By Reynaldo Sanchez
Former Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson will make his debut as a professional boxing promoter with a world title doubleheader August 23 from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y., on the season finale of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights presented by Corona Extra. Friday’s show, promoted by Tyson’s Iron Mike Productions, will air live at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2, WatchESPN and broadband Spanish-language ESPN Deportes+. ESPN Deportes will televise Friday’s fights on Saturday, August 24, at 7 p.m.
The 12-round main event will feature an IBF title fight between Junior Lightweight titlist Argenis “La Tormenta” Méndez (21-2, 11 KOs) and Arash Usmanee (20-1, 10 KOs). Friday’s co-feature will be a 12-round WBA interim title fight between undefeated Featherweight Claudio “The Matrix” Marrero (14-0, 11 KOs) and Jesús Cuellar (22-1, 18 KOs).
New York’s Méndez won the IBF Junior Lightweight title in his last fight with a fourth-round knockout win over defending titlist Juan Carlos Salgado, while Las Vegas’ Usmanee is looking to rebound from a 12-round decision loss to Rances Barthelemy.
“I think Usmanee’s a good fighter and throws a lot of punches,” Méndez’s trainer Lee Beard said. “I believe that Méndez is a much better fighter, much more talented. He has speed and power in both hands. As long as he does what he's supposed to do, there's only one person that's going to win this fight, and that's Mendez."
Usmanee said of Friday’s fight, "Mendez is a great boxer. He is very talented and has good speed and power. He's a well-rounded fighter and I'm preparing for the best 130-pounder on this planet.”
Miami’s Marrero is looking to continue his winning ways after a fourth-round TKO win over former Bantamweight titlist Mauricio Martinez, while Argentina’s Cuellar scored a first-round TKO win over Gustavo Gonzalez in his last fight.