<
>

Pacquiao's future is in Top Rank, Golden Boy's hands

AROUND THE RING
Pacquiao's Plan B

LAS VEGAS -- Top Rank promoter Bob Arum won't discuss the ongoing mediation with Golden Boy Promotions because of a confidentiality agreement signed by both sides, but he is willing to discuss Manny Pacquiao's next fight in the event there is no quick settlement of the various lawsuits between the companies.

Pacquiao, the junior lightweight star, is at the center of the battle between Top Rank and Golden Boy. He signed contracts with both of them and both companies claim his promotional rights, even though Pacquiao ultimately pledged his loyalty to Top Rank, fighting Jorge Solis under its banner April 14.

If the sides settle, Pacquiao's fall fight would undoubtedly be a major HBO PPV event against Golden Boy's Marco Antonio Barrera in a rematch of Pacquiao's 2003 knockout victory.

Barrera, who is here to support his buddy Ricky Hatton in Saturday night's fight against Jose Luis Castillo, told ESPN.com he wants to fight Pacquiao again before retiring at the end of this year.

However, if there is no settlement Arum said he will match Pacquiao with Humberto Soto, another Top Rank fighter and a top junior lightweight contender.

On June 9, Soto knocked out Bobby Pacquiao, Manny's brother, and he wants revenge, Arum told ESPN.com.

"Soto is who he would fight," Arum said. "It's a good fight. It's probably a better fight than Barrera, even though it's not as much money. But it's better than Barrera action-wise. Soto wants the fight like a kid wants ice cream, and Manny wants to avenge his brother's loss. That's what he told me. Manny said it's the perfect fight and that's what he wants, and that the fans will love it."

If it's Pacquiao-Soto, Arum said it would take place Oct. 6 in Vancouver, British Columbia, where there is a sizeable Filipino population. Arum said he is in talks with Showtime about the fight because without a Top Rank-Golden Boy settlement, he said HBO is leery of being involved.

Whomever Pacquiao fights in the fall, Arum wants to match exciting junior bantamweights Jorge Arce and Martin Castillo on the undercard.

"All I want to do is make good fights," Arum said. "That's all I want to do, and we're on a pretty good roll right now."

The last major fight in Vancouver? The 1972 rematch between Muhammad Ali and George Chuvalo. The promoter? Arum.

Cotto's Plan B

Boxing followers already know that if Antonio Margarito defeats Paul Williams on July 14, he will meet Miguel Cotto in a welterweight unification bout before the new year, most likely in early December. But what does Cotto do if Margarito loses?

"There are a number of interesting fights if that happens," said Arum, who promotes Cotto and Margarito.

The two leading candidates in Arum's mind are titlist Kermit Cintron, who is promoted by Main Events and would need to retain his belt against Walter Matthysse on July 14, and rugged contender Joshua Clottey, who is with Arum.

"I don't mind doing either of those on HBO rather than HBO PPV," Arum said. "But the fight we would like to do is Shane Mosley [on HBO PPV]."

Mosley is a brutally difficult fight to make because of the issues between Top Rank and Golden Boy, although that burden could lighten if the companies settle their differences, which they are working on in mediation.

"The pay-per-view fight on Cotto's horizon would be Margarito in terms of the immediate future," Arum said. "There's also Williams, if he beats Margarito. It would depend on how he looks. If he wins an interesting fight with Margarito, a fight with Cotto would be intriguing."

One fight that he doesn't think will ever happen is one between Cotto and pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. Arum is one of the few who believes Mayweather will stick to his word and not fight again.

"I don't see him fighting again unless Oscar [De La Hoya] fights him again," said Arum, who promoted Mayweather for virtually all of his career. "Floyd doesn't want to take risks. He doesn't want to get hurt. He doesn't want to fight someone and be lucky to do 200,000 buys [on pay-per-view after doing 2.15 million against De La Hoya]. Cotto and Mosley? Floyd ain't going to take those fights. It's a shame. And Oscar won't fight him again because he doesn't want to be humiliated [losing again]. The next time it would be worse."

Cotto is coming off a stirring 11th-round TKO of Zab Judah on June 9 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Top Rank will no longer officially release its pay-per-view numbers, but Arum said Cotto-Judah did "about 225,000 buys." Arum said he needed about 150,000 to break even.

