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Ortiz not best prospect? Promoter Bob Arum apparently is tired of all the hype surrounding Victor Ortiz, one of the top young prospects in the sport.

Arum would have to acknowledge that Ortiz — who fights for rival Golden Boy Promitions — is talented. However, he suggests we don't get carried away and consider two of his fighters.

“The best young guy is not Victor Ortiz,” Arum said on a conference call to promote the Kendall Holt-Timothy Bradley 140-pound title fight on April 4. “It's Mike Alvarado. And what about Lamont Peterson? Don't get fooled by the other network [HBO], giving one guy more exposure than the other two.

“I think they're really better.”

Ortiz (24-1-1, 19 knockouts), Alvarado (25-0, 18 KOs) and Peterson (26-0, 12 KOs) are all junior welterweights, meaning they could settle any dispute in the ring.

Who would actually come out on top?

One objective observer, trainer Rudy Hernandez, thinks Alvardo would beat Ortiz.

“Alvarado can match Ortiz in strength and power,” he said. “I think Alvarado has better technique and a better chin, though.”

Let the debates begin.

Casamayor’s out, but who’s in? With a training injury forcing Joel Casamayor to pull out of his April 4 bout with Julio Diaz, one of four bouts on the ‘Lightweight Lightening’ pay-per-view show, the card’s promoter Golden Boy Promotions is once-again scrambling to find a suitable late-replacement.

Earlier this month it was Jorge Barrios, who had to pull out of his bout with Carlos Hernandez due to a jaw injury sustained in training. Golden Boy Promotions recently replaced the former 130-pound titleholder with 2004 U.S. Olympian Vicente Escobedo, who makes for an interesting crossroads bout with Hernandez.

Now that Casamayor has hurt his back in training, as reported by ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael, Golden Boy is once again on the lookout for a 135-pound standout to step in for the former lightweight champ.

It’s not going to be easy this close to the event that takes place at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

“All of the top contenders and big names in the division are already on the card,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, referring to the Edwin Valero-Antonio Pitalua title bout and the showdown between Michael Katsidis and Jesus Chavez that tops the show. “We don’t want to find a so-so fighter for Julio Diaz. All four fights should be good ones. Fights that you don’t know who’s going to win.”

If a quality lightweight can’t be found, Schaefer said the Diaz bout might be taken off the card and replaced with two four- or six-round bouts featuring 135-pound prospects under the Golden Boy banner.

“Maybe the way to go is to feature two young guys like Adrien Broner and Hylon Williams,” Schaefer said. “It would be the lead-up to the ‘Lightening’, which is three excellent lightweight fights.”

In the meantime, dozens of calls are coming in Golden Boy’s vice president and lead matchmaker Eric Gomez and calls are going out to the managers of experienced lightweights.

On Wednesday morning, a call was made to Rudy Hernandez, trainer-manager of former “interim” beltholder Jose Armando Santa Cruz (26-4, 15 KOs), who gave Casamayor all the Cuban vet could handle in a disputed decision loss in 2007 but was recently released by Golden Boy Promotions after his shocking KO loss to Pitalua last year. However, Santa Cruz wasn’t ready.

“Jose hasn’t been in training so he’s too heavy to be able to get down to 135 or even close to it,” Hernandez. “It’s a shame. He should have been in the gym. I tell all my fighters that they need to stay in shape and ready because you never know when an opportunity like this will come around.”

Two Southern California-area lightweights who are ready to take the opportunity are Riverside’s Josesito Lopez (23-3, 14 KOs), who has been sparring with Valero and is preparing for a fight on April 11, and Oxnard’s Rolando Reyes (30-4, 19 KOs).

“No one’s contacted us about (stepping in) but fighting a former champ like Julio Diaz is absolutely an opportunity that Josesito couldn’t pass up,” said Henry Ramirez, Lopez’s trainer.

“I’m going to call Gomez up and let him know that Reyes has been in the gym and he’s ready to go,” Reyes’s manager Cameron Dunkin said Wednesday.

Kirkland, John-Juarez II could be off June 27 B.A.D.

The talked about HBO ‘Boxing After Dark’ triple header that would feature Victor Ortiz challenging WBA 140-pound beltholder Andreas Kotelnik, the rematch between featherweight titleholder Chris John and Rocky Juarez, and James Kirkland going for Sergiy Dzinziruk’s WBO 154-pound title at L.A.’s Staples Center on June 27 might become a double header, according to Schaefer.

“HBO has issues with James Kirkland fighting on the May 2 Hatton-Pacquiao undercard,” Schaefer said. “They are worried that he might get injured or cut during the fight and then be unable to compete on the June 27 card.

“So we might split the June 27 card up and go with Ortiz-Kotelnik at the Home Depot Center or Nokia Theatre on that date with Robert Guerrero in the co-feature and save Kirkland-Dzinziruk for a late July or early August show in Texas with the John-Juarez rematch as the co-feature.”

Kirkland’s May 2 opponent will be Chicago’s Michael Walker (19-1, 12 KOs), as first reported by RingTV.com.

Klitschko-Haye, Pavlik-Mora still not done

The intriguing heavyweight showdown between IBF/WBO titleholder Wladimir Klitschko and former cruiserweight bomber David Haye has still not been finalized, but it’s close, according to Schaefer.

“I haven’t talked to Shelly Finkel (Klitschko’s U.S. representative) today because he’s in Germany for Vitali’s fight, but we talked yesterday and the deal should be signed and finished any day now,” Schaefer, who represents Haye, said Wednesday.

The fight is still scheduled for June 20 and Germany is still the leading candidate for a site.

“England would have worked, too, because David draws well in London but the appropriate venue was not available for June 20,” Schaefer said. “I would have liked to the fight at Madison Square Garden but with Bob (Arum of Top Rank) doing a (Miguel) Cotto show the previous Saturday, that was a problem with the arena.”

Kelly Pavlik’s talked about middleweight title defense against Sergio Mora is close but still far from a done deal, according to Dunkin, who manages the middleweight champ.

“We still don’t have a contract, still haven’t sat down with Bob and talked about money,” Dunkin said. “Arum is back in town from the Philippines tomorrow and we’ll talk then. Bob wants Mora as an opponent. He thinks Mora can make for a big main event in Atlantic City and he thinks he can sell Mora to the public.”

That’s debatable. Mora won the first season of The Contender reality series that was shown on NBC and he shocked the boxing world by upsetting Vernon Forrest for the WBC 154-pound title last year, but most hardcore fans and boxing writers are lukewarm (at best) on the East L.A. native, who looked flat in losing his title to Forrest in their rematch last September.

The major networks are cold on “The Contender” winner, which is why Pavlik-Mora will headline a Top Rank-produced pay-per-view if it’s made.

“HBO and Showtime were only interested in Kelly fighting Forrest, which didn’t work out,” said Dunkin. “(John) Duddy wanted too much money. He wanted seven figures, at least $1.5 million, which ain’t happening. (Marco Antonio) Rubio made $350,000 against Kelly. Mora would make a little more, but not much more; that’s why he’s the leading candidate.”

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