Brandon Rios' date of December 10 on Showtime is off the table after a fuming Bob Arum ripped the network for countering his HBO pay-per-view on December 3, and now it appears that Rios will be headed to that HBO pay-per-view, headlined by Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.
Two fights are already in place for the show: 122-pound titlist Rico Ramos will face Guillermo Rigondeaux, and in a really interesting matchup, Philly welterweight prospect Mike Jones faces Argentina's rugged Sebastian Lujan.
Pawel Wolak has also been rumored for the card, but that now is seeming less likely. He appears no closer to landing the fight he wants, which is Cornelius "K9" Bundrage, and the other rumored option was Vanes Martirosyan, who just signed yet another sideways step fight with Richard Gutierrez for October 29. I'm guessing if anyone falls off the card, it's Wolak, which is unfortunate because he's a really fun fighter, but if it means he gets a date later with Bundrage, I'm sure he'll be OK with that.
Of course none of this is confirmed, but has Top Rank decided to seriously dig in deep and take their fighters away from Showtime for the foreseeable future?
Rios being pulled from Showtime is no surprise whatsoever right now. He's fought twice on the network this year and delivered great performances, but as a lightweight he's not outside of HBO's normal realm the way that Showtime's bantamweights are, and really with his ability to appeal to people with his all-action style, it was only a matter of time before he became an HBO guy anyway.
The move by Showtime and Golden Boy to counter-program the Cotto vs Margarito show -- whether they had many options or not -- clearly and seriously pissed off Arum, who took it as sour grapes from Showtime for not being able to secure either the Pacquiao vs Marquez III show or the Cotto vs Margarito II show, just months after Showtime dug down deep to promote both of the spring 2012 PPV events with Cotto (vs Ricardo Mayorga) and Pacquiao (vs Shane Mosley).
You do have to wonder if Top Rank was pleased with Showtime's handling of the events. No official numbers were ever released, which leads many to believe that Pacquiao vs Mosley did not do the Bob Arum-circulated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys that was widely quoted and reported, and the Cotto show also didn't have official numbers, though those were supposedly around 200,000, also more rumor than fact
One thing I can say is that Top Rank, like Golden Boy just did with Mayweather vs Ortiz and like they tried desperately to do with Hopkins vs Dawson, is providing potential quality action fights for their two big PPVs in November and December. Rios is must-see TV, period, and Jones vs Lujan has good fight written on the wall, too, sort of like a slightly better version of Jones vs Soto Karass. Ramos vs Rigondeaux does run a sincere risk of being a lousy fight, but like I said yesterday, I'll take bang for my buck over name guys fighting showcases any day.