Words: Alan Dawson; Photos: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Heralded Chinese junior flyweight, Zou Shiming, a two-time Olympic gold winner and three-time World Amateur Champion, scaled in at 111lb earlier today, Friday, ahead of his pro debut examination against Eleazar Valenzuela, who weighed 111.6lb.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Lou DiBella, the vocal promoter for lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28ko), has reiterated their shared disinclination to enter the super middleweight division as Martinez would be at too great a weight disadvantage. His fighter, Maravilla, who registered a 157lb weight for his last bout with Matthew Macklin; three pounds below the middleweight limit, will go as low as 150lb if it were to lure pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr into action…
Speaking after Martinez’s 11th round knockout of Macklin, a fight in which he started slow but finished strong last Saturday, March 17 in New York City, DiBella bellowed: “[Martinez is] a 154lber, he ate steak and potatoes all f**king week and weighed 157. He could have fought at 154 [on Saturday, versus Macklin for The Ring magazine's middleweight (160lb) championship].”
Addressing assembled journalists and recorded by Boxeo Mundial, DiBella also spoke of Martinez’s middleweight rival – Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, who champions the WBC belt, a world title formerly held by Sergio.
“If Chavez fights [Martin] Murray… I’m going to talk to Bob [Arum, Chavez's promoter at Top Rank Boxing] about whether or not there’s a real possibility of making a fight in September or not. But if he does fight Murray [in June] he should be stripped [of the WBC world championship] before that.”
It has since emerged that Visa issues have derailed the expected fight between Chavez Jr and British contender Martin Murray, however, DiBella would still have “no faith they will make the fight”. He continued: “I will try to talk to Bob but the one thing pissing me off is [concerning the weight and] the HBO commentators talking about [Lucian] Bute and [Andre] Ward [who both fight at 168lbs]. I don’t want to listen to it; it’s horse-sh*t!”
Regarding viable opponents outside of Chavez Jr, DiBella said: “Andy Lee is certainly a possibility, especially in a heavily Irish area. Obviously we’re not getting [Miguel] Cotto next or Chavez next. And we’re not getting Mayweather next so we have to look at what’s financially viable.”
A lucrative showdown with Mayweather, though, that would pit two pound-for-pound top five prizefighters against each other, is something that DiBella enthuses… so much so that he explained that Martinez would even fight Mayweather (42-0-0, 26ko) at a catchweight of 153lbs, 152lbs, 151lbs or even 150lbs, four pounds lighter than the weight Mayweather will fight Cotto at later this year, for Miguel’s ‘Super’ WBA super welterweight world title.
Not only would Martinez and DiBella relinquish the weight advantage to Mayweather, they would also be willing to accept a 20 percent share of the purse, compared to a mega 80 percent for Floyd, nicknamed Money.
“We’d fight Floyd at 151, we’d fight Floyd at 150… why would we do that? To get the opportunity. And we’ll do it at 80-20; f**k parity! Mayweather can have 80 percent of the money. And we’ll do it at 150 after he beats up Cotto. Let’s do the fight.”
Fight promoters are no strangers to lauding their charges. DiBella has oft termed Martinez as a sure-fire future hall-of-famer and, considering Martinez’s speed, unorthodox movements, combination-punching and gunslinging fight style that sees shots thrown from unorthodox angles, Lou likened Sergio to former four-weight world champion Roy Jones Jr.
“People should realise something… you should feel privileged to watch Martinez right now,” he said of the slick Argentine, who now has thrilling victories over Alex Bunema, Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams, Serhiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker and Macklin. “He’s an all-time great, man, he’s like Roy Jones Jr in his prime; the guy is a freak of nature.”
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
HBO have pulled the lightweight duel between undefeated duo Brandon Rios and Yuriorkis Gamboa from their World Championship Boxing broadcasting schedule. The rival prizefighters were set to clash in the main event bout at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on April 14, however, despite Gamboa’s well-publicised absence from the promotion, Rios and the Top Rank undercard will remain in action next month with television rights still to be arranged.
