- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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When HBO signed Bernard Hopkins to a three-fight contract before his rematch with Jean Pascal on May 21, the network knew that if Hopkins won, it would be obligated to televise his next bout against Chad Dawson by November.
Well, Hopkins went on to outpoint Pascal in a memorable performance to become the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a title. Dawson, the former titleholder, won his fight against Adrian Diaconu on the undercard to preserve his shot at the main event winner. Now Hopkins and Dawson are set to meet Oct. 15.
A news conference to formally announce the fight is scheduled for July 23 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas -- where media will be on hand to cover that night's Amir Khan-Zab Judah fight.
Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, Hopkins' promoter, and Gary Shaw, Dawson's promoter, both told ESPN.com that deals with their fighters, with HBO and with each other have been agreed to.
However, because HBO's fourth-quarter budget is already tapped, the network is "flipping" Hopkins-Dawson to pay-per-view, a contractual allowance to take the bout off regular HBO and make it a pay-per-view.
With most HBO PPV cards, the promoters are on the hook to sell the fight. The more they sell, the more they and the fighters make while HBO earns a percentage for taking care of production, distribution and marketing.
Hopkins-Dawson is different, and marks the first time HBO has used a "flip" in quite a while. The network and the promoters had already agreed to a set license fee for Hopkins-Dawson -- $3 million -- but HBO moved it to pay-per-view as a way to generate revenue to cover the license fee it is obligated to pay. Once HBO's costs are recovered (if they are at all), the promoters and fighters likely would be cut in on the profits. The network and promoters are still negotiating that part of the deal.
Moving the fight to pay-per-view also means that HBO is financially responsible, at least in large part, for paying for the televised undercard. Because an additional fight means an additional cost, Schaefer and Shaw said there have been discussions about the telecast being only a two-fight televised undercard instead of the usual three-fight PPV undercard, although they prefer three.
"There's no money in the budget to put the fight on HBO, and they have to put the fight on, so therefore it forced the fight on to pay-per-view," Shaw said. "I wanted it on regular HBO."
Schaefer and Shaw told ESPN.com that the site is not set yet but that the card likely will land at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., not far from Hopkins' hometown of Philadelphia. The Prudential Center has hosted several boxing events, mainly involving Tomasz Adamek and Zab Judah.
"We're working on the Prudential Center deal, but it's not done yet," Schaefer said.
Among the undercard bouts being discussed -- but by no means finalized -- are junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse, coming off his close split-decision loss to Devon Alexander last week, against former titlist Kendall Holt; bantamweight Eric Morel against Chris Avalos; and lightweight Jorge Linares against Antonio DeMarco. All three of those potential bouts match a Golden Boy boxer with one of Shaw's fighters.
The card could be difficult to sell, however, because Hopkins has never been a major draw on pay-per-view and the fight will come in the midst of a fall season that includes at least three other higher-profile PPV shows -- Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Victor Ortiz (Sept. 17), Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez (Nov. 12) and an in-the-works rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito (Dec. 3).
Pacquiao-Marquez PPV update
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has received HBO's proposal for the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III pay-per-view fight on Nov. 12 and is reviewing it, and he said he was very pleased with it.
"We now have 100 percent of their proposal, which I can't praise them enough for," Arum said. "It is really outstanding."
HBO and Showtime are both vying for the event. Arum created the battle for Pacquiao, who had fought all of his significant matches on HBO or HBO PPV before Arum took him to Showtime PPV for his May 7 welterweight title defense against Shane Mosley with the promise that its sister network, CBS, would put its considerable resources behind marketing and promoting the fight.
Arum's proposal from HBO includes similar promises that parent company Time Warner would put its considerable assets behind the fight.
"We delivered the essence of HBO's proposal, without the specifics, to Showtime and they're meeting with the CBS people to talk about it and they will give us an answer back probably sometime next week," Arum said. "Trust me, if we hadn't done what we did with the Pacquiao fight in May, this proposal from HBO would not have been possible. That proposal is something you couldn't dream of prior to May."
