Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is already looking at plans for a major boxing card at Madison Square Garden next June on the eve of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade That is where his WBO welterweight champion, Miguel Cotto, is expected to be again, assuming Cotto is successful in his title defense against Manny Pacquiao next month.
Regardless, Arum has plans to unify the featherweight championship and that begins tomorrow night at the Garden WaMu Theatre. WBO champion Juan Manuel Lopez and WBA champion Yuriorkis Gamboa of Cuba defend their respective titles in separate bouts on the “Island Warriors” “Latin Fury 12” pay-per-view show. If both prevail, Arum has plans to put both fighters in a mega unification bout, in the Garden main arena, possibly with Cotto as the headliner.
“It is in the plans,” said Arum about a June date at the Garden. “These are two fighters that bring excitement to the sport and we have every intention of putting this together,” he said. And Arum, has that good working relationship with the Garden to put the fight together in New York with hopes Cotto is available and still holding his title.
Though if Cotto does prevail, there is still talk he could oppose Floyd Mayweather Jr. sometime next year either in Las Vegas, or in New York City at the new Yankee Stadium. A Top Rank source said the Yankees are very much interested in staging a Cotto-Pacquiao return bout if Cotto wins.
Mayweather recently returned to the ring and dominated Juan Manuel Marquez. And there is no doubt that a Cotto-Mayweather bout at Yankee Stadium will sell out and draw major pay-per-view numbers. Arum, who used to promote Mayweather, would prefer his two fighters, Cotto and Pacquiao to have a trilogy. But Maywetaher, back in the picture may spoil his plan.
In the meantime the “Island Warriors: card is expected to sell out and has a good under card to supplement the main event. Middleweight contender “Irish” John Duddy, looking to make an impact again is on the card along with former heavyweight contender Monte Barrett facing WBC 7th ranked heavyweight Odlanier Solis of Cuba.
“For any Puerto Rican this is a big site, this is a big venue and this is where you want to be,” said Lopez (26-0, 24 KO’s) of Caguas Puerto Rico. He trains with Cotto and knows how important it is to be fighting on the big stage at the Garden, even though it is not in the main arena,
To that Lopez said, “This is where you want to showcase yourself like Miguel Cotto and Tito Trinidad. I talk to Tito almost every day and he tells how exciting it is to be fighting at the Garden. It is a very special place to fight. I am on the road to gaining all the exposure that I need.”
Lopez is in the second year of his title reign after dethroning defending champion Daniel Ponce De Leon via a first round knockout last June. He has successfully defended his title four times since, all by knockout and is billed to be the next exciting fighter out of Puerto Rico, of course next to Cotto. He opposes Rogers Mtagwa (26-12-2, 18 Ko’s) of Philadlephia, 15th ranked by the WBO.
“I’d like to win four titles in four weight divisions,” he said, “something that no Puerto Rican has ever done. That is my goal. I fee like I will go to 126 sooner rather than later. I started at 21 years old and have been fighting for five years at 122-pounds.and now my body is ready to go up.
Lopez talks to the former champion Trinidad constantly about the pressures of being a champion and not looking ahead to the next opportunity. Trinidad has attended most of his fights but won’t be there tomorrow because of a family commitment. “He is my idol,” says Lopez.
“He always tells me about the great experiences he had at the Garden. A lot of people are talking about Gamboa but I don’t think about that, I think about my next fight,” said the 26- year old who is 5-0 in championship fights. “Gamboa fight might happen but that is far down the road,” he said.
The undefeated Gomboa, (15-0, 13Ko’s) who won Olympic gold in 2004, one of the promising fighters in the division opposes (WBA 13th ranked Whyber Garcia (22-6, 15 KO’s) of Panama City Panama. An exciting and aggressive fighter, Garcia has won four of his last five fights the loss was for the world title WBA super featherweight champion Jorge Linares last year.
“I have to win the fights and convincingly to get to where I want to get,” he said. “Just being in the storied building (The Garden) means I have achieved my goals I can feel the energy like it is on my doorstep but first I have to past this test on Saturday before I think about what happens next.”
He commented about leaving his country and pursuing his goal of becoming a world champion. “It was a big risk for me to leave and take the stuff that I took, leaving not only the boxing team but my country. It goes on to prove that if I seat a goal I can accomplish it.”.
Camacho Legacy Continues: Hector Camach Jr. believes this is his time much like the saying that his father, the former 4-time world champion Hector Sr. said over the years. And the native of Puerto Rico and Spanish Harlem, now residing in Orlando Florida believes he is a better fighter and belongs in the same class with Cotto, Pacquiao and Mayweather.
Camacho, (49-3-1) the WBC Caribbean light middleweight champion begins his comeback to the championship ladder when he opposes former 2-time champion “Yory Boy” Campas of Mexico on Friday October 30 from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso Texas to be seen on pay-per-view.
“Yory Boy, he’s not a walk in the park,” said Camacho last week from his training quarters down in Orlando “He has been there. He’s coming to fight the fight. It’s a perfect style as he comes straight in” Added is a motivation factor because this past May, Campas and Camacho Sr. fought to a draw.
So there may be some vindication as well. “I have a score to settle with Yory Boy. This is as important to me as it is to my father,’ said Camacho who also wants it known that he should not be compared to his father when it comes to his ring entrance and style in the ring …
E-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]