The 135lb tussle, that would have decided the fate of the WBA lightweight world championship belt, had generated huge interest as it pitted two of the pound-for-pound most fan-friendly, exciting headhunters against each other yet fears the match-up would fall through originated earlier this month as Gamboa twice no-showed press conferences in his native Miami (bizarrely, an event that was his own request) and latterly, in Los Angeles.
Speculation began to build as to whom could fill in should Gamboa be axed from the card, with undercard slugger Mike Alvarado (32-0-0, 23ko) linked with Rios (29-0-1, 22ko) in a super lightweight tie but such a fight has been quashed as Alvarado’s contest with Mauricio Herrera will provide the chief support to Rios versus TBA in April.
Cameron Dunkin, the prominent manager who represents Rios, was reported to have told ESPN that the leading candidate to fill in for Gamboa would be Richard Abril who, like Yuriorkis, is a Cuban-born, Miami resident. Abril (17-2-1, 8ko) is an interim titlist with the WBA at lightweight and, in his most recent fight, overcame Miguel Acosta – who Rios teekayoed last year – by way of unanimous decision.
It has also been claimed that Top Rank, who guided the ascendancy of Gamboa to the upper echelons of the featherweight ranks, will pursue legal action over a fighter they claim has been advised by a rival promoter or promoters to withdraw from the April 14 contest.
As well as Rios and Alvarado versus Herrera, Filipino prospect Mercito Gesta will square off against Luis Antonio Arceo and super bantamweight Jesse Magdaleno will take on Nick Fast.
On The Beak – Admin
Kronk Irish middleweight star, Andy Lee (27-1-0, 19ko) is ready and available to fight WBC middleweight world champion, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (45-0-1, 31ko) on June 2 or 16. Following Chavez Jr’s second successful defence of his WBC title against Marco Antonio Rubio in San Antonio on February 4, Team Lee, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum and HBO Boxing agreed in principle to the Chavez Jr versus Lee fight.
In the past few days Team Lee has been made aware that Team Chavez is reluctant for Chavez Jr to face Lee due the Irishman’s southpaw style. Team Lee strongly believes their fighter has earned his place to challenge Chavez Jr for his WBC belt.
Lee is highly ranked in the middleweight division and is currently positioned as the WBA’s number two and WBO number two prizefighter in world boxing at 160lbs. In recent months, the Kronk Gym fighter has also been knocking on the door of other world title shots, but was bitterly disappointed when he failed to secures title challenges with WBC diamond champion, Sergio Martinez on March 17 and Super WBA titlist, Felix Sturm on April 13.
The Chavez Jr versus Lee fight is a war the boxing public are intrigued to see as it pits two young fighters doing battle for a prestigious belt. This an opportunity for promoters and tv executives to rejuvenate the sport of boxing and showcase two exciting and entertaining young Mexican and Irish warriors that are popular with the US television audience.
The Irishman’s last two impressive performances live on HBO made an emphatic statement that he has the skills and attributes necessary to challenge and win a world title, 1: a barnstorming tenth round knock out victory over formerly unbeaten world ranked Craig McEwan on March 12, 2011 and 2: a boxing master-class performance against the durable Brian Vera on October 1, 2011.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was born with boxing in his blood and has followed in the footsteps of his legendary father Julio Cesar Chavez Sr, a six-time world champion in three weight divisions. After only two amateur bouts, Julio turned pro at the age of 17 on September 26, 2003 in Culiacan, Sinalao, Mexico.
Since then, the Mexican warrior’s US promoter, Top Rank has astutely promoted and guided their protege over the last eight years to become a world champion and box office attraction at the age of 26.
Andy Lee followed a different path in boxing; he had a successful amateur career lacing up his gloves at the age of 11 to go on to win a host of Irish national titles, multinational tournaments, a silver medal in the world under-19s in 2002, a European bronze senior medal in 2003 and was a 2004 Irish Olympian.
Since Lee’s pro debut at the famous Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on March 10, 2006, Emanuel Steward has nurtured and honed the boxing skills of his pupil and carefully chartered a pathway for his fighter to become a world title champion.
