Commentary

Judah in champion Marquez's sights

Updated: April 2, 2011, 3:18 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Zab JudahFightWireImages.comZab Judah, above, would present an interesting style matchup for Juan Manuel Marquez.

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer met with lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez this week in Mexico in an effort to work out a new promotional agreement.

Marquez's contract recently expired, although Golden Boy says it has the right to match any offer for a year. Marquez wants a third fight with Manny Pacquiao, against whom he has two disputed fights, a loss and draw. But if Marquez stays with Golden Boy, it is unlikely he would get a fall fight with Pacquiao should he beat Shane Mosley on May 7, because Pacquiao is promoted by Golden Boy rival Top Rank.

Schaefer told ESPN.com that the meeting went well and that he offered Marquez (52-5-1, 38 KOs) a multifight contract.

Schaefer said that one of the bouts they discussed, which would kick off a new deal if it is agreed to, was a possible July pay-per-view fight against junior welterweight titlist Zab Judah (41-6, 28 KOs), who has openly campaigned for a fight with Marquez. The Mexico native would move up in weight for the bout if it happened.

"Marquez was interested," Schaefer said. "We're talking about it. We've made him a really good offer. That's all I really want to say. I'm not going to discuss what we talked about related to Pacquiao. That's nonproductive to discuss it in the media."

Schaefer did say that as it relates to a possible Judah fight, he had spoken to his promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events. Schaefer said Duva reiterated their interest in the fight.

Dawson-Diaconu is on

 Adrian DiaconuAP Photo/Vadim GhirdaYo, Adrian! Looks like your fight with Chad Dawson is on again.

Promoter Gary Shaw said the issues that threatened the May 21 fight between former light heavyweight titleholders Chad Dawson (29-1, 17 KOs) and Adrian Diaconu (27-2, 15 KOs) have been worked out, and the fight will proceed as planned.

The fight will serve as opening bout on the HBO card headlined by the Jean Pascal-Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight championship rematch at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

A deal had been made for the fight, but then Dawson's team had second thoughts, Shaw said. He said Emanuel Steward, Dawson's new trainer who will be with him for the first time in the fight, was concerned about Dawson fighting a Montreal-based fighter in Montreal.

"There were concerns about Canadian judging and refereeing," Shaw said. "When you go to a place like Canada, just like when you go to a place like Germany, there are always concerns. I'm not saying Chad wasn't losing the fight to Pascal [in Montreal], but that fight should have never been stopped in the 11th round [on an accidental head butt, giving Pascal a technical decision victory]."

Shaw said he talked things over with Herman Woodard, Dawson's attorney, and Steward and "we came to a meeting of the minds that this would be the best thing for Chad, to go up there and fire away. We're all confident that with Manny as Chad's trainer now, he will be a different fighter."

Another reason that likely swayed Dawson's team to accept the fight: If it didn't, HBO was not going to put him on, meaning no payday. The winner of the main event has a contractual obligation to face Dawson (as long as he also wins) in his next fight, Shaw said.

Huck ready for late sub

Marco HuckBoris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty ImagesFull steam ahead: An opponent swap doesn't mean a change of course for Marco "Captain" Huck.

Cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck's sixth defense was supposed to come against former titlist Giacobbe Fragomeni until he pulled out last week because of an injury and was replaced by Philadelphia-based Israeli Ran Nakash (25-0, 18 KOs).

Despite the short notice of a new opponent, Huck (31-1, 23 KOs) said he will still be ready come their fight Saturday in Halle, Germany.

"That was an awkward situation, but as a professional, you have to be able to deal with it," Huck said of the change. "It's nothing new for me. It happened before my fight against Frantisek Kasanic, who got called up on very short notice. That does not mean that this is going to be a walk in the park -- much on the contrary.

"Against Kasanic, I broke my jaw but still defeated him. I must not underestimate Nakash. He has been in full training, and he is undefeated. These kind of boxers are highly motivated and just waiting for their chance. To leave the ring victorious, I need to break his will."

Nakash was training for another fight when he got the call and quickly accepted the opportunity of a lifetime.

