Notebook: ESPN to present fights Ryder Cup-style
Witter wants the fight because Hatton is the division money man. If you fight him, you make your best payday because Hatton is immensely popular in Great Britain and has a lucrative HBO contract. However, he is committed to fighting Jose Luis Castillo in June in a fight many are eagerly awaiting.
But that hasn't stopped Witter from continuing his campaign to lure Hatton into the ring.
"I think Hatton needs to grow some [expletive], forget all the politics and just give everyone the fight they want," Witter said. "Him and his team say I bring nothing to the table. They say US TV doesn't want to show me. We all know that's [expletive]."
Witter is a little misguided. Few outside of England are interested in the fight and, no, HBO is not interested in buying the match.
"If they go for Castillo first, what's the point? He is a blown up lightweight who hasn't properly established himself at [140 pounds]," Witter continued. "He only got by Herman Ngoudjo on a split [decision]."
• And the winner of the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes is: Mexico's Jorge Solis (32-0-2, 23 KOs), brother of junior flyweight titlist Ulises Solis. Solis got the call to fight Pacquiao in April on a Top Rank pay-per-view card when the fight was shifted from Macau, China, where Pacquiao would have fought Asian star Injin Chi, to San Antonio. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said he got Pacquiao's approval on Solis this week and that Solis' contract was being finalized. The fight will take place either April 14 or 21, but it depends on when middleweight champion Jermain Taylor fights. He is also looking at both of those dates, so Arum and Taylor promoter Lou DiBella agreed that whichever date Taylor's HBO fight lands on, Arum would put Pacquiao's PPV on the other date.
• DiBella continues to try to close the deal with "The Contender" promoters for Taylor to fight Sergio Mora on either April 14 or 21. The date depends on a site deal. Sites in the running for the fight include Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Memphis, Atlantic City and Vancouver, DiBella said. Holding up the deal with Mora, according to DiBella, is Mora's insistence on a bigger purse. If he can't close with Mora, DiBella said he has had a discussion with Don King about matching Taylor with junior middleweight titlist Cory Spinks instead. Another option would be for Taylor to face mandatory challenger Khoren Gevor (25-2, 14 KOs), an unknown Armenian based in Germany. DiBella is also working on the HBO undercard fight. Among several possibilities: the return of former heavyweight titlist Lamon Brewster (who is handled by Al Haymon, who also advises Taylor); former welterweight champ Vernon Forrest (another Haymon client), possibly against former welterweight champ Carlos Baldomir; welterweight Andre Berto (yet another Haymon fighter), the 2006 ESPN.com prospect of the year, if he beats Norberto Bravo on HBO Feb. 17; and maybe lightweight titlist Julio Diaz against rising contender Anthony Peterson.
• With negotiations breaking down between unretiring light heavyweight king Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr., Hopkins has turned his attention to middleweight contender Winky Wright. They are working on a deal to face each other July 21 (HBO PPV) at a site to be determined, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said. "Contracts are being circulated," Schaefer said. They would fight for Hopkins' Ring magazine world title. If the fight comes off, they would meet at a catch weight of 170 pounds, five pounds less than the light heavyweight limit but 10 pounds heavier than where Wright has been campaigning.
• Now that the big fight -- Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather -- is on for May 5 (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Golden Boy Promotions is turning its attention to the undercard. One fighter penciled in for the PPV is rising Filipino junior featherweight contender Rey Bautista, Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez told ESPN.com. If Bautista wins a Feb. 24 fight in the Philippines on the undercard of Fernando Montiel's junior bantamweight title defense against Z Gorres, Gomez said, "He is a lock to be on the card. Oscar has approved it." Bautista (21-0, 16 KOs) would face Argentina's Sergio Medina (28-0, 16 KOs) in an elimination fight to determine the mandatory challenger for titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon. "We've already reached out to Medina, and he's agreed to terms. It's just a matter of Bautista winning," Gomez said. Also a possibility for the May 5 undercard, according to Gomez, is former junior middleweight titlist Kassim Ouma.
• Contrary to rumors reported on some fan Web sites, Fernando Vargas is not fighting Ricardo Mayorga on Showtime opposite the De La Hoya-Mayweather on May 5. "I have no idea where those reports came from," Showtime boxing boss Ken Hershman told ESPN.com. "They're not true. We've never had one conversation about it. It's not happening." In fact, Hershman said, Showtime will defer to De La Hoya-Mayweather and put on its usual live boxing card on the first Saturday of the month. "That's a big fight and it's the right thing to do for boxing fans," he said. "We won't try to compete against it." Showtime, however, probably will go with a live mixed martial arts show on May 5.
• The Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez junior featherweight world championship fight on March 3 (Showtime) finally has a home. Vazquez will defend his 122-pound crown against the bantamweight champion at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., a tennis center outside of Los Angeles. It has played host to a few other fights, most notably Marco Antonio Barrera's match with Paulie Ayala in 2004.
• Still reeling from Dan Rafael's Quick Hits? Check out his hard-hitting blog that keeps boxing Insiders informed about the latest happenings in boxing.
"I'm hoping Juan Diaz finishes his homework and comes out to play. I just think there is too much Diaz in the weight class right now and we need to start getting rid of some of them."
-- Newly crowned lightweight titlist Julio Diaz, who hopes to lure the college student and fellow beltholder into a fight; the division also includes interim titlist David Diaz