Lee commented from Detroit today: “I would now relish the opportunity to fight for a world title. A title shot against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr would be a challenge I would rise to. It is every boxer’s ambition to be a world champion. I would love to fight Julio for the WBC title on June 2 or 16… it would be a tough fight but I believe I have the skills to beat him. The Irish and Mexican people like a good fight, so let’s get it on.”
The Chavez Jr versus Zbik world title bout on June 4, 2011 successfully drew 1.5 million viewers on HBO and with over 40 million people in the US of Irish descent a Chavez Jr v Lee title bout has the potential to boost these viewing figures significantly and generate substantial revenue for fighters, promoters and broadcasters.
Steward, presently in Waldimir Klitschko’s training camp commented: “Andy has established himself as an entertaining fighter in America and Europe.
“I think a fight between Andy and Julio would be a great fight; they are two young fighters burning with ambition and have a track record of being in exciting fights. Andy is the most prominent and visible middleweight contender resident in the United States at this time; it makes good sporting and business sense for HBO and promoters to make the fight between Andy and Julio.”
Team Lee are confident that if Top Rank and Team Chavez are up to conclude discussions and negotiations for the fight, that a deal can be done and dusted over the next few days.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Manny Pacquiao is set to defend his WBO welterweight world championship at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, against Timothy Bradley on Saturday, June 9. According to The Ring, A deal was agreed today, Monday, after a productive weekend meeting in San Antonio, Texas, between Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz, Bradley’s manager Cameron Dunkin and Top Rank Boxing promoter Bob Arum – who represents both fighters.
Following Pacquiao’s last fistic outing, a controversial majority decisioning of Juan Manuel Marquez in November last year, speculation quickly escalated linking the Filipino belt collector with defensive wizard Floyd Mayweather Jr, who trounced Victor Ortiz by way of fourth round technical knockout two months prior to Manny’s competitive contest with Juan Manuel.
Mayweather began calling Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38ko) out on his official Twitter account and even reserved a date and venue. Floyd, who was recently found guilty of a misdemeanour charge, could only box on May 5 as a judge ruling granted the 34-year-old a postponed prison sentence due to his previous pugilistic commitments to defend his WBC title at 147lbs on the aforementioned date.
The timing for Pacquiao, it appeared, was not convenient for multiple reasons… 1; he suffered a 28-stitch cut during the Marquez victory and required time to recover, 2; Arum wanted any bout with Mayweather to occur later than May in order to construct a temporary 40,000 seater arena on the Vegas strip in order to maximise sales at the gate and, finally, 3; Pacquiao’s desire of a 50/50 revenue split was reportedly not well received by Mayweather.
Since the third attempt of putting the pound-for-pound match-up together collapsed, Mayweather booked a Cinco de Mayo bout with Puerto Rican boxing royalty Miguel Cotto and Arum and Pacquiao turned to Bradley (28-0-0, 12ko).
While there may be a sense of disappointment that neither Pac nor Floyd will fight each other this summer, both alternative contests still retain elements of intrigue. Mayweather will compete at his highest weight, 154lbs, in order to challenge for Cotto’s WBA super welterweight world title. He was also taking on a fighter who had just avenged his first professional defeat to Antonio Margarito whilst producing a disciplined box-and-move clinic.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, takes on a young, hungry, confident and motivated fighter who has been hankering for a high-profile contest in order to showcase his improving skill-set. Bradley, 28, is undefeated, a three-time super lightweight world champion, has good victories over Miguel Vazquez, Junior Witter, Kendall Holt, Lamont Peterson and Devon Alexander and, crucially, possesses a style where he will take the fight to Pacquiao unlike Manny’s most recent two opponents: Shane Mosley, who boxed in too timid a manner and Marquez, who effectively counter-punched Pacman.
Bradley formed one component of a four candidate-long shortlist made available to Manny. The other front-runner, Cotto, aligned himself with Mayweather while the remaining two options, a fourth fight with Marquez and a duel with unified 140lb king Lamont Peterson – who unseated Pacquiao’s Wildcard Boxing Club stablemate Amir Khan – have been offered a dust-up at the Cowboys Stadium on July 14.
