Claiming he is not "mentally ready" to fight, Cuban light heavyweight Yordanis Despaigne has withdrawn from his scheduled rematch against charismatic light heavyweight slugger Edison "Pantera" Miranda (35-6, 30 KOs), scheduled for this Friday in the Dallas Events Center at Texas Station.
Instead, Miranda will face South Africa’s WBC No. 6, WBA No. 13, and WBO No. 14-rated Isaac "Golden Boy" Chilemba (18-1-1, 9 KOs) in the 10-round main event of an ESPN Friday Night Fights.
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While the rematch promised to be an entertaining scrap, the addition of world-rated Chilemba to the card actually steps up the event’s significance on the world stage.
Tall and rangy with fast hands, 24-year-old Chilemba has held the IBO and African Boxing Union Super Middleweight and the WBC International, African Boxing Union and WBO Africa Light Heavyweight Titles. He made his Friday Night Fights debut last February at the Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he dealt then undefeated Russian Maxim Vlasov his first loss via unanimous 10-round decision.
Miranda was last seen scoring a spectacular knockout over then highly rated Kariz Kariuki in December.
"With Despaigne pulling out we lost what could have been a good fight, but Chilemba is actually a much tougher opponent for Edison," said promoter Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing. "Miranda was able to hit Despaigne fairly often, that’s not a guarantee with Chilemba. He’s very tricky and has a long reach. It’s going to be an intriguing fight."
In Friday’s eight-round co-main event, 21-year-old lightweight Hylon Williams Jr. (15-0, 3 KOs) of Las Vegas will face off against 25-year-old Cuban power-punching sensation Rances "Kid Blast" Barthelemy (14-0, 11 KOs) in a rare battle of up-and-coming undefeated prospects.
Both fighters were highly decorated amateurs and both have been pegged for future big deeds. Williams is highly skilled with blazing fast hands, while Barthelemy is building a reputation for his punching power.
The televised middle bout will feature yet another "someone’s 0 must go" battle of unbeaten prospects, as fast-rising heavyweight sensation Magomed Abdusalamov (12-0, 12 KOs) Moscow, Russia, will face Cuba’s Pedro Rodriguez (8-0, 6 KOs). The highly touted Abdusalamov is a former 2005 and 2006 Russian amateur champion at super heavyweight.
More exciting undercard bouts will be announced shortly.
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