Posts Tagged ‘Top Rank’

Does Andre Ward need Carl Froch? Believe it or not, it may be true

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Carl Froch vs. Andre Ward

Carl Froch lost to Andre Ward in 2011, but holds the upper hand in rematch negotiations. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

In 2011, Andre Ward battered Carl Froch over 12 lopsided rounds, winning a unanimous decision and firmly establishing himself as the No. 1 super middleweight in the world. But as I watched Froch batter Mikkel Kessler last week, a fight witnessed by 18,000 fans in London’s O2 Arena and millions more on Sky Sports in the U.K and HBO in the U.S., it occurred to me:

Ward needs Froch more than Froch needs Ward.

Think about it: Froch has options. The win over Kessler evened the series between the two and a third fight — in either England or Denmark — would be worth millions. Light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins is practically pleading for a fight with Froch, willing to come to the U.K. and fight at a catchweight to get it. Rising super middleweight contender George Groves is a promotional stablemate of Froch and would create an appealing all-England showdown.

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  • Published On Jun 04, 2013
  • Nonito Donaire-Abner Mares set to be latest casualty of boxing’s costly promotional cold war

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    Nonito Donaire, currently No. 4 in SI.com's pound-for-pound ratings, is the logical opponent for Abner Mares -- but can the fight ever get made? (AP)

    Nonito Donaire, currently No. 4 in SI.com’s pound-for-pound ratings, is the logical opponent for Abner Mares — but can the fight ever get made? (AP)

    LAS VEGAS — One of the biggest potential fights in 2013 — no, not Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, sorry — is a super bantamweight showdown between Nonito Donaire and Abner Mares, who for the last two years have been steamrolling through the 118- and 122-pound divisions.

    The problem with making Donaire-Mares? The usual: Top Rank (which promotes Donaire) and Golden Boy (which promotes Mares) don’t get along.

    Top Rank’s Bob Arum’s solution is simple: Let us do the fight, and get out of the way.

    “They can have input into the promotion,” Arum said. “We wouldn’t look to put the fight in Manila. We would give them the ability to veto a site. And they could participate in the rules meeting. But they can’t run the business. We have built Donaire up. We have put an effort into it. We have companies that have committed to Donaire like Tecate, TV Azteca, HBO. If we are talking just about money, I’m sure we can come to a solution.”

    That idea, as expected, doesn’t sit well with Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.

    “The first thing is Bob should not be disrespectful,” Schaefer said. “Just because he has been [promoting] for so long, he doesn’t have that right. You need to approach this in a professional way. The silly notion of just paying [us] money and then they do it, why should we be disrespected like that?”

    “I think it’s important to maximize the money for the fighters. They deserve it. I do think there are some issues that I acknowledge, Bob is right. HBO invested a lot of money in Donaire and it’s not right for HBO to not have a big Donaire fight. But Mares was built by Showtime. All of his big fights were there. They invested substantially more than HBO did in Donaire, so it’s not really right for Showtime not to have the fight either.”

    Schaefer’s solution: Have both sides put an offer in an envelope, and the side with the biggest offer gets to promote the fight.

    “Let’s say both sides agree on a split,” Schaefer said. “Let’s say for argument’s sake it’s 50-50. Then let Arum go to the people he works with, TV Azteca, Tecate, HBO, the Filipino TV, go and talk to them and get their best offer. I’m going to do the same with Corona, with Showtime, with Televisa in Mexico and let’s see who can get more money? He puts his number in a sealed envelope, I put mine in a sealed envelope and whoever has the bigger number wins. My side can’t blame me, and Bob’s side can’t blame him.”

    “That doesn’t mean whoever has the smaller number doesn’t get their logo or their tickets or their press conference. This is not about disrespecting one another. If you want to really get it done, you have to do what is fair.”

    In an interview with SI.com, Arum didn’t sound the least bit interested, particularly when it came to doing a deal with Showtime, which has had a frosty relationship with Top Rank since Stephen Espinoza, an attorney who worked closely with Golden Boy, took over as the head of sports programming.

