Candid Cameron: Bradley’s Contract, Donaire Moving to 122, Pavlik on Pacquiao Undercard? By Ryan Maquiñana, MaxBoxing (Jan 27, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing
Last Sunday, I received an email from BWAA Manager of the Year 2008 Cameron Dunkin. The message was short and sweet.
“Sorry I haven’t called.”
A whirlwind of sorts has engulfed the usually responsive Dunkin lately, so it’s always nice to hear from the classy Cameron. Several of his marquee fighters are approaching the most impactful bouts of their respective careers over the next 30 days, namely WBO light welterweight champ Timothy Bradley, top ten pound-for-pound bantamweight Nonito Donaire, and lightweight contender Brandon Rios.
Yesterday, we finally got in touch when Dunkin called me; he had left his Las Vegas stronghold at D & D Boxing to support Bradley ahead of his Silverdome showdown with Devon Alexander this Saturday in Pontiac, Mich. The transcript of our conversation is below.
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Ryan Maquiñana: This is the biggest fight of Timothy Bradley’s career on Saturday, and while he’s finally receiving his due exposure that comes with an HBO fight, the rumors persist that total ticket sales are still in the triple digits. Steve Kim reported on Maxboxing earlier this week that both Gary Shaw (Bradley’s promoter) and Don King (Alexander’s promoter) will likely pocket over $200,000 regardless of the gate. Are you pleased with the way the promotion has been handled?
Cameron Dunkin: Look, I don’t want to knock anything. I know it was a hard fight to place but I thought they should’ve done something to get a better place. I think everyone in boxing knows that. It’s a shame but it’s a great fight. You have two great young fighters and people are going to be pleased watching it on HBO but nobody’s going to see it here; that’s for sure.
RM: I know you don’t want to look ahead but if Tim were to win impressively on Saturday, there are a lot of options whether he decides to stay at 140 pounds or move north to welterweight. Would you prefer he unify with Amir Khan to continue to build his brand or go for the gusto and take on a big name at 147 if it presented itself?
CD: Exactly. It depends on what presents itself. I went down to watch Tim train the other day and he told me that he wasn’t getting ahead of himself but depending on what happens with this fight, he’s ready for anything. He’d be willing to go to 47 for a Pacquiao fight if it presented itself. I definitely think Timmy would go for that.
The Amir Khan fight is another one he’d be very, very interested in. But he said, “If that doesn’t happen, and you want me to fight a [Marcos] Maidana, I’ll do that.” I think he’s not spoiled at all. The one thing he did want is to stay busy. He doesn’t want to take another nine months off before his next fight.
RM: It’s no mystery that you and Gary Shaw have butted heads in the past, especially when Nonito Donaire left Gary for Top Rank. With Tim Bradley’s contract with Gary expiring in May, could we possibly see Tim under another promotional banner after this bout?
CD: We haven’t even talked about it. His contract is coming to an end but, as always, Gary Shaw flipped out immediately. He immediately started accusing me of taking Tim away from him because of what happened with James Kirkland [going to Golden Boy] and Nonito leaving for Top Rank. I haven’t told Timmy to go away or leave.
Contrary to all belief, I can’t make fighters go places. I work for fighters; they don’t work for me. I don’t give orders. I sit down with them and say, “What do you want to do? What do you think of this or what do you think about that?” My job is to explain to them my opinion if they go this way or that way. If he wants to stay, my job is to get him the best deal I can get him but that’s the fighter’s call.
The only thing Tim ever said is, “I don’t want to resign a contract. I want to wait until this one ends and then I’ll figure out what I want to do.” That’s all he ever said but this pissed Gary Shaw off. But believe me, it’s not anything he had against Gary. He just told me he doesn’t want to make that decision now. He said, “I just want to fight, then sit down with [my wife] Monica, sit down with my dad, and with you and talk about that when the time comes.”
Honestly, that’s all that’s been done but, of course, Gary turned it into, “Oh he’s not resigning with me. It’s Cameron.” But that’s OK; it’s my job.
RM: Last Friday, I saw two other members of your stable, Nonito Donaire and Brandon Rios, at a Filipino restaurant in South San Francisco with their trainer, Robert Garcia. The food was great, especially the crab with coconut milk, but one thing about Filipino food is that it’s heavy. Robert assured me that they’d be fine. When you hear news like that, does it ever you bring any anxiety that they won’t beat the scales?
