Thursday, May 31, 2012
Luis Franco, Gary Russell to meet
By Dan Rafael
Promoter Gary Shaw won a purse bid on Thursday for the featherweight title elimination bout between Luis Franco, whom he promotes, and Gary Russell, the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year who is promoted by Golden Boy.
In bidding held in Honolulu, where the IBF is holding its annual conventions, Shaw won with a bid of $220,000 to beat the offer of $186,000 by Golden Boy.
As the higher rated boxer by the IBF, Franco (11-0, 7 KOs) is entitled to 60 percent of the winning bid ($132,000) with Russell (19-0, 11 KOs) due the remaining 40 percent ($88,000).
Shaw said he did not have a specific date or site yet for the fight but told ESPN.com that he plans to put it on in August or September.
The winner of the bout will become the mandatory challenger for featherweight titleholder Billy Dib (34-1, 21 KOs) of Australia.
Franco-Russell will match two decorated amateurs who are among boxing's elite prospects. Franco, 30, was a 2004 Cuban Olympian before defecting in 2009 and turning pro. Russell, 23, of Capitol Heights, Md., was a 2008 U.S. Olympian and widely regarded as the No.1 prospect in boxing, although he has not fought since November. He has been idle in 2012 because of an ankle injury, although it is healed and he is awaiting a fight date.
"Luis Franco is a great fighter with a tremendous amount of talent," Shaw said. "He beat (undefeated and former unified featherweight titleholder) Yuriorkis Gamboa twice in the amateurs and I know he'll beat Russell in the pros. Franco brings an electrifying style to the ring and the fans are going to see the best Cuban fighter in action when he steps in the ring with Russell. The winner of this fight will be the new star in the featherweight division."
Golden Boy had anticipated making a deal with Shaw rather than the fight going to a purse bid and already had a commitment from Showtime to televise Franco-Russell on June 30 as part of a "ShoBox: The New Generation" tripleheader. However, with Shaw now owning the promotional rights to the bout, he will seek his own television deal for the fight.
"I won the purse bid and now I will offer it to HBO and Showtime and see who's a buyer," Shaw said.
Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that he offered Shaw $125,000 for the fight, but he declined and preferred to go to a purse bid.