    “If that’s the case, the fight can’t happen,” Arum said. “I’m not going to strain my loyalty [to sponsors and networks] for a fight that doesn’t mean that much to me. Donaire can fight anyone. I pay him three times what Mares makes. I get $6 million per year from Tecate. Am I going to jeopardize it for a f—ing Donaire-Mares fight?”

    “Understand, the people who support us don’t want to hear about these kind of nuances. Donaire delivers for them. Would he fight Mares? Absolutely. But Mares doesn’t move the needle for us at all. We would fight him, but not to jeopardize our business. And why would I deliver any fight to Showtime that’s run by a guy who worked for Golden Boy, who won’t take our calls, who tries to humiliate us and does business only with one promoter? Why would I give him any kind of strength. This guy [Espinoza] is a bad guy. I don’t mind saying it to anybody. He is a bad, bad guy.”

    In an email to SI.com, Espinoza expressed a strong interest in being a part of a Mares-Donaire fight.

    “Mares vs. Donaire is a very attractive fight, and I’ve already made it clear that Showtime would bid very aggressively for that fight,” Espinoza said. “I am sure that Bob and Golden Boy will want to make sure that they generate the most money for their respective fighters and will not let anything as petty as personal feelings get in the way. Anything less would be a disservice to the sport, and more importantly, to the fighters.

    “It’s ironic that Bob would say that I don’t take his calls. I’ve been at Showtime for just over a year, and I have not received a single phone call from Bob Arum during that time. With respect to his comments about me personally, they don’t even merit a response, other than to say that I have never left any real offer from Top Rank, or anyone else, without a reply. Bob knows that. And given Bob’s track record and reputation, being called a “bad guy” by him is a badge of honor.

    “I am judged by the quality of the programming I acquire. Showtime has been televising high profile, exciting and competitive fights all year, and I am confident our subscribers are very pleased with the quality of Showtime boxing this year. We welcome all dialogue and proposals from Top Rank and all other promoters that fit within our programming strategy.”

    With so many obstacles and neither side likely to relent, Donaire-Mares will likely suffer a familiar fate: Never happening.

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On Dec 06, 2012
  • Abner Mares’ popularity undermined by Golden Boy-Top Rank feud

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    Bantamweight titleholder Abner Mares, who is No. 13 on SI.com’s pound-for-pound list, returns to action Saturday on Showtime against Anselmo Moreno. (AP)

    The ongoing feud between Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and Bob Arum’s Top Rank has stood in the way of countless potential fights. Prime examples include junior welterweights Lucas Matthysse and Brandon Rios, middleweights Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Saul Alvarez and, most recently, super bantamweights Abner Mares and Nonito Donaire.

    On Saturday, Mares (24-0-1) will defend his WBC title against Anselmo Moreno (33-1-1) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (10 p.m. ET, Showtime). And let’s be honest: Very few people care. It’s hard enough to get average fans interested in the 122-pound division, even harder when they know it’s not even the best fight they could be seeing.

    The best fight is Mares-Donaire, which would feature the two unquestioned top dogs in the super bantamweight division. Mares is slick and skilled, the winner of Showtime’s bantamweight tournament who has been picking off top opponents for the last two years. Donaire, who dominated Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka last month, blends power and speed better than anyone in the division.

    On a recent conference call, Mares expressed interest in making a Donaire fight.

    “All I can say is Nonito, he’s a great fighter,” Mares said. “He’s really, really explosive, a really great fighter. His last performance against Nishioka, I mean the fight was a little bit, you could say boring at the beginning but being that Nishioka wasn’t throwing that much, he wasn’t giving that much. Nonito found a way and took his time and got that knockout. He looked good.

    “If I were to fight him, obviously I’d fight him different and it would be a great fight. I know and I’ve seen that people want that fight. They’ve been asking for that fight and they know that I could give them a hell of a fight and definitely beat him as well. But again, that’s in the future, first things first.”

