By Keith Idec
Mike Jones is disappointed Andre Berto gave up the IBF welterweight title last week.
Jones had hoped a win against Sebastian Lujan on Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden would’ve landed the undefeated Philadelphia contender a shot at Berto.
“It’s definitely a fight that I want,” Jones said of facing Berto (28-1, 22 KOs), who won the IBF belt from Slovenia’s Jan Zaveck (31-2, 18 KOs, 1 NC) on Sept. 3 in Biloxi, Miss. “I see me winning. I see me catching Andre Berto and knocking him out.”
Berto gave up the IBF championships because HBO Sports executives want to televise a Berto-Victor Ortiz rematch next, not the IBF-mandated bout Berto owed No. 2 contender Randall Bailey, who was paid an undisclosed fee to step aside and allow the Berto-Zaveck fight. Bailey was supposed to fight the Berto-Zaveck winner, but an Ortiz rematch is a much more lucrative alternative for Berto and HBO isn’t interested in paying for a Berto-Bailey bout.
Lou DiBella, who promotes Berto and Bailey, hopes to make a bout between Miami’s Bailey (42-7, 36 KOs) and Carson Jones (32-8-2, 22 KOs), of Oklahoma City, Okla., for the vacant IBF 147-pound title.
Top Rank Inc., which co-promotes Jones along with Peltz Boxing, has requested that the IBF sanction Jones versus Lujan as a title fight. The 12-rounder is currently an IBF welterweight elimination match that’ll pit the fighters it ranks No. 3 (Jones) and No. 4 (Lujan) against each other.
“I want to be a world champion,” Jones said. “That’s a dream of mine. That’s what I want to do. That’s what I’m working hard for.”
Title fight or not, the 28-year-old Jones (25-0, 19 KOs) is fully focused on what he expects to be a difficult fight against Argentina’s Lujan (38-5-2, 24 KOs) on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito pay-per-view undercard. Jones owns height, reach and skill advantages over his rugged opponent, but Lujan, 31, has won 12 straight bouts.
“Lujan is strong,” Jones said. “He’s awkward and he’s tough. Those guys are tougher to fight than guys with skills, for the most part, because his punches come from all different angles and they don’t run out of gas. So it’s going to be a very tough fight for me.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.