"Sure I would have liked to do more, but I'm really satisfied because it was great promotion, the Garden was sold out, everyone is talking about the fight and the guy [Cotto] looked sensational," he said.

Trilogy anyone?

Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and Steve Cunningham are now 1-1 in cruiserweight title bouts after Cunningham's victory May 26 on a majority decision. Cunningham's triumph came six months after he lost to Wlodarczyk who won the vacant belt on a split decision. Both fights took place in Wlodarczyk's native Poland.

Now, Wlodarczyk is hoping for a rubber match.

"I think a third match is the only true way to prove who is better," Wlodarczyk said. "I won the first fight, he won the second. They were both very close and the fans enjoyed both fights. I know that if we fight again, we will not only settle our score once and for all, but we will give the fans a memorable and meaningful fight."

Seminole Warriors Boxing, Wlodarczyk's promoter, said it has made Cunningham's promoter, Don King, "a substantial offer" for a third fight.

It's not out of the question that it could happen, but Cunningham more likely is headed toward a September fight with recognized world champion Jean-Marc Mormeck, who is also promoted by King, in France.

• "Legendary Nights," the acclaimed 2003 Emmy-award winning documentary series that showcased 12 of HBO's most memorable fights, is coming back in 2008 with a new batch of episodes, the network announced. HBO will soon begin production on six new episodes and will air them next year as its enters its 35th year of boxing coverage. The fights HBO will profile have not been selected, but there are some that are obvious choices, including the unforgettable Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward and Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales trilogies and Bernard Hopkins' historic knockout of Felix Trinidad, which took place in New York just two weeks after Sept. 11, to become undisputed middleweight champion.

• In a surprise, Colombian promoter Billy Chams won a purse bid Wednesday for the junior welterweight bout between titlist Ricardo Torres and mandatory challenger Kendall Holt. His bid of $181,000 edged the only other bidder, Top Rank, which offered $168,000. The minimum bid was $150,000. The oddity is that Chams and Top Rank work closely on Torres' career. Holt promoter Dino Duva sent in a bid that was disallowed because it did not meet the WBO's purse-bid rules. Chams' bid indicated that the bout would take place Sept. 1 in either Colombia or Miami. Top Rank intended to put the fight on its Aug. 4 pay-per-view card headlined by the David Diaz-Erik Morales lightweight title bout. Even though Chams won, Top Rank said it is talking to him about still putting the fight on the Aug. 4 card.

• Super middleweight Allan Green (23-1, 16 KOs) will return to the ring in a 10-rounder July 13 (ESPN2) ing Tulsa, Okla., Green matchmaker Bobby Dobbs told ESPN.com. His opponent was supposed to be Samuel Miller (16-2, 13 KOs), but he withdrew citing a leg injury. Green, who is coming off a decision loss to Edison Miranda in March, has recovered from the colon problems that had hampered him going into the Miranda bout. If Green wins, he will face Peter Manfredo Jr., Oct. 16 on ESPN.

• The junior middleweight bout between former welterweight champions Vernon Forrest and Carlos Baldomir finally has a home. The July 28 fight, which will be on HBO's "Boxing After Dark," will take place at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash., promoter Gary Shaw told ESPN.com.

• If hot junior featherweight prospect Juan Manuel Lopez (17-0, 15 KOs) defeats Feider Viloria (20-1-1, 14 KOs) in the main event of Friday's Telefutura card in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he will take a major step up in competition on Aug. 4. Arum told ESPN.com that Lopez will face Ricardo Castillo, brother of Jose Luis Castillo, on the undercard of the David Diaz-Erik Morales pay-per-view fight in Rosemont, Ill. Castillo (32-4, 22 KOs) has lost two in a row, but those defeat have come against top opposition -- Celestino Caballero in a March world title bout and Takalani Ndlovu on a split decision in December in an elimination bout.

• Who wins: a tiger or a lion? We'll find out when heavyweight Tony "The Tiger" Thompson faces Luan "Lion" Krasniqi on July 14 in Krasniqi's native Germany in an elimination bout. The winner becomes the mandatory challenger for newly crowned titlist Sultan Ibragimov. The fight, which has been delayed for a variety of reasons, has been a long time coming for the 35-year-old Thompson (29-1, 17 KOs), a southpaw from Washington, D.C., who is co-managed by NBA star Steve Francis. "I've been scheduled to fight Krasniqi for over a year now," Thompson said. "He had all sorts of reasons on avoiding me. But 'the Tiger' has finally caged the 'Lion.' It doesn't matter that I have to fight him in his home country. This 'Tiger' is at home in any ring and the 'Lion' is out of his element." Krasniqi (30-2-1, 14 KOs) has had one previous title shot, but was knocked out in the ninth round by then-beltholder Lamon Brewster in 2005.

