Abraham Nova thought Toka Khan Clary was an opponent against whom he could prove himself Thursday night.

That’s why the unbeaten junior lightweight prospect readily agreed to fight Khan Clary, a veteran southpaw from Providence, Rhode Island. The 28-year-old Khan Clary also signed a contract for their 10-round, 132-pound bout, but he abruptly withdrew from it June 4 (https://www.boxingscene.com/toka-kahn-clary-pulls-out-espn-co-feature-against-abraham-nova--149314).

Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow replaced Khan Clary as Nova’s opponent a couple days later. Khan Clary wasn’t injured, but Nova accepted the Liberia native’s rationale for pulling out of a fight ESPN was to televise from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

“I’ve heard from his team and I respect why he did it,” Nova told BoxingScene.com. “He was leading the march for Black Lives Matter [in Providence]. He was leading that whole group, and I really respect him for turning down $30,000 to unite with his fellows and represent and fight for justice for the Black Lives Matter situation.

“He was leading the protests and he actually turned down the fight for that, from what I heard. I respect him for that, because that’s a big thing going on right now in our time and our society. So, you know, I’m not gonna bash him or nothing. You’ve gotta respect a guy for something so deep. He has a lot of love and respect for his culture.”

Whatever happens Thursday night, the 26-year-old Nova (18-0, 14 KOs), of Albany, New York, would welcome rescheduling his fight with Khan Clary (27-2, 18 KOs, 1 NC).

“I know Toka’s a great fighter,” Nova said. “I know he’s a fighter, and like any other fighter, he’s not scared to get in the ring with anybody. Especially if it’s for a title or something big. So, I know if the time comes and it’s the right time, if we have to make it happen, the fight will happen.”

Nova is a slight favorite to defeat Sparrow (10-1, 3 KOs, 1 NC), who took this fight on less than three weeks’ notice. Sparrow will fight for the first time in 15 months, in part due to a legal issue that led to his arrest the day he was supposed to weigh in for a 10-round fight against unbeaten lightweight contender Ryan Garcia on September 14 in Carson, California (https://www.boxingscene.com/sparrow-arrested-over-april-gun-incident-ryan-garcia-fight-off--142517).

ESPN will televise Nova-Sparrow as the co-feature of a six-bout broadcast scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. 

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.