By the end of the month, the muddled picture in the 140-pound division should become more clear, as Takoma Park's Sharmba Mitchell takes small steps toward a rematch with unified champion Kostya Tszyu and WBO champion and District native DeMarcus Corley nears a fight with Juan Valenzuela.
Mitchell's camp appears committed to going through the IBF for a shot at Tszyu, who holds all three major belts in the division. To that end, Mitchell, the IBF's No. 2 contender, will have his fight with No. 1 contender Arturo Gatti go to purse bid March 24 after the negotiation period expired Wednesday.
"The likelihood is that this fight will never happen," said Gary Shaw, Mitchell's promoter. "Gatti's people will pull out, and we will go down the line to Oktay Urkal, Zab Judah and Omar Weis," the fighters rounding out the IBF's top five.
Carl Moretti, matchmaker for Main Events, Gatti's promoter, said that Main Events intends to participate in the purse bid, "for now." He acknowledged that there are at least three other opponents that are more attractive for Gatti: Tszyu, a third fight with Micky Ward and a rematch with Angel Manfredy.
"Arturo certainly has a lot of options, one of them being the fight with Mitchell," Moretti said.
The IBF plot thickened Wednesday when the New Jersey-based sanctioning body fired championship committee chairman Joe Dwyer, largely stemming from Dwyer's insistence that Gatti needed to fight Mitchell to be given a shot at Tszyu.
"It was inevitable that I was going to be out, whether I walked or they did what they did first," Dwyer said.
As for Corley, he is "80 percent" likely to fight Valenzuela -- a late replacement in February who stunned Olympic silver medalist and rising star Ricardo Williams in a unanimous decision. The fight is targeted for late April at D.C. Armory and would likely be on Showtime, said Kirk Cashwell, Corley's manager.
Lange Has to Carry Card
Jimmy Lange's job of selling tickets just got more difficult, as local favorites Lamont Pearson and Darnell Wilson have been taken off the Saturday card at D.C. Armory, leaving Lange (Great Falls, 18-1-1) as the major local draw.
"We're going to be all right," said Lange, who will fight Severn, Md.'s Charles Clark (14-13-1). "I think we're going to have a heck of a turnout."
Lange weighed in at 154 pounds, and said that his two weeks working with trainer Buddy McGirt in Florida got him ready for Clark. "I feel sharp, I feel great," Lange said. Clark "is coming to fight. It's my job to convince him otherwise."
Joppy-Calzaghe Nearly Set
William Joppy, who holds a version of the WBA 160-pound title, has all but agreed to fight WBO 168-pound champion Joe Calzaghe, according to Joppy's manager.
"We are in very active talks," Steve Nelson said. "We have a date [May 24] and a network [Showtime]. There are still a lot of decisions to be made. It'll either happen or not happen over the next week."
A long-proposed deal to fight Robert Allen stalled over the last month when neither Showtime nor HBO expressed interest in the fight, Nelson said. . . .
Riddick Bowe, the former undisputed heavyweight champion from Fort Washington, is scheduled to begin serving an 18-month prison sentence in Cumberland, Md., today as the result of his abduction of his then-estranged first wife, Judy, in 1998. Riddick and Judy Bowe subsequently were divorced.