No more sitting around for 'Contender' star Mora
Sergio Mora thought his impressive "Contender" performance would be the launching pad to fame, stardom and big paydays. Things haven't exactly panned out that way, but a win against Elvin Ayala next week could put him in line to face Kelly Pavlik.
• As if the welterweight division wasn't already overflowing with significant fights -- Miguel Cotto-Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton are scheduled this fall -- another biggie could be on tap for early 2008. Talks are under way to match titleholders Paul Williams and Kermit Cintron in a unification fight in February on HBO, according to both camps and HBO. Cintron (28-1, 26 KOs) must retain his title Nov. 23 against Jesse Feliciano on the Fernando Vargas-Ricardo Mayorga Showtime PPV undercard to make it possible. Williams (33-0, 24 KOs) outpointed Antonio Margarito to win his belt July 14. Cintron's only loss is to Margarito, but he rebounded with four consecutive knockout wins, claimed a vacant title and defended it in explosive fashion on HBO with a second-round destruction of Walter Matthysse on July 14.
• Hoping to inject some life into the heavyweight division, HBO plans to air exciting heavyweight prospect Cristobal Arreola (22-0, 20 KOs) in the co-feature to the potential Williams-Cintron fight. HBO and promoter Dan Goossen have just begun talking about opponents, one of which is another Goossen prospect, Travis Walker (25-0-1, 19 KOs).
• Top Rank's Bob Arum isn't wasting time laying the groundwork for Manny Pacquiao's next fight in the wake of his lopsided decision against Marco Antonio Barrera Saturday. Arum told ESPN.com that he has secured March 1 on HBO PPV for Pacquiao's next fight. Arum added that Pacquiao hasn't decided if he wants to remain at 130 pounds or move up to 135. If he opts for 135, Arum will match him with lightweight beltholder David Diaz, whom Arum also promotes. The bout would match fighters who retired rivals Erik Morales (Diaz beat him in August) and Barrera. If Pacquiao stays at 130, Arum said they'd target a rematch with champion Juan Manuel Marquez, with whom Pacquiao drew in a 2004 slugfest, as long as Marquez beats Rocky Juarez Nov. 3. Another option is the winner of the Nov. 17 Joan Guzman-Humberto Soto title bout.
• If junior welterweight prospect Victor Ortiz defeats ex-titlist Carlos Maussa on the Nov. 10 Miguel Cotto-Shane Mosley undercard, Arum told ESPN.com that he'll bring Ortiz back in early 2008 to face titlist Ricardo Torres on the undercard of middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik's first defense, which will take place in late January or February. Pavlik's plans are uncertain until ex-champion Jermain Taylor decides whether to pick up an option for an immediate rematch. Taylor has until the end of October to decide. Torres would be available to face Ortiz because Kendall Holt's request for an immediate rematch in the wake of Torres' controversial knockout of Holt on Sept. 1 was denied this week by the WBO.
• Showtime's Dec. 1 card hasn't officially been announced, but it will be a tripleheader at Foxwoods in Connecticut, network boxing boss Ken Hershman told ESPN.com. In addition to ex-light heavyweight champ Antonio Tarver in the main event, probably against Australia's Danny Green, and Vernon Forrest defending his junior middleweight belt against Italy's Michele Piccirillo, Filipino flyweight titlist Nonito Donaire (18-1, 11 KOs) will make his first defense in the opener. Donaire scored a major upset on Showtime in July, winning his title via spectacular fifth-round knockout of Vic Darchinyan. Donaire probably will face mandatory challenger Luis Maldonado (37-1-1, 28 KOs), whose only loss was a Showtime-televised knockout to Darchinyan in June 2006. Maldonado outpointed Sergio Espinoza Oct. 5 to become mandatory, but he suffered a cut and might not be available Dec. 1. If he can fight, Donaire will face somebody else.
• Look for the trilogy between junior featherweight champ Israel Vazquez (42-4, 31 KOs) and ex-champ Rafael Marquez (37-4, 33 KOs) to conclude March 1 on Showtime, which was home to their previous fights. In their first fight March 3, Marquez successfully moved up from bantamweight to stop Vazquez in the seventh round to take the 122-pound title in a slugfest. In the Aug. 4 rematch, Vazquez reclaimed the title via sixth-round TKO in the front-runner for fight of the year honors. There is no site for the third fight, but organizers have discussed taking it to Mexico City, even though Showtime wants it in the U.S.
• Junior featherweight titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon (33-1, 30 KOs), who fought in August and September, will stay busy. He'll probably defend on the Dec. 8 Mayweather-Hatton HBO PPV undercard, Golden Boy's Eric Gomez told ESPN.com. Ponce De Leon was slated to meet with Golden Boy this week to discuss the matter. If he wins, he'll likely head to the Philippines in February for a rematch with bantamweight titlist Gerry Penalosa, who lost a decision in their March fight.
• Flashy bantamweight prospect Abner Mares (14-0, 9 KOs), a 2004 Mexican Olympian, makes his HBO debut Nov. 17 on the Guzman-Soto undercard. He'll face Argentina's Damian David Marchiano (14-2-1, 5 KOs) in a 12-rounder, Gomez told ESPN.com. Gomez said he initially tried to match Mares, 21, with ex-junior flyweight titlist Rosendo Alvarez, but was given the runaround by Alvarez promoter Don King and moved on.
• Heeeeeeee's baaaaack! Ex-heavyweight titleholder John Ruiz (41-7-1, 28 KOs) is a late addition to Saturday's Don King card headlined by the Juan Diaz-Julio Diaz lightweight unification fight in suburban Chicago. Ruiz had signed to face ex-titleholder Sergei Liakhovich, but Liakhovich, who has a high sanctioning organization ranking and designs on an elimination bout with Nikolai Valuev, understandably turned down the fight. Ruiz will instead face Otis Tisdale (25-18-1, 15 KOs), who has won three in a row. Ruiz, who has lost two in a row, hasn't fought since November 2006, when he dropped a split decision in a title eliminator to Ruslan Chagaev.
• If the brisk ticket sales are any indication, the Dec. 8 Mayweather-Hatton fight is going to be a monster success on HBO PPV. The MGM Grand Garden Arena sold out all 16,000 tickets in less than an hour when they went on sale a month ago. Now, organizers have announced that almost 10,000 tickets to closed-circuit locations (at $50 a pop) in Las Vegas have been sold since going on sale Oct. 1.
• Junior bantamweight Jose Navarro (26-2, 12 KOs) has had two cracks at a 115-pound title and lost both in Japan, although the first defeat to Katsushige Kawashima was widely regarded as the worst decision of 2005. Now, the 2000 U.S. Olympian is getting his third shot and once again to going to hostile territory to fight Russia's Dimitri Kirilov (28-3, 9 KOs) for a vacant belt in Moscow on the Sultan Ibragimov-Evander Holyfield undercard Saturday (PPV, 1 p.m. ET). "Unlike the first time in Japan, I will not be robbed of this opportunity," Navarro said. "I will bring the belt back home. I still think about that terrible decision each and every day. I know and everyone else knows that I won that fight. That bad decision motivated me to train even harder for this fight against Kirilov."
Can't get enough of Rafael's wisdom? Check out his hard-hitting blog that keeps boxing Insiders informed about the latest happenings in boxing.
"Evander, how is your ear?"
-- An unidentified member of the Russian media to Evander Holyfield at Wednesday's final news conference in Moscow, where Holyfield challenges heavyweight titlist Sultan Ibragimov Saturday (PPV, 1 p.m. ET) hoping to become the division's only five-time titleholder at age 44.