Arum said he left HBO because the relationship with the executives in the sports division had "gotten so bad. Given that the relationship was so horrible with the HBO Sports staff, we sought out CBS/Showtime and said, 'Let's explore what could be offered by the other side,' and lo and behold, what was offered and delivered was tremendous. That started a whole new ballgame."
Arum said all of his negotiations have taken place with HBO executives above HBO Sports -- which he said he doesn't even talk to anymore -- as well as with Time Warner executives.
"As far as HBO is concerned, Manny Pacquiao is the face of boxing," Arum said. "You can argue about who is a better fighter, [Floyd] Mayweather or Pacquiao, but a big company like Time Warner doesn't relish an association with Floyd Mayweather because of the type of individual he portrays himself as. With Manny, it's a totally different story. That's why they want him back so badly."
HBO's '24/7' returns for Mayweather-Ortiz
The HBO Emmy award-winning reality series "24/7" is set to return for its 10th installment. The latest batch of four episodes will follow the build-up and take viewers behind the scenes of the training camps as Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is ending a 16-month layoff, and welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz, who will be making his first defense, prepare for their Sept. 17 HBO PPV fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The new series debuts Aug. 27 (10 p.m. ET/PT) before the Marcos Maidana-Robert Guerrero fight on the East Coast and following the fight on the West Coast.
The second and third episodes of "24/7 Mayweather/Ortiz" debut on subsequent Saturdays, with the finale premiering the night before the fight, on Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. There will also be multiple replays, and the series will be available on HBO On Demand and HBO GO.
"'24/7' excels when there are great characters and compelling drama, and this fight has both," said HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg. "The return of Floyd Mayweather, with his larger-than-life personality, and the odyssey of Victor Ortiz, with his inspiring tale of perseverance and achievement, provide the perfect backdrop for this new edition of '24/7.'"
Support for Macklin
Middleweight contender Matthew Macklin of England, who lost a hotly disputed split decision to titlist Felix Sturm on Sturm's turf in Germany on June 25, has received tons of support from those who believe he should have ended Sturm's reign rather than being the 10th victim of his current run.
"I got back from Germany, but the fans over there were coming up to me and apologizing for the decision," Macklin said. "I think they have been very embarrassed by it, and the German media reports on the fight have reflected that. One of the papers even reported that Felix needed
to have TV makeup applied so that he would look a little better at the postfight press conference.
"I believe I was the better man on the night, and it seems to me that almost everyone aside from those two judges who scored for Sturm saw it the same way. It was a tough fight, but I thought I was a clear winner."
According to Macklin promoter Brian Peters, 76 percent of those responding to a poll on the website of German network SAT.1, which carried the fight, had Macklin beating the hometown favorite.
After the fight, Macklin said he hoped to get a rematch. Sturm, who is his own promoter, said he would be happy to give him one in November.
"After the fight I asked him for a rematch, and he told me, 'I'm a man. I will give you a rematch,'" Macklin said.
• Junior welterweight Erik Morales, the former three-division champion and Mexican star, has verbally agreed to appear on the undercard of the Mayweather-Ortiz HBO PPV card, Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez told ESPN.com. Gomez said no opponent was set, but that Morales "is verbally confirmed for Sept. 17. We've been going back and forth with the contract and made some changes he wanted, but he is fighting on the show." There are still plans to try to finish a deal to have junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez make his second defense on the PPV from another site, but Gomez said it was not done yet.