"I had planned to fight in April anyway and have been in full training," he said. "I could not pass on the chance to become world champion. I will make the most of it."

Quick hits

• Heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko, who stopped Odlanier Solis in the first round March 19 after Solis suffered a knee injury, could return June 4. The Klitschko camp is talking to Epix about an American TV deal. Epix aired Klitschko-Solis from Germany as its entrance into the boxing business. Among the potential opponents for Klitschko: former titlist Siarhei Liakhovich. Klitschko is also slated to fight Tomasz Adamek in September in Poland.

• Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that he was moving closer to finalizing newly crowned junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez's first defense. Alvarez (36-0-1, 26 KOs), 20, who won a vacant belt with a lopsided decision against Matthew Hatton in March, likely will face mandatory challenger Ryan Rhodes of England. "We are getting close on finalizing the Ryan Rhodes fight," Schaefer said of his dealings with Hatton Promotions. "We're trying to work it out, and I believe that is the fight that we will get done." Although Alvarez has been penciled in to fight in his native Mexico on June 18, Schaefer said the date could shift to June 11. He said he is still working on the television arrangements.

• Al Bonanni, the trainer of former junior middleweight titlist Ricardo Mayorga, told ESPN.com there has been discussions between Golden Boy and Don King, Mayorga's promoter, about Mayorga fighting Alvarez in September. Alvarez would first have to win a June defense. Mayorga is coming off a strong effort in a 12th-round TKO loss to titleholder Miguel Cotto on March 12. "That would be a great fight for Canelo for the experience, and it would be a great opportunity for Mayorga," Bonanni said. "Mayorga can still hurt guys, especially early in the fight, and it would be a great payday and an exciting fight." Another of Bonanni's fighters, light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud (22-0, 18 KOs), said Cloud has been ordered to fight mandatory challenger Yusaf Mack, although he would prefer to face Chad Dawson or any other big name in the division. He said another fighter they'd like to face is former titlist Zsolt Erdei, who is now campaigning in the United States. "We want that fight," Bonanni said. "We'd beat him up for 12 rounds and then knock him out."

• Hungary's Erdei (32-0, 17 KOs), who gave up his light heavyweight belt to move up and win a cruiserweight title before returning to light heavyweight, was originally supposed to have his second fight since signing with promoter Lou DiBella and coming to the United States on the April 16 Andre Berto-Victor Ortiz undercard. However, DiBella said Erdei will instead return June 4 on the undercard of super middleweight titlist Carl Froch's defense against Glen Johnson in the Super Six World Boxing Classic semifinals at the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. DiBella and Caesars Atlantic City consultant Ken Condon struck a deal for that fight last week. "If Erdei can't get a big fight, he'll fight on June 4 card," DiBella said. But DiBella said there has been some conversation about Erdei challenging titlist Tavoris Cloud if he can get an exception to his mandatory. "We've been contacted about [by Cloud promoter Don King] about that fight," DiBella said. "So Zsolt will fight June 4 unless a bigger fight materializes. He'd love to fight Cloud."

• Tommy Zbikowski, the Baltimore Ravens safety who is boxing professionally during the NFL lockout, returns April 23 in a four-round cruiserweight fight on a "Top Rank Live" card (Fox Deportes/FSN) at the WinStar Word Casino in Thackerville, Okla., Top Rank announced. Zbikowski (3-0, 2 KOs), who will face Blake Warner (1-2, 1 KO), was pushed the four-round distance in a very tough win against Caleb Grummet on March 26 in his first fight with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward. "I love playing football, but I take my boxing very seriously," Zbikowski said. Junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (29-0, 18 KOs) headlines the card in a title eliminator against Saul Roman (34-8, 29 KOs). Also on the card is blue chip Dallas featherweight prospect Roberto Marroquin (19-0, 14 KOs), who takes on Frankie Leal (15-5-3, 9 KOs) of Mexico in the eight-round co-feature.

