- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- Negotiations are under way to match pound-for-pound star Juan Manuel Marquez in an interim junior welterweight title defense against former titlist Zab Judah on July 14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Judah, a former three-time junior welterweight titleholder and the former undisputed welterweight champion, told ESPN.com Friday in the media center for the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto fight at the MGM Grand that the sides are talking and that it is a fight he badly wants.
"It's a fight I have campaigned for," said Judah, who is from Brooklyn, N.Y., but lives in Las Vegas and has been around the media center this week. "This is a fight I wanted a couple of years ago and I still want it. I want him. He fought Floyd Mayweather and never touched him and he got dropped. I can do that, too."
Top Rank is planning a July 14 pay-per-view event at Cowboys Stadium with the 38-year-old Marquez -- who has won world titles in three divisions and an interim title at junior welterweight -- in the headline fight.
Brandon Rios had been mentioned as a likely opponent for Marquez, but between his poor performance April 14 against Richard Abril -- a fight Rios won via highly controversial decision -- and Marquez's comments in the Mexican media saying he was not particularly interested in fighting Rios, it meant another opponent was needed.
Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, who promotes Judah, told ESPN.com that Top Rank chief Bob Arum has contacted her about Judah.
"I've been having discussions with Bob for the past 24 hours," she said Friday. "But the deal is not done. Obviously, we'd love to do it. I think it's a saleable fight, a terrific fight. These guys are both big names, so we would love to do it and it's not a complicated deal to make."
Duva said that Judah, 34, wanted the fight so badly that he called Arum on his own last week to make a pitch.
"He really wants the fight," she said. "But Bob hasn't made us an offer yet. He's exploring what it would take to make the fight, but I know we can make it if this is the fight they want to do. Bob knows that Zab is available, so we are talking about it."
Top Rank president Todd duBoef declined to comment on the talks.
Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs), of Mexico, easily outpointed Sergey Fedchenko of Ukraine on April 14 in Mexico City to claim a vacant interim junior welterweight title. The fight was Marquez's first since his controversial majority decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in a November welterweight title bout.
Judah (42-7, 29 KOs) lost his version of the 140-pound title by fifth-round body shot knockout to Amir Khan in July 2011 but rebounded to stop previously undefeated Vernon Paris in the ninth round in an impressive performance March 24 in a title elimination fight.
The victory put Judah in position to be the mandatory challenger for the winner of the May 19 rematch between titlist Lamont Peterson and Khan. However, a fight with Marquez would be more lucrative for Judah than fighting the Peterson-Khan II winner.
"It's a fight that makes sense," Judah said. "Marquez wants a fourth fight with Manny Pacquiao. I want a fight with Manny Pacquiao, too. The winner should get Pacquiao."
5dMalik Smith, ESPN Stats & Information