by Gary Purfield
Main Events Promotions announced the addition of a fifth NBC Fight Night show for June 1. Originally the series was scheduled for four dates this year, but an extra show has been added. Following the success of the opening show on January 21 from Philadelphia and NBC being pleased with the lineup for the March 24 show from Brooklyn, they chose to add an extra date to the series this year with the idea to possibly do more next year.
The opening Fight Night Card was supposed to feature experienced heavyweights, Eddie Chambers vs. Sergei Liakhovich but the fight fell apart in the last week when Chambers suffered a broken rib six days from the fight. Main Events’ matchmaker, Russell Peltz, went with a competitive matchup of talented, but young and untested, heavyweights in the Main Event. Bryant Jennings and Maurice Byarm stepped up to the plate and delivered an exciting heavyweight bout that Jennings won by unanimous decision.
Also on the opening card was jr. middleweight Gabriel Rosado, who stole the show with a dominating performance over rugged Jesus Soto-Karass, stopping the veteran in the fifth round. The March 24 show has a headlining bout of Zab Judah vs. Vernon Paris in an IBF eliminator. The co-feature will be Sergei Liakhovich, who lost his chance to fight in the opener, against the winner of the first main event, Bryant Jennings.
The added show will take place on June 1 and will be held at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA. Gabe Rosado 19-5 (11 KO) steps up to the main event to take on Joel Julio 37-4 (31 K0) in a 154 lb showdown. According to reports, NBC asked specifically for Rosado to be brought back as the main event after his crowd-pleasing performance in the opening fight night broadcast. Rosado has come into his own in his last few fights and has shown potential to make noise in the crowded division despite his deceiving record.
Rosado lost to Fernando Guerrero early in his career and was stopped in two rounds by Alfredo Angulo in 2009. Since the Angulo fight, Rosado is 7-1 (4KO) and has shown improvement in defense and offense in each fight. The Soto-Karass fight seemed to be a culmination of Rosado putting all the tools together at one time to turn in the type of performance many felt he was capable of all along.
Julio, once a top prospect at welterweight, has struggled at jr. middleweight but still packs good power and should provide an exciting style to match against Rosado. Julio built a reputation as a dangerous power puncher at welterweight where he went 28-1 with 26 knockouts. The lone loss was a decision to Carlos Quintana. Then, Julio stepped up to 154 lb and was not able to have the same success. He had wins over Cornelius Bundrage and Ishe Smith, but he was knocked out by James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo while losing a decision to Sergei Dzinziruk. Julio had gone back down to welterweight for his last fight, a decision win over Anges Adjaho, but is choosing to return to 154 for the Rosado fight.
Rising welterweight prospect, Ronald Cruz will be in the co-feature. Main Events plans to announce an opponent for Cruz shortly. Cruz was born in Puerto Rico but has spent the majority of his life in Bethlehem where the fights are being held. Cruz fought once before at the Sands in Bethlehem when he stopped Doel Carrasquillo on July 1, 2011. The Sands outdoor tent was packed with Cruz faithful and they should have no problem selling tickets again, as Cruz has gotten more popular since that time and Rosado will draw plenty of Philadelphia faithful an hour north for the fight as well.
Cruz 16-0 (12 KO) did not turn pro as a known commodity but began making a name for himself when he knocked out prospect, Jeremy Bryan, in his tenth fight. Since then, he has stopped veterans Manuel Guzman, Carrasquillo, Anges Adjaho, and most recently, he won a wide unanimous decision over Allen Conyers.
Cruz likely was approved for the card by NBC due to his come-forward, fan-friendly style and his willingness to test himself against good opposition. Main Events and NBC have stated since the series was announced that the matches would be made based on the quality of the fight and how exciting it will be for fans, not simply as a showcase for specific fighters. Main Events CEO Kathy Duva has stated the fights must match fighters whose styles will blend for an exciting fight and that the fights are pick-em type matches.
Rosado and Cruz are both promoted by Fight Night’s matchmaker Russell Peltz, while Julio is handled by Main Events. The card will be televised on NBC Sports Channel, live from Bethlehem from 9pm-11pm. Main Events will also host Fight Night Cards on June 16 and November 11 with the site and fighters TBD.
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