CD: (Laughs) The only time I ever had Filipino food was with Nonito and [his wife] Rachel in Vegas after he had won a fight. You’re right. It was pretty greasy. It was different but it was good.
But they’re professionals. They know what they’re doing. I actually want Nonito to get bigger and stronger. I actually think Nonito will be a sensational 22-pounder. God willing, he gets through his fight and wins but I think 22 will be his best weight. He won’t have to go through the things he does to make 118.
RM: Nonito finally gets the fight with Fernando Montiel on February 19. Since he’s moved to Top Rank, he hasn’t gotten the rematch with Vic Darchinyan. Top Rank chose to keep both Nonito and Montiel out of the Final Four bantamweight tournament on Showtime. While it seems all’s well that ends well, what do you think have been the prevailing factors behind his inability to land a big fight until now?
CD: Listen, nobody wanted to fight him and that’s truth. I don’t care what anybody writes or says. I’m in the middle of it; I’m in the thick of this sh*t. Nonito actually wants to fight tougher guys than I want him to fight and I’m almost scared to talk to him about it. I talk to Rachel about it because he looks at me like I don’t believe in him. He wants to fight “JuanMa” Lopez. He wants to fight the best 126-130 pounders. So all this time, he hasn’t gotten big fights; it’s not his fault.
He wanted to fight Montiel a long time ago. He wanted to fight Darchinyan in the rematch. He’s done everything he’s possibly could to secure a big fight. Darchinyan didn’t sign the contract and for him to say two months out from the right, “Oh, Nonito waited too long.” What is he talking about? It was two months before the fight was supposed to be. You had plenty of time. He didn’t want to fight Nonito. He doesn’t want anything to do with Nonito.
But right now, we’re in a great position that Montiel beat [Hozumi] Hasegawa in Japan and he’s with Top Rank, and Top Rank can secure HBO, which came up with the money to pay for this fight, so they could get both Montiel and Nonito paid well enough to make this fight. Everything sort of came together, Ryan. This is the chance of a lifetime. He’s been waiting for this and it will change his whole life if he can win this fight.
RM: Are you aware of all the potential distractions in Nonito’s camp, such as the media controversy surrounding working with BALCO founder Victor Conte, etc.? If so, what is your take on the whole matter?
CD: It does bother me and there are several things that bother me. Nonito’s comfortable with Conte, so I won’t get involved. That’s his call. With that said, I called Rachel and said be careful because this guy has a bad reputation and Nonito has such a clean reputation. I know Nonito would never do anything wrong. He’s too proud of a fighter and he would never cheat.
But he needs to be careful with everything he puts in his body. He needs to know what it is and he needs to know what’s going on. And he’s going to bring a lot of heat on himself working with this guy and Rachel said she understands that. She said that he’s happy. He knows what he’s doing is clean and right and this is what he wants to do. But I am concerned? Absolutely, yes.
RM: Would you like Nonito to face the winner of Abner Mares vs. Joseph Agbeko for all the marbles at 118 pounds or would you rather he test the waters at 122 and above after this fight with Montiel if a rematch is not made, win or lose?
CD: We’ve had talks about that. Depends on what the money is for in a Mares fight. We made it clear in the contract for Montiel that we’d be available for a rematch if it’s a sensational fight. But the thing is it doesn’t have to be at 118; it could be at 22. Montiel really likes the idea. Nonito loves that idea. So Nonito is going to reach out at 22 to figure out who’s out there after this fight.
The only thing that would stop him from doing would be Mares-Agbeko. I just talked to them about that and [Top Rank CEO Bob] Arum about it, [about] if they came at him with some great money if Mares won. I don’t see HBO or Showtime getting excited about Agbeko but if HBO came at us with a Mares fight, we could do that but it doesn’t have to be at 22. But if it were at 18 and it paid well, we’ll stay.
RM: Brandon Rios fights one week after Nonito for the WBA lightweight title against Miguel Acosta. The last time we spoke about Brandon, you described to me that one of the biggest keys was keeping his mind on the fight at hand. Do you see a renewed focus now that everything’s finally on the line for him?
