first defense against former titlist Tavoris Cloud followed by former middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s return to the ring after a year off to face Brian Vera in a super middleweight fight from Carson, Calif.

When Fury-Haye was announced, I thought the card might end up headlining an independent afternoon pay-per-view. Fury promoter Mick Hennessy was in talks trying to make a deal and it made sense, because I didn’t think HBO would have room to accommodate a third fight coming from Europe.

I’m glad I was wrong. As Hershman said, and I couldn’t agree more: “Great value night for boxing fans.”

All three of these fights have a chance to be highly entertaining and I’m glad to see Hershman go all in on a tripleheader that, while it could be logistically complicated, has a real chance to deliver in triplicate.

Uncertainty for Ward, Rigo, Chavez

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
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Andre WardAP Photo/Jeff ChiuWith no opponent and time running out to promote the date, Andre Ward will not fight on Sept. 28.
One thing is certain for Sept. 28: light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson is scheduled to make his first defense against former titleholder Tavoris Cloud in an HBO main event from the Bell Centre in Montreal.

I really like the fight and don't care that Cloud is coming off a points loss to Bernard Hopkins because, first off, there's no shame in being outboxed by a master like Hopkins. Second of all, Stevenson-Cloud should be a hard-hitting scrap. Besides, after the way Stevenson disposed of Chad Dawson to win the title with a sensational first-round knockout in June who wouldn't want to see "Superman" in action?

So we've got a very good fight that night. The question, however, is what the heck is up with the other televised fight?

Initially, the plan was for HBO to have a split-site doubleheader including the Montreal fight and a fight from San Jose, Calif., featuring super middleweight champ Andre Ward in his first action in a year due to shoulder surgery.

But HBO and Ward promoter Dan Goossen have spent most of the summer battling back and forth over an opponent.
Goossen had a deal in place for Ward to face Dimitri Sartison, a former titlist of the tissue paper variety with zero name recognition in the United States, not to mention about zero chance to win. Rightfully, HBO rejected the fight.

There was also an effort to match Ward with hot contender Edwin Rodriguez, a fight Goossen probably could have been convinced to make. Among the reasons the fight didn't come to pass is because Rodriguez was not available fight in September and began making other plans anyway.

Now Ward is no longer fighting in September. The exact reason is unclear. Maybe it was a continuing lack of opponent or because time was running short to mount a promotion. Whatever it is, Ward is on ice a bit longer.

"Everything was geared to fight Sept. 28 but HBO wanted to move us to another date," Goossen told me this week. "That's what I am working on now."

And Ward told me, declining to get into specifics, "I can tell you the 28th is no longer a possibility. I just know the 28th for me is not an option anymore. [There is] a lot going on at the moment."

I did ask Ward if the delay had anything to do with his shoulder or any other injury and he said it wasn't the case.

"No injury. I'm ready to go," Ward said. "I've been ready for a while now. It's the business end of things. It will work itself out shortly."

With Ward off the show, I was told by multiple sources that HBO, which had previously shown no interest in putting junior featherweight champ Guillermo Rigondeaux back on the air after his less-than-crowd-pleasing victory against Nonito Donaire in their April unification fight, had approved adding him as the televised co-feature in Montreal.

When HBO told Top Rank about that, Top Rank made Rigondeaux an offer and was proposing that he face Chris Avalos. That would probably be a massive mismatch, but it never really went any further. It's unclear exactly what happened, but depending on who you talk to, either Top Rank quickly pulled the offer or Rigondeaux declined it because it was supposedly for less money than the minimum purse in his contract.

Whatever happened, it was right around the time everything went down with Rigondeaux that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. suffered a cut training for his super middleweight fight with Brian Vera on Sept. 7 in Los Angeles, causing Top Rank to postpone the whole card.

(By the way, in the photo circulated of Chavez's cut, it looked like a paper cut and not nearly anything severe enough to cancel a fight still a month away, leading many, myself included, to speculate that the cut made for a perfect excuse to delay a fight for which Chavez was not even remotely close to the 168-pound weight limit. But I digress.)