• Golden Boy has added two top prospects to the April 9 Erik Morales-Marcos Maidana undercard at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas: 2008 U.S. Olympian Gary Russell (14-0, 9 KOs), who is slated to face Ira Terry (24-4, 14 KOs) in a six-round featherweight bout, and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Rakhim Chakhkiev (9-0, 7 KOs) of Russia, who meets Harvey Jolly (11-16-1, 6 KOs) in a four-round cruiserweight fight. Although the bouts are not slated to be part of the formal HBO PPV telecast, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that the company had secured clearance from cable and dish systems nationwide for the bouts, along with the Danny Garcia-Nate Campbell junior welterweight bout, to be seen as part of a free preview before the pay-per-view begins. "I'm very excited to see these guys in action and very excited that we have been able to clear all the systems so fans can see these fights," Schaefer said. Chakhkiev's appearance on the card is because of the recent deal between Golden Boy and Germany's Universum under which Golden Boy will co-promote several of the fighters in Universum's stable.

• With junior middleweight Delvin Rodriguez out due to illness and an injured wrist, Star Boxing put together a new main event for the April 22 edition of "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2) at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Conn. It will feature a scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout between Breidis Prescott (23-3, 19 KOs), who handed titleholder Amir Khan his only loss via first-round knockout, and Bayan Jargal (15-1-3, 10 KOs). In the opener, 2008 U.S. Olympian Demetrius Andrade (12-0, 8 KOs) is scheduled to face Omar Bell (8-1, 5 KOs) in an eight-round junior middleweight bout. "You have one of the hottest prospects in all of boxing opening up the show, and Jargal and Prescott are both all-action fighters, which is sure to produce fireworks," promoter Joe DeGuardia said.

• British super middleweight prospect George Groves (12-0, 10 KOs) is getting ready for his May 21 showdown with fellow prospect James DeGale (10-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Olympic gold medalist by sparring with American contender Andre Dirrell in Miami. DeGale, who meets Groves in the co-feature of the Jürgen Brähmer-Nathan Cleverly light heavyweight title bout at the O2 Arena in London, said he was not impressed by Groves' choice of sparring partner, even though Dirrell's Twitter account has been complimentary of Groves. "He will have to go a lot further than Miami if he wants to beat me," DeGale said of Groves. "I saw that Dirrell [said] he had 'OK speed' and 'not enough head movement.' How on Earth is he going to beat me if he doesn't move his head and isn't quick enough? You've got a guy in Groves who has not made any progress as a professional. In fact I'd say he has gone backwards, whereas I have improved so much since I won the Olympic gold in 2008. I'm not bothered who Groves spars or works out with in the next few weeks because he needs years to improve, not days. There is only one winner on May 21, and it's not George Groves." Groves owns an amateur victory against DeGale.

• Former junior bantamweight titlist Martin Castillo suffered a foot injury on Tuesday, forcing him to drop out of a junior featherweight fight against former flyweight titlist Eric Morel (43-2, 21 KOs) of Puerto Rico in the main event of "Solo Boxeo Tecate" on Friday night (Telefutura, 11:30 ET/PT). On short notice, Golden Boy got Mexico's Luis Maldonado (37-4-1, 28 KOs), a former title challenger, to step into the fight at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. Morel was hoping to avenge a 2005 decision loss to Castillo in a junior bantamweight title bout. Although Maldonado has lost three fights in a row, he has three times fought for world titles, losing flyweight title bouts to Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan and a bantamweight title fight to Fernando Montiel.

• When former bantamweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (47-7, 41 KOs) of Mexico challenges featherweight titleholder Hozumi Hasegawa (29-3, 12 KOs) on April 8 in Kobe, Japan, he will be thinking of the victims of the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the country last month. This will be the first major boxing card in Japan since the catastrophe. "I am very motivated for this fight, and I am very proud to show the world that Japan is standing and people can visit that beautiful country," Gonzalez said. "I will never forget when [junior featherweight titlist] Toshiaki Nishioka came to Mexico to defend his title against me just when the H1N1 influenza crisis was leaving Mexico in complete [devastation], so this is a time for a Mexico to show solidarity with Japan and show the world that everything is OK." Also on the Kobe card, Nishioka (37-4-3, 23 KOs) defends his belt against Argentina's Mauricio Munoz (21-2, 9 KOs) and junior lightweight titlist Takahiro Ao (20-2-1, 9 KOs) defends against Mexico's Humberto Gutierrez (28-2-1, 20 KOs).

