I hadn’t talked to Bob Arum in a few weeks but, as usual, Top Rank has a lot lined up in the upcoming weeks and months.
One key development is Juan Manuel Lopez, one of their bright, young stars, moving over to Showtime for his next outing on July 10th in Puerto Rico against Bernabe Concepcion.
"HBO said that they didn’t have a date for him and that we should do for him what we want," explained the veteran promoter. "But Showtime is interested in him as well, and all our fighters are free agents in that way. The problem has been solved in Puerto Rico as far as the high-definition trucks; they have one now and so we’re going to have a doubleheader in Puerto Rico. They’re working on the second fight; it’ll be a good fight and we have a lot of fighters and we want to get them as much exposure as possible and we want to do as few pay-per-views as we can.
"I mean, we don’t do these pay-per-view shows to make money- I’m not talking about the big ones- but these other shows; we do it to keep the guys busy and the exposure and entertain people who want to see it."
When asked if Yuriorkis Gamboa, who is slated to have a showdown with “JuanMa” in 2011, would be on that telecast, Arum said, "No, he’s going to fight on HBO in Las Vegas, later that month." He could be facing Celestino Caballero, should he [Caballero] get past Daud Yordan on April 10th.
The bout between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and John Duddy will take place on June 26th, most likely at the Alamodome. Arum says, "San Antonio is the leading candidate; we’re looking at some other places but we’re strongly considering San Antonio. The fight would definitely be in the United States." This card would be rounded out by a fight between Jorge Arce and Eric Morel, along with appearances by Vanes Martirosyan and Roberto Marroquin.
On June 5th at Yankee Stadium in New York, Miguel Cotto challenges WBA 154-pound titlist, Yuri Foreman and it was hoped that a bout between newly crowned WBC lightweight beltholder Humberto Soto and Anthony Peterson would open up that HBO broadcast. Instead, Soto will face Ricardo Dominguez on May 15th in Los Mochis, Mexico. But he will eventually face Peterson.
"Humberto Soto said, ’Look, my dream is to fight in my hometown,’ and Fernando Beltran has arranged him to fight somebody in his hometown with the proviso that, by the end of July, he would face Peterson. There’s no question of ducking him or not; Peterson is the mandatory and Peterson was nice enough to accommodate Soto."
May 8th marks the return of “The Tijuana Tornado,” Antonio Margarito, in Mexico against the rugged Robert Garcia, as the headliner of “Latin Fury 14.” But the question is, why is he performing before going back and facing the California State Athletic Commission, who had suspended him indefinitely for having illegal hand-wrappings prior to his fight last January versus Shane Mosley?
Arum reasoned, "We want to get him a fight and then we’re going to apply in the state where we expect his next fight will be. And it may be Nevada; it may be Texas, maybe Illinois. We have no intention; we just haven’t, of fighting in California. Why should he go back to California, when he has no intention of fighting there?"
Does Top Rank believe that there is political pressure on the CSAC to summarily rule against Margarito in this instance, thus the reticence to go back to that jurisdiction?
"No, I don’t think there’s any political pressure there," said Arum. "It was hard-fought; we challenged them; there’s still a lawsuit going on with Margarito. So they’re not really that friendly to him. All of their inspectors testified for Margarito and got fired. So there’s a lot of baggage there. If it were necessary, we’d go back to California. But it isn’t."
Speaking of troubled fighters, when it comes to Edwin Valero, who’s had a myriad of problems recently, Arum only comment was, "Well, y’ know, it’s something that obviously we have no control over. Obviously, he admitted to having an alcohol problem; he was busted for DUI when he was in Vegas. So he has a drinking problem; he’s dealing with it. Hopefully he’s straightened out. I mean, the most important thing is getting his life straightened out. It’s much more important than his boxing career."