- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Gary Shaw, the co-promoter of junior welterweight champ Timothy Bradley Jr., told ESPN.com that the target date for Bradley to meet titleholder Amir Khan in a unification bout is July 30, although it does not figure to be that easy.
Khan first has to win an April 16 interim fight in his native England, although he does not yet have an opponent as he and his team have been going through name after name -- but nobody has been willing to accept the fight for the frugal figures Khan is offering.
Finalizing Bradley-Khan, even if Khan wins his interim bout, likely will still be difficult. Bradley's contract with Shaw expires in June, according to Cameron Dunkin, Bradley's co-manager. They have made it clear they have no intention of re-signing with Shaw. There is likely a gray area in the contract about whether Shaw has matching rights.
Also, Khan's three-fight deal with Golden Boy is up after the April 16 fight, although Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that he and the Khan camp are discussing a new two-fight deal. If they reach an agreement, Schaefer said they would throw out the last fight of the existing deal and replace it with a new one that would include better terms for the April bout with the second fight being in July -- ideally against Bradley.
Khan, meantime, still needs an opponent for April for a fight on that will be televised on HBO in the United States and on Sky Box Office pay-per-view in England.
The one opponent willing to take the fight for relatively short money is Breidis Prescott, who knocked Khan out in the first round in his only loss in 2008. However, he has not been offered the fight, despite a media blitz by the fighter and his co-promoters Leon Margules and Lou DiBella.
One of Khan's original targets was American Lamont Peterson, who fought a to draw with Victor Ortiz on Dec. 11 in Las Vegas on the undercard of Khan's dramatic decision victory against Marcos Maidana.
Peterson rejected multiple offers, including for $200,000 and was eliminated from contention. However, the sides rekindled talks this week and Peterson was offered $300,000. They continue talking.
Another name being mentioned, among several, is former titlist Junior Witter of England. Witter (37-3-2, 22 KOs), who held a belt from 2006 to 2008, is coming out of retirement. He lost his title to Bradley and later quit after eight rounds against Devon Alexander in a fight for a vacant title in August 2009.
"My manager, John Ingle, spoke to me about the Khan offer. I'm up for this 100 percent. It would be an opportunity too good to turn down fighting for a world title again," Witter said.
Witter is scheduled for his comeback fight Feb. 19 in Canada. It remains to be seen, however, whether HBO and Sky would accept Witter as an opponent.
Losers bracket: Alexander-Maidana
Although Devon Alexander lost his junior welterweight belt via 10th-round technical decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. in their unification bout last Saturday in a disappointing performance at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., Alexander and manager/trainer Kevin Cunningham have begun thinking about his next fight.
Alexander, who is owed a $1.25 million comeback fight by HBO, would like to fight Marcos Maidana, the free-swinging big puncher from Argentina, who lost a dramatic fight to titleholder Amir Khan via unanimous decision in December.
All along, HBO's master plan was to match Khan with Maidana and Bradley with Alexander and then have the winners meet and the losers meet in an unofficial junior welterweight tournament. Bradley-Khan is in discussion as long as Khan wins an April 16 defense in England.
Alexander and Cunningham are on board with the plan, especially after Maidana called Alexander out in the wake of his loss to Bradley.
"Team Alexander has no problem with fighting Maidana next. The fight draws 12,000 to 15,000 in The Lou," Cunningham told ESPN.com, referring to St. Louis, Alexander's [and Cunningham's] hometown. "We will be ready for Maidana in June or July. Maidana is the meanest SOB in boxing. Huge fight in St. Louis."
Franco and Kayode featured on 'ShoBox'
Lightweight prospect Archie Ray Marquez is having stomach problems, which forced him to withdraw from his fight against Marvin Quintero, according to promoter Gary Shaw. The bout was supposed to open a tripleheader on "ShoBox: The New Generation" on Friday night (Showtime, 11 ET/PT) at the Chumash Resort Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif.
The other two bouts will go on as scheduled with featherweight Luis Franco (8-0, 5 KOs), a former Cuban Olympian, facing Leonilo Miranda (32-2, 30 KOs) in the main event and Los Angeles-based Nigerian cruiserweight prospect Lateef "Power" Kayode (15-0, 14 KOs) meeting Tampa's Nicholas Iannuzzi (16-1, 9 KOs).
Franco, who defected from Cuba in 2009, is moving quickly in the pros, which is fine with him.
