by Fox Doucette
Here at The Boxing Tribune, dumping on the sanctioning bodies is our second-favorite spectator sport behind the Sweet Science itself. But we’ve got to give some credit where it’s due here—the IBF, in its effort to find the mandatory challenger for newly-crowned junior welterweight champ Amir Khan (who took the belt from Zab Judah last week), has given us, and the ESPN2 Friday Night Fights audience, a very compelling main event. Combine that with a dynamite co-feature and what you have there is a must-see night of boxing.
The main event features Lamont Peterson (28-1-1, 14 KOs) taking on Victor Cayo (26-1, 18 KOs). Peterson is coming off a draw against Floyd Mayweather’s next opponent, Victor Ortiz. His only pro loss was to the king of the 140-pound division, Timothy Bradley. Cayo has taken a couple of easy tune-up fights after his devastating KO loss to Marcos Maidana in March of 2010 and looks to get his career back on track in front of a national audience. Pop a full bowl of popcorn for this one, though, since neither man has shown consistent knockout power at the elite level, meaning this one should go the full 12 rounds.
There are some questions that should be on the mind of the viewer, namely is Cayo truly back after his loss to Maidana or is he a shot fighter in the making, mentally destroyed by the vicious beating he took en route to defeat? And is Lamont Peterson truly so good that it takes a Timothy Bradley-caliber opponent to beat him or is he a B+ level fighter who can’t quite get over the hump and become a champion? Peterson has the advantage and the burden of coming in as the favorite in this fight, but as with so many fights on FNF this year, we won’t know until they settle matters in the ring.
And speaking of fighters with big question marks hanging over their heads like quest-givers in a video game, Yordanis Despaigne (8-1, 4 KOs), who stepped up in class for the first time and got soundly beaten via wide unanimous decision by Ismayl Sillakh on FNF in March, takes on Edison Miranda (34-5, 29 KOs), the Human Litmus Test. All five of Miranda’s losses have been against undefeated fighters, and that list counts among its number Lucian Bute, Andre Ward, Arthur Abraham (twice), and Kelly Pavlik—champions all.
Yordanis Despaigne is not a champion, and a giant leap up in class makes for an extremely intriguing matchup for the Cuban expat. Win, and Despaigne gets to keep company with the above-mentioned fighters. Lose, and his championship aspirations are shelved if not killed outright. His matchmakers are either eccentric geniuses…or completely, utterly, psychotically insane for matching their fighter up against a guy like Miranda in only his tenth pro fight. Despaigne might get knocked out in the first round. He might win a hard-fought decision. A betting man would put his money on the former. But it will be a tremendous spectacle for the viewer either way. Miranda will test Despaigne’s chin and may be watching film and realizing that the Cuban has very little power in his fists—he looks like a Klitschko but hits like Malignaggi.
Even the off-air fights look like potential classics—if you are in the Las Vegas area and can get tickets to the fights on short notice, or if you have a monumental gambling problem and the Cosmopolitan owes you a comp, now is the time to cash in. Unbeaten prospect Sergey Kovalev (15-0, 13 KOs) takes on Douglas Otieno (23-6, 12 KOs) in a ten-rounder at light heavyweight. Cuban fighter and frequent card-mate of Despaigne Rances Barthelemy (12-0, 10 KOs) gets eight rounds against Gerardo Robles (14-9, 6 KOs). Combine that with a couple of short who-dat sideshow fights to fill out the night’s card and that’s a night to remember that will provide more than your money’s worth. You don’t want to miss this.
The televised portion airs on ESPN2, ESPN3.com, and ESPN 3D at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific. The Boxing Tribune will have a full recap of the night’s televised action, including any swing fights that make air.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. He’s praying to the boxing gods that the fights don’t suck after all this hype and promotion. Fan mail, hate mail, and setups for blind dates with ring card girls can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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