There's a lot of talk about a lot of year-end fights going on right now, so let's take a look at what's happening.
Rick Reeno of BoxingScene.com is on top of a developing situation at HBO, where the network is attempting to turn the November 27 show headlined by Juan Manuel Marquez and Michael Katsidis a triple-header involving Lou DiBella fighters on the undercard. The DiBella fighters in question are welterweight titlist Andre Berto and featherweight contender Celestino Caballero.
Berto is looking likely to make his mandatory defense against Turkey's Selcuk Aydin, and HBO would like to put that fight on the Marquez-Katsidis show. Also included would be Caballero most likely against Ricardo Cordoba, who has become a hot property as a November opponent. Cordoba and Caballero met back in 2004, with Cordoba winning a 12-round decision in Panama, the home base of both fighters. The lanky, 5'8" Cordoba has been one of the few fighters not totally dwarfed by the 5'11" Caballero over Caballero's career.
Cordoba has also been targeted as an opponent for Guillermo Rigondeaux on the Pacquiao-Margarito undercard. Reeno says that while Caballero appears "very likely" to be on the show, the Berto-Aydin fight is another matter, with money -- what else? -- in the way.
Berto, as we've said countless times, has been turned into a minor monster because of his HBO push. In all candor, his fights aren't worth as much as they've paid for them, and they never have been. Berto drew less than 1,000 fans to his last fight with Carlos Quintana, and that was in his home state of Florida. Boxing isn't huge in the Sunshine State, but it's also far from a foreign concept. A lot of shows are promoted down there, albeit not truly big shows.
The cold, hard, fact of the matter is that Berto-Aydin as an HBO co-feature to a truly marquee fight in Vegas is exactly where that fight belongs. This ridiculous ego or greed or pride or whatever it is has got to be curbed by some of these fighters, or they're going to be playing to the same empty arenas in Sunrise, Fla., forever. Berto is not a draw. Caballero can't help in that regard.
DiBella says Berto being on the card is up to the fighter and his manager, Al Haymon. There's a lot of upside to Berto fighting in a Marquez co-feature. There is no upside to stagnating in another headlining card in Florida in January or February. His opponent has zero name in the States, and it's just the way the cookie is crumbling for his career right now. He's young, has a friendly style, and is charismatic. The true marquee fights may come in time, but right now they're not there. If I were advising Berto, I'd tell him to do it. And don't count out the idea that this could even set up Berto-Marquez for next year as Marquez continues his wild goose chase for Manny Pacquiao.
* * * * *
There is talk that WBO light heavyweight titlist Juergen Brahemer will come to Quebec to face Librado Andrade (another adopted Montreal fighter) on the 12/18 Pascal-Hopkins card, but I think Per Ake Persson makes a couple of very good points about that possible fight. First of all, Universum is hardly known for their strong matchmaking, or for sending their fighters -- especially titleholders -- overseas.
Also, Braehmer's legal issues may make it hard for him to go to Canada to defend. I really wouldn't expect this fight to come off.
Andrade's brother Enrique Ornelas is set to fight super middleweight titleholder Robert Stieglitz on October 16, though. Stieglitz lost to Andrade on HBO a couple of years ago, and has since nabbed a paper title at 168. He's turned down a unification offer from Lucian Bute and is clearly not looking to take on any of the division's top names. Ornelas was a solid middleweight fringe contender for a while, and moved up to light heavyweight last December in a loss to Bernard Hopkins in Philadelphia. Stieglitz-Ornelas is a fight between two limited guys -- not bad fighters, but nowhere near top-shelf -- who could produce some fireworks. All things considered, it's a fine fight.
* * * * *
A few more:
- Touted Hatton Promotions prospect Scott Quigg will fight Santiago Allione on September 25.
- Jackson Asiku will fight Jhonny Gonzalez on September 15. The fight will be available from Integrated Sports PPV. My cable box is actually listing the fight at $9.99 right now, but a press release I got said it's supposed to be $24.95. I'm guessing the latter is the correct price, though frankly $9.99 would be more in line with actual demand. Juan Carlos Salgado will face Tyrone Harris in the co-feature. Both fights could be very good.
- Kevin McBride, if you haven't heard, is taking part in the next Prizefighter tournament. Here's hoping that goes the way of Wayne McCullough's return in Prizefighter from earlier this year, and just doesn't happen.