Celestino Caballero and his promoter say no offer has come from Top Rank to fight Juan Manuel Lopez. Top Rank's Bob Arum claims he offered $150,000. (Photo via a.espncdn.com)
Leon Margules, who promotes Celestino Caballero under the Seminole Warriors banner, told Rick Reeno that despite Bob Arum's claim to the contrary, no offer has been made for Caballero to fight Juan Manuel Lopez.
Last night, Arum said Top Rank had made a $150,000 offer to Caballero to fight on January 23. Margules says that's not true:
"The kid comes in and asks for tickets to the fight. And they [Top Rank] agree - but why would you seat him in 203 and not ringside where the guy can be seen? Because you have no intention of getting in the ring with him because you know your guy is going to get beat. He [Arum] never made me an offer. Nobody [from Top Rank] made me an offer," Margules said. "He has no intention to fight Caballero because he is afraid of him."
As for Arum talking about Lopez fighting Steven Luevano or Elio Rojas, Margules says that's not what the fans want:
"The best opponent that the fans want to see him fight is Caballero, and he is also the most reasonably priced. Do you think [Luevano's manager] Cameron Dunkin is going to send Luevano will to Puerto Rico for less money? Do you think Don King [Rojas' promoter] will? They haven't offered anything. The best deal that can be made is Caballero," Margules said.
I don't know that on the larger scale, Lopez-Caballero is really any bigger of a fight than Luevano-Lopez or Rojas-Lopez. Clearly, Juanma is planning to move up to 126 pounds, perhaps not because he needs to, but because there are far, far more good fights there than at 122. At 122, the only truly viable fight is Caballero, and Caballero, good as he is, is no star.
The tentative plan has been to put this fight in Puerto Rico, though, as Margules says, and that should mean that Lopez would be the clear A-side anyway. Right now Top Rank's obvious and stated plan is to set up Lopez against Yuriorkis Gamboa next summer, thinking that will be a dynamite fight between two young stars, and it likely would be. The fact is, Lopez might not be "afraid" of Caballero, but Arum might be. Caballero beating Lopez screws up a lot of plans -- to be fair, it shouldn't, since Caballero beating Lopez probably wouldn't make me want to see Gamboa-Lopez any less, but that's how boxing promoters think. Protect, protect, protect, and then try to cash in a few times.