"I'd like to fight all the top guns in my weight class," said Franco, 28. "Line them up one by one. I'm waiting for the call. If any of them have what it takes to call out my name and challenge me, I'll be ready. I want the top guns in this division. I'm looking to get a world title victory in 2011. We're on the right path right now. We just need to keep on winning."
Kayode, an intriguing and powerful prospect, went the four-round distance in his 2008 pro debut and then knocked out his next 14 consecutive opponents. He said his knockout streak is in the back of his mind.
"I know the fans love it and I know Showtime loves it, but I'm not going to let that affect what I do in the ring," Kayode said.
Promoter Gary Shaw told ESPN.com that German promoter Sauerland Event inquired about Kayode's availability to challenge titlist Marco Huck for his title in March, but they turned it down because Kayode had this week's fight scheduled and is not yet ready for a fighter on Huck's level.
Super Bowl fight card
Former junior middleweight titlist Sergio Mora, who also won the first season of "The Contender," and Brian Vera, who boxed on a later season of the reality series, square off in the main event of this week's "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2, 9 ET) at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
The card is there to piggyback on the Sunday's Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, who will play at nearby Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
It will be the first fight for Mora (22-1-2, 6 KOs) since his lackluster draw in September against Shane Mosley. Vera (17-5, 11 KOs) has not fought since a decision loss to Maksym Bursak in Ukraine in September. Vera was supposed to fight former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in November on the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito undercard at Cowboys Stadium before Pavlik withdrew a couple of weeks before the bout.
"I know Brian Vera's a tough, tough fighter, that's for sure," Mora said. "I'm going to put this guy in the category of a hard-nosed, come-forward, hit-me-with-all-you-got Jake LaMotta-type fighter. He's going to put the pressure on me. There will be blood. Vera is a fan-friendly-style fighter and he's fighting in his hometown on a huge weekend, so it should be a nice battle of machismo."
Also on the card, junior middleweight prospect Charles Hatley (14-0, 11 KOs), 22, of Dallas, faces Chris Chatman (9-1, 4 KOs) in an eight-rounder. Hatley, who was an alternate on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, is coming off of a unanimous decision against fan-favorite tough guy Emanuel Augustus in his previous fight. In another undercard fight, 2008 U.S. Olympian Luis Yanez (4-0, 0 KOs) fights Joseph Rios (8-5-1, 3 KOs) in a scheduled-round junior bantamweight bout.
• Brooklyn, N.Y., middleweight Daniel Jacobs (21-1, 18 KOs), the 2009 ESPN.com prospect of the year, has relocated to Los Angeles to train under the guidance of Freddie Roach. Jacobs began training with Roach this week. They will have their first fight together March 5 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Jacobs' fight is on the untelevised part of the HBO card headlined by junior middleweight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the 2010 ESPN.com prospect of the year, against Matthew Hatton. Jacobs, who turned 24 on Thursday, is on the comeback trail after being knocked out by Dmitry Pirog in a July upset fighting for a vacant middleweight belt. Jacobs made his return Dec. 18, knocking out Jessie Orta in the fifth round on the Jean Pascal-Bernard Hopkins undercard in Quebec City.
• Welterweight contender Mike Jones (23-0, 18 KOs), who is from Philadelphia, has gone away to train for his fights over the past couple of years. For the rematch against Jesus Soto-Karass (24-5-3, 16 KOs) on Feb. 19 (HBO) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Jones has trained at home and taken advantage of the snowy conditions. "Shoveling snow at home has been an excellent workout for my arms," Jones said. "I'm glad I stayed home for training this time. I focus better. I don't drink, smoke or go out so there's no problem with distractions at home. It's soothing being home. Plus, the snow workouts have made me stronger." On Nov. 13, Jones won a majority 10-round decision against Soto-Karass on the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito undercard at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It was an action-packed fight with a debatable decision, so they are meeting again, this time in a scheduled 12-round bout that opens the HBO telecast headlined by unified bantamweight titleholder Fernando Montiel against Nonito Donaire.
