Legal battle nears end, opening door for Kirkland-Vera battle Nov. 22 on HBO

Updated: October 24, 2008, 10:11 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Golden Boy Promotions and Gary Shaw are finalizing a settlement in their legal battle over the promotional contract of fast-rising junior middleweight prospect James Kirkland, which will pave the way for him to return to the ring Nov. 22.

As long as the settlement is signed, HBO -- which didn't want to televise Kirkland under the threat of litigation from Shaw -- has agreed to air a fight between him and middleweight Brian Vera, best known for his stint on the third season of "The Contender."

They'll meet at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the co-feature to the Ricky Hatton-Paulie Malignaggi junior welterweight championship fight.

Kirkland, one of boxing's most fearsome punchers, and managers Cameron Dunkin and Michael Miller split with Shaw in July, claiming he breached their contract. Kirkland signed Oct. 15 with Golden Boy, but Shaw claimed he still had a valid agreement with Kirkland and sued.

Now they've worked out an undisclosed settlement, although Shaw, Golden Boy and HBO didn't want to comment until after it's signed.

On Friday, however, Golden Boy made a deal with promoter Jeff Wald of the Tournament of Contenders for Vera (16-1, 10 KOs) to face Kirkland (23-0, 20 KOs) at a contract weight of 157 pounds, a concession by both sides because Kirkland is a 154-pounder and Vera usually fights in the low 160s.

"We closed it," Wald told ESPN.com. "When I speak to Golden Boy and they tell me it's a done deal, it's a done deal."

Dunkin also said it was a done deal.

"It's a great opportunity for James," he said. "It's a very tough fight but it's an opportunity to be on HBO again and it's a chance to really let everybody see Kirkland and for him to advance his career."

Kirkland, 24, and Vera, 26, are familiar with each other. They're both from Austin, Texas, and have sparred with each other, although briefly, according to Dunkin.

"Kirkland stopped him with a body shot in the third round of a sparring session," Dunkin said. "[Kirkland trainer] Ann Wolfe told me James put it on Vera pretty good, but Vera is a good fighter and a strong right-handed puncher."

Vera hasn't fought since March, when he pulled off a major upset. After being knocked down in the first round, Vera rallied to stop heralded middleweight prospect Andy Lee, the Emanuel Steward-trained 2004 Irish Olympian, in the seventh round on ESPN2.

"I think Vera is a terrific fighter and my kid is really happy to get this fight," Wald said. "He's wanted this fight. I think it's going to be a very close fight and whoever makes the first mistake probably loses. They know each other and each other's styles. Kirkland is a straight up fighter and so is Brian. For the fans, it's a pick 'em fight, but I favor my guy and they should favor their guy. One thing I know -- this is a real fight, no running, no hiding. I don't think Kirkland is a runner or a hider and I know Vera isn't."

In other Golden Boy news, 21-year-old junior welterweight prospect Victor Ortiz (22-1-1, 17 KOs), who will be featured on the Dec. 6 HBO PPV card headlined by the Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao fight, will face one-time hot prospect Jeff Resto (22-2, 13 KOs), 31, Ortiz manager Shelly Finkel told ESPN.com.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.