Bob Arum has named three leading candidates to face new WBC middleweight trinketholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in his next fight (and first belt defense): Peter Manfredo Jr, Darren Barker and Marco Antonio Rubio.
We know that Rubio wants the fight, after the open letter he sent out to the media, which received great response not only for the call-out of Chavez, but for the dignified manner in which Rubio made the challenge. It was downright gentlemanly.
And we can count in Manfredo and promoter Lou DiBella, too, according to Rick Reeno:
"Manfredo is ready for the fight. I think it's a very good fight and I think Manfredo can beat him. I haven't received a formal offer from Top Rank, but I expect to receive one in the next couple of days," DiBella told BoxingScene.com.
Manfredo (37-6, 20 KO) has won six straight in convincing fashion since being manhandled on his own turf by Sakio Bika in 2008, and the last four have come since he made the wise decision to drop back down to middleweight. You can question the level of opposition he's been beating, and that's fair, but there's another question: Is Chavez really that much better than those guys?
Barker (23-0, 14 KO) is tentatively set to fight on July 23 in the UK for his European middleweight belt. Chavez is due to return in September, so if Barker did land the fight, I'm sure they'd drop that date in order to get the big belt challenge lined up.
Of the three opponents, what's your favorite?