Notebook: Timing now right for Brock to gain title shot
DiBella offered numerous cards over the past few weeks, but he and the network could never come to an agreement.
The final card offered would have been headlined by super middleweight Peter Manfredo Jr. vs. Joey Spina (19-0-1, 14 KOs) in Providence, R.I., the hometown for both fighters. Manfredo (25-3, 11 KOs) is a popular fighter thanks to his participation on the first season of "The Contender" reality series. He was the runner-up to winner Sergio Mora.
DiBella's proposed tripleheader also included super middleweight Allan Green vs. either Jerson Ravelo or Alejandro Berrio and welterweight prospect Andre Berto vs. Nick Acevado, who was eliminated on this season of "The Contender."
When HBO rejected the card, Contender promoters sold it to ESPN, which will air a late-night special Oct. 14 on ESPN2 featuring Manfredo-Spina and Green-Ravelo, Contender promoter Jeff Wald told ESPN.com.
HBO investigated the possibility of replacing its canceled card with a same-day tape delay of the super middleweight unification fight between Mikkel Kessler and Markus Beyer, which takes place Oct. 14 in Denmark. However, that went nowhere because Kessler is close to an agreement with The Contender group to become his American co-promoter. Wald said it made no sense for his group to compete against itself.
He also confirmed that they are close to signing Kessler.
"We had Mikkel over here with [Danish promoter] Mogens Palle for a week and [Contender partner] Ray [Leonard] is probably going over to Copenhagen for the fight with Beyer. So are we the official co-promoters of Kessler right now? No. But are we in serious discussions and do we expect to work with them? Yes."
It is a move that makes sense for The Contender group because the bulk of its boxers fight in the super middleweight division.
But with a few weeks to reflect on his upset loss, Rahman (41-6-2, 33 KOs) has decided he wants to come back sooner than later and could wind up headed for Germany before the end of the year to face Sinan Samil Sam (26-3, 15 KOs), a fringe contender with a high ranking in one of the sanctioning organizations.
"Now, 'Rock' tells me that he'd like to get back in the ring as quickly as possible, November or December if possible," co-manager Steve Nelson told ESPN.com. "We've asked our promoter, Top Rank, to see if they can make a fight with Sam. 'Rock' made it very clear to me and to Top Rank that he has no problem going to Germany for the fight. We have no problem with that."
To that end, Top Rank this week began talking to the Sam camp about the fight. Sam has won two in a row since November, when Maskaev outpointed him in a title elimination fight to get the shot at Rahman.
"He very much wants to become a three-time heavyweight champion," Nelson said. "He feels he has the ability. He feels the 'Rock' that fought Maskaev wasn't the best he could be and he wants to redeem himself once again."
Rahman, at first, figured to wait until next year before taking an easy, confidence-building fight but changed his mind.
"He wants to fight some type of contender next and then look to pick it up and keep picking it up until we get another title shot," Nelson said.
It is possible a potential Rahman-Sam fight could be sanctioned as a WBC eliminator given that Rahman dropped to only third in the organization's ratings following his loss to Maskaev; Sam is fourth. Nos. 1 and 2 -- Samuel Peter and James Toney -- just fought an eliminator, clearing the way for Rahman and Sam to fight the next one.
"I think there's one more run for 'Rock' at this point of his career, but he cannot afford another misstep," Nelson said. "He has to do everything correctly. If he does, it he can become a three-time heavyweight champion of the world."
"I want Oleg," Peter said, referring to heavyweight titlist Oleg Maskaev, who won his title Aug. 12 by knocking out Hasim Rahman in the 12th round.
Peter's victory against Toney came in an elimination bout and made Peter (27-1, 22 KOs) the mandatory challenger for Maskaev's title.
Dino Duva, Peter's promoter, is trying to get the ball rolling for the mandatory fight.
"We want Maskaev, now," Duva said this week. "I will be contacting [Maskaev promoter] Dennis Rappaport to begin negotiations immediately. Maskaev was obligated by the WBC to fight Toney in his next bout after defeating Rahman. Now that Samuel beat Toney, we expect Oleg to honor that obligation to Sam.
"Sam is ready to fight Maskaev immediately, and fighting him for the WBC heavyweight title is the only thing on Sam's mind right now. We want to make this fight sometime before the end of the year."
Duva's timetable appears a bit ambitious. Maskaev is nursing various injuries following his fight with Rahman and there are also no dates available on HBO or Showtime for a fight the magnitude of Maskaev-Peter.