Chavez tweeted the other day that his fight would be rescheduled for Sept. 28 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. If true, that would return HBO to its original plan of a split-site doubleheader with Chavez taking Ward's place.

However, although it's possible, HBO and Top Rank both told me it's not a done deal and might not happen that way.
So here's where we are: Ward? No opponent, and a shifting date. Rigondeaux? No nothing. Chavez? No date and a tiny cut. Fight fans? A lot of questions.

Looks like January for Pascal-Bute

August, 8, 2013
8/08/13
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A few notes from the world of boxing:

• When former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute suffered a left hand injury and needed subsequent surgery to remove bone fragments, his showdown with former light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal scheduled for May 25 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, where they are both stars, was postponed.

Then came the announcement that it would be delayed for quite some time -- either until Dec. 7 or Jan. 25, depending on the schedules of HBO and the venue. Now it looks like the fight is going to take place in January, according to Pascal promoter Yvon Michel.

“Most likely it will be in January as there are no longer Saturdays available at Bell Centre in December because of the Canadiens of the NHL,” Michel told ESPN.com.

Pascal (27-2-1, 16 KOs) has not fought since easily outpointing Aleksy Kuziemski in a 10-round fight on Dec. 14, and it will have been 13 months since his last fight by the time he faces Bute. Bute (31-1, 24 KOs) lost his title by fifth-round knockout to Carl Froch in May 2012 and has fought just once since, struggling to a decision win against Denis Grachev in November. He will have gone 14 months between fights.

• Michel also said that he is expecting to receive a signed agreement in the coming days from former light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud and his promoter, Don King, which would finalize a deal for Cloud to challenge champion Adonis Stevenson on Sept. 28 (HBO) at the Bell Centre. Stevenson won the title with a sensational 76-second knockout of Chad Dawson on June 8. Cloud lost his version of the 175-pound title in his last fight, losing a clear unanimous decision to Bernard Hopkins on March 9.

• Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. faces Bryan Vera in a super middleweight fight and Demetrius Andrade and Vanes Martirosyan square off for a vacant junior middleweight belt in the featured bouts Sept. 7 (HBO) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but Top Rank is putting a number of its best fighters on the untelevised undercard (although, fortunately, most of them will be streamed live on Top Rank’s website). According to Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti, the card will also include bouts involving blue-chip junior lightweight prospect Oscar Valdez, middleweight rising contender Matvey Korobov, newly signed junior welterweight contender Karim Mayfield, junior lightweight contender Diego Magdaleno (in his first bout since losing a split decision to world titleholder Rocky Martinez in April) and junior lightweight Jose Felix.

Bellew guaranteed 175 title shot

July, 31, 2013
7/31/13
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Light heavyweight mandatory challenger Tony Bellew has been assured by a sanctioning organization that he will get his title shot before the end of the year.

England’s Bellew is the mandatory for champion Adonis Stevenson, but Stevenson has been granted an exception to face former titlist Tavoris Cloud in a fight that is being finalized and supposed to take place Sept. 28 on HBO at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Bellew is supposed to get the next crack at the winner.

According to Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, Bellew’s promoter, the target date for Bellew’s title opportunity is Nov. 30, which happens to be Bellew’s 31st birthday. Bellew (20-1-1, 12 KOs) became the mandatory by outpointing Isaac Chilemba in their May rematch in London.

“I am delighted Tony has got the shot -- and what a perfect potential date for it,” Hearn said. “Tony has worked tirelessly to get a second crack at a world title, and he’s ready to claim it now. What a dream birthday present it will be when he does.”

Bellew’s only loss came in 2011, a majority decision against light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly in a close fight.

Stevenson-Cloud deal is near

July, 18, 2013
7/18/13
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Light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson and Tavoris Cloud are getting closer to fighting each other. Their promoters, Yvon Michel and Don King, respectively, are nearing a deal for the fight, which, if finalized, is penciled in for Sept. 28 on HBO and would take place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, where Quebec's Stevenson is a crowd favorite.

