By Ruslan Chikov
According to promoter Kirill Pchelnikov, Nobuhiro Ishida (24-7-2, 9KOs) is a candidate to face WBO middleweight champion Dmitry Pirog (19-0, 15KOs) on May 1 in Moscow, Russia. There were rumors of an offer being made to Marco Antonio Rubio, but Rubio is ranked at number 12, while Ishida is ranked at number 9 in the WBO's top ten. Pirog was close to a deal to face Darren Barker, how suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw. Team Pirog is waiting for the WBO to sanction the fight.
"In preparation for this fight, we negotiated with many of top middleweights boxers, among [Sergio] Martinez, Geale, Sturm, Murray, Bursak, Barker, Zbik, N'Jikam. All of the boxers were offered a substantial fee for coming to Russia. They were offered hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, as was the case with Martinez. Some of boxers have just ignored us [like Felix Sturm], others made their own plans in May, and someone got injured in the negotiations process [Barker]. In the end, it was only with Ishida that we could reach an agreement for May 1. As for Rubio, we are very interesting and we can not exclude meeting with him at a later date, but in order to stage a title defense we have to choose an opponent from the WBO's top ten. At the moment, Rubio is ranked at twelve and Nobuhiro Ishida at nine," Pchelnikov said.
If Pirog wins in May, then a possible unification with IBF champion Daniel Geale is being discussed for August, and HBO is interested in televising.
"The other day I received a letter from our American partners, in which I was told
that the channel HBO is interested in this fight. Right now, Pirog must successfully make a defense, and I hope that the WBO will sanction the fight and everything will be all right, and we believe that after the unification bout will take place at last.....most likely in Las Vegas," Pchelnikov said.