    There are no reasonable excuses for not making Mares-Donaire. Both fighters are experienced champions who are ready for the best fight out there. Both are marketable to networks — Mares to Showtime, Donaire to HBO — and both have developed a following over the last two years.

    The only excuse is that representatives from Golden Boy and Top Rank don’t want to be in the same room together. And that’s not good enough. Because only the diehards will watch Mares-Moreno, just like only the diehards watched Donaire-Nishioka.

    You want to build an audience, give them something worth watching.

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On Nov 07, 2012
  • Roundtable: How impressive was Brandon Rios’ win over Mike Alvarado?

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    Brandon Rios (right) outlasted Mike Alvarado (left) on Saturday in a slugfest that’s been hailed as the fight of the year to date. (Harry How/Getty Images)

    How impressive was Brandon Rios’ win over Mike Alvarado, Saturday’s junior welterweight bout that many pundits have preordained the fight of the year?

    CHRIS MANNIX: I’ve had my doubts about Rios; the brawler style, the trouble making weight and the size Rios balloons to when he is not training have made me question whether he could rise to an elite level. But against arguably his best opponent at a heavier weight, Rios did what he has always done, wearing Alvarado down with thudding body shots and closing masterfully in the seventh round when he had Alvarado hurt. Sure, I still wonder if Rios can box — the fight was even on two judges cards and Rios held a two-point lead on the third’s before the fight was stopped — but there is simply no keeping Rios from getting inside. He is relentless.

    I have little doubt that if Manny Pacquiao beats Juan Manuel Marquez in December that Top Rank will match Pacquiao with Rios. Financially, it makes sense: Rios is enough of a household name now and with the right promotion, Pacquiao-Rios could surpass 1 million pay-per-view buys. But if Pacquiao is unavailable, Rios has plenty of options. Oscar De La Hoya tweeted that he would make a Rios-Lucas Matthysse fight, which has the potential to be even more of a war than Rios-Alvarado. Rios could look for a 140-pound title (a shot at the IBF belt could be available) or simply seek out the biggest paydays. Whatever happens, Rios will be in a big fight, one worth a whole lot of money.

    RICHARD O’BRIEN: I know that Bob Arum said ahead of time that the winner of Rios-Alvarado could be in line to be Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent (assuming Pacquiao gets by his old dance partner Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8), but that prospect pales compared to the promise of a rematch of last Saturday’s sensational set-to in Carson, Calif. Rios prevailed in what people are already calling, with justification, one of the best fights of the past several years. But really both boxers did themselves — and their trade — proud. And in the process, they provided fans with a rare show of skill, courage and real passion. From the explosive (a combined 190 punches) first round on there was no letup in the action, or in either fighter’s commitment, as both threw — and absorbed — hundreds of heavy, heavy shots. Two of the judges had the bout even after six rounds, while the third had Rios just ahead, yet the stoppage by referee Pat Russell was a good one. (Though had he survived the seventh, Alvarado might very well have come right back out in the eighth and thrown 147 punches — as he did in the fifth — and Rios no doubt would have been right there to meet him.) In the end, this was a great fight and one that elevated both men’s stature in the sport.

    Rios is the real deal: He has great strength and power, an obviously sturdy chin, and he fights with the kind of energy and enthusiasm that makes him enormously enjoyable to watch. I’d expect him to prevail in a rematch with Alvarado and will be very eager to see where he goes from there.

    BRYAN ARMEN GRAHAM: Classic fights happen, but far less often when they’re predetermined as such. The come-forward, crowd-pleasing styles of Rios and Alvarado had prompted most boxing people to earmark Saturday’s matchup as a potential fight of the year from the moment it was made. It ended up being the rare case of a hyped fight that exceeded its lofty expectations: two prime sluggers trading hell and laying the groundwork for a must-see rematch or, if we’re lucky, a trilogy.