The winner of Marquez and Peterson could then box the winner of Pacquiao v Bradley in either the latter half of the year, or at the start of 2013 should a Mayweather fight take precedence.
Pepe Rodriguez – WBC
The Coahuila puncher, Marco Antonio Rubio, who faces Julio Cesar Chavez Jr at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday, February 4, has acknowledged that the WBC middleweight world champion is a dangerous fighter, but said: “I will face the best version of the legend’s son. In his last fights he has shown great advances but I have the punch to knock him out… I don’t want to risk with the judges, I’ll go for the knock out.”
Marco, who looks strong and in very good condition, said that he is in the final stage of the preparation of his next fight against Chavez and is practicing sparring with Marco “Dorado” Reyes (22-1-0, 20ko) and other partners, with whom he puts into practice the tactics deployed to combat the fighter from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico; Chavez Jr.
The bout to confront Chavez on February 4, will be at the Alamo Dome. After losing his first attempt to be crowned WBC middleweight champion against Kelly Pavlik in 2009, to date, he has added nine wins by ko to his record, which makes him an extremely live opponent, with a possibility to be crowned.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
It’s a pound-for-pound super showdown that’s failed twice at the negotiation table in the past two years, a match-up that would surpass all pay-per-view figures in boxing and one that would unify two alphabet titles… WBC welterweight world championship incumbent Floyd Mayweather Jr wants it, WBO titlist at 147lbs Manny Pacquiao wants it but the team behind the Filipino have mixed opinions about how the bout can turn from pipe-dream into reality.
“I’m ready to put my belt up. What about you Manny Pacquiao? Let’s make history,” Mayweather (42-0-0, 26ko) said via his official Twitter account yesterday, Wednesday, one day after calling “punk” Pacman out for a fight on May 5.
There had been increasing suggestions that Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38ko) would not shirk from the challenge and meet it head on, however, his trainer; Freddie Roach, trusted adviser; Michael Koncz and promoter; Bob Arum, of Top Rank Boxing, have all made public their thoughts and, although differing from each other, all suggest a further postponement to what is already a protracted and laboured attempt at putting together two of the finest fighters from the past decade.
“I think it has to happen in 2012, because people are starting to say, ‘Who cares at this point?’” explained Roach regarding the frustration felt by fans during a segment with host Mario Diaz of WPIX. “It is starting to lose momentum instead of gaining, so they better do it this year. I definitely think it will be the second fight for both of them this year. I think they will both have one more fight, a tune-up fight.”
Mayweather’s allowance to push his 87-day jail sentence back until June 1 hinged on his previous commitment to box on Cinco de Mayo so, in the event that Pacquiao is not his opponent, another – likely Saul Canelo Alvarez – will be drafted in. For Pacquiao, it could well be a fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez the following month.
Pushing the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight into the second half of the year is a stance also advocated by Koncz, who regards the MGM Grand Garden Arena’s 16,800 seats to have a capacity too meagre for a contest of this calibre. Koncz, like Bob Arum, believes a makeshift 40,000 seat arena should be constructed on the strip. Such a task would render a May 5 date too soon.
“Why would I tell Manny to fight on the 5th and throw away a percentage of 30 million? That’s crazy,” Koncz was quoted by AP to have said, perhaps overlooking the fact that Las Vegas already has a mega-stadium – the Motor Speedway – that could entertain 140,000 people.
Arum echoed Koncz’s views on the outdoor ground: “[The fight] could happen very easily,” he said during an address on GMA TV in the Philippines. “[But] the fight badly needs [the makeshift arena].”