Stevenson (21-1, 18 KOs) won the world championship on June 8, blasting out Chad Dawson in just 76 seconds. Cloud (24-1, 19 KOs) lost his version of the 175-pound title via unanimous decision to Bernard Hopkins on March 9.

That HBO telecast could also feature the return of super middleweight champion Andre Ward against an opponent to be determined from another site. Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) hasn't fought since last September after a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery.

Stevenson ordered to face Bellew

July, 8, 2013
7/08/13
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Sanctioning organizations have called for four purse bids for various title bouts:

• Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, who won the world title on a one-punch knockout in just 76 seconds against Chad Dawson on June 8, has been ordered to face mandatory challenger Tony Bellew. A purse bid is slated for July 26 if Stevenson promoter Yvon Michel and Bellew promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport don't make a deal.

However, Stevenson has requested an interim bout against former titlist Tavoris Cloud, which Michel is negotiating with Cloud promoter Don King and HBO, which would air the fight in the fall from Montreal, where Quebec's Stevenson is a growing draw. The WBC is willing to grant the exception to Stevenson as long as he and Cloud agree for the winner of their proposed fight to face England's Bellew within 90 days after.

Bellew became the mandatory challenger by outpointing Isaac Chilemba on May 25 in London in a rematch of their draw.

• Lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez of Mexico and mandatory challenger Ammeth Diaz of Panama are headed for a July 16 purse bid at IBF headquarters in Springfield, N.J., for their bout unless the sides make a deal. Vazquez has made five title defenses, but he has a boring style and the fight with Diaz would be a rematch of their January 2012 snoozer, which Vazquez won by virtual shutout -- 120-107, 120-107 and 119-108. Since losing to Vazquez, Diaz has won both of his fights, including a seventh-round knockout of Martin Gethin in England on May 31 in a final eliminator to set up the rematch.

• Interim junior featherweight titlist Scott Quigg of England has been ordered to face Miami-based Cuban Yoandris Salinas for a vacant full title. The purse bid is scheduled for July 15 at the WBA offices in Marbella, Panama. Registered promoters are eligible to bid, but the minimum offer is $120,000. Each boxer is due to receive 50 percent of the money from the winning bid, and the bout is supposed to take place within 90 days of the bid.

• Flyweight titlist Moruti Mthalane of South Africa is due to make his fifth defense when he faces mandatory challenger Silvio Olyeanu, the European champion, of Spain. An IBF purse bid is scheduled for July 18 in the event the sides don't work out an agreement.

Alexander: Yes to Khan, no to Dubai

June, 25, 2013
6/25/13
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A few notes from around the world of boxing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adonis Stevenson's next move

June, 16, 2013
6/16/13
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The excitement of Adonis Stevenson's one-punch highlight-reel knockout of Chad Dawson on June 8 has yet to wear off, but Dan Rafael is ready to look forward at the immediate prospects for the new light heavyweight titlist. Watch the video above for more.

Karo Murat: 'I will hurt Hopkins'

April, 13, 2013
4/13/13
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The specific date and location haven't been set, but German light heavyweight contender Karo Murat is just happy that titleholder Bernard Hopkins has decided to fight him.

"I was so excited when I first found out about this," said Murat, 29.

On March 9, Hopkins won a light heavyweight title for the third time by outpointing Tavoris Cloud to become, at age 48, the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a world title -- breaking the record he set at age 46 in 2011 by beating Jean Pascal in their rematch.

Hopkins isn't going to fight much longer, so he had to make a decision: take the mandatory defense against Murat, an unknown fighter in the United States, or give up the title and pursue a bigger fight. Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs) elected to face Murat (25-1-1, 15 KOs).

The bout will take place in July or August in the United States, likely at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., or Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., according to Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer, who promotes Hopkins.

"Hopkins proved that he doesn't belong to the old guard," said Murat, who will be fighting in America for the first time. "I will do everything I can to be in the best shape possible. I am really looking forward to it. Fighting in the States will be a very special occasion in my career.

