Former World Middleweight Champion KELLY “The Ghost” PAVLIK will be embarking on his professional comeback, headlining the televised undercard for the 12-round World Boxing Council (WBC) super welterweight championship between combined 10-time world champions CONGRESSMAN MANNY PACQUIAO and the “Tijuana Tornado” ANTONIO MARGARITO. Pavlik will be taking on Texan BRIAN VERA in a 10-round bout. The pay-per-view undercard will also feature boxing’s wunderkind GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX, challenging for a world title in only his seventh professional bout, in a 12-round rumble with former world champion RICARDO CORDOBA for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) interim super bantamweight championship. The exciting telecast will open with undefeated top-rated welterweight contender MIKE JONES defending his North America Boxing Association (NABA) and North America Boxing Organization (NABO) welterweight belts against Top-10 contender JESUS SOTO-KARASS.
These six gladiators boast a combined record of 142-13-5 (105 KOs) – a winning percentage exceeding 89% and a victory by knockout ratio of 74%. Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Cowboys Stadium, MP Promotions and Tecate, PACQUIAO vs. MARGARITO – boxing’s No. 1 event of the year — will take place Saturday, November 13 in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. The $1.2 billion stadium is the largest, most technologically advanced entertainment venue in the world. Pacquiao vs. Margarito will be produced and distributed live on HBO Pay-Per-View®, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
“In addition to the main event, which we believe is destined to be the Fight of the Year for 2010, we are presenting a tremendous undercard featuring some of the top boxers today,” said Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank. “From top to bottom this will be a sensational card and will keep the viewing audience entertained throughout the evening.
The principal undercard match features former World Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik, now on the comeback trail, against a dangerous middleweight in Brian Vera of Austin, Texas. Pavlik is on a quest for redemption after losing his world title to Sergio Martinez. Vera holds important wins over Andy Lee of Ireland and Sebastien Demers of Canada,” continued Arum.
“This is life and death for me as a fighter. I must win,” said Pavlik. “The future is now.”
“No disrespect intended to the card because it’s a terrific show to be associated with, but fighting on an undercard is not where we want to be,” said Pavlik’s trainer Jack Loew. “Kelly has been a headliner since he won the middleweight title three years ago. We dug this hole and now it’s time to climb out of it and Brian Vera is not going to prevent Kelly from becoming a two-time world champion. Youngstown always fights back when it gets knocked down.”
Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs), of Youngstown, OH, one of boxing’s most popular fighters and inspirational stories, returns to the ring for the first time since relinquishing his world middleweight crown via a 12-round decision to two-division world champion Sergio Martinez last April, ending his two-year reign. It was September 29, 2007 when Pavlik created a media and public frenzy by knocking out undefeated defending champion Jermain Taylor in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall to become the WBC and World Boxing Organization (WBO) middleweight champion in a bout selected as the “Fight of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America. Pavlik defeated Taylor handily in their rematch in February 2008 to solidify his claim as one of boxing’s top pound for pound fighters. Pavlik successfully defended the title three times, all by knockout, with two of those victories coming against No. 1 contenders and mandatory challengers.
“Pavlik’s Cinderella story is going to end for good with me at Cowboys Stadium,” said Vera. “Rust never sleeps – even for a so called man of steel.”
Vera (17-5, 11 KOs), of Austin, TX, a former participant of The Contender reality series, has earned a reputation for being one of boxing’s most “upsetting” fighters — most notably two upset victories. In 2008, he knocked the blarney out of previously undefeated and world-rated middleweight contender and Emanuel Steward protégé Andy Lee, blasting the 2004 Irish Olympian out in the seventh round. He followed that with a third-round knockout of top-10 super middleweight contender Sebastien Demers in June in front of Demers’ hometown crowd in Montréal. Demers entered that fight having won 11 of his previous 12 bouts dating back to 2007.
“Guillermo Rigondeaux, perhaps the greatest amateur fighter of this era with two Olympic gold medals, has embarked on a professional career,” said Arum. “He is taking on Ricardo Cordoba of Panamá. Rigondeaux, whose professional record is just 6-0, has been described by his trainer Ronnie Shields of Houston as the best fighter he has ever trained. Cordoba is a top featherweight who has defeated top fighters including world champion Celestino Caballero.”