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Having turned his back on the WBC in a December, 2011 press conference that he organised himself, lineal middleweight champion and the incumbent of The Ring magazine’s prestigious championship – Sergio Martinez – now finds himself back in a familiar position as the Council have mandated that should he and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr both triumph in their next respective bouts then they must box later in the year. Chavez Jr’s promoter, though, has other ideas…
It is not the first time that Maravilla has been made the mandatory challenger to the title Chavez Jr possesses as their paths were supposed to cross in the first quarter of this current calendar year, however, instead, the WBC allowed Chavez Jr to take on Marco Antonio Rubio, the champion’s second successive voluntary defence having also taken on – and defeated – Peter Manfredo Jr.
The WBC’s allowance of the match-up disgusted Martinez: “I’m not planning to defend the WBC Diamond belt anymore. The only title I’m going to defend from now on is the title I won after beating Kelly Pavlik; The Ring magazine title. I won’t ever represent the WBC ever again until [they] make the fight they ordered at the WBC convention [versus Chavez Jr].
“They won’t honour their own agreement. I hate the [cowardice] that Chavez Jr displays as well as his coach Freddie Roach and promoter Bob Arum for avoiding me every day. I never thought a world champion could avoid someone in this way.”
In 2010, Martinez – a then WBC champion – elected to take on an opponent selected by HBO – Serhiy Dzinziruk – as they did not regard the mandatory fighter, Sebastian Zbik, to be pay-per-view worthy. Martinez accepted the fight but was consequently stripped of the belt.
The irony of the situation was that, in the summer, Zbik and Chavez Jr fought for the vacant championship… it was even broadcast by HBO. In an attempt to appease Chavez Jr, the WBC ‘promoted’ him to be their ‘Champion Emeritus’, an honour usually bestowed upon a fighter entering retirement.
Since then Martinez has lobbied to get his title back by calling out Chavez Jr and/or by calling on the WBC to honour their agreement. Thus far, it has been to no avail.
A statement recently released by the Council read:
“The WBC unanimously approved that the WBC middleweight champion of the world, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr should defend mandatorily against Sergio Martinez, but leaving open an opportunity for both parties to agree as TV dates are already reserved: Chavez on February 4 [versus Rubio] and Martinez on March 15 [against Matthew Macklin].
“The Board of Governors of the WBC has ruled to accept both [match-ups] according to the rules, but with the indication that the winner and WBC champion after the 4th of February must defend mandatorily against Martinez, if he wins over Mathew Macklin, classified in the past convention by request of Mr. Lou DiBella.”
In-fighter Chavez Jr, who displayed a multi-dimensional boxing style against Manfredo, and fast-paced gunslinger Martinez, are both betting favourites heading into their bouts against Rubio and Macklin, however, despite the promise of a protracted fight between two of the most prominent 160lbers on the planet, it remains a fight that Chavez Jr’s promoter Bob Arum is disinclined to book.
“We have to do what’s best for our fighters,” said Arum, as reported by The Ring. “And for me, if Chavez is successful against Rubio, then the big fight for him – the big, big fight for him – is Miguel Cotto if Cotto is not fighting Manny.”
The main big fight element of a Chavez Jr and Cotto contest is the perpetual pugilistic rivalry between Chavez Jr’s Mexico and Cotto’s Puerto Rico and, if such a fight were to be made first then it would be overlooking the two most obvious match-ups that have long been associated with the undefeated middleweight.
Primarily: a fight with the consensus number one in the division – Martinez and, secondarily, an all Mexico encounter with fellow undefeated champion, Saul Alvarez, the current holder of the WBC title at 154lbs. Cotto, despite his pedigree in the lighter weight classes, should remain an afterthought when pondering opponents for a man who strides into the ring with an extra 20lbs over the middleweight limit. The size differential alone should discount Miguel…
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Floyd Mayweather Jr, 34, was ready to begin a 90-day prison sentence in Las Vegas on charges relating to domestic violence instigated in September, 2010 but, following a late plea from the welterweight boxer’s lawyer – Richard Wright – the Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa allowed a postponement until June 1 in order to accommodate previously existing sporting obligations. Namely: Mayweather’s Cinco de Mayo date.
