De La Hoya contemplates next fight -- at welterweight
Fresh off a split-decision loss to Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya is ready to climb back into the ring -- as a welterweight, writes Dan Rafael.
• Although Humberto Soto (42-5-2, 26 KOs) is scheduled to challenge junior lightweight titlist Joan Guzman Nov. 17 on HBO, he's taking an interim fight Sept. 14 in his hometown of Los Mochis, Mexico, against the wishes of American co-promoter Top Rank and HBO. Soto, promoted by Nacho Huizar in Mexico, will face Ismael Gonzalez (18-13, 7 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight bout. It appears to be a relatively safe fight -- Gonzalez has lost seven of his last eight fights -- but there is always the possibility of a loss or an injury that could prevent the Guzman bout. Soto, however, last fought June 9, knocking out Bobby Pacquiao in the seventh round, and wants to stay sharp in preparation for Guzman.
• Heavyweight titlist Wladimir Klitschko, widely regarded as the best of the four heavyweight belt holders, likes the idea of the IBF-ordered four-man box-off to determine his next mandatory challenger. The box-off includes Chris Byrd and Alexander Povetkin, who meet Oct. 27 in Germany, and Calvin Brock and Eddie Chambers, who meet on Showtime Nov. 2. The winners of the two bouts will square off in early 2008 for the right to meet Klitschko next summer. "This tournament to find the mandatory challenger for me is a good idea because it creates more interest in the division," said Klitschko, who will make an optional defense in early 2008. "I have fought Byrd and Brock and even though I beat them they are both strong fighters and tough opponents. Chambers and Povetkin are young and undefeated, but both still have to prove their strength against tougher guys."
• Australian lightweight Michael Katsidis (23-0, 20 KOs) created quite a stir among fans when he retained his interim title with a decision in a bloody, action-packed brawl with Czar Amonsot on the July 21 Bernard Hopkins-Winky Wright undercard. There was some discussion about Katsidis returning Dec. 8 on the Mayweather-Hatton undercard. However, Katsidis won't fight for the rest of the year while the severe facial cuts he suffered in the victory heal.
• Super middleweight Andre Ward (13-0, 8 KOs), the only U.S. boxing gold medalist at the 2004 Olympics, makes his Showtime debut on "ShoBox: The New Generation" Nov. 16 in St. Lucia, promoter Dan Goossen told ESPN.com. Although Ward, 23, is contractually tied to HBO, the network gave him an out to appear on Showtime's prospect-oriented series. Ward will face 20-year-old Roger Cantrell (12-0, 8 KOs), who has never boxed outside of Tacoma, Wash.
• Knockout artist Edison Miranda's return is set for Oct. 30 at the Hard Rock resort in Hollywood, Fla., Seminole Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules told ESPN.com. Warriors is teaming with promoter Lou DiBella for a special edition of DiBella's monthly "Broadway Boxing" series in Florida. Miranda will make his debut at super middleweight against an opponent to be named. It will be his first fight since losing a shootout with Kelly Pavlik in an all-action slugfest May 19 in a middleweight title eliminator. DiBella plans to put prospect James McGirt Jr., son of Buddy McGirt, on the card along with a pair of heavyweight reclamation projects he recently signed: Attila Levin (29-3, 23 KOs), who has been knocked out in his last two bouts and hasn't fought since being easily stopped in three by Nikolai Valuev in February 2005, and Andre Purlette (39-2, 35 KOs), who has fought only twice since 2003.
• Super middleweight Librado Andrade's opponent is set for his appearance on the Oct. 6 (HBO PPV) Pacquiao-Barrera II undercard. Andrade (25-1, 19 KOs), who is seeking his second win since a lopsided decision loss to unified champion Mikkel Kessler in March, will face Yusaf Mack (23-1-2, 14 KOs), Mack's agent, Cameron Dunkin, told ESPN.com. Mack's only defeat came via sixth-round TKO to Alejandro Berrio, who later claimed a vacant world title.