Rigondeaux (6-0, 5 KOs), of Miami, Fla, who boasted an amateur record of 400-12, captured Olympic gold as a member of the Cuban team in 2000 and 2004 as a bantamweight. After defecting to the U.S. in February 2009, he made his pro debut three months later, knocking out Juan Noreiga in the third round. He captured the vacant NABA super bantamweight title the following September in just his third professional bout, knocking out Giovanni Andrade in the third round, ending Andrade’s five-bout winning streak, with four of those victories coming by knockout. He knocked out Adolfo Landeros in February and Jose Beranza in August in the first and sixth rounds respectively and en route to his current career-high world rating of No. 3 by the WBA.
Cordoba (37-2-2, 23 KOs), of Santa Marta, Panamá, the last man to tag a loss on World Super Bantamweight Champion Celestino Caballero, is no stranger to the rarified heights of world championship boxing. Career highlights include two majority Draws against defending WBA bantamweight champion Wladimir Sidorenko in 2006 and 2007, both in Germany. After the second Draw against Sidorenko, Cordoba moved up to the super bantamweight division, where he captured the WBA interim title in 2008 via a dominant 12-round unanimous decision over two-division world champion Luis Perez. He was unsuccessful in challenging Bernard Dunne for the undisputed WBA super bantamweight title, losing their 2009 battle in a fight that saw both combatants go down five times total. It’s the only loss Cordoba has suffered in the past five years. He enters this fight as the WBA’s top-rated super bantamweight contender, riding a three-bout winning streak, with two of those victories coming by knockout.
“Finally, the undefeated Philadelphia phenom Mike Jones faces his toughest test in Jesus Soto-Karass. Jones is viewed by many as the best fighter out of Philadelphia in years and a future world welterweight champion. Soto-Karass is an all-action fighter who always gives it his all,” said Arum.
“This is without a doubt the toughest professional test Mike has ever faced,” said Russell Peltz, Jones promoter. “Soto-Karass is the right guy at the right time and it’s fortunate that it’s taking place on boxing’s biggest stage. We have been chasing this fight for one year. If Mike is going to be a world champion he’s going to have beat Soto-Karass on November 13 to make his case.”
Jones (22-0, 18 KOs), of Philadelphia, PA., who has been attracting rabid fans to his fights in the friendly confines of Atlantic City and Philadelphia, will take on his biggest challenge on the biggest stage he has ever fought. Considered one of the hottest prospects in boxing, six of his last eight victories have come by knockout. He won the vacant NABA title in 2008 knocking out Brazilian strongman Juliano Ramos in the sixth round. Jones successfully defended his title three times in 2009 and 2010, including Henry Buseles in February, ending his five-year winning streak. He added the vacant NABO welterweight title belt to his waist in April, knocking out Hector Muñoz in the third round. In his last fight, Jones successfully defended both titles with a fifth-round knockout of Irving Garcia, in July, catapulting him to the top of the WBA welterweight ratings.
Soto-Karass (24-4-3, 16 KOs), of Los Mochis, México, boasts an impressive 13-1-2 (one No Contest) record, over his past 17 fights, dating back to 2005. The lone blemish was a sixth-round technical loss to Alfonso Gomez last year. Highlights of that period include knockout victories of former world champion Vince Phillips and undefeated contender Michael Rosales in WBC Continental Americas welterweight title fights in 2006 and contender David Estrada for the vacant North America Boxing Federation (NABF) welterweight championship in 2008. He’s currently world-rated No. 8 by the WBC.
The Pacquiao vs. Margarito pay-per-view telecast, has a suggested retail price of $54.95, will be produced and distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View® and will be available to more than 71 million pay-per-view homes. The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD. HBO Pay-Per-View®, a division of Home Box Office, Inc., is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry. For Pacquiao vs. Margarito fight week updates, log on to www.hbo.com or www.toprank.com .