Promoters Arthur Pelullo/Banner Promotions, Rodney Berman/Golden Gloves, Bernard Roos/R2Image & Events and Pascal Cordier/Sport Evenements will present a sensational world championship fight card on February 14, 2009, at the Palais des Sports in Saint Quentin, France. The main event and co-featured bout will be televised in France on Canal+ Network (8:45 P.M. to 10:45 P.M. local time), as well as other networks around the world.
In the main event scheduled for 12 rounds, International Boxing Federation featherweight world champion Cristobal Cruz, 37-11-1 with 23 knockouts, of Tijuana, Mexico, will make his first defense of the title against Cyril Thomas, 33-2-4 with 10 knockouts, of Saint Quentin.
The 31 year-old Cruz won the vacant title with a 12-round split decision victory in a fast-paced, exciting fight against Orlando Salido on October 23, 2008. Salido, ranked No. 2 by the IBF, was the clear favorite to win and built an early lead – after six rounds, he led by scores of 58-56, 58-56, 57-57. But Cruz, determined and hard-working, rallied in the second half of the fight – he won the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth rounds on two scorecards, then swept the eleventh and twelfth rounds on all three and won by scores of 116-112, 116-112 Cruz, 115-113 Salido. After the fight, Fightwriter.com’s Graham Houston reported: “Tough, gritty and tenacious…. This was an outstanding performance by Cruz – his second in a row – and he certainly fought a terrific fight.”
Thomas, 32 years old and an 11-year professional veteran, is the IBF’s No. 12-ranked featherweight contender and won an IBF title eliminator in his most recent fight in November, 2008. He currently holds the IBF International featherweight title and is a former European featherweight champion, as well.
The co-featured bout, scheduled for 10 rounds for the French featherweight championship, will match defending champion Osman Aktas, 33-15-5 with 3 knockouts, of Saint Nazare, France, against undefeated Guillaume Frenois, 12-0 with 1 knockout, of Saint Quentin. Aktas, 32 years old, is a 13-year professional veteran and a former French jr. lightweight champion. 25 year-old left-handed prospect Frenois is a two-year pro.
Five more exciting fights are planned to complete the card, including:
Phillip Ndou, 31-1 with 30 knockouts, of Johannesburg, South Africa, will be featured in an eight-round jr. welterweight bout against an opponent to be announced. A member of the 1996 South African Olympic team, Ndou, now 31 years old, is a former South African featherweight champion and lightweight world title challenger as a pro. He is returning to the ring for the first time since May, 2004.
2008 U.S. Olympian Demetrius Andrade, 2-0 with 2 knockouts, of Providence, Rhode Island, who is promoted by Joe DeGuardia/Star Boxing and Arthur Pelullo/Banner Promotions, will be featured in a four-round jr. middleweight bout against an opponent to be announced. After Demetrius’ pro debut in October, 2008, Dan Rafael wrote on ESPN.com: “Welcome to the pros, kid. Andrade, the first 2008 U.S. Olympian to turn pro and the American team member with the most pro potential, did what he was supposed to do: look spectacular. Andrade displayed skill, speed, poise and power…. All in all, the perfect pro debut for a fighter who could someday be a star.”
Michael Sweeney, 6-0-1 with 4 knockouts, of Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland, will fight in a six-round light heavyweight bout against an opponent to be announced. A talented prospect at 26 years of age, Sweeney is a former amateur standout in Ireland – he was a four-time national champion
All bouts subject to change without notice.