• Golden Boy has made a deal with HBO for two of its brightest prospects to appear on HBO-televised undercards in two of its summer bouts. Capitol Heights, Md., featherweight Gary Russell Jr. (16-0, 10 KOs), a 23-year-old 2008 U.S. Olympian with fast hands, will open the telecast headlined by Khan-Judah on July 23 in Las Vegas, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com. Schaefer also said that heavyweight Seth Mitchell (22-0-1, 16 KOs), a 29-year-old former Michigan State football player who is widely regarded as the No. 1 American heavyweight prospect, will open the HBO card on Aug. 27. That show is headlined by the junior welterweight match between Marcos Maidana and Robert Guerrero in San Jose, Calif. Schaefer said matchmaker Eric Gomez was going over potential opponents with the network.
• Lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez's July 16 tuneup fight against Colombia's Likar Ramos (24-3, 18 KOs) will take place in Cancun, Mexico, Zanfer Promotions' Sean Gibbons told ESPN.com. Zanfer is promoting the bout in conjunction with Marquez Boxing Promotions, the company formed by Juan Manuel and younger brother Rafael Marquez (39-6, 35 KOs), the former bantamweight and junior featherweight champion, who will also appear on the card in a 10-round featherweight co-featured fight against an opponent to be determined. Rafael Marquez has not fought since November, when he retired on his stool after the eighth round because of a shoulder injury in a fight with then-featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez. Juan Manuel Marquez (52-5-1, 38 KOs), who will fight Ramos at junior welterweight, needs to win to preserve a Nov. 12 welterweight showdown with Pacquiao, who is 1-0-1 against Marquez in two memorable battles. Also added to the July 16 card: flyweight titlist Roman Gonzalez (28-0, 23 KOs) defending against Omar Salado (22-3-2, 13 KOs).
• Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik (37-2, 32 KOs), who will return Aug. 6 in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, now has an opponent: Detroit's Darryl Cunningham (23-2, 10 KOs), according to Top Rank's Carl Moretti. Pavlik ended a 13-month layoff following his title loss to Sergio Martinez and a stint in alcohol rehabilitation on May 7 when he moved up to super middleweight and outpointed Alfonso Lopez on the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley undercard. Pavlik, 29, could have sat idle until November and challenged super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute or accepted an offer to go to England to face James DeGale, but Pavlik, his management and Top Rank felt he needed one more fight to shake off the rust. So enter Cunningham, 36, who is getting the fight mainly because he is a southpaw. Bute and DeGale are also left-handers, so facing one in the tuneup was ideal for Pavlik.
• Middleweight titlist Dmitry Pirog (18-0, 14 KOs) of Russia, who has been calling for a fight with lineal champion Sergio Martinez to no avail, will make his second title defense Sept. 17 or Sept. 24 in Moscow, co-promoter Artie Pelullo told ESPN.com. Pirog will face fellow Russian and mandatory challenger Gennady Martirosyan (22-2, 11 KOs). "It's all in place," Pelullo said, noting that the date is at the discretion of Russian television network Channel 2. "It will be in Moscow, but the specific venue is being worked out by my partner, German Titov. Martirosyan is a tough guy. I think it's a fight that Dmitry Pirog wins, but he has to be in shape. We're hoping to get the mandatory completed and then come back to the United States and, hopefully, get him on HBO." Pirog won a vacant belt in spectacular fashion in July 2010 when he scored a fifth-round knockout of hot prospect Daniel Jacobs in Las Vegas on an HBO PPV undercard. Pirog made his first defense on March 26 in Russia, outpointing Javier Francisco Maciel.
• Middleweight James Kirkland (28-1, 25 KOs) has been added to the Khan-Judah undercard on July 23 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Kirkland needed 2 minutes, 18 seconds to score a first-round knockout of Dennis Sharpe on June 24 in Kirkland's first fight since his shocking first-round knockout loss to unheralded Nobuhiro Ishida on April 9 -- a bout that was supposed to be a showcase fight for Kirkland on his way to a fall shot at middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. Kirkland's opponent for the upcoming fight, which is not slated to be part of HBO's undercard, has not been determined. Golden Boy's Eric Gomez said it was possible Kirkland could, however, be moved to an August card instead.
