By Chris Cella
This weekend boxing fans across the globe will be in for a treat as Friday night and Saturday are packed with some of the world’s finest fighters going to battle in championship bouts, contention bouts and more, and the action begins live on ESPN tomorrow night with a tripleheader of some of the world’s top prospects.
Live from the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, ESPN Friday Night Fights will host air three live bouts in different divisions; but what stands out about these fights is that the combined records of the six fighters waging war is 105-2-2.
“You cannot set up easy fights on ESPN,” said Sampson Boxing President, Sampson Lewkowicz. “(ESPN Boxing Chief) Doug Loughrey and the network have set strict quality standards for their air, so none of these fights are easy or certain victories for any of the fighters. This is going to be one of the best shows this year with three terrific match-ups for the fans.”
Headlining the action packed card is Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna (21-0, 15 KO) putting his interim WBA world featherweight belt on the line against the once beaten Miguel “Mikol” Zamudio (25-1-1, 13 KO).
Last December Fortuna fought a hardnosed 12 round battle against the then undefeated Patrick Hyland and won the unanimous decision and the interim belt. The 23-year-old fighter really began stepping up the competition last year and proved that he is a legit contender within the featherweight division.
The only mark on Zamudio’s record is a loss he suffered in 2009 when he was still fighting 4-rounders. In his last seven fights he stopped his opponents five times, displaying both hard punching and the ability to end the night early as well as the damage he is capable of doing over an accrued amount of time.
This is a big fight for both fighters, and Fortuna will be eager to show that his winning of the belt over Hyland was not just a fluke, and that he is ready to take his skills to the next level and face the top echelon of featherweights.
The co-main event of the night features two heavy handed junior middleweight clashing in a six round battle. John “Dah Rock” Jackson (15-1, 14 KO) will square off against “Sir” Cerresso Fort (16-0-1, 11 KO).
Through the first sixteen fights of his young career Jackson has made easy work out of his opponents using his heavy hands, and is anxious for the step up in competition against Fort.
“I know he’s undefeated and a very strong fighter, and a hard hitter also,” said Jackson. “We’re both heavy-handed. I’m going in there focused and ready for war. I know it’ll be exciting. The people who tune in are going to love it. I’m not going out for a KO. I’m just going in to work and it if comes, it comes. Early or late I will take it, but I’ll go in there and do what we worked and come out with the impressive win.”
Fort has been a Minnesota star, beating less than formidable opponents in his home state, and rarely testing his chin or the full extent of his skills. To continue with the theme of FNF he is in for a tough battle which will be an indication of where he lies in his career and if he is ready for the next level. With both fighters hungry to make a statement on ESPN, fans can expect plenty of excitement following the commencement of the first round.
To finalize the television card, undefeated welterweights Emmanuel Lartei Lartey (14-0-1, 7 KO) and Jonathan Batista (13-0, 6 KO) will face one another as they look to preserve their unblemished records.
Dominican Republic native Batista will be making his debut on U.S. soil; nearing his third year as a pro, he has remained quiet fighting within his country, but earning the wins to allow himself an opportunity like fighting on FNF. Though his opponents have lost far more fights than they have won, he has done what he was supposed to do in exiting the ring with the ‘W’. He has never fought past six rounds, so if the fight goes into the latter stages conditioning may become a question for the welterweight.
In Lartey’s last outing, he fought the toughest opponent of his career in Michael Anderson, winning a 10-round UD. Through his career he has fought over six rounds more than a handful of times, so he may be looking to dictate the pace of the fight to see if he can wear down the Dominican boxer.
FNF has been consistent in delivering exciting matchups featuring both champions as well as up-and-coming prospects looking to explode onto the boxing scene. The tripleheader will be a perfect prelude to get boxing fans amped up for the day full of boxing on Saturday.
Action begins live on ESPN Friday night at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.
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