Golden Boy scrambles to find opponent for ‘Canelo’

Golden Boy Promotions is going through a stretch of bad luck.

Three high-profile cards have been altered because fighters were injured or tested positive for banned substances. The latest change came Friday when James Kirkland might have reinjured his surgically repaired right shoulder during a workout, causing him to pull out of a Sept. 15 fight against WBC junior middleweight champ Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at the MGM Grand Garden.

Kirkland had agreed Thursday to replace Paul Williams, who remains paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a motorcycle accident May 27.

“(Kirkland) is absolutely sick about it,” said his manager, Cameron Dunkin. “He was afraid if he didn’t address the shoulder now, it would get worse and he’d still have to pull out of the fight, and he didn’t want to do that to Golden Boy and Canelo.”

Bouts involving Victor Ortiz and Amir Khan had to be revamped after opponents Andre Berto and Lamont Peterson flunked prefight out-of-competition drug tests. Also, heavyweight Seth Mitchell injured his hand last week and pulled out of his fight against Johnathon Banks, a scheduled co-feature on the Khan-Danny Garcia WBC junior welterweight title fight July 14 at Mandalay Bay.

Ortiz, who now will face Josesito Lopez on June 23 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, has had his fight against Berto nixed twice – first in February when Berto injured his arm, then last month when Berto tested positive for steroids.

“Unfortunately these things sometimes happen in boxing,” Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said. “You always hope things go smoothly, but that’s not the way life is.”

Schaefer said he hopes to have a new opponent for Alvarez soon.

“I’m getting pretty good at scrambling and putting fights back together,” Schaefer said. “I’ve done more of that in the last 10 days than I have the last 10 years.”

■ CUTTING IT CLOSE – Freddie Roach will be able to attend his induction to the International Boxing Hall of Fame on June 10 in Canastota, N.Y., but his arrival will require a fast turnaround.

Roach will work Manny Pacquiao’s corner Saturday for his fight against Tim Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden. Afterward, he’ll take a private plane from Las Vegas to Syracuse, N.Y., then drive 27 miles to Canastota.

Roach, 52, said the trip will cost $20,000, but he doesn’t mind the hassle.

“It’s one of the greatest things that has happened to me in my life,” he said. “I know what I want to say, but it’s hard to talk about yourself. I’ll probably just wing it and talk from the heart. But it will be short, I promise you that.”

Thomas Hearns, Mark Johnson, Al Bernstein, Mike Katz and Michael Buffer also are in this year’s induction class.

■ LEE THE CELEBRITY – Unbeaten light heavyweight Mike Lee, who will fight Friday on the undercard of the Kelly Pavlik-Scott Sigmon super middleweight bout at the Hard Rock Hotel, returns to Las Vegas as something of a celebrity, having been featured on commercials for Subway sandwiches.

“People come up to me and ask, ‘Are you the Subway kid?’ ” he said. “It was the perfect opportunity for me to embrace, and I actually have made it part of my prefight routine. After the weigh-in, I’ll have a small turkey on wheat loaded with veggies.”

Lee (8-0, five knockouts) will fight Isiah Barela (4-1, three KOs) in a six-round bout on ESPN2. Lee last fought Dec. 3, stopping Allen Medina in the fourth round at Madison Square Garden. Lee is progressing well under trainer Ronnie Shields.

“I’ve been working on the jab and combinations off the jab,” he said. “I think my jab is good, but it just takes time at this level to really throw it the way you need to. I’ve only been a pro for two years, so I’m still learning.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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