<
>

Shunned by Calzaghe, Pavlik looks to fight Mora instead

The dominoes began to fall Tuesday when light heavyweight and super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe ended his relationship with promoter Frank Warren.

That Calzaghe severed ties with Warren means he will try to finalize a fall showdown with Roy Jones Jr. rather than a fight with middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, which Warren was pushing.

It also means Pavlik, who will also fight in the fall before a likely unification bout with Arthur Abraham in early 2009, may bide his time by defending against Sergio Mora, the first-season winner of "The Contender" who claimed a junior middleweight belt by upsetting Vernon Forrest on June 7.

From the moment Calzaghe defeated Bernard Hopkins on April 19, he has been talking up a fight with Jones. Warren, however, fancied the fight with Pavlik, and during the promotion of Pavlik's June 7 knockout of the Warren-promoted Gary Lockett, Warren and Pavlik promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank spent a lot of time together working on Calzaghe-Pavlik.

However, Calzaghe was never seriously interested in the fight and also announced what many had speculated about since the Hopkins fight -- that his contract with Warren had ended.

"There has been a lot of speculation about my future," Calzaghe told his hometown newspaper, The South Wales Argus, for Tuesday's edition. "At this time I want to set the record straight and end that speculation. I am now a free agent with no contract and intend to be self-managed from now on. I am the only person who can make negotiations for my next fight.

"Regarding that fight, I am not in negotiations with Kelly Pavlik, despite reports to the contrary. My intention is to fight Roy Jones Jr., a four-weight world champion fighter. That would be a special event for me against a legend of the sport. There are issues to be resolved with my former promoter Frank Warren and I hope they can be done so amicably."

Warren spokesman Richard Maynard told ESPN.com that Warren "is not making any comment on the story."

Warren, the United Kingdom's dominant promoter, worked with Calzaghe for most of his career, guiding him through an 11-year super middleweight title reign, the light heavyweight title win in April and an undefeated record.

Calzaghe's move alters Pavlik's plans. The middleweight champ hoped to jump up to super middleweight and challenge Calzaghe, but now the team has changed direction and is eyeing Mora.

"I think it's an attractive fight," Arum told ESPN.com. "Mora is better known than anyone else available because of 'The Contender' series and he just won a title at 154, but I have always known him to be a 160-pound guy."

Indeed, Mora moved down in weight for the shot at Forrest.

Arum said the fight would take place either Sept. 27 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., where Pavlik has fought two of his last three bouts, or Oct. 18 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Because Pavlik does not have a contract with any television network, Arum said the broadcaster of a proposed Pavlik-Mora bout was unsettled.

"I called both HBO and Showtime to advise them of the situation and that it looks like we'll be going to a Mora fight and what their thoughts were. They have to get back to me," Arum said. "I'm not averse to going on pay-per-view or on HBO or Showtime. I don't care. The point is I cannot be a captive of the networks. If they're not going to step up to the plate and put the money up, I will still do the promotion. And since I don't own a premium network my only choice is to go on pay-per-view. I am willing to go on HBO or Showtime as long as the network steps up and pays."

After defeating Forrest, Mora tried to make his first defense for Oct. 11 against Shane Mosley. However, he has a contractual rematch with Forrest and also owes a mandatory shot to Sergio Martinez, a bout that has been ordered by the WBC. He won't have to do either fight if he gives up his title and moves back to his more natural 160 pounds.

"We are talking to Bob about the fight, but we're also talking to Forrest and his people. We want to be sure [manager] Al Haymon and Forrest are OK with whatever we do," Tournament of Contenders promoter Jeff Wald told ESPN.com. "Sergio loves the idea of challenging for the middleweight title against a top fighter like Kelly Pavlik."

Pavlik's first choice, of course, was Calzaghe, but manager Cameron Dunkin said he understood Calzaghe's decision to pursue Jones instead.

"Mora is a good fighter and a good name," Dunkin told ESPN.com. "I don't think Calzaghe really wanted anything to do with Kelly. He wants to fight Roy Jones at 175. I don't think he wants to fight a young puncher. I understand that. I don't like it, but he has the right to do it. Calzaghe is a terrific fighter. He's not afraid of anybody, including Kelly Pavlik. It's just business."

Arum said that if Pavlik beats Mora, he would fight Abraham next.

"Obviously, for me, the best fight is Arthur Abraham, but that is not available until early next year," Arum said. "I know [Top Rank president] Todd duBoef has been talking to [Sauerland Event's] Chris Meyer and we're going to do that fight, but first Abraham has an obligation to do his mandatory against Raul Marquez. Marquez is a good guy and a hard worker and I don't want to do anything to get in the way of his opportunity."

Arum used to promote Marquez, who outpointed Giovanni Lorenzo in an upset last Saturday night to become Abraham's mandatory challenger. Abraham scored a spectacular fourth-round knockout of Edison Miranda in their 166-pound nontitle rematch in the main event.

Arum was impressed by Abraham's performance.

"I thought he looked very good and we're looking for Kelly to fight him next year," Arum said, adding that he hoped to stage the fight in late January or early February.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.