CD: This is what he’s dreamed of. He says this is my big chance to become a champion and wear a belt around him and he says he’s going to get it done. I think he’s going to be just fine. Acosta’s a very tough guy. Most people have picked him to lose but I have a lot of faith in Brandon. I believe in my horse and I think he’s going to run.
RM: The last time we spoke in person was in Cowboys Stadium at the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito weigh-in and the one thing we all saw was that Brandon’s a big 135, as evidenced by him having to weigh in three times when he fought on the undercard. How many fights does he have left at lightweight?
CD: We talked about that because why win the belt if you’re not going to be able to defend it? He said, “I can make 35. The thing is I don’t want to go to 40 yet unless it’s Victor Ortiz. I can defend it several times but I need time. I need a solid six-to-eight weeks to get ready.” And if you watch the [Anthony] Peterson fight, he had a lot of energy left. He threw a lot of punches. I asked Robert [Garcia] and he said he’ll be fine at 35.
RM: Another of your prospects, super bantamweight Manuel “Tino” Avila, was scheduled to fight in front of his hometown fans of Fairfield, Calif., on Jan. 7 but Salvador Cifuentes pulled out. Manuel Ortega replaced him but couldn’t make weight and a third fighter couldn’t make the trip north in time. Can you recount how nightmarish of a situation that must have been and how relieved you must feel for Manuel to be able to fight in nearby Vacaville a month later on Feb. 11?
CD: Yeah, his dad told me that he was crying. He was really hurt. He sold over 200 tickets and was really looking forward to that. Fortunately, they got him another show in Vacaville. He got sick a few days after the fight didn’t go through. He’s happy again but that was a mess.
I said two weeks before the fight when they were talking about Ortega making weight, I said he’d never make weight. He’s way too big. Our guy’s a bantamweight. Stop looking for featherweights. I don’t know why [Promoter Don] Chargin was looking for guys at 126 pounds. Even on the Golden Boy website, he was listed as a featherweight. He can make 20, 19. He’s a small guy. That’s what he fought at as an amateur. I think we got it all handled now. If it’s not for a world title shot at bantamweight at 118, we should keep him at 120 up to 123.
RM: Tell me about featherweight Mikey Garcia and middleweight Matt Korobov, two big-time prospects who you’ve told me are ready for a world title shot by the end of 2011.
CD: Mikey’s fighting for the NABO and NABF titles on March 26 in Atlantic City against Matt Remillard for those two belts (on the undercard of Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Jorge Solis). Hopefully, if everything goes good, we have the WBA and IBF world title shots lined up, if he should win. With Korobov, he may go to Canada on the 19th of March on the [Lucian] Bute [vs. Brian Magee] undercard or on the March 26 undercard with Mikey.
RM: Have you spoken with Kelly Pavlik and James Kirkland recently?
CD: I tried to call Kelly twice today. I talked with his father. He’s training. He’s doing very good. Bob called the other day offering him a spot on the Pacquiao undercard on May 7 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He hasn’t said anything but it’s been offered. Pavlik will be back.
James Kirkland will fly into Las Vegas on Wednesday morning. I’ll be there to pick him up at the airport. He’s going to be training with Kenny Adams. He’s going to come back strong, too.
RM: Have you signed anyone else recently that you’d like to get out there?
CD: I’m going downstairs to meet somebody right now and a couple guys in the next couple days but I’m working on it and I’ll let you know soon.
RM: Your knowledge of the West Coast amateur scene is almost encyclopedic. With that said, can I expect to see you mining new talent in Vacaville for the California Golden Gloves on Feb. 23 or will you head straight to Las Vegas for Brandon’s fight?
CD: I’ll be with Brandon but there are a couple kids in California I’m interested in, so I want to see how they do.
RM: Can you name names?
CD: Not yet. If I do, I’ll get screwed. (Laughs)
RM: Last question: Have you ever had a busier two months in your career than this stretch here?
CD: Never and I had six champions at one time before. I was really proud of that but I’m really proud of these guys and it all starts Saturday night. I have a lot of faith in these guys. People are calling me and telling me I could win all five big fights. Now I know that sounds greedy but I believe in my guys. It’s a big year.