Jake Donovan reports that with Rolando Reyes pulling out of a fight with Ali Funeka for the still-vacant IBF lightweight title, HBO is now trying to put together a rematch between Funeka and Joan Guzman.
I can't say as though I'm at all surprised that Reyes (31-4-2, 20 KO) pulled out of the fight, as despite the protests of many (Gary Shaw, for one), Funeka's people were putting the bout in South Africa, where it was going to receive no U.S. TV coverage whatsoever. Shaw said he could have made a TV deal for the fight, too, but the Funeka people have had tough experiences in the U.S. (Nate Campbell beat him narrowly) and Canada (the draw with Guzman was seen by most as a robbery).
So now, we have Funeka and Guzman again. Rick Reeno's follow-up report says that though HBO is interested in putting the rematch together for March 27 (replacing the Michael Katsidis fight that night), the IBF and Funeka's team are saying they still have rights to put the fight in South Africa.
If they stick to that, Funeka won't fight Guzman, I'll guarantee that. They might get Miguel Vazquez to go over there, and by IBF rankings he would be the next choice, but but they won't get Guzman over there. Furthermore, I have my doubts given his conditioning history that Guzman can make 135 comfortably by March 27, so I'd probably not expect that to happen either way.
I'll also say that a better-conditioned Guzman (again, why I don't see this happening 3/27 if it happens at all) probably would beat Funeka. I like Funeka just fine, but he's not that great, and Guzman's conditioning as much as anything helped Ali get into that fight and at points, beat Guzman up pretty good. Still, I thought Guzman won the opening three rounds, and at the end I had Funeka squeaking past with a 115-113 score. I know a lot of people had it a lot wider, but I wasn't majorly outraged by the decision, I just thought it sucked for Funeka.