"I will hurt Hopkins. I have the same attitude as he does. I don't just train hard, but I train the right way. He is going to feel that."

Murat's only defeat came by 10th-round knockout to Nathan Cleverly of Wales in a 2010 title elimination bout, after which Cleverly went on to win a world title.

Solis, Aydin, Chagaev in action

March, 21, 2013
3/21/13
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Former heavyweight title challenger and Cuban 2004 Olympic gold medalist Odlanier Solis (18-1, 12 KOs), welterweight contender Selcuk Aydin (23-2, 17 KOs) and former heavyweight titlist Ruslan Chagaev will all be featured on a card in Berlin, Germany on Friday. The card will be televised on Eurosport throughout Europe.

Solis will face Leif Larsen (17-0, 14 KOs) of Norway, Turkey's Aydin will meet Giuseppe Lauri (53-11, 31 KOs) of Italy, and Chagaev (30-2-1, 19 KOs), of Uzbekistan, will take on American Mike Sheppard (20-14-1, 9 KOs).

"It feels good to be back in Germany," said Solis, who defected there. "I started my pro career over here and still have lots of friends in Berlin. In my last fight in Germany [in March 2011], I suffered a bad [knee] injury when challenging [heavyweight titlist] Vitali Klitschko. But now my knee is well again. I am ready to go and want to prove that I am the best heavyweight fighter in the world."

Aydin is trying to get back on track after back-to-back decision losses to Robert Guerrero and Jesus Soto Karass. Chagaev is looking for his fourth consecutive victory since a decision loss to Alexander Povetkin for a vacant belt in August 2011.

• Ukraine junior middleweight Taras Shelestyuk, a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, has signed with Banner Promotions, the company announced.

Shelestyuk was a three-time Ukrainian national champion, a 2010 bronze medalist in the European championships and a 2011 world amateur champion in the 152-pound weight division. As an amateur, Shelestyuk, 27, went 195-15. He is scheduled to make his pro debut March 29 in Verona, N.Y., on the ESPN/WatchESPN "Friday Night Fights" card headlined by middleweight Brian Vera against Donatas Bondoravas.

"We are very excited to add Taras to our roster," Banner Promotions chief Artie Pelullo said. "We have big plans for Taras and we feel he will become a world champion."

• According to the New York State Athletic Commission, the March 9 card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which was headlined by Bernard Hopkins' win against Tavoris Cloud to break his own record for becoming the oldest fighter (48) to ever win a world title, generated a gate of $611,974 from 9,377 tickets sold. There were 826 complimentary tickets given away.

• Epix officially added two more fights to its schedule this week. It will air light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly's mandatory defense against Robin Krasniqi from London on April 20 and heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko's defense against Francesco Pianeta from Mannheim, Germany on May 4. Cleverly-Krasniqi was originally supposed to be part of the March 16 card headlined by the lightweight unification match between Ricky Burns and Miguel Vazquez. But Burns-Vazquez was canceled and the rest of the card postponed. Besides the cable channel, the fights will also stream live and free on EpixHD.com and on the Epix app on Xbox consoles and Roku players.

• Last Saturday's epic battle between welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. and Ruslan Provodnikov was so good that HBO made the unprecedented move of scheduling a primetime replay on the main network. There will be an encore presentation Sunday night (10:35 ET/PT). It will be immediately followed by a replay of "Road to Rios-Alvarado II," which previews the much-anticipated March 30 rematch between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado.

According to HBO, the live broadcast of Bradley-Provodnikov -- a riveting fight of the year candidate in which Bradley won a tight decision after surviving nearly being knocked out in the first and second rounds and a knockdown in the final 15 seconds of the bout -- drew 1.2 million viewers (the same number that tuned in the previous week for Hopkins-Cloud). Bradley-Provodnikov peaked at 1.4 million viewers, HBO said. And then there were another 274,000 viewers who tuned into the Sunday morning replay, a 57 percent improvement over the comparable replay of Hopkins-Cloud. HBO said that its four boxing telecasts this year rank as the top four performing televised boxing events on cable for the year.