• Top Rank held a news conference in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, this week to announce it will co-promote junior lightweight Luis Cruz (18-0, 14 KOs) with Miguel Cotto's promotional company. Top Rank's Bob Arum considers the signing significant for his company and made the trip to Puerto Rico for the announcement. "Everyone at Top Rank is excited about Luis Cruz. He is a very skilled, exciting fighter who has punching power. A future superstar," Arum said. "Luis Cruz is an excellent boxer, and with this union we will be able to give him the exposure he needs to take his career to the next level," said Cotto, a junior middleweight titlist and Puerto Rico's No. 1 active fighter. In his first notable fight, Cruz, 25, easily outpointed perennial contender Martin Honorio, a late substitute, on April 16 on the undercard of Orlando Salido's upset of Puerto Rico's Juan Manuel Lopez to win a featherweight title. Arum said Cruz would appear in a "Top Rank Live" main event in September "and if all goes well, he'll be matched against a top 130-pound contender on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez pay-per-view telecast. His presence in a major fight on that telecast will help the pay-per-view in Puerto Rico." Said Cruz, "I am very excited to be able to be part of this great union. I am very happy where my career has been led by Miguel Cotto Promotions, but I also believe that this move will take me to the next level and will bring me the big fights that I want so much."
• Promoter Lou DiBella signed former junior middleweight titlist Joachim Alcine (32-2, 19 KOs) of Quebec. Alcine, 35, has not fought since Alfredo "Perro" Angulo knocked him out in the first round last July. "I'm looking forward to getting back into the ring very soon," Alcine said. "I'm out to prove to the boxing world, my fans and, most importantly, myself that I am still one of the best junior middleweights in the world." DiBella said the first fight with him promoting Alcine would be later this summer and then DiBella thinks he can line up a more significant fight. "Alcine is still one of the most significant fighters in Canada, and at 154 or 160, he will find a big fight. And if he wins, he's back on top. He's in a good situation. He's a professional and it was sort of a no-brainer to sign him. I think an eventual fight between Alcine and [Montreal middleweight prospect] David Lemieux in Canada is a very attractive fight."
• Main Events signed Queens, N.Y., junior lightweight Joselito Collado (12-0, 3 KOs). Collado is slated to make his debut on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" on July 15 at Texas Station in Las Vegas against Casey Ramos (13-0, 4 KOs) of Austin, Texas, in the opening television bout. According to Main Events, Collado lost a decision to former featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez in the amateur ranks but scored a knockdown against him. "Signing with Main Events is my biggest win inside and outside the ring," Collado said. "I am very excited to be working with them. I feel comfortable with my career in their hands." Said Main Events CEO Kathy Duva: "We think Joselito is a terrific addition to our team of fighters. He has the heart, skills and determination we love about all of our fighters. It will be a pleasure to help guide him to a world championship."
"I am excited to get back in the ring because Victor Ortiz is a great challenge for me. Ortiz is a young, fast and very strong champion, so this is not going to be easy. But I will prepare myself with the same dedication I have always had for my fights and show fans around the world that I am the best boxer in the world today."
-- Floyd Mayweather Jr. on his comeback from a 16-month layoff to challenge welterweight titlist Ortiz on Sept. 17 (HBO PPV)
"I have always said that I would be the first fighter to beat Floyd Mayweather, and now that I have my chance -- and to do it on a weekend that celebrates the independence of the Mexican people -- is an amazing blessing for me. I have worked so hard to become a champion and to show the world that I am the best. I am not going to let anyone take that away from me. I'm confident that I will walk away from this fight with my belt and a new title: the first to defeat Floyd Mayweather."
-- Ortiz on his showdown with the former five-division titleholder
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
Bernard Hopkins is ready to defend his light heavyweight title against Chad Dawson, and it's a fight worth watching. But is it worth ponying up PPV money to see? We'll soon find out.