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On the heels of Deontay Wilder’s first-round knockout of Dominic Breazeale nine days ago and Anthony Joshua’s Saturday U.S. debut at Madison Square Garden, the attention has justifiably shifted to the question of when the unbeaten heavyweight champions will fight.
Yet, according to two fighters in talks for a September card that is being pointed to Staples Center, Premier Boxing Champions is moving toward a Wilder rematch against Cuba’s Luis Ortiz.
“They told me that the fight is going to be in [Los Angeles],” one of the heavyweights who spoke to the Los Angeles Times said Monday night.
The site deal is not finalized, but a Staples Center executive confirmed to The Times that PBC has holds on dates including Sept. 7.
Because the deal is not finished, one planned participant was not authorized to speak publicly about the event. However, he said, “I love this fight.”
And a second heavyweight who declined to be identified because of the remaining work said he’s been told to prepare to fight on the undercard of Wilder-Ortiz, a bout expected to return to Showtime.
The Staples Center opening on Sept. 7 would follow a Sept. 1 PBC on Fox Sunday card that could help promote that bout. Staples Center is also clear for now on Sept. 28, although that date seems less likely for the bout because PBC has a card scheduled one week earlier on FS1.
Wilder-Ortiz I in March 2018 was a fight-of-the-year candidate in which Ortiz hammered Wilder with heavy blows, and appeared to be near a seventh-round knockout victory. But Wilder survived and wound up punishing Ortiz (31-1, 26 knockouts) with hard rights in the 10th that led to a technical-knockout triumph that thrilled the Barclays Center and Showtime crowd.
Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) told The Times earlier this month he was content to let three-belt champion Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) wait for a unification after the Brit, who fights replacement foe Andy Ruiz Jr., of Imperial, Calif., Saturday on DAZN, previously put up difficult negotiations with Wilder.
But Joshua, expected to return to the ring in December, said on ESPN’s “First Take” Tuesday morning that he’ll seek to step in front of a Wilder-Ortiz rematch by working to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Wilder should Joshua defeat Ruiz on Saturday.
Wilder has said he does not plan to attend Joshua-Ruiz.
“It will be good for me and Wilder to sit down and talk and get this fight negotiated for the next … I’ve just come to the decision it’s important for me and Wilder to sit down man-to-man and iron out our differences and get this fight made,” Joshua said.
“From promoter to promoter … it’s back and forth, back and forth. We should go direct and see if there’s serious [intent].”
Unbeaten former three-belt heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who returns from his dramatic Dec. 1 draw against Wilder at Staples Center June 15 against obscure German Tom Schwarz at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, has said he doesn’t foresee a Wilder rematch until 2020.
Wilder twice floored Fury at Staples, but Fury was widely viewed as the more effective boxer that night, when a crowd announced at 17,698 attended.
The energy of that evening, along with the entertainment value of the first Wilder-Ortiz bout, has put Staples Center back in consideration for what would be Wilder’s 10th title defense and the arena’s fourth heavyweight title bout.
Nowhere to go
Former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin came down from his training home in Big Bear on Tuesday to tell reporters he wants a definitive victory June 8 at Madison Square Garden to assure a Sept. 14 trilogy bout against three-belt champion Canelo Alvarez.
“It’s very important for me [to win decisively] because everybody wants to watch a third fight with Canelo and everybody wants more of the emotion and reaction we know will be part of that,” Golovkin told The Times.
The pair fought to a 2017 draw and Alvarez emerged with a majority decision triumph last year, delivering Golovkin his first loss and closing his unbeaten run of 20 middleweight title defenses.
The 37-year-old Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) is pressing the message that he’s taken strides to improve his performance by ditching trainer Abel Sanchez and aligning with former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko’s trainer, Johnathan Banks, for the June 8 bout against little-known, unbeaten Canadian Steve Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs).
“I feel like a teenager. All these new ideas – I feel very good,” Golovkin said. “My speed, my boxing … I feel like a boxer, not a street fighter.”
Alvarez is currently dealing with an unexpected ruling by the International Boxing Federation trying to press him to defend his belt against mandatory challenger Sergey Derevyanchenko, who lost a title shot against the man Alvarez just defeated on May 4, Daniel Jacobs. Insiders believe Alvarez can win an exception from the IBF and Derevyanchenko’s handlers by agreeing to fight Golovkin.
Golovkin’s best ally in pursuit of Alvarez could be DAZN, which is hopeful this month’s Joshua and Golovkin bouts will carry the streaming service beyond 1 million subscribers, allowing for retention and expansion with Alvarez-Golovkin III coming for either the monthly price of less than $20 or the annual pass fee of $99.99.
“This is business,” Golovkin said. “I’m approaching it as if I have an appointment in September with Canelo.”
More MSG action
The June 14 Bellator MMA 222 card at Madison Square Garden has been boosted by Southland fighters.
Beyond the addition of Whittier featherweight Aaron Pico (4-2) versus Hungary’s Adam Borics (8-0), Hesperia bantamweight Juan Archuleta (22-1) will meet former champion Eduardo Dantas (21-6) of Brazil on the main card.
Archuleta is hopeful of using victory as a springboard toward champion Darrion Caldwell.
“I’m excited to re-sign with Bellator and take on all competition to prove I’m one of the elite athletes on the planet,” Archuleta said. “Fighting at MSG against a former bantamweight champ is the first task and I am excited for the challenge.”
Until next time