Super middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham will face mandatory challenger Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez on April 9. The only question is whether the fight will be in Berlin or in Las Vegas on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. III undercard at the MGM Grand.
Abraham promoter Team Sauerland and Ramirez promoter Top Rank were close to an agreement, so the purse bid scheduled for Tuesday in New York was delayed until Wednesday, but they were ultimately unable to make a deal.
In a purse bid conducted by email, which is unusual, Team Sauerland bid $1,563,057, barely beating Top Rank's offer of $1,500,250. There were no other bidders.
By winning the auction, Team Sauerland gained promotional control of the fight and told the WBO it planned to stage the fight on April 9 in Berlin, Abraham's hometown.
Top Rank is promoting the Pacquiao-Bradley III card on the same day in Las Vegas and wants the fight to serve as the HBO PPV co-feature. So even though Team Sauerland has the promotional rights to the bout, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told ESPN.com that they are still having discussions about having the fight on the Pacquiao-Bradley III undercard.
There would be a financial benefit for Abraham, who will be making his sixth title defense, to fight in Las Vegas rather than Germany. If the fight takes place in Germany, Abraham would be entitled to 75 percent of the winning bid, or $1,172,293, with Ramirez getting the remaining 25 percent, or $390,764.
However, under WBO rules, if Abraham fights the mandatory outside of his home country his percentage would be 80 percent of the winning bid, or $1,250,446, with Ramirez getting 20 percent, or $312,611.
"I think there are positive conversations between the parties about still scheduling the fight for the Pacquiao-Bradley undercard for a lot of reasons that will benefit everyone," Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said. "The Sauerland team is going to talk to Abraham and see if it's doable and if he's willing."
Abraham (44-4, 29 KOs), 35, has fought in the United States three times previously, including one of the best performances of his career, when he knocked out Edison Miranda in the fourth round of their 2008 rematch in Hollywood, Florida.
But Abraham lost the other two fights, both during the Super Six World Boxing Classic. In a fight Abraham was losing on the scorecards, he was disqualified in the 11th round against Andre Dirrell for hitting him when he was down in 2010 in Detroit. In 2011, in Carson, California, Abraham lost a one-sided decision challenging then-super middleweight titleholder Andre Ward.
Ramirez (33-0, 24 KOs), 24, scored a unanimous decision victory over Gevorg Khatchikian in his most recent fight.