By Robert Morales

Serious negotiations for a fourth fight between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez could begin soon. But before that can happen a mess involving Vazquez's promotional contract with Sycuan Ringside Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions has to be settled.

Enter Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. He is the man currently trying to resolve this issue. Vazquez and his manager, Frank Espinoza, recently announced during an international conference call that Vazquez would be returning to the ring following more than a year off because of three surgeries to repair a detached retina in his right eye.

During that call Espinoza mentioned that Vazquez's promotional contract would end on June 5. Therein lies the bone of contention that must be resolved.

Gary Shaw, Marquez's promoter, was asked Wednesday if he had discussed the fourth fight with Espinoza. Shaw said he doesn't deal with a fighter's manager when discussing a fight, but his promoter. Shaw specifically mentioned that Sycuan still is Vazquez's promoter.

Shaw was told of Espinoza's remarks about Vazquez becoming a free agent, and Shaw reacted strongly.

"I don't believe that for one moment," Shaw said to "If Sycuans's contract is like everybody elses in the U.S., when you have an injury or suspension, the contract extends for that amount of time. The last I checked, he (Vazquez) was out a year so I believe they have a year to go. 

"I don't know how you could have a news conference and say something like that. He (Espinoza) knows his fighter was injured. ... In any contract I've ever seen from any promoter, it has that same provision."

Shaw went on to say that Espinoza "should be careful" what he's saying.

Espinoza had some harsh words of his own.

"First of all I have had it all checked out," Espinoza said. "Gary could say what he wants, but he hasn't reviewed our contract. I have been advised by my attorney that the contract did expire June 5. That Sycuan contract doesn't call for an injury clause.

"I have had it looked at by a few attorneys and they have all come up with the same thing. Other promoters do have contracts that have this clause. But this specific promotional agreement doesn't. If Sycuan feels they are still entitled to more, they have every right to proceed in the right manner. But I'm stating that as it stands now this contract is null and void."

Espinoza wasn't thrilled about Shaw saying he should watch what he says.

"He is making the assumption that every contract has that," Espinoza said. "Gary has never seen my contract. He is not my promoter. Who is he to even say that? It's normal procedure, but this particular contract doesn't have that. I never say things I shouldn't


Here is the rub: According to Schaefer, this particular contract was not filed with the California State Athletic Commission because it falls under Native American tribal law. Sycuan Ringisde Promotions is governed by the Sycuan Band of The Kumeyaay Nation.

Not only that, even if Vazquez had signed a promotional agreement that fell under the umbrella of the California commission, it would not necessarily have contained the injury clause. The basic promotional contract of the commission does not contain that clause, but there is one with an addendum that does. It's safe to say that most, if not all, promoters go with the latter.

However, Scott Woodworth, vice president of Sycuan Ringside Promotions, said Wednesday that although Vazquez's contract is a tribal contract recognized under Federal law, it does contain language relating to "disabilities, suspensions and postponements of any kind." Woodworth said that Sycuan was working on fights for Vazquez before knowing the severity of his eye injury.

Some History

Vazquez became Golden Boy's first world champion when he stopped Jose Luis Valbuena in the 12th round in March 2004. But Vazquez and Golden Boy parted ways and Vazquez signed with Sycuan. Vazquez defended his super bantamweight title against Artyom Simonyan and Armando Guerrero under the Sycuan banner.

Schaefer said that Sycuan had difficulty getting Vazquez marquee fights and that Espinoza and Sycuan came to him and asked if Golden Boy would be willing to buy 50 percent of the existing contract, which Golden Boy did in 2005.

Now Schaefer believes he has come up with a resolution that would satisfy all parties.

"I have been talking to Sycuan and I have been talking to Frank Espinoza so we can work everything out," Schaefer said. "These conversations are ongoing. I have put a proposal on the table and we'll see if it is going to be acceptable to Sycuan and to Frank Espinoza."

Schaefer said he has also told Woodworth that he should contact Shaw to see if he and Marquez are definitely interested in doing the fourth fight.

"I would do the fourth fight," Shaw said. "I have had conversations with my partner, Jaime Quintana. He was going to speak to Rafael Marquez as to whether Raffy wants to do the fourth fight and then get back to me."

Quintana, of Romanza Boxing, is Marquez's co-promoter.

Schaefer also said that since Vazquez has won two of the three fights with Marquez, the fourth fight would come with Vazquez's side being the lead promoter.

"It is not going to be Gary Shaw running the show here; that is not going to happen," Schaefer said.

As for the contract that Espinoza believes ran out June 5, Schaefer said he has read it. But he would not go into detail as to what it contains.

"I'm not going to discuss what is in there and what is not in there," Schaefer said.

Schaefer said revealing the details of the contract would be counterproductive to what he is now trying to accomplish. He did say that, obviously, one side believes the contract is over, the other doesn't. The bottom line is, if an accord can be reached, a fourth fight attached to what has been one hell of a trilogy could be on the horizon.

"My position has been accepted by Frank Espinoza, now it is in Sycuan's hands to see if they will accept it," said Schaefer, who would not divulge the details of this proposal.

