Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says that Timothy Bradley has four major options for his December 15 return to the ring, which will be televised on HBO. LA Times reporter Lance Pugmire tweets that those four options are Robert Guerrero, Lamont Peterson, Andre Berto, and Ruslan Provodnikov.
Let's take a quick look at these and figure out the chances, as best we can tell right now.
This one's being talked about quite seriously, it appears, and Richard Schaefer says that as long as Top Rank and/or Bradley aren't demanding a rematch clause, they're "good to go." Guerrero currently holds the interim WBC welterweight title, which he won against Selcuk Aydin in July, and will probably be named full champion by the sanctioning body soon enough. The WBC isn't wild about unification fights, though, and has actually twice stripped Bradley of its junior welterweight title in the past. Guerrero wants the fight, and so does Bradley, it appears. It's probably the best fight either of them can get right now. It makes 100% sense for both parties. So we'll see. Boxing. What are you gonna do?
Peterson still has that VADA test failure hanging over his head, and doesn't have a license in Nevada or California, the two most likely places for the Bradley fight in December. Plus, these two already met once in 2009, and Bradley blew Peterson out. There is some intrigue here, but Peterson's fast-rising name value from last December's upset over Amir Khan has pretty much gone kaput at this point. This is a decent fight and nothing more, even if Peterson's last fight was a big win. The validity of said big win has been called into question. Peterson's team has been negotiating an IBF-mandated junior welterweight title fight against Zab Judah -- with a purse bid set for October 2 -- but there appears to be a big snag there, which is that neither HBO nor Showtime are interested. Judah has reportedly been turned down by HBO as a possible Bradley opponent himself.
Berto is said to be lined up for a November 24 crack at K9 Bundrage's IBF junior middleweight title, so this doesn't seem likely. But that could change, I suppose -- if there were a big offer for Berto to face Bradley (and that fight is undeniably bigger than a Bundrage fight, with all respect to K9), then maybe that would be the move for Andre to make. He's also been out of the ring, now for over a year in his case, with an injury postponing a February date with Victor Ortiz, and his own failed VADA test canceling the June make-up date. Berto does have a license in California. More or less, I think Berto is being used as a "sexy" name here, kind of a smokescreen, like the way Miguel Cotto's name was used in the Pacquiao negotiations for December 8 recently.
Apparently, he's a deep choice. That's good, because it's not that great a fight. Provodnikov has a couple wins this year, but they were Friday Night Fights mismatches, real turds. Provodnikov is a fun action fighter and I'd have no problem tuning in to see the fight, but he'd be a big-time longshot to actually win the fight.
If I were guessing the chances of these fights happening, my order from most to least likely would be (for the moment): Guerrero, Peterson, Provodnikov, Berto. I put Berto last because even though it remains just "sources tell (reporter)" talk, the Bundrage fight seems like it will happen. Peterson I have second because I assume HBO would really rather not headline Bradley-Provodnikov as their final boxing show of 2012. And Guerrero, despite his Golden Boy ties and that company running a 12/15 event on Showtime featuring Amir Khan, because I think this is one of those rare situations where both promotional giants might be throwing up their hands and saying, "Fuck it. We don't know what to do with these guys right now, so let's do this." We're getting it with Martirosyan-Lara on November 10, and got it last year with Gamboa-Ponce De Leon.