Showtime plans huge first quarter

Don't be surprised if a title shot is in the near future of the soon-to-be 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins. AP Photo/Chris Carlson

This is the time of year when the networks that regularly televise boxing -- Showtime, HBO and ESPN2 -- are getting their first-quarter schedules in order.

I spoke with Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza the other day and he outlined the first quarter of fights he is working to finalize with Golden Boy, the network's de facto exclusive provider. Here's a look at what Espinoza sees in store:

Jan. 19: Plans are being finalized for Devon Alexander, who won a welterweight title on Showtime on Oct. 20 in a dreadful fight against Randall Bailey, to open the 2013 slate of "Showtime Championship Boxing" in a mandatory defense against England's Kell Brook, although the venue is not set. Espinoza said that the rest of the card "will involve multiple 147-pounders, we're looking at a tripleheader."

Among the possible fighters he said could appear on the undercard in separate bouts are the always exciting Lucas Matthysse (an interim junior welterweight titlist), former junior welterweight titlist Marcos Maidana (who is now at welterweight) and Josesito Lopez (who was knocked out by Canelo Alvarez in a junior middleweight title fight in September but headed back to welterweight).

Maidana might be a stretch for this particular card because his manager, Sebastian Contursi, told me that Maidana will fight Dec. 12 (opponent TBA) at famed Luna Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Contursi said he has spoken with Golden Boy about fighting "a big name early next year," adding that "we'd like [titleholder Paulie] Malignaggi but it seems he will face [Ricky] Hatton, provided that Hatton wins in his comeback fight [on Saturday.] The other good option would be the Roberto Guerrero versus Andre Berto winner."

Feb. 9: Unified junior welterweight titleholder Danny Garcia is headed for a defense against Zab Judah at the Barclays Center in Judah's hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. This fight was originally being discussed for Jan. 19, but HBO has a card that night at the Madison Square Garden Theater and the New York commission said it would not approve two major cards on the same night in the city.

Garcia, who opened the Barclays Center for boxing on Oct. 20 by drilling Erik Morales in their rematch, likely will be joined on the card by two other guys who also fought on the opening Barclays Center show: "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin, who won a middleweight belt on the show in his first title defense, and Brooklyn middleweight Daniel Jacobs.

March 9: Future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins, the former light heavyweight and middleweight champ, plans to fight on after his lopsided light heavyweight title loss to Chad Dawson in April. He will turn 48 in January and Golden Boy hopes to line up another light heavyweight title shot for him, be it against Nathan Cleverly, Beibut Shumenov or Tavoris Cloud, all of whom have belts. If Hopkins gets the title fight and wins, he would break his own record of being the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a world title. This card could also be at the Barclays Center, where Golden Boy has an exclusive deal to promote all of the building's boxing events.

Espinoza was coy about it, but said there could also be another Golden Boy card added to the schedule in late February or early March.

Also, on Dec. 15 -- which is when the Amir Khan-Carlos Molina junior welterweight fight headlines Showtime's final 2012 card at the Los Angeles Sports Arena -- there will be boxing there in the afternoon. Those Golden Boy fights likely will be televised on CBS -- Showtime's sister network -- and will include some of the 2012 U.S. Olympians who recently made their pro debuts on Showtime along with a higher-caliber main event.