Lightweight tournament set
A lightweight tournament involving some of the most-recognizable names in the sport has been finalized by Golden Boy Promotions.
Four bouts matching 135-pound contenders will kick off the tournament – called “Lightweight Lightning” – on April 4 in Texas (in either Austin or San Antonio) on HBO pay-per-view, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said.
The matches are: Edwin Valero-Antonio Pitalua (for the interim WBC lightweight title); Michael Katsidis-Jesus Chavez; Jorge Barrios-Carlos Hernandez and Joel Casamayor-Julio Diaz.
The winners then would be matched in semifinal fights, Schaefer said.
“That’s eight fights and seven world champions,” said Schaefer, who included an interim title Katsidis held. “There’s a lot at stake. These guys have a lot to say about who is truly the best lightweight out there.”
Golden Boy has promotional ties to all but one of the fighters, Valero, who is promoted by Top Rank.
However, he thinks it’s likely that Valero would remain part of the tournament. If not, Schaefer said, the winner of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz fight on Feb. 28 could step in.
The most intriguing matchup is Valero (24-0, 24 knockouts) and Pitalua (46-3, 40 KOs).
Valero, who has had trouble getting medical clearance in the U.S. because of a head injury suffered in a motorcycle accident, will be fighting on a major network for the first time.
Also, the Venezuelan-born resident of Las Vegas, and Pitalua, a Colombian who lives in Mexico, have combined to knock out an astounding 64 of 73 opponents. Valero has stopped all 24 of his opponents and Pitalua has KO’d his last 14.
Katsidis (24-2, 20 KOs) bounced back from consecutive losses to Casamayor and Juan Diaz by outpointing Angel Hugo Ramirez last month. Chavez (44-4, 30 KOs) is a former two-time titleholder.
Barrios (47-4-1, 34 KOs) is coming off a KO loss to Rocky Juarez in September. Hernandez (43-7-1, 24 KOs) is 3-4 in his last seven fight but four of them were split decisions – two victories, two losses.
Casamayor (36-4-1, 22 KOs), another former two-time titleholder, is coming off the first KO loss of his career, against Marquez. And Julio Diaz (36-4, 26 KOs) has won two straight since he was stopped in 2007.
Pitalua is the only fighter among the eight who has not held at least an interim major title. All but he and Katsidis have held major belts outright.