Salgado-Mendez II gets TV slot

February, 21, 2013
2/21/13
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Juan Carlos SalgadoKazuhiro Nogi/Getty ImagesThe rematch between Juan Carlos Salgado and Argenis Mendez found a home on U.S. TV.

A few updates on some upcoming fights:

• American fans will have a chance to see the rematch between junior lightweight titlist Juan Carlos Salgado (26-1-1, 16 KOs) and Argenis Mendez (20-2, 10 KOs). HBO bought the rights to the March 9 bout and will air it on HBO Latino (8:30 p.m. ET).

The fight takes place in Costa Mesa, Calif., on the undercard of the heavyweight eliminator between Cristobal Arreola and Bermane Stiverne. Arreola-Stiverne is part of an HBO-split site tripleheader that also includes light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud against Bernard Hopkins and welterweight Keith Thurman against Jan Zaveck from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. HBO did not have room for a fourth fight on its telecast, but made a deal for Salgado-Mendez II to air on its Spanish-language channel. I hope we will see more of this sort of thing from HBO, sort of like how Showtime Extreme has done a great job televising preliminary bouts for Showtime cards.

March 9 is a big night for HBO -- a live title fight on HBO Latino followed by the network tripleheader and then, immediately following the tripleheader on HBO, there will be a new edition of “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley.”

• Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said that the return of former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan, slated for April 20, will move to April 27 (Showtime). Nothing official yet with regard to the site or opponent, although he is likely to fight in his native England.

• Polish light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara suffered a hand fracture, forcing him to withdraw from the main event of the March 22 ESPN “Friday Night Fights” card. He was due to face Nicholson Poulard. Fonfara will be out for at least four weeks, but if he needs surgery he could be sidelined for three to six months. ESPN2 is working with the promoters to put together a new main event, but still has a quality co-feature that could possibly move up to the main event spot -- Donovan George, who is moving down to middleweight, against David Lopez.

• An injury has knocked light heavyweight prospect Mike Lee off the March 16 Timothy Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov card. Top Rank has also added hot junior featherweight prospect Jessie Magdaleno to the card in an eight-rounder.

Thurman-Zaveck eliminator nearly set

February, 5, 2013
2/05/13
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Power punching prospect Keith Thurman, the Al Haymon-managed HBO darling, is one win away from fighting for a world title despite an awfully thin resume.

Thurman, who makes exciting fights but has been matched very, very cautiously by Haymon and Golden Boy Promotions, will be back in action March 9 in the HBO co-feature of the Tavoris Cloud-Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight title fight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in a welterweight title eliminator against former titleholder Jan Zaveck.

The contracts for the bout are being finalized.

Thurman (19-0, 18 KOs), 24, of Clearwater, Fla., who did not fight at all in 2011, was still fighting eight-round bouts in early 2012 until a pair of scheduled 10-rounders on HBO, a gimme mismatch against Orlando Lora (TKO6) and another relatively soft touch in faded former welterweight titlist Carlos Quintana (TKO4) at 152 pounds.

Next up will be Slovenia’s Zaveck (32-2, 18 KOs), 36, who won a belt in 2009 and made three defenses against soft opposition before coming to America and losing the strap by fifth-round knockout (because of a badly busted up right eye) to Andre Berto in an HBO fight in November 2011. Zaveck returned to decision Bethuel Ushona (who?) last March but has been out of action since because of an elbow injury.

The winner of Thurman-Zaveck will be in position as the mandatory challenger for the title held by Timothy Bradley Jr.

Campillo moving on from Cloud

January, 16, 2013
1/16/13
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Campillo, CloudEsther Lin/ShowtimeGabriel Campillo has been on the wrong side of many bad decisions, including against Tavoris Cloud.
Eleven months ago, former light heavyweight titleholder Gabriel Campillo of Spain challenged titlist Tavoris Cloud, and although Campillo was knocked down twice in the first round, he stormed back and many believed he had clearly won the fight.

