- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Lou DiBella has always had a good eye for talent, be it when he programmed boxing for HBO or now as a promoter.
As an HBO exec, he was responsible for putting on such fairly unknown fighters as Arturo Gatti, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Angel Mandredy, Junior Jones and Ike Quartey before they hit it big.
As a promoter, he signed the unknown Sergio Martinez when everybody else passed on him and took him to the world middleweight championship.
DiBella has also been able to develop fighters from their pro debut to world titles, including Jermain Taylor, Paulie Malignaggi and Andre Berto. And he has done a good job making wise economic deals to sign solid contenders who make good fights and have the talent to win a world title such as Matthew Macklin and Olusegun Ajose.
On Wednesday, DiBella added a pair of fighters to his stable who make pretty good fights and have the potential to win titles: Romanian-born, Montreal-based welterweight Jo Jo Dan and middleweight Avtandil Khurtsidze, a native of the former Soviet republic of Georgia who lives in Ukraine.
DiBella was practically giddy about the signings when we talked about them on Wednesday night.
"Khurtsidze is a friggin' good middleweight and competitive with the top of the division I think," DiBella said. "I saw tape of the guy. He's got a great record, he's world-ranked and I think him and Macklin is a war. He beats Danny Jacobs, he might beat Jermain Taylor. He won't beat Sergio, but this guy will be in good fights and he can win a world championship in the right fight. I think him and [titleholder] Peter Quillin is a war."
Khurtsidze (27-2-2, 16 KOs), 33, has won four in a row since losing a controversial decision in an interim title fight against Hassan N'Dam in N'Dam's home country of France in October 2010. N'Dam, later elevated to a full titleholder, lost his belt to Quillin on Oct. 20 in an excellent fight.
DiBella has not yet scheduled Khurtsidze's first fight with his new promotion but said it will happen "as soon as he gets over here."
The 31-year-old Dan (29-2, 16 KOs), whose real name is Ionut Dan Ion, suffered both of his losses to contender Selcuk Aydin, a highly controversial split decision in 2010 in Aydin's native Turkey and another very close fight, also in Turkey, in the 2011 rematch.
"Dan is a real guy, a good welterweight, but he hasn't fought in a while [since the second loss to Aydin last November] and he needs activity, which I will give him," DiBella said.
Dan makes his debut with DiBella on Dec. 19 on a "Broadway Boxing" card in New York. His opponent is not set.
"I love these kind of signings. They are worth the effort," DiBella said. "These guys are true professionals and legitimate contenders. I got two guys like that [on Wednesday.] Both of these guys can win titles in the right circumstance and both will be in great fights. I'm very pleased with both of them. Whenever you can bring two world class fighters into the fold it's a good thing. And these guys want to fight in the United States."