• With less than three weeks to go before the card, Showtime and promoter Don King finally formally announced their July 7 card (9 p.m. ET/PT) at Bridgeport's (Conn.) Arena at Harbor Yard. It will be headlined by Connecticut's own Travis Simms (25-0, 19 KOs), who defends his junior middleweight belt against mandatory challenger Joachim Alcine (28-0, 18 KOs) of Canada. The opening television bout features Australian knockout artist Vic Darchinyan (28-0, 22 KOs) defending his flyweight title against Nonito Donaire (17-1, 10 KOs) of the Philippines. A third title bout is also on the card, but won't be part of the Showtime telecast. Nicaragua's Luis Perez (24-1, 15 KOs), a former junior bantamweight titleholder, faces Mexico's Genaro Garcia (35-5, 20 KOs) for a vacant bantamweight title.

• Russian heavyweight Alexander Povetkin (12-0, 10 KOs), the 2004 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist and the No. 1 heavyweight prospect in the world, is taking another big step up in competition. He'll face perennial fringe contender Larry Donald (42-4-3, 24 KOs) on June 30 in Moscow. Povetkin was originally supposed to face former title challenger Monte Barrett, but he withdrew. Donald has faced numerous top opponents, including beating a faded Evander Holyfield in November 2004. He lost a controversial decision to Nikolai Valuev in his last fight in October 2005.

• Promoter Gary Shaw is touting his two latest signings: Russian super middleweight Victor Oganov (26-0, 26 KOs), who lives in Australia, and junior lightweight Juan Castaneda Jr. (7-0, 6 KOs) of Mexico. Oganov, 30, was supposed to face Antwun Echols on Saturday's Hatton- Castillo undercard but withdrew when he agreed to sign with Shaw. "As they say, 'To the victor go the spoils,' and with his power, Victor will be collecting a lot of spoils in U.S. rings," Shaw said. "In Victor's U.S. debut in January, he knocked out Richard Grant in the second. Jeff Lacy in his prime went the distance against Grant, so that tells you something. He's fought in a lot of different countries. Nothing distracts him. He is focused on one thing, destroying his opponent. I think the fans are going to love watching him." Castaneda, 23, won five Mexican amateur national titles and was 117-11 in the unpaid ranks, according to Shaw. Castaneda will probably gain U.S. exposure on Shaw's many "ShoBox" cards.

• Heavyweight fights that interest American boxing fans might be few and far between, but that's not the case in England, where Michael Sprott (30-10, 15 KOs) and Matt Skelton (20-1, 18 KOs) are preparing for a July 14 rematch in London. Skelton was due to defend his Commonwealth title against Sprott in May, but it was postponed because of an injury. "I've been out of the ring for a while and I'm now desperate to get back into action," Skelton said. "I feel like I could break down a brick wall. Sprott will get himself into great shape as well and I'm looking forward to having a good tear up with him. Whatever happens, this fight isn't going the distance." Sprott, coming off a knockout of Audley Harrison, seeks revenge against Skelton, who stopped him in the 12th round of a bruising 2004 fight. Also on the card: England's Nicky Cook battles America's Steven Luevano for a vacant featherweight belt and rising lightweight Amir Khan, the 2004 British Olympic silver medalist, challenges Willie Limond for the Commonwealth title.

Can't get enough of Rafael's wisdom? Check out his hard-hitting blog that keeps boxing Insiders informed about the latest happenings in boxing.

QUOTABLE

"[Oleg] Maskaev, Sam Peter, Vitali Klitschko, it don't matter. I already knocked out Maskaev once, I wouldn't mind exposing Peter as all hype, and I could send Klitschko back into retirement. I just want my title shot and I'm gonna get my belt back."

-- Former heavyweight champion Oliver McCall, 42, who outpointed Sinan Samil Sam last Saturday in Sam's native Turkey to set himself up for a title shot once the Maskaev-Peter-Klitschko series of fights plays out.