According to an Associated Press report, Mayweather has been allowed to continue training in order to ready himself for what could potentially be a super fight on May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The date and arena had been reserved by Floyd and his camp late last year in the hope that it could entice Filipino prizefighter Manny Pacquiao and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum into booking what is estimated to be the most lucrative match-up in the sport’s history.
Indeed, money appears to be one of the key factors. AP state that, whilst stressing that Mayweather – himself dubbed ‘Money’ – was not attempting to shirk away from the sentence, but informed Saragosa of the financial benefits that Las Vegas enjoys when Floyd fights in town. His last seven fights were cited to have raised over $1 billion to the city’s economy and the May 5 date would likely generate a further $100 million irrespective of opponent.
“This is simply a delay because of prior commitments and contracts,” said Wright as quoted by Associated Press.
The judge replied: “Mr. Mayweather has an obligation to this court [but] given the fact that Mr. Mayweather has these obligations, I am going to grant your request.”
Leonard Ellerbe, who acts as confidant to Mayweather, said fans can expect Floyd to engage in a “mega fight” in May, however, when pressed as to whom the opponent he faces will be, Ellerbe requested time be given for himself and his fighter to process the day’s events.
“We’ll make an announcement about who we’re going to fight next week. We just came out of the court hearing. Give us a chance to catch our breath,” the Los Angeles Times quote him to have said.
The super fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao, though, is unlikely to go ahead unless the date is pushed toward the end of the month. Arum said: “May 5 is out for us, it can’t happen because we want to explore the idea of getting a [temporary] 40,000 seater stadium up on the streets of Las Vegas.
“The end of May is a possibility.”
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
One unified world champion, an undefeated titlist and two first ballot future hall of famers are the statuses of the four opponents adviser Michael Koncz and Top Rank Boxing founder Bob Arum will be discussing when the two meet this week to begin the selection process for WBO welterweight world champion incumbent Manny Pacquiao‘s next defence. Lamont Peterson, Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto are all in the mix…
Filipino belt-collector Pacman was last in the ring in November, when he went fist-to-fist with Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39ko) for a third – and what was billed a final – time, however, the end result (a Pacquiao win by way of majority decision) has split observers. One section regarded Marquez’s counter-punching tactic to have thwarted a sluggish Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38ko) sufficiently enough for the three-weight world champ to collect a major honour in a fourth division – a viewpoint shared by On The Beak at the time.
However, others pointed out that the expectation prior to fight night – that Pacquiao would claim a conclusive knockout, perhaps as early as the sixth round – had an influence on people’s scoring of the fight as, when the competitive contest transpired, a more favourable stance to Marquez developed when - like it had in the first and second duel – it was really more even.
As such, a fourth fight has been mooted yet a potential stumbling block to any negotiations for the bout could be due to Marquez’s reported unwillingness to box in Las Vegas; the scene of all three fights and one in which he is yet to gain what he believes is a deserving win.
Pacquiao has already trounced Cotto (37-2-0, 30ko). It was the bout in which he earned the WBO title he still defends and one in which he looked superior in every minute of every round until Cotto was teekayoed 55 seconds into the 12th and final round in 2009. The Puerto Rican’s successes since that fight – a hat-trick of stoppages over Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga and Antonio Margarito (all at super welterweight) – have seen him fight his way back into a shot at a second highly-lucrative payday with Manny.
Bradley (28-0-0, 12ko) and Peterson (30-1-1, 15ko) both campaign in the weight class directly south of Pacquiao, super lightweight. Bradley, the holder of the WBO championship, is yet to be beat, has already fought at welterweight and is in his prime years. Peterson holds the WBA/IBF titles and is coming off the back of his most significant victory to date – a points victory over Pacquiao’s Wildcard Boxing Club stablemate Amir Khan in Washington DC, December, 2011.
All four fighters will be the focus of Arum and Koncz’s conversations this week as Koncz has specifically jetted into Las Vegas to meet Arum, according to Manila Standard Today. Pacquiao was due to attend yet has decided to spend further time with his family.
Instead, Koncz will report back to Pacquiao in Manila next week, January 10 where a final decision could be reached.
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