Brooklyn's Yuri Foreman is close to signing a lucrative deal to face Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
If the deal for June 12 is consummated, it would be another stunning turn in the career of Foreman, who two years ago was on the verge of quitting the sport, frustrated that his career was in a holding pattern. On Nov. 14, Foreman, who is studying to become a rabbi, dominated Daniel Santos to win the WBA junior middleweight title, putting him in position to fight the best in the sport.
"Both guys want the fight," Bob Arum of Top Rank, which promotes both Foreman and Cotto, said in a phone interview Friday. "In fact, Miguel asked me if he could fight Foreman. It's close to a done deal."
Arum will meet with reps from both camps next week in Manhattan to discuss the remaining sticking point: money. Foreman's manager, Murray Wilson, doesn't envision a lot of haggling.
"We want the fight," he said. "This is a different world for us. We want to make this happen. Bob has always been fair to us. I don't expect it to be difficult."
Foreman has had famous opponents dangled in front of him before, only to be disappointed. He was rumored to be the opponent for Manny Pacquiao on March 13 after discussions with Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. broke down over the issue of drug testing.
Wilson said he was in Arum's Las Vegas office on Jan. 7 to sign a contract for Foreman to fight Pacquiao when Arum excused himself to place several phone calls. According to Wilson, Arum phoned Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, who turned down the match with Foreman, citing Foreman's height of 5 feet, 11 inches.
Arum will preside over a press conference on Wednesday in Manhattan to hype Pacquiao's next fight, against Joshua Clottey of the Bronx on March 13. Arum is still deciding whether Foreman-Cotto will be televised on HBO or on Pay-Per-View. The bout is for Foreman's title.
"That was extremely frustrating," Wilson said. "They had accepted the fight and then to have it fall apart because of Yuri's height. C'mon, Yuri is a half inch taller than Oscar De La Hoya (whom Pacquiao has already beaten). They chickened out. I just hope that doesn't happen again. I don't think it will."
ARUM OPTIMISTIC: Arum, who is also promoting a show at the Garden on Saturday, is still hopeful that Pacquiao and Mayweather will meet in potentially the biggest money-making fight ever. He said Pacquiao would probably drop his defamation suit against Mayweather for making statements that "Pac Man" has used performance-enhancing drugs if Mayweather apologizes. Arum also said he could probably get Mayweather to back off his stance that Pacquiao be subjected to Olympic-style drug testing.
"This fight will get made in two seconds if Mayweather comes to me and we talk," Arum said.
"Can Cotto still bounce back from his loss to Pacman?"