    Rios’ well-documented struggles making the lightweight limit came to a head in December when he lost his title on the scale ahead of the big December show at Madison Square Garden. The young puncher had a sickly pallor when he visited the Sports Illustrated offices about 48 hours before the weigh-in and it was apparent he’d outgrown the division. But any concerns about whether he’d bring his punch up with him to junior welterweight were spectacularly dismissed during Saturday’s breakthrough performance — a spine-tingling 23-minute war that rendered moot the stench from Rios’ dubious point victory over Cuba’s Richard Abril last year. Now Rios is a star — he debuted today at No. 14 in SI.com’s pound-for-pound ratings – and a can’t-miss showdown with Pacquiao looms if the Filipino congressman can hold serve against Marquez. That, of course, is no sure thing. Far more certain is the fact that Rios’ biggest paydays are yet to come.

    HBO will air replays of the Rios-Alvarado fight on Oct. 15 (11:30 p.m. ET/PT) and Oct. 16 (11 p.m. ET/PT).


  • Published On Oct 15, 2012
  • Quick jabs: Golovkin eyes return, Pacquiao-Marquez tix selling, more

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    Gennady Golovkin (above), one of the most intriguing and buzzed-about names in the middleweight division, will likely return to action on Dec. 8 in Europe. (AP)

    Some quick jabs …

    • I have to admit, I was bitterly disappointed when Golden Boy, on behalf of undefeated heavyweight and former Olympic bronze medalist Deontay Wilder, turned down an offer to fight rising heavyweight prospect Bryant Jennings last week. In case you missed it, Wilder and Jennings have been in a Twitter beef, during which Wilder called Jennings out. Jennings’ promoter, Main Events, responded by offering Wilder the slot opposite Jennings on its next NBC Sports Network show on Dec. 8. Yet Wilder’s team quickly shot it down, saying the money (likely around $25,000, though there was room for negotiation) wasn’t enough for that kind of fight.

    Now, I understand that a year from now, Wilder-Jennings could be a pretty big fight. But that’s only if both continue their respective ascents. The fact is, neither Wilder or Jennings has fought anyone notable and there is a strong possibility one or both will get beating which would take much of the shine off of a matchup (see: the vaporized Juan Manuel Lopez-Yuri Gamboa megafight). The winner of a showdown in December would take a big step in the heavyweight division, probably vaulting himself up in the rankings and certainly becoming more attractive to the higher-paying premium networks. Unfortunately, Wilder, who frankly has accomplished nothing in his four-year professional career, sees it a little different.

    • Here’s why Wladimir Klitschko may never fight in the U.S. again: More than 16,000 tickets have already been sold for Klitschko’s title defense against Marisuz Wach in November in Hamburg, Germany.

    • Speaking of hot tickets, Top Rank reports that 13,000 seats have already been sold for Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV in December. It seems despite the lukewarm response the fight received from pundits, there is still a strong interest from fans to see these two future Hall of Famers in the ring.

    • Looks like Gennady Golovkin will return to the ring on Dec. 8, when he will defend his WBA middleweight title somewhere in Europe. Golovkin hoped to land an HBO date, but the network is booked solid in December and Golovkin is determined to fight before the end of the year. Main Events lobbied Golovkin hard to fight on either its Dec. 8 or Dec. 22 shows. However Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, believes he can get a better deal fighting in Europe.

    • There is some debate over when Wladimir Klitschko owes a mandatory defense of his WBA title. Sauerland Event, which represents WBA “regular” titleholder Alexander Povetkin, claims Klitschko must face Povetkin by the end of February. Klitschko’s manager, Bernd Boente, says the fight isn’t due until next July. My opinion: Who cares? Klitschko has chased Povetkin for years and, after Wach, doesn’t have any viable opponents on the horizon. Cut a deal — March sounds pretty good — and make the fight.

    • Sign me up for more Kubrat Pulev. Pulev’s 11th-round knockout of 6-foot-7 Alexander Ustinov on Epix last weekend — which followed a knockout of 6-foot-7 heavyweight prospect Alexander Dimitrenko before that — has established the Bulgarian as a legitimate heavyweight contender. Pulev will likely face the winner of Tomasz Adamek-Odlanier Solis in December, with a win positioning him as the IBF’s No. 1 contender for Wladimir Klitschko’s title.

