Two heavyweight title bouts headline card

Don King is planning to present at least a four title-fight PPV telecast he hopes will emanate from New York's Madison Square Garden on July 23.

Updated: May 21, 2005, 10:37 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS – Although Don King is here in the desert promoting one of the year's biggest fights – the Felix Trinidad vs. Winky Wright middleweight clash at the MGM Grand on Saturday – the high-haired one is already hard at work on his next blockbuster pay-per-view card that will feature two heavyweight belts on the line.

With or without the support of HBO, King is planning to present at least a four title-fight telecast he hopes will emanate from New York's Madison Square Garden on July 23. King outlined the details for ESPN.com.

•  Hasim Rahman (40-5, 33 KOs) will face Monte Barrett (31-3, 17 KOs) for an interim title while champion Vitali Klitschko recovers from back surgery. Klitschko will be obligated to face the winner when he is healthy. HBO is holding Sept. 24 for Klitschko's next bout.

•  Chris Byrd, who has battled with King over his purses, also will defend his piece of the heavyweight title, against Sergei Liakhovich. Byrd – who is owed a minimum of $2.5 million per defense but has often taken shorter money – and King met in New York on April 30, the day of the James Toney-John Ruiz fight. They worked out many of their issues.

"We're optimistic about the future with Don King, and Chris is willing to get in on July 23 and he is also willing to compromise on the minimum purse due to him," said Byrd's attorney, John Hornewer.

•  Junior middleweight titlist Javier Castillejo will face former welterweight champ Ricardo Mayorga, who hasn't fought since being stopped by Trinidad in an October middleweight fight. But Mayorga's availability could be an issue because this week an appeals court in his native Nicaragua ordered him to be retried on a rape charge that previously had been dismissed.

•  If Zab Judah defeats Cosme Rivera on the Trinidad-Wright card, King wants to bring him right back. However, if King can lure Oscar De La Hoya or Shane Mosley into a fight with Judah, he would hold Judah out until the fall and replace him on the card with a rematch between Luis Collazo and Jose Antonio Rivera. Collazo outpointed Rivera in an April brawl to win a welterweight belt, but the fight was not televised.

Hasim Rahman
Rahman, left, who upset Lennox Lewis in 2001, is one of the marquee names on King's July 23 card.

King had hoped to also put Toney on the card, but that was before Toney faced the possibility of losing his heavyweight title and was hit with a 90-day suspension by the New York Athletic Commission on Wednesday. The suspension was for a positive steroid test following his April 30 fight with Ruiz. The result was changed from a Toney win to a no decision.

King had hoped to match Toney in a heavyweight rematch against Vassiliy Jirov. Toney outpointed Jirov for the cruiserweight title in the 2003 Boxing Writers Association of America fight of the year.

King also said he was interested in a junior lightweight unification bout between recent title gainer Vicente Mosquera, who won his belt on the Toney-Ruiz card, and Robbie Peden. It's a realistic fight because King, who promotes Mosquera, and Dan Goossen, who has Peden, work closely these days as Toney's co-promoters.

King said he offered Rahman-Barrett to HBO but the network was not interested, nor was it interested in doing his complete card on HBO PPV.

HBO PPV's Mark Taffet offered King an Aug. 13 date, but King wants to stay in July in order to get the Rahman-Barrett fight done early enough that the winner can be ready for a possible September fight with Klitschko.

Bernard Hopkins defends the undisputed middleweight title against Jermain Taylor on July 16 and back-to-back pay-per-view cards are extremely rare. But King said he is willing to do the fight on his own pay-per-view carrier, Kingvision, and let the public decide which card it would rather see.

"I don't mind going against [Hopkins-Taylor] any day of the week," King said. "It's nothing I anticipated doing, but [HBO boss] Ross Greenburg didn't want to do my card. I thought I would get the support from my network, but there is no sense arguing. I'll do it on my own. If I lose my money, I lose my money. This is no dispute with HBO, but I got an agenda and they got an agenda. I got the interim sanction [from the WBC for Rahman-Barrett], and I'm going with the date. I am not angry with them, but my show will be better and I will let the people decide which one they want to see.

"I went to HBO, they didn't support my idea, and they have every right not to support my idea. So I will do my idea myself. This is done with love. I offered it to HBO first, they declined. But I got to do something. I'm trying to survive."

Greenburg did not return a phone call from ESPN.com.

Corrales-Castillo replay

The May 7 all-time classic lightweight unification fight between Diego "Chico" Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo is must-see TV. For that reason, Showtime has added a rare replay to its main service to go with replays running on its multiplex channels. Normally, Showtime only replays pay-per-view fights, but Corrales' 10th-round TKO of Castillo on Saturday night has created such a stir – many are calling it the best fight in boxing history – that Showtime will rebroadcast the fight Friday night (11 ET/PT). Even before the end of the fight, it was shaping up as an unforgettable brawl; then Corrales went down twice in the 10th and rallied for an improbable stoppage.

Diaz
Diaz

Quick hits: Former welterweight champ Ike Quartey (35-2-1, 30 KOs), now campaigning at middleweight after a five-year layoff, will fight for the second time in his comeback against former junior middleweight titlist Verno Phillips (38-9-1, 20 KOs) on June 18. HBO will televise the bout on the Glen Johnson-Antonio Tarver II undercard. … After the success of its first pay-per-view card last month, ESPN is working on a second card with promoter Main Events. The target month is August. The card could include lightweight titlist Juan Diaz vs. Ebo Elder in a fight that was postponed from the April 23 ESPN PPV card when Diaz was cut during sparring a week before the fight. Also being mentioned for the card are the Injin Chi-Rocky Juarez featherweight title bout and a match involving hot heavyweight Calvin Brock, who defeated Jameel McCline in an exciting fight on the April card. … Fast-rising heavyweight contender Samuel Peter (23-0, 20 KOs), coming off last month's third-round blowout of Gilbert Martinez on ESPN2, is returning July 2 (Showtime) in Reno, against Taurus Sykes (23-1-1, 6 KOs). … British heavyweight Audley Harrison, the 2000 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, will now face veteran Robert Davis on June 9 (Fox Sports Net). Original opponent Bill Zumbrun fell out with an injury.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.

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