Doug Fischer

Weekend Preview: prospects kick off the new year

Once-beaten junior welterweight Mauricio Herrera (pictured) has a tremendous opportunity against highly touted undefeated prospect Ruslan Provodnikov in the main event of the Friday Night Fights season premiere on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo / Bryan Crowe-Fightwireimages.com

FRIDAY

RUSLAN PROVODNIKOV vs. MAURICIO HERRERA
Rounds / weight class: 12 rounds / junior welterweights
Location: Las Vegas
Television: ESPN2
The backdrop: Provodnikov (17-0, 11 knockouts), the heavy handed pressure fighter who created a buzz among hardcore American fans by stopping hard-nosed former beltholder Javier Jauregui (TKO 8) and celebrated journeyman Emanuel Augustus (TKO 9) on ESPN2 last year, headlines the 2011 season premiere of Friday Night Fights. Herrera (15-1, 7 KOs) is an equally aggressive Southern California standout who will present more of a physical challenge to the Russian prospect than the two crafty but faded veterans did last year. Given the come-forward styles of Provodnikov and Herrera, who is in his first televised bout since dropping a controversial decision to Mike Anchondo on ShoBox in December of 2009, this bout can only be a slugfest. Provodnikov’s edge in experience and physical strength should enable him to prevail against Herrera, a spirited 30-year-old pug who turned pro at age 27. However, given the 26-year-old Russian fighter’s defensive flaws and wide punching technique, anything can happen.
Also fighting: Demetrius Andrade vs. Alberto Herrera, eight rounds, junior middleweights
Rating the card: B. The main event will deliver excitement, while the co-featured bout represents a modest step up in competition for Andrade (11-0, 8 KOs), a 22-year-old southpaw who is considered one of America’s most-talented prospects. The 2007 world amateur champ and 2008 Olympian faces Mauricio Herrera’s younger brother, Alberto, a gutsy slugger looking to rebound from his first pro loss. In his last bout, Herrera (7-1-1, 5 KOs) was stopped in the fourth round by Chris Chatman, who gave Andrade a good fight in October of 2009.

BRANDON GONZALEZ vs. LESTER GONZALEZ
Rounds / weight class: eight rounds / middleweights
Location: Fairfield, Calif.
Television: Telefutura
The backdrop: Brandon Gonzalez (13-0, 10 KOs), a talented 26-year-old Sacramento native promoted by Terry and Thomas Lane of Reno-based Let’s Get It On Boxing, receives his first exposure on national television in this Solo Boxeo main event against Lester Gonzalez (11-1-1, 6 KOs), a 33-year-old southpaw. The San Diego-based Cuban, who is coming off his first pro loss against everybody’s favorite spoiler Chris Chatman, has quick hands and sharp technique but his penchant for mixing it up will likely cost him against the naturally bigger hard-punching undefeated prospect.
Also fighting: Alan Sanchez vs. Cristian Favela, eight rounds, welterweights
Rating the card: C+. The main event has potential depending on how aggressive the younger man decides to fight and how durable the Cuban lefty turns out to be. However, most fans will wonder why the eight rounder between Sanchez (5-2-1, 2 KOs) and Favela (28-30-7, 18 KOs) is the televised co-feature. Sanchez is a Fairfield native so it makes sense to have the bout on the card, but the gutsy 19 year old, who is 1-2-1 in his last four fights, is not considered a national-class prospect by any knowledgeable fan. It should be noted that Sanchez’s last victory was a fifth-round stoppage of unbeaten Nicaraguan prospect Alberto Morales (11-0-1, 8 KOs), and his last bout was an eight-round draw against undefeated former Mexican amateur standout Luis Grajeda (10-0, 7 KOs), who he dropped twice. So maybe there’s something to the kid, who faces his most-experienced foe by a mile in Favela, the 31-year-old journeyman who held welterweight spoiler Lanardo Tyner to a draw last September. Featherweight prospect Manuel Avila (1-0), a wonderfully skilled former amateur standout from Fairfield, is also on the card.

Also fighting on Saturday: Mexican bantamweight fringe contenders Cristian Esquivel and Eduardo Garcia face off in a scheduled 12-round elimination bout for an alphabet title in Mexico City. And, in Schymkent, Kazakhstan, light heavyweight beltholder Beibut Shumenov, THE RING's No. 8-rated 175-pound contender, takes on former three-time middleweight titleholder William Joppy. The horribly faded 40-year-old veteran is a late substitute for Jürgen Brähmer, a light heavyweight titleholder who withdrew from the Sumenov fight on Tuesday because of illness.

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