By Eric Duran
ESPN’s Friday Night Fights heads to the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip on March 6th. Goossen Tutor Promotions, Warriors Boxing and Fight Promotions Incorporated present a star-studded card featuring some of boxing biggest rising prospects at the MGM Grand Arena, one night before Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions NBC debut from the same venue.
Jr. Middleweight Tony Harrison (19-0, 16 KOs), 24, of Detroit, MI, headlines the action against one time fringe contender, Antwone Smith over 10 rounds. Harrison is looking to build upon a strong 2014 in which the young fighter went 3-0 against rugged veterans. His victories over Tyrone Brunson (22-3-1), Bronko McKart (56-10) and Grady Brewer (30-17) all came within the first 2 rounds. Smith will provide a stern test for the Detroit fighter looking to make a statement on national TV.
Smith (23-5-1, 12 KOs) is returning to the ring after a 1 ½ year layoff following his loss to Jermall Charlo. Smith is no stranger to facing rising prospects, having defeated the undefeated Ronald Cruz in 2012. Smith is battle-hardened, though, having shared the ring with (W) Jose Luis Castillo and (L) Kermit Cintron.
Middleweight Ievgen Khytrov ( 8-0, 8 KOs), 26, is returning to action just 2 months after dominating the undefeated Maurice Louishome (TKO 3) in January. Khytrov will face Jorge Melendez (28-4-1, 26 KOs) over 10 rounds. After an estimated 500 amateur bouts, Khytrov is on the fast track to stardom, and has already drawn comparisons to Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. “The Ukrainian Lion” went 6-0 in 2014, all wins coming by stoppage. He is already 1-0 in 2015, with 2 bouts already scheduled (he also faces Aaron Coley 9-0-1, 6 KOs, on April 10 in Brooklyn).
Melendez is a big puncher on paper; however, most of his knockout victories have come against lesser-known competition. Melendez did challenge for a minor title, losing a chance at the vacant WBC International Silver Middleweight title to Nick Brinson. Melendez is a mediocre 2-2 in his last four bouts.
Bantamweight Rau’shee Warren (12-0, 3 KOs), 28, of Cincinnati, OH, headlines an undercard of talented prospects managed by Al Haymon. Warren, a two-time Olympian climbing the ranks to a World Championship, will rematch Javier Gallo after their initial meeting was literally cut short in the 1st round from an accidental head butt.
Gallo (21-10-1, 12 KOs) was 0-2 in 2014, losing to undefeated fighters Ruben Garcia and Carlos Carlson. Gallo hasn’t had a victory since August of 2013, stopping 1-8, David Victorio. He also lost by TKO to former World Champion, Vic Darchinyan in 2013.
Hot prospect, Erickson Lubin (9-0, 6 KOs), only 19 years of age, returns to action just one month after defeating Michael Finney on 2/06, also on ESPN. Lubin was recently signed by Al Haymon after his contract was terminated when Iron Mike Productions folded. Lubin is scheduled to face the always tough and unpredictable TBA over eight rounds
Rounding out the prospect-laced undercard will be lightweight Jamel Herring (10-0, 7 KOs). Herring, 29, had an extensive amateur career, representing America at the 2012 Olympics. Herring was a member of the United States Marine Corps, completing a tour in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2005 and is managed by Al Haymon. Herring will face Hector Marengo (7-8-4, 4 KOs) over 8 rounds.