    • Let me join the chorus of those who think Don King’s $1.1 million purse bid for Chris Arreola-Bermane Stiverne is nuts. Neither Arreola or Stiverne has done much of anything lately, certainly not enough to warrant that type of payday. There is a good chance Arreola-Stiverne on HBO or Showtime but there is no way King is going to get his money back in the license fee. It’s simply not that significant a fight.

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On Oct 02, 2012
  • Timothy Bradley to defend welterweight title on Dec. 15 at Marlins Park

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    Timothy Bradley (left) won the WBO welterweight title from Manny Pacquiao (right) in June, handing the Filipino his first loss in more than seven years. (AP)

    Timothy Bradley will defend the WBO welterweight title he won from Manny Pacquiao on Dec. 15 at Marlins Park in Miami.

    While an opponent has yet to be officially signed for the HBO-televised fight, former welterweight titleholder Andre Berto has emerged as the most probable candidate.

    “We’re trying to lock in Berto,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told SI.com on Friday. “HBO is working on it right now. If all things come together over the next couple days that’s what we’re looking at.”

    Bradley (29-0-0, 12 KOs), currently No. 8 in SI.com’s pound-for-pound ratings, won a highly controversial split decision over Pacquiao on June 9 to capture the title. The Palm Springs, Calif., native has since recovered from injuries to his left foot and right ankle sustained in the fight.

    “From a dates point of view it works out OK for him,” Moretti said.

    Berto (28-1-0, 22 KOs) won the WBC welterweight title with a technical knockout of Miguel Angel Rodriguez in June 2008, making five successful defenses before losing it to Victor Ortiz in April 2011. That bout was widely regarded as a Fight of the Year candidate, prompting a much-anticipated rematch scheduled for June 23 in Los Angeles.

    But the Miami native tested positive for the steroid norandrosterone in May and was dropped from the card. Berto has since had his license reinstated by the California State Athletic Commission.

    Interestingly, Bradley and Berto faced off previously at the 2003 National Golden Gloves championships in Las Vegas, where Berto earned a unanimous decision in the junior middleweight final to win a national title and place in the Olympic trials.

    – Bryan Armen Graham


  • Published On Sep 28, 2012
  • Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. tests positive for banned substance after Sergio Martinez fight

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    Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (above) tested positive for a banned substance — reportedly marijuana — after Saturday’s fight with Sergio Martinez in Las Vegas. (AP)

    Former middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. tested positive for a banned substance following Saturday’s unanimous-decision defeat to Sergio Martinez. Chavez’s promoter, Top Rank, confirmed the positive test.

    Top Rank’s Carl Moretti confirmed the positive test was for marijuana.

    “Top Rank is reviewing the situation,” Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels said in a statement. “Julio Cesar Chavez Jr will have the opportunity to explain this situation to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.”

    The positive test is the second for Chavez in Nevada. In 2009, Chavez tested positive for Furosemide, a known diuretic that helps with weight loss, after his win over Troy Rowland. Chavez was suspended for seven months and fined $10,000 by the commission. The official result was changed to a no-contest.

    Last week, Chavez cited that positive test as one of the turning points of his career.

    “I thought about it, and I said, ‘What am I doing here? Do I need to be serious about this?’” Chavez said. “‘Do I really want this? How much do I want it?’”

    NSAC executive director told SI.com there is no mandatory suspension length for a second positive test. Kizer said any violation can result in a fine of up to 100 percent of the fighter’s purse — Chavez was guaranteed $3 million against Martinez — and/or a one-year suspension.

    The positive test is the latest act of immaturity from the 26-year old Chavez. Last January, Chavez was arrested for suspicion of DUI. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation. Before teaming up with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, Chavez had a reputation for being lazy in the gym. Though he seemed to shed that reputation over the last year, in the weeks before the fight with Martinez, Chavez routinely skipped out on training sessions, often preferring to work out at home late at night rather than at the gym.

    Roach said he will continue to work with Chavez but that “the first day he misses something, I’m going home.”

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On Sep 19, 2012


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