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BOXING STEVE SPRINGER

Outlook Is Promising for the Big Rematch

March 08, 2003|STEVE SPRINGER

Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya are thisclose to agreeing to a Sept. 13 rematch.

I know, you've heard this before.

But this time, it appears the months of negotiations are about to finally culminate in a signed contract. Most of the financial issues have been resolved.

After Mosley had originally agreed to a $4.25-million guarantee, against De La Hoya's $12 million, Mosley balked at the idea of receiving $250,000 less than he got in the first fight, a match in June 2000 that Mosley won by split decision.

De La Hoya then sweetened the deal by agreeing to take half a million dollars from his guarantee and put it back on the table as a bonus to the winner.

Still Mosley wasn't satisfied.

Although he is represented by the International Marketing Group, Mosley brought in lawyer Judd Burstein, who has represented Lennox Lewis among others, to join the negotiations. In talks with Burstein, HBO agreed to kick in $250,000 to boost Mosley's share to the level of the first fight.

Still to be resolved is an HBO guarantee of a future Mosley fight, should he win.

Also to be resolved is the issue of an interim Mosley fight before Sept. 13. De La Hoya is fighting Yory Boy Campas May 3 in a tuneup bout. And Mosley is in even greater need of a tuneup than De La Hoya. Mosley suffered the first two losses of his career last year, both at the hands of Vernon Forrest. Then, last month, in a fight he was expected to dominate and get some much-needed work at his new weight of 154 pounds, Mosley went less than three full rounds against Raul Marquez, the fight stopped with no decision because of two accidental head butts that left Marquez unable to continue.

The question is, does Mosley want the work, perhaps as an undercard fighter for a smaller purse, or will he demand to be in a main event for a seven-figure purse?

If it's the latter, negotiations will bog down again. HBO is willing to push for a spot for Mosley, perhaps even as the semi-main event on the May 3 De La Hoya card if Mosley is willing to fight for about $250,000.

Another alternative would be for Mosley to fight the following week, coupled with the replay of De La Hoya-Campas, which figures to be a huge mismatch.

Mosley should take what he can get, look at it as a glorified sparring session, and concentrate on preparing for Sept. 13.

"We're getting closer," Burstein said. "We have expectations that the deal will get done. We are cautiously optimistic."

And yes, we've heard it all before.

History Yes, Hysteria Not Yet

ESPN boxing analyst Max Kellerman is calling Roy Jones perhaps the greatest fighter since Sugar Ray Robinson. Kellerman, a long-time Jones booster, has gotten caught in the hysteria of Jones' unquestionably brilliant feat last week of moving up from light-heavyweight to defeat World Boxing Assn. heavyweight champion John Ruiz. Maybe Kellerman is so stunned because even he picked Ruiz to win.

But a little perspective is required here. Jones did become the first former middleweight to win a heavyweight title since Bob Fitzsimmons defeated Gentleman Jim Corbett in 1897. Jones became only the second light-heavyweight champion to win a heavyweight title, equaling Michael Spinks' victory over Larry Holmes. And Jones succeeded where Billy Conn had failed against Joe Louis, and Bob Foster had failed against Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

But here's a news bulletin: Ruiz is not Muhammad Ali, or Joe Frazier or Joe Louis or Jim Corbett. He is a below-average heavyweight who didn't deserve to hold a title.

Jones is unquestionably the best pound-for-pound fighter among today's boxers. But Ray Robinson? Not quite. Not yet.

Copy Cat

Most media outlets ignored Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s announcement Thursday that he's ready to emulate Jones and move up, in his case three weight categories, to challenge De La Hoya.

Mayweather, the World Boxing Council 135-pound champion, wants to fight for De La Hoya's 154-pound title. The only problem is, De La Hoya is not the least bit interested, said his business advisor, Richard Schaefer.

"It's ridiculous," Schaefer said. "He can't be serious. This is about getting Floyd's name in the paper."

Which Mayweather needs. He's fighting the legendary Raul Balbi in Fresno on April 19. Fighting De La Hoya in Las Vegas in a multimillion-dollar deal sounds a lot more attractive.

But unless it suddenly becomes attractive to De La Hoya -- and don't bet on that happening -- it should be treated as nothing more than the publicity stunt it is.

Quick Jab

Among those being inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame today at a luncheon at the Old Spaghetti Factory on Sunset Boulevard are former heavyweights Ken Norton and Mike Weaver, Gwen Adair, the first female referee to work a championship bout, ring announcers Jimmy Lennon Sr. (posthumously) and his son, Jimmy Lennon Jr., and broadcaster Tom Kelly. The event begins at 11:30 a.m. Information: (818) 761-4887.

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