On Friday, January 4, 2013, Warriors Boxing and Bad Dog Productions in association with the Magic City Casino will proudly present the year's debut broadcast of the popular professional boxing series ESPN's Friday Night Fights (10 PM Eastern on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, online through WatchESPN.com, and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app.) live from Stage 305 in the Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida.
The 12-round super featherweight main event will feature towering Cuban dynamo Rances "Kid Blast" Barthelemy (17-0, 11 KOs), currently ranked #5 in the world by the IBF, who will look to continue his undefeated run against fellow undefeated prospect and Afghani-Canadian Arash Usmanee (20-0, 10 KOs), who is ranked #8 in the world by the WBA.
In the co-featured televised bout, a couple of tough junior middleweight contenders will tangle, when young Puerto Rican powerhouse Jonathan "Mantequilla" Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KOs) takes on highly regarded Philadelphian Derek "Pooh" Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs).
Cuban-born 26-year-old hometown favorite Barthelemy is one of three Barthelemy brothers who are now professional fighters. His younger brother Leduan (2-0, 2 KOs) and his older brother, 2004 Olympic Gold medalist Yan (12-3, 4 KOs), are both fighting in the Super Bantamweight division. Standing an imposing 5' 11" for a 130-lb fighter, Barthelemy's size is a huge obstacle for opponents to overcome. In the biggest fight of his career last March in Las Vegas, and televised on ESPN, Barthelemy took a unanimous decision over formerly undefeated fellow prospect Hylon Williams, prevailing by scores of 80-72 and 79-73 twice.
30-year-old Arash Usmanee is a five-time national amateur champion in his adopted home of Canada. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the Canadian Province of Alberta when he was only three years old, after his father was killed in a bombing. World rated Usmanee has already won the NABA and WBC Continental Americas Championships as a professional. He has relocated his base of operations to Montreal, Quebec.
23-year-old Gonzalez is a former amateur standout and a 2008 Olympic representative for Puerto Rico. As a professional, the heavy-handed slugger has already won the NABO and WBA Fedelatin Junior Middleweight Championships. Identified as one of boxing's hottest young prospects, and ranked #6 in the world by the WBA and #10 by the WBC, Gonzalez has continued doing well in the ring while stepping up the competition. In his last fight, the San Juan native fought to a disputable draw with recent world light middleweight champion Serhiy Dzinziruk (37-1-1). The fight was broadcast nationally on HBO and further established Gonzalez as a top 154-lb contender.
32-year-old Ennis won the USBA Light Middleweight Championship in 2009 with a furious 12-round decision over Nigerian Olympian Eromosele Albert. Ennis has collected three "Fight of the Year" accolades in the Philadelphia boxing scene, most notably his vanquishing of current IBF#1, Philly's Gabe Rosado in a 12-round instant classic. With lightning-quick hands that crack like thunder, Ennis can be elusive, but has been known to win grueling brawls.
"We are really excited to start off our 16th season of Friday Night Fights on January 4 with a solid main event down in Miami, which will be a hub of excitement leading up to the BCS a few days later," said Doug Loughrey, director of programming and acquisitions at ESPN.
"It is an honor to be putting on this year's premier broadcast and, clearly, it's a solid night of action-packed boxing between four world-class fighters hungry to step up to the next level. The Magic City Casino is a beautiful destination in Miami and we're looking forward to putting on an unforgettable night of boxing," said Leon Margules, President of Warriors Boxing.
"Magic City Casino is thrilled to be the host site for the season opening event of ESPN's Friday Night Fights. The new venue will be packed and the main event featuring two world ranked undefeated fighters is sure to be a battle to remember," said Scott Savin, Chief Operating Officer of Magic City Casino.
"We are delighted to showcase "Kid Blast" in Miami once again and to inaugurate the first sporting event at the spectacular new venue at the Magic City Casino" said Richard Dobal, managing member of Bad Dog Productions." Barthelemy has had success at their outdoor facility, but the new indoor arena is a sight to behold. Bad Dog and Warriors Boxing expect 'Stage 305' at the Magic City Casino to become the 'Mecca for boxing' in Miami."
The undercard, which will be announced shortly, will feature several young local and international rising stars.
Tickets go on sale today and can be bought on the Magic City Casino website www.magiccitycasino.com as well as in person at the Magic City Players Club. They are priced at $100, $75, $50 and $35.