Then the scores were read and he lost a highly disputed split decision. It was a very tough loss for Campillo (21-4-1, 8 KOs), a southpaw who at least had made a name for himself among the American boxing public.

He was due to return in September to face hot prospect Sergey Kovalev (19-0-1, 17 KOs) of Russia, but Campillo hurt his back, the fight was postponed and Kovalev wrecked replacement opponent Lionell Thompson in three rounds.

Now Campillo's wait is over.

"My back is completely recovered," Campillo said. "Even though I only fought one time last year, I kept training and had sparring sessions throughout the whole year. So I am in great shape."

And ready for the rescheduled fight with Kovalev, which takes place Saturday night (NBC Sports Net, 9 p.m. ET) at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., in the main event on "Fight Night."

"Ever since Feb. 12, I hear a couple of times each day from the people that I deserved that decision," Campillo said of the fight with Cloud.

Kovalev said he also thinks that Campillo beat Cloud.

"He is the strongest, most talented opponent in my professional career," Kovalev said of Campillo. "In my opinion, he should be the champion after his last fight."

Cloud also hasn't fought since facing Campillo, but his next fight was announced on Tuesday. It will be the biggest fight of his career -- a defense against the great Bernard Hopkins on March 9.

Campillo, meanwhile, is taking on the rough, tough Kovalev for a lot less money than he would be making had he been awarded the title many believe he deserved. However, he isn't dwelling on what could have been.

"I want to fight every big name in the division until I am considered the No. 1 boxer in the 175-pound weight class," he said.

To get a chance for those fights, he has to beat Kovalev, a daunting task.

"He's a dangerous boxer with a very good right cross," Campillo said. "But he has never fought a world class boxer like me. I am great at bobbing and weaving and counterpunching. If we go to the scorecards, I have no doubt I'll win by a huge margin. But just maybe one of my counterpunches will end the fight."

In the co-feature, former middleweight title challenger Elvin Ayala (26-5-1, 12 KOs) will face Curtis Stevens (22-3, 16 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder.

Arreola-Stiverne finds new home

January, 15, 2013
1/15/13
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Cristobal ArreolaAP Photo/Reed SaxonCristobal Arreola's bout with Bermane Stiverne has been added to HBO's telecast of Cloud-Hopkins.
The heavyweight title elimination bout between Cristobal Arreola and Bermane Stiverne is on the move again.

A network source told me the fight is now headed from March 2 to March 9 to be part of a split-site HBO telecast that will be headlined by the Tavoris Cloud-Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight title fight already scheduled for the date.

Cloud-Hopkins, a fight Golden Boy and Don King are putting on, will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., while Arreola-Stiverne, a fight promoter Dan Goossen is promoting, will take place at a Southern California site to be announced.

HBO and Goossen have been working it out over the past couple of weeks since a shoulder injury to super middleweight champ Andre Ward forced the cancellation of his March 2 fight with Kelly Pavlik.

Ward-Pavlik was originally supposed to take place Jan. 26 with Arreola-Stiverne as the co-feature. When Ward-Pavlik was postponed to March 2, Arreola-Stiverne was moved with it. When Ward-Pavlik was canceled because Ward's injury was more serious than originally diagnosed, the heavyweight fight was going to stay on March 2 and move up to the main event of a smaller card.

Instead, HBO has significantly beefed up its March 9 telecast with the addition of the heavyweight fight.

Welterweight prospect Keith Thurman (19-0, 18 KOs), 24, is also supposed to fight on HBO -- for his third consecutive bout -- on March 9 at the Barclays Center. The leading candidate to face him is 36-year-old former titleholder Jan Zaveck (32-2, 18 KOs), who lost his belt by spirited fifth-round knockout to Andre Berto on HBO in September 2011. Zaveck has fought only once since after being sidelined for most of 2012 with an elbow injury.

The way the telecast could shake out would be for Thurman's fight to open the broadcast followed by a shift to the West Coast for the Arreola-Stiverne bout and then a return to Brooklyn for the Cloud-Hopkins main event.

The winner between Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs) and Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs) will become the mandatory challenger for heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko.

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