Margarito, Williams ready for highly anticipated bout
Welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito and Paul Williams prepare to face off in another one of the best matchups of the year, writes Dan Rafael.
• Featherweight titlist Robert Guerrero will meet mandatory challenger Rocky Juarez on the Sept. 15 Juan Manuel Marquez-Jorge Barrios HBO PPV undercard at Las Vegas' MGM Grand, Shelly Finkel, who manages both, told ESPN.com. Guerrero promoter Dan Goossen and Golden Boy, which promotes Juarez and is promoting the card, reached a deal this week, adding a fourth fight to round out a competitive card that also includes Kassim Ouma-Sergio Mora and Steve Forbes-Francisco Bojado. One interesting storyline of Guerrero-Juarez is Finkel's role since managers can't represent both sides of a fight. "I've worked that out internally already," Finkel told ESPN.com. "I will only be in one corner that night." He declined to say which side he would be with.
• Golden Boy has cut ties with junior bantamweight titlist Fernando Montiel (33-2-1, 24 KOs), releasing him from his contract. "We reached a settlement with him. He wanted a release," Golden Boy VP Eric Gomez told ESPN.com. "We offered him fights and he turned them down. It's better to release him and go our separate ways. We wish him the best." Montiel, 28, and Golden Boy have had a rocky relationship even though Golden Boy got him on HBO and HBO PPV cards; however, his underwhelming performances made it difficult for Golden Boy to secure more TV slots for him. Montiel isn't wasting any time getting on with his career post-Golden Boy. He'll defend his belt against Cecilio Santos (22-7-2, 12 KOs) on Saturday in Mexico.
• Organizers of the Oct. 13 heavyweight unification fight between Sultan Ibragimov and Ruslan Chagaev at Moscow's 14,500-seat Khodynka Arena in Moscow, claim they offered fellow heavyweight titleholder Wladimir Klitschko an opportunity to fight on the card "in an effort to give the world an opportunity to see the best heavyweight champions fighting each other on a road to a potential unification of all four heavyweight belts." The news release went on to say that they had "secured the necessary financial backing to invite" Klitschko to fight on the card. It should come as no surprise that Klitschko, who headlines his own cards instead of fighting on someone else's, rejected the invitation, which was probably more a public relations ploy than serious offer. Klitschko defended his title last week with an easy TKO victory against Lamon Brewster in their rematch, but injured his left hand and probably won't fight for the rest of the year. The release, put out by Ibragimov's promotional team -- Seminole Warriors Boxing, Golden Grain Promotions, Sampson Lewkowicz and Golden Boy Promotions -- also said that if Ibragimov beats Chagaev, "he would be prepared to unify the titles further with Klitschko sometime next year."
• Now that Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera will meet in an HBO PPV rematch Oct. 6 at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay, it means junior lightweight titlist Joan Guzman and top contender Humberto Soto are out as possible opponents for either of them. But in the wake of the Top Rank-Golden Boy settlement, the sides are talking about matching Guzman and Soto this fall, either on the Oct. 6 card or on a separate show. A lot will depend on Soto's willingness to forego a mandatory shot against the winner of the Sept. 15 Marquez-Barrios title bout and fight Guzman for his version of the title instead.
• Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov, a Las Vegas resident from Kyrgyzstan who escaped with a very iffy split-decision victory against Miguel Huerta on June 14, likely will parlay the questionable victory into a title opportunity. A fight between Raiymkulov (25-1-1, 14 KOs) and Thailand's Prawet Singwangcha (30-2-2, 18 KOs) for a vacant belt is in the works to headline an Aug. 30 Versus-televised card. Singwangcha was held to a questionable draw with Jose Cotto in Puerto Rico in May. Cotto is ineligible to fight for the belt because he was suspended by the Puerto Rican commission for his unsportsmanlike behavior during the bout. Blue chip junior welterweight prospect Victor Ortiz (18-1-1, 13 KOs) will fight on the undercard.
• The Peterson brothers, junior welterweight Lamont (21-0, 9 KOs) and lightweight Anthony (23-0, 17 KOs), had been ticketed to appear on the Sept. 7 season finale of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights." However, co-manager Barry Hunter (also their trainer) has pulled them off the show and is talking to Showtime about a possible "ShoBox" doubleheader in November for them. Zab Judah, returning from his knockout loss to Miguel Cotto on June 9, headlines the "FNF" card in Biloxi, Miss., against an opponent to be named.
• Middleweight puncher Edison Miranda will return in October, Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules told ESPN.com. Margules said he will do a show at the company's base at the Hard Rock resort in Hollywood, Fla., featuring Miranda in his first bout since losing an all-action battle with Pavlik on May 19. He said he would have liked to do the fight on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights," but the series finishes its season Sept. 7, so Margules said Miranda's comeback fight would be part of a pay-per-view card.
• Middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham (23-0, 18 KOs), who returned from a serious jaw injury and eight-month layoff to stop Sebastien Demers in the third round on May 26, will make his fifth defense against mandatory challenger Khoren Gevor (27-2, 15 KOs) on Aug. 18 in Berlin. It's a rare match between fighters representing rival German promoters Wilfried Sauerland (Abraham) and Peter Kohl's Universum (Gevor). The fight is also a rare meeting between famed German trainers Ulli Wegner (Abraham) and Fritz Sdunek (Gevor).
• Welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. won the ESPY Award for best fighter. Mayweather defeated Oscar De La Hoya on May 5 in boxing's highest-grossing fight ever. The pound-for-pound king, a first-time winner, beat out four other first-time nominees: Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao and UFC fighters Randy Couture and Quinton Jackson. It was the first time boxers and mixed martial artists were in the same category.
• Vic Darchinyan (28-1, 22 KOs), who lost his flyweight title via explosive fifth-round knockout to underdog Nonito Donaire on July 7, told Australia's The Age that he will move up to junior bantamweight when he returns. When asked if he would continue at flyweight, Darchinyan is quoted as saying, "I don't think so because I weigh too much. I want to repeat at [junior bantamweight] what I did at flyweight."
"My job is to go in the ring and dominate my opponent, and that's what I'm going to do to Bernard. He's going to be dominated from Round 1. I'm going to break him down and he's going to go back to the retirement home because he should've stayed there. He should've stayed retired. He ended his career with a great fight by beating Antonio Tarver. Now, he's going to mess that up by getting beat by me."
-- Winky Wright, on his plans for light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, whom he fights July 21 (HBO PPV) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.