• 2008 British Olympic bronze medalist David Price (8-0, 6 KOs) will serve as a sparring partner for heavyweight contender Odlanier Solis to help him prepare for his March 19 title shot against Vitali Klitschko. Price is 6-foot-8, similar to Klitschko, so this is the second time one of his opponents has sought his services. He also sparred with Alberto Sosnowski before he faced Klitschko. "It is wonderful experience for David to be in such an environment," said Frank Maloney, Price's promoter. "He can also gauge how far he is from that level when he gets rounds with these type of fighters. It will be interesting to see what opinion he forms of Solis because a lot of people believe he is the man to break [the Klitschko family] monopoly. The Klitschkos might not be the greatest to watch, but they are effective and David is the nearest thing we have to them. It is only a matter of time before he is like the Klitschko brothers and the most dominant force in the heavyweight division." Before Price heads to camp with Solis, he fights Osborne Machimana Feb. 5.
• Although former three-time middleweight titlist William Joppy (39-7-2, 30 KOs) announced his retirement after a sixth-round knockout loss to light heavyweight titlist Beibut Shumenov in his native Kazakhstan on Jan. 10, a fight Joppy took on a few days' notice, the retirement did not stick for even a month. Joppy, 40, will face Corey Cummings (17-4-1, 13 KOs) on March 12 at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., on the undercard of a show headlined by former "Contender" star Jimmy Lange (34-4-2, 24 KOs) against Jimmy Holmes (19-1, 10 KOs). Joppy, of Washington, D.C., will face Baltimore's Cummings in a rematch of a 10-round majority draw in November.
• Welterweight Alfonso Gomez and junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan are scheduled to fight opponents to be determined on "Top Rank Live" (Fox Deportes/Fox Sports Net) on March 19, according to Top Rank matchmaker Brad "Abdul" Goodman. Gomez was due to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Dec. 4, but withdrew a week before the fight because of an arm injury. Martirosyan has not fought since June, when he outpointed Joe Greene at Yankee Stadium on the Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman undercard.
• Showtime announced that the final and consolation match of its four-man bantamweight tournament will take place April 23 at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. A news conference is scheduled for Tuesday at the venue. Ghana's Joseph Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs) defends his title in the final against Abner Mares (21-0-1, 13 KOs) of Los Angeles, while former titleholder Yonnhy Perez (20-1-1, 14 KOs) of Colombia fights former junior bantamweight champ Vic Darchinyan (35-3-1, 27 KOs) of Australia in the consolation match.
• Fledgling premium cable network Epix is interested in boxing, which helped dramatically increase subscriptions for HBO and Showtime when they got involved in their early years. According to a source with knowledge of the proposal, Epix has made an offer for heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko's March 19 defense against Odlanier Solis. Epix CEO Mark Greenberg was a longtime executive at Showtime and involved in overseeing its boxing franchise. Heavyweight titlist David Haye is due to defend his title May 21 in England against an opponent to be determined, Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com. Schaefer said the Haye camp and British regulators were reviewing the medical records of mandatory challenger Ruslan Chagaev, who has hepatitis B, to see if they will license him to fight there. A big April 8 tripleheader in Tokyo featuring three Japanese titleholders was announced this week. Hozumi Hasegawa will face Mexico's Johnny Gonzalez in a mandatory featherweight title bout, junior featherweight titlist Toshiaki Nishioka fights Argentina's Mauricio Munoz and junior lightweight beltholder Takahiro Ao meets Humberto Gutierrez of Mexico. A spring fight in the works for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" would pit former junior welterweight titlist Kendall Holt against former two-time lightweight titleholder Julio Diaz. Both won their fights on the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Devon Alexander undercard Saturday. Saturday's "Top Rank Live" card on Fox Deportes/Fox Sports Net has a special start time of 9 p.m. ET this week. Francisco Sierra (23-3, 21 KOs) faces Dyah Davis (18-2, 9 KOs) in the 10-round junior middleweight main event. Top Rank signed El Paso, Texas, junior middleweight Abraham "Abie" Han (12-0, 10 KOs), Top Rank's Carl Moretti told ESPN.com. "The unique thing, other than being a Korean-American, is his punching power is with both hands," Moretti said. "Usually it's a great hook, or right hand."
"I said throughout fight week and after the fight, I am done calling people out. I am the people's champion and I want to hear from the fans on whom they would like me to fight next. They're buying the tickets and the premium channel subscriptions. They're entitled to have a say in this. Let my promoters know on twitter @GaryShawBoxing and @thompsonboxing]. Let HBO know [@hboboxing]." -- unified junior welterweight champ Timothy Bradley Jr., after his unification victory against Devon Alexander on Saturday night.
31mEthan Sherwood Strauss