• Top Rank announced the lineup for its "Friday Night Fights" card on ESPN2 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on May 6, the night before the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight down the street at sister property MGM Grand. Las Vegas junior lightweight prospect Diego Magdaleno (18-0, 6 KOs) meets Gilberto Sanchez Leon (28-9-2, 10 KOs) in the main event. Featherweight contender Bernabe Concepcion (28-4-1, 15 KOs), one of Pacquiao's protégés, faces Juan Carlos Martinez (16-12-1, 5 KOs) in the eight-round co-feature. In a four-rounder, light heavyweight Mike Lee (4-0, 3 KOs), who graduated from Notre Dame with a finance degree but decided to pursue boxing, meets Gilbert Gastelum (0-1-1).

• An update on a pair of mandatory title bouts: Flyweight titlist Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (80-3-1, 44 KOs) of Thailand and mandatory challenger Edgar Sosa (41-6, 24 KOs), a former junior flyweight titlist from Mexico, were both allowed by the WBC to take interim bouts before May 30. After that, their mandatory fight is due. If the camps do not make a deal, a purse bid would be conducted July 1. The IBF, meanwhile, ordered junior middleweight titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage (30-4, 18 KOs) to begin negotiating with mandatory challenger Sechew Powell (26-2, 15 KOs) on March 7. They have until April 7 to make a deal, or a purse bid will be ordered.

• Although lightweight Hank Lundy (19-1-1, 10 KOs) faces Patrick Lopez (20-3, 12 KOs) in the lightweight main event on this week's "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2, 9 ET), the star attractions could be the studio guests. Micky Ward and his half-brother, Dicky Eklund, will join Brian Kenny in the studio. The brothers' lives, of course, were the basis of the 2010 movie "The Fighter," which was nominated for seven Academy Awards. Actor Mark Wahlberg played Micky, and Christian Bale, who won the Oscar for best supporting actor, portrayed Eklund.

• Lightweight titlist Brandon Rios (27-0-1, 20 KOs), making good progress recovering from a hand injury suffered when he won his belt via 10th-round knockout of Miguel Acosta on Feb. 26 in an all-action fight, is penciled in for a July 9 return on Showtime, Top Rank's Carl Moretti told ESPN.com. No opponent yet. … Moretti also said featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa, who dropped Jorge Solis five times en route a fourth-round knockout March 26, is looking at an August return on HBO. … Former junior welterweight titlist Vivian Harris, who was brutally knocked out by Victor Ortiz in the third round in September, returns as a stepping-stone opponent for welterweight prospect Jesse Vargas (14-0, 7 KOs) on April 8 (Telefutura) in Primm, Nev. Middleweight Bastie Samir (10-0, 10 KOs), a 2008 Olympian from Ghana and one of Golden Boy's top prospects, is also on the card in a six-rounder. … Junior middleweight titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk (37-1, 23 KOs), blitzed over eight lopsided rounds by middleweight champ Sergio Martinez on March 19, probably will return to HBO in September. Dzinziruk's camp has inquired about the availability of contenders Vanes Martirosyan and Pawel Wolak, and would also be interested in a fight with titleholder Austin Trout.

Quotables

"I want to be the last man standing. I always knew it was in me to succeed. I didn't come this far for no reason." -- super middleweight titlist Andre Ward, during this week's kickoff news conference promoting his Super Six World Boxing Classic semifinal match against Arthur Abraham on May 14 (Showtime) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

"I do not look past McBride or take him for granted. This is boxing, one punch can change the situation, just one punch can change everything. This is my test before Klitschko. I respect McBride." -- heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek, on his fight April 9 (Integrated Sports PPV) against Kevin McBride, Adamek's final fight before a September shot at one of the heavyweight champion Klitschko brothers, Wladimir or Vitali.