Don King wins rights with $1.1M offer

Updated: September 30, 2012, 11:45 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Promoter Don King won a purse bid for the right to promote the heavyweight title elimination bout between Cristobal Arreola and Bermane Stiverne, offering a whopping $1.1 million to beat three other bids.

The WBC purse bid was conducted Saturday at the Bellagio in Las Vegas during another function the organization was putting on.

The winner of the bout, which is due to take place by the end of December, will become the mandatory challenger for titleholder Vitali Klitschko. Klitschko, however, is running for a seat in parliament in his native Ukraine and there has been heavy speculation that he will retire if he wins the Oct. 28 election. If the 41-year-old Klitschko does retire, Arreola-Stiverne likely would be for the vacant belt.

King, Stiverne's promoter, blew away the other bidders. Dan Goossen, Arreola's promoter, offered $550,000; Golden Boy Promotions, which had designs on adding the fight to its Nov. 10 card at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to help beef up ticket sales because Arreola is a Mexican-American from Southern California with a good following, bid $512,000; and WealthTV, an upstart network that has recently gotten involved in boxing, offered $132,000.

According to Goossen, Arreola is entitled to 55 percent of the bid ($605,000) with Stiverne's share the remaining 45 percent ($495,000).

"King has 10 days to give us a location and date of the fight," Goossen said Sunday. "Whenever and wherever the fight is, Cris has his mind set on winning this fight and he has his mind set on becoming heavyweight champion of the world, no matter who he has to go against. He's in great shape and he's been training. That is music to my ears."

Arreola has not always come into his fights in top condition, but Goossen said he is motivated for the bout with Stiverne.

"I've always felt if Cris is tip-top shape, be it against Bermane Stiverne or anyone else, he will overcome them. He's so adamant that he will be in great shape for this fight and it showed when I saw him in Las Vegas (three weeks ago). He is really committed to win this fight and go on to win the heavyweight championship of the world."

Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs), 31, of Riverside, Calif., has had one shot at a heavyweight title. He challenged Klitschko in September 2009 at the Staples Center and was stopped in the 10th round when his corner threw in the towel of a one-sided fight. Two bouts later, Arreola dropped a majority decision to Tomasz Adamek in a mild upset but he has won seven fights in a row since to work himself back into position to fight the eliminator.

Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs), 33, of Canada and now living in Las Vegas, is known for having a big punch but he has a limited resume. His most notable victory was a 10th-round knockout of former world title challenger Ray Austin on an HBO card in June 2011. In his lone loss, Stiverne was knocked out in the fourth round by Demetrice King in 2007.

"Stiverne is a big puncher, but Cris has been in with big punchers, none better than Vitali Klitschko and he took everything," Goossen said. "When you're in great shape and can throw the combinations Cris can throw, there will be very few opponents who can handle it."

Stiverne is coming off a tune-up eight-round decision win against journeyman Willie Herring in April.

Arreola has not fought since a first-round knockout of Eric Molina in February. Arreola was supposed to fight in June, but withdrew from the bout because of an elbow problem.

"He's been training and he's fine," Goossen said. "He's good now. He said he's 100 percent."

King is looking for a television partner to help him bankroll the fight. Should he be unable to come up with a TV deal and defaults on the purse bid, Goossen's second-place bid would come into play.

"If for any reason Don has any problems moving forward we will step in," he said. "Either way, this is a good fight for boxing, two powerful heavyweights fighting with a lot on the line."