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At 163, Taylor not made for Rivera yet.

Byline: Bud Barth

WORCESTER - Three-time world champion Jose Antonio Rivera, who spent most of his career as a 147-pound welterweight before moving up to junior middleweight (154), has nixed a proposal to fight former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor at a catch weight of between 163 and 165 pounds.

The 38-year-old Rivera, who came out of retirement in May after 2-1/2 years on the sidelines, said he was contacted earlier this month by Lou DiBella, Taylor's promoter, with the idea.

The fight would have been held Aug. 13 at the DCU Center's 14,800-seat main hall, and would have been televised live by Showtime.

The card would have also included Worcester's unbeaten super middleweight, Edwin Rodriguez, although his bout would not have been televised.

DiBella reportedly still is trying to set up an Aug. 13 fight for Taylor, who hasn't fought in almost two years, but now it would be in the boxer's hometown of Little Rock, Ark. The date is two days after Taylor's 33rd birthday.

Taylor's last four fights have been at super middleweight (168 pounds), but he would have come down slightly to accommodate Rivera. Still, even 163 pounds would be eight pounds more than Rivera weighed (155) for his comeback fight in May, and would have put him at a huge disadvantage.

"I said `no thanks,'" Rivera admitted. "I didn't even bother to ask how much the fight is worth. ... I understand that Lou DiBella has to do what is best for his fighters and get them the best matchups, but I have to do what is best for me.

"Maybe, down the line, after I have a couple more fights and he wants to offer me Jermain Taylor at 160 pounds, we can do business together. That would interest me a lot."

Rivera (40-6-1, 24 KOs) has said he will eventually move up to middleweight (160), but he's not there yet.

Four of Rivera's six losses have been to junior middleweights - Daniel Santos, Travis Simms, Robert Frazier and Pat Coleman. The only welterweights to beat him were crafty veteran Willy Wise and young upstart Luis Collazo.

Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs), who in 2005 held all four major middleweight title belts (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO), is probably looking for some easy pickings after losing his last two fights and four of his last five.

All of those losses were to fighters who were unbeaten at the time - former WBC/WBO middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik twice, current WBC super middleweight champ Carl Froch, and ex-IBF middleweight champ Arthur Abraham.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:3URUG
Date:Jul 3, 2011
Words:423
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