Former champ Trinidad could be Pavlik's next opponent

Updated: February 15, 2008, 8:15 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- Middleweight world champion Kelly Pavlik faces Jermain Taylor on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in their 166-pound non-title rematch, but his promoter, Top Rank's Bob Arum, is laying the groundwork for Pavlik's next fight.

It could come against former three-division champion Felix Trinidad on June 7 at New York's Madison Square Garden, Arum told ESPN.com on Friday.

Win or lose, Pavlik will remain middleweight champion and Arum is planning his first defense. The leading candidate remains popular rising contender "Irish" John Duddy, who is a big attraction in New York.

Pavlik and Taylor weighed in at 164 pounds Friday, four pounds over the middleweight limit but two under the limit agreed to by both fighters.

Arum said he has spoken to Don King, Trinidad's promoter, about making Pavlik-Trinidad, which would take place the night before the annual Puerto Rican Day parade in New York.

"We've talked," Arum said. "Then King went down to Puerto Rico to meet with Trinidad last week. Then we spoke this week before he went to Germany and he said the meeting with the Trinidads went positively."

King is in Germany, where he has Sergei Liakhovich fighting Nikolai Valuev in a heavyweight elimination fight on Saturday night. Arum said he and King will meet face-to-face in New York next Friday to further discuss the bout.

Trinidad, an icon in Puerto Rico with a tremendous following in New York, is coming off a decision loss to Roy Jones on Jan. 19, but the former three-division champion looked good in a bout fought at 170 pounds, 10 pounds heavier than Trinidad had ever fought at before.

For the past few years, Arum has had Miguel Cotto, his Puerto Rican star, headline on the Puerto Rican Day parade weekend. But this year, Cotto is scheduled to fight Alfonso Gomez on April 12 and the turnaround to June 7 is too quick.

Arum plans to keep the date at Madison Square Garden and put Pavlik in the headline fight with an undercard built around some of his Puerto Rican fighters, such as junior flyweight champion Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon and junior featherweight contender Juan Manuel Lopez.

Arum is coming to New York next week to watch Duddy fight on the undercard of next Saturday's Wladimir Klitschko-Sultan Ibragimov undercard at the Garden.

Arum said Pavlik-Duddy would be an HBO fight, possibly with middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham on the undercard to give him exposure ahead of a possible fall fight with Pavlik. Abraham's next defense, announced Friday, will come March 29 in Kiel, Germany, against Elvin Ayala, who is coming off a draw with first-season "Contender" winner Sergio Mora.

Pavlik-Trinidad would be an HBO PPV fight, Arum said.

There is concern about whether Trinidad can make 160 pounds. He struggled to make 170 for Jones. But Arum said the fight would have to be at 160.

Pavlik is unaware of the discussions, Arum said, but Top Rank's matchmakers and Pavlik's manager, Cameron Dunkin, are aware of the talks and like the match.

"If Trinidad can make that weight and provided the [revenue] split is right, we would love to make the fight," Arum said. "But I won't know for sure until I meet with King."

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.

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