Michael Rosenthal

Weekend Preview: Only Friday Night Fights

FRIDAY

TIM COLEMAN VS. VERNON PARIS

Rounds / weight class: 10 rounds, junior welterweights

Location: Santa Ynez, Calif.

Television: ESPN2

The backdrop: This is a battle of two slick boxers – one trained by Roger Mayeather, the other Floyd Mayweather Jr. – trying to move up to the elite level. Coleman (19-1-1, 5 KOs) is known more for his sparring work with some big-name fighters, including Ricky Hatton, than his own career but is capable. The 27-year-old product of Baltimore doesn’t have much pop on his punches but he’s a clever boxer with more than six years experience as a pro. He is 5-0 since his only loss, a close but unanimous decision against then-unbeaten James De La Rosa in 2008, and 2-0 since returning from a 10-month hiatus he attributes to promotional problems. His biggest victory was a third-round KO of Patrick Lopez last October, his first fight back from the hiatus. He also defeated Mike Arnaoutis by a split decision in 2009 but many believe Arnaoutis was robbed. Coleman is trained by Roger Mayweather. Paris (24-0, 14 KOs) is known more for his violent life outside the ring more than his boxing accomplishments. He is lucky to be alive after being shot and stabbed in separate incidents in his native Detroit – the first in 2006 (which left bullets in his body), the second in 2008 — but managed to continue fighting. Paris, 23, also is a capable boxer and probably has more power than Coleman, although he has only one KO in his last six fights. He has fought a few recognizable opponents – Courtney Burton and Emanuel Augustus, for example – but they were badly faded. Paris has had a tendency of fading in his fights, perhaps a product of his out-of-the-ring injuries, but he reportedly was pushed very hard by Floyd Mayweather Sr. The co-feature is compelling. Unbeaten lightweight prospect Art Hovhannesyan faces a monumental challenge in former featherweight titleholder Cristobal Cruz, who is coming off a one-sided loss to Orlando Salido but can still fight. He’ll be moving up in weight to fight Hovhannesyan.

Also fighting: Cristobal Cruz vs. Art Hovhannesyan, 10 rounds, junior lightweights.

Rating the card: B-. The main event has the potential of being a stinker, which happens with two slick boxers. The fact the matchup is competitive is reason to watch, though. Cruz-Hovhannesyan should be interesting.

Prediction: Coleman by close but unanimous decision.

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