Schaefer said he is awaiting a call from Woodworth. He said if his proposal is not accepted by Woodworth and Sycuan, "it might get a big ugly." But Woodworth said he is going to do everything he can to make this settlement come to fruition.

"I have always had a great working relationship with Frank and Israel," Woodworth said.

"They interpret it (the contract) one way, we interpret it quite the opposite. Richard and I talked and I am hopeful that we can all sit down and figure out a compromise."

Espinoza said Schaefer came up with a great idea that should make all parties happy, "and would avoid litigation."

And it would make way for Vazquez-Marquez IV.

"That is the fight everyone wants to see," Schaefer said.

Woodworth echoed that sentiment.

"I'm very confident," Woodworth said. "I have been running all around and I haven't seen the proposal yet. But I'm confident in Richard's ability to get things done."

A fourth fight would have to come at featherweight, as Vazquez is no longer campaigning at super bantamweight. 

Margarito Has Work To Do

Antonio Margarito was recently quoted in the Mexico-based publication Esto as saying he expects to soon get his license restored by the California State Athletic Commission, which revoked Margarito's license for a minimum of one year in February after Margarito was found to have illegal hardended inserts in his hand wraps prior to his ninth-round knockout loss to "Sugar" Shane Mosley in January in Los Angeles.

Margarito did not say how he expected to get his license back before next February, other than to say his legal team is working on it. His promoter, Bob Arum, on Tuesday was asked if he could elaborate on Margarito's comments.

"No, no I can't," Arum told BoxingScene.

Arum did discuss what Margarito will need to do in order to make people forget about the incident that has resulted in a cheater jacket being hung on Margarito's back.

Arum noted that some have wondered if Margarito had been guilty of fighting with illegal wraps prior to the Mosley debacle. 

"There is some skepticism that, did that happen in other fights?" Arum said. "And the only way he's going to get over that is for people to see him in his next few fights. If he's as devastating as he was before, then people won't dwell on it.

"If he isn't, then people might very well dwell on it."

Arum pointed to the situation surrounding Mosley, who was found to have illegal substances in his system prior to his second fight with Oscar De La Hoya in September 2003.

"The same for Mosley," Arum said. "He admittedly took steroids when he fought Oscar the second time. Since then Mosley has been quite a fighter even without steroids; he has been tested so extensively.

"So the steroid issue that focused on one particular fight has now become less consequential."

Arum Gets Steamed

Arum took exception when he was asked if he was surprised at how popular Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto still is - especially in New York City - where a large Puerto Rican population exists.

Cotto signed autographs for the hundreds who showed up to watch him work out at the Puerto Rican Festival this week in the Bronx, N.Y. He was kissed on the cheek quite a bit as well by fans of the female persuasion.

Cotto on Saturday will defend his welterweight world title against Joshua Clottey at Madison Square Garden in NYC. According to Arum's publicist, Bill Caplan, about 16,000 seats had been sold as of Wednesday with roughly 2,000 remaining. A sellout is expected.

Apparently, Cotto's 11th-round technical-knockout loss to the aforementioned Margarito in July 2008 did nothing to harm Cotto's marketability. Thus Arum's response.

"I don't understand that question because when I watched the Margarito fight, he fought as hard as he possibly could and he lost to a guy who was, on that day, the better fighter," Arum said. "That's all a good fan really wants, a 100 percent performance from their hero. Sometimes they're going to win and sometimes they're going to lose.

"But the fan is not caught up in the mentality of a Floyd Mayweather Jr., who believes in his heart of hearts that to lose is like death and therfore you don't take any chances against anybody who can convincingly beat you."

Arum said that if anything, people give credit to Cotto for taking on Margarito in the first place and then fighting his behind off even in defeat. 

"He hasn't lost any fans by that," Arum said. "And Margarito didn't lose any fans when he lost to Shane Mosley because he gave it all he could and Mosely was better that night. That's the way boxing always has been and that is the way boxing always should be.

"This mentality that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has that some of you guys adopt, that really screws up the sport. I mean, as long as he fought his heart out; if he lost the fight, he lost the fight. He didn't lose his popularity. The fans are smarter than the writers and the true fans realize that. The proof is that the fans in New York are just as loyal to Cotto as they've ever been. Maybe more. 


Arum promotes middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. Arum confirmed that preliminary discussions are underway for a fight between Pavlik and fellow champion Felix Sturm, probably in October.

"Kelly is coming to New York for the fight this weekend after the Boxing Writers dinner and we will have a clearer idea after the weekend," Arum said.

Sturm is scheduled to defend his title against Khoren Gevor on July 11 in Germany. Pavlik hasn't fought since stopping Marco Antonio Rubio after nine rounds in February.

Goossen Mum

Dan Goossen, who promotes top-rated heavyweight contender Chris Arreola, was contacted Wednesday and asked if there were any negotiations ongoing for a fight involving Arreola, who is the No. 1 challenger to the belt held by Vitali Klitschko.

Goossen said, "Yes, and no." Asked to elaborate, he said he would know more in a day or two. Stay tuned.

Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, and