With new WBC middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr open for a voluntary defense against a contender of his choosing, top-ranked (by the WBC) challenger Marco Antonio Rubio will not be getting his shot at the 25-year-old Mexican star any time soon. That leaves two challengers, according to Arum, who spoke with Lem Satterfield:
"It's between the two names, Peter Manfredo and Darren Barker. It makes no difference who he fights, it just depends on who we can make the best deal with. We'd be looking to fight on Sept. 24."
Between those two, it would seem a deal could easily be made with Manfredo, who is promoted by Lou DiBella. Barker, of course, is based in the UK, which doesn't make it difficult to make a fight, but Arum and DiBella have worked together countless times. DiBella said yesterday he expects to receive an offer from Arum soon.
Manfredo (37-6, 20 KO) is ranked the No. 6 contender by the WBC, while Barker (23-0, 14 KO) is ranked No. 3. And to be entirely fair, the 30-year-old Manfredo was being discussed as a possible challenger to legitimate middleweight champion Sergio Martinez for sometime this year, too, if only because DiBella promotes both of those fighters and the options for Martinez were limited, which they still are. But while HBO might not approve Martinez vs Manfredo, they've already proven once that they'll accept the same lesser opponent for Chavez that they deny for Martinez.
I give the two the same equal chance -- I think they're both better than Chavez, and have both beaten better fighters than Chavez, but Chavez is always going to have some advantages that don't show up on the tale of the tape. Manfredo is the better puncher between he and Barker, but Barker the boxer more likely to embarrass Chavez if his own stamina can hold up.
As for Rubio (51-5-1, 44 KO), he'll get his shot in time. This is about taking a voluntary defense before having to face Rubio later, which isn't a situation unique to JCC Jr or to Top Rank.
By the way -- if they hold to the September 24 date, and get HBO for that, they're in a great position where they'll benefit from the Mayweather vs Ortiz replay audience.