• In his first bout since a stunningly one-sided decision loss April 14 to junior bantamweight titlist Cristian Mijares, exciting ex-junior flyweight champ Jorge Arce returns to action Sept. 16 at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas. Arce (46-4-1, 35 KOs) faces Mexican countryman Tomas Rojas (26-10, 18 KOs) in the 10-round bantamweight match. Rojas suffered a decision loss to Mijares in a 2004 Mexican junior bantamweight title bout. Also on the card: Edgar Sosa (28-5, 14 KOs) makes the second defense of his junior flyweight crown against Lorenzo Trejo (30-15, 17 KOs). Top Rank is putting on the rare Sunday card for the Mexican network TV Azteca, which wanted a big show in Vegas on Mexican Independence Day weekend. The card might air in the U.S. on sister station Azteca America.
• Junior flyweight belt holder Ulises "Archie" Solis (25-1-2, 19 KOs), fresh from his mammoth one-punch, eighth-round knockout of Rodel Mayol on Aug. 4, returns to headline Versus' "Fight Night" at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas on Oct. 4. His opponent has not been determined, but Top Rank said it will offer the fight to Giovanni Segura, a top contender it also promotes.
• Junior welterweight titlist Gavin Rees (27-0, 13 KOs) of Wales is slated to make his first defense Nov. 3 in Cardiff on the undercard of the Joe Calzaghe-Mikkel Kessler super middleweight unification fight at 75,000-seat Millennium Stadium. Rees promoter Frank Warren and Lou DiBella, promoter of Ukrainian-born, New York-based Dmitriy Salita (27-0-1, 15 KOs), are talking about making Rees-Salita for the card, both sides told ESPN.com. Both sides said that HBO, which will televise Calzaghe-Kessler in the United States, is not interested in including a potential Rees-Salita bout on its broadcast. If the fight is made, DiBella said Salita's recent hand injury, which caused him to withdraw from a Sept. 5 bout, shouldn't be an issue. In a major upset, Rees won a version of the 140-pound crown July 21 with a decision against Souleymane M'Baye.
• First he was on the card, then off the card, and now he's back on. Junior welterweight prospect Lamont Peterson (21-0, 9 KOs) fights on the Sept. 7 "Friday Night Fights" season finale (ESPN2) in Biloxi, Miss., in the co-feature to the Zab Judah-Edwin Vazquez welterweight bout, co-manager Shelly Finkel told ESPN.com. Peterson, 23, is scheduled to face Frankie Santos (15-3-3, 7 KOs).
• Cristobal Arreola (21-0, 19 KOs), one of the top American heavyweight prospects, returns against Thomas Hayes (26-1, 18 KOs) Sept. 21 on "Solo Boxeo" (Telefutura) in Ontario, Calif. The fight represents a rare departure for Telefutura, whose 50 or so cards per year are split between three promoters: Top Rank, Golden Boy and Don Chargin. However, this year, the Spanish-language network held back two wild-card dates. One went to Seminole Warriors Boxing in March and this one is going to Dan Goossen, who is getting a top platform to showcase the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Arreola, 26, a Mexican-American brawler. "It is very important for me to defeat Hayes and look good doing it on Telefutura," said Arreola, who will be fighting just a few minutes from his hometown of Riverside. "I take pride in my Mexican heritage and my role as a beacon of hope for all Mexicans that, with hard work and dedication, anything is possible, including my goal to become the first ever Mexican heavyweight world champion, which I plan to be soon."
• Illness forced junior middleweight contender Sechew Powell to withdraw from a scheduled Aug. 24 bout in Miami against James Crayton. The fight has been rescheduled for Sept. 28. It will be Powell's first bout since being released by promoter Lou DiBella a few months ago and signing with Seminole Warriors Boxing.
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"Training is going great. I'm at 170, only have to lose eight pounds. I did 10 rounds yesterday. We'll do 12 next week and bring it down. I'm working hard, and I'm looking forward to stepping into the ring with Mayorga."
-- Fernando Vargas, apparently fibbing to reporters during an Aug. 22 teleconference about how good he felt heading into a Sept. 8 fight with Ricardo Mayorga, which was postponed three days later when Vargas was diagnosed with anemia, the blood disorder that had made him so weak during training camp that he had to see his doctor.