By Jake Donovan
As fight night draws closer, Claudio ‘The Matrix’ Marrero grows more anxious for his first title opportunity. The unbeaten featherweight challenges Argentina’s Jesus Cuellar for an interim featherweight belt on August 23 at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.
The bout serves as the co-feature to a show that serves as the 2013 season finale for ESPN2’s Friday Night Fight series. Argenis Mendez appears in the main event, making the first defense of his 130 lb. title versus Arash Usmanee.
Adding to the show’s significance is the promotional debut of former undisputed heavyweight king Mike Tyson. One of the most identifiable figures in the history of boxing, Tyson joined forces with Acquinity Sports, combining to form Iron Mike Promotions, which serves as the lead promoter for the August 23 show in association with Greg Cohen Promotions.
“I take this opportunity to invite all boxing fans in New York to attend the Turning Stone Casino to see a world class event,” insists Henry Rivalta, Chief Operating Officer of Iron Mike Promotions of an event that is drawing more attention than any other Friday Night Fights edition in recent memory. “And the rest of the fans in the United States and the world, I suggest you tune in on ESPN the event where Argenis Mendez will also be defending his IBF world title for the first time against Arash Usmanee in the main event.”
Needless to say, all eyes will be on the card. Marrero is not only unfazed by the extra attention, but is prepared to thrive in the spotlight, all while preparing for the toughest challenge of his young career.
“I know Cuellar is an aggressive fighter and has a high knockout percentage,” says Marrero (14-0, 11KO). “But he’s not invincible. We can defeat him. I know I have the skills to win, whether it’s by unanimous decision or by knockout.”
Marrero has been steered towards a title fight since the beginning of the year. Negotiations were in place to face Nicholas Walters – even if it meant a trip to the defending titlist’s native Jamaica to make the fight happen.
When those plans couldn’t properly materialize, Marrero and his handlers moved on to the next best opportunity. It stands to reason that the rising Dominican contender is in just as tough; Cuellar (22-1, 18KO) is riding a five-fight win streak and carries into the ring the pride of a nation, with Argentina undergoing a golden era of sorts.
“(Marrero) is training for the fight of his life,” promises Rivalta. “Argentina has great fighters like Lucas Matthysee, Sergio Martinez and Marcos Maidana who have proven themselves. But in this fight, we will see the rise of a new star in Claudio Marrero."
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox