- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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When promoter Gary Shaw made a deal with HBO in mid-March to bring junior welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. to the network, the plan was for him to face Luis Carlos Abregu in a nontitle welterweight bout this summer.
Before that deal was completed, a higher-profile fight with big-punching interim titlist Marcos Maidana emerged as a possibility and the bout was put together. But when Maidana postponed the fight, then withdrew altogether -- his camp claims both were the result of the same back injury -- it left Bradley in need of a new opponent for his July 17 HBO debut.
The new opponent has been secured, and it's the same as the old one: Abregu.
They'll square off in a welterweight bout at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif., which is not far from Bradley's hometown of Palm Springs.
Shaw, Bradley's co-promoter with Thompson Boxing, told ESPN.com that the deal was made this week and Sean Gibbons, Abregu's agent, backed him up.
HBO originally was planning just a single fight for the telecast, but as an added bonus it worked out a deal with Shaw to add interim junior middleweight titlist Alfredo "Perro" Angulo (18-1, 15 KOs).
Angulo will open the card against former titleholder Joachim Alcine (32-1, 19 KOs) of Montreal, who has won two in a row since losing his belt to Daniel Santos in July 2008.
It shapes up as Angulo's toughest test other than when he faced Kermit Cintron, who handed him his first defeat. Angulo is coming off a strong performance in an 11th-round knockout of Joel "Love Child" Julio on April 24.
" 'Perro' makes exciting fights," Shaw said. "He's getting more exposure. It will make the show a bigger show. I think it's a really high level fight for Angulo."
Shaw said going back to Abregu cost him more money, but he's glad to have the deal done.
"More money. That's always the case because they know why you're coming back to them," Shaw said. "Whatever language it is in they can read when it comes to money. But I think it's a terrific fight. I'm interested in how Timmy defends against Abregu's big right hand. And Abregu believes he is the Argentine Arturo Gatti."
Abregu (29-0, 23 KOs), 27, has made some exciting brawls, including a 10-round Showtime-televised decision against fringe contender Richard Gutierrez in February.
"It's a fight that we accepted once and then, for whatever reason, they chose to go with Marcos Maidana," Gibbons said. "Abregu may not have the same big wins Maidana has, but he is every bit as exciting. If he hits Bradley on the chin it could be interesting. I know he'll get in there and mix it up. I give Bradley credit for jumping up and fighting him at 147."
Shaw said Bradley was fine with the change back to Abregu.
"He's very cool about it because he doesn't care about who he fights," Shaw said. "He'd like to get one of the big 140 pounders [Devon Alexander or Amir Khan] in the ring with him, but he's OK with Abregu because he believes if he shows how he can perform at welterweight it could lead to a [Manny] Pacquiao or [Floyd] Mayweather fight. If they don't fight each other, Timmy is certainly in the top echelon for a fight with one of them."
"Everybody says how many 140 pounders are out there but funny we couldn't find a top one to fight," said Cameron Dunkin, Bradley's manager. "Timmy is fine with the change. He just wants to fight and at 147, he will show that he can go at either weight."
Bradley (25-0, 11 KOs) outpointed England's Junior Witter to win a world title in 2008 and unified two belts in April 2009 by surviving two knockdowns to win a unanimous decision against Kendall Holt. Bradley, 26, was forced to vacate one of the titles but defended his other in December with a lopsided unanimous decision against previously undefeated mandatory challenger Lamont Peterson.
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.
Junior welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. will face Luis Carlos Abregu in a nontitle welterweight bout this summer.