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Raphael Igbokwe, Genc Pllana Set To Collide in Houston, Texas

Raphael Igbokwe will face once-beaten Genc Pllana in a rematch Saturday night, manager Joseph Vredevelt told Boxingscene Wednesday night.

The eight-round super middleweight bout will take place at the Arabia Shrine Center in Houston, Texas and will headline a Force Train Promotions card that will stream live on pay-per-view ($9.99/

Igbokwe (14-2, 6 knockouts), who resides in the Houston, Texas suburb of Fresno, first square off against Pllana on August 23 of last year, winning by majority decision over eight rounds. Vredevelt believes Igbokwe can again pull off another win over Pllana, only this time more convincingly.

“Styles make fights and Igbokwe is confident he is still much too quick and strong for Pllana,” Vredevelt told BoxingScene over the phone Wednesday night. “The fight is sure to be a battle as the two do not get along, getting into a physical confrontation at the previous weigh-in.

“The two were scheduled to meet (this past) June on a Top Rank card, however, Igbokwe had a false positive test (that) took the fight off the card. Igbokwe is very confident going into this fight and the plan is simply to do the same as the last encounter, (which is) giving Pllana lateral movement and landing power shots and throw Pllana off of his rhythm.”


In his last bout on March 7, Igbokwe defeated veteran Javier Frazier by unanimous decision. The 28-year-old has won his last two bouts since losing back-to-back split-decisions to Alexis Gaytan last year.

Pllana (8-2-1, 4 KOs), who is originally from Kosovo and now resides in Hagerstown, Maryland, last fought on September 23, losing by unanimous decision to unbeaten prospect Maidel Sando. In his previous fight on February 28, Pllana defeated prospect Kevin Newman II by unanimous decision.

The 26-year-old Pllana is promoted by Marshall Kauffman.

Unbeaten junior lightweight Eridson Garcia will square off against Nelson Hampton of Edinburg, Texas in a six-round bout.

Garcia (9-0, 6 KOs), who is promoted by Force Train, defeated Christian Danilo Guido by unanimous decision in his last bout on September 24. His last two fights took place in Biloxi, Mississippi after fighting his first seven fights in the Dominican Republic.

Hampton (7-2, 4 KOs) defeated Jesus Arevalo by unanimous decision in his last bout on August 24 of last year and has won five of his last six bouts.

Fringe junior lightweight contender and Houston resident Pablo Cruz will square off against gatekeeper Diuhl Olguin (14-14-4, 9 KOs) of Guadalajara, Mexico in a six-round bout.

Cruz (19-2, 6 KOs) defeated Eduardo Pereira Dos Reis by unanimous decision in his last bout on March 7. The 33-year-old has won his last five bouts since losing to Ricky Lopez by split-decision in March 2017.

Former heavyweight prospect Nagy Aguilera (20-10, 14 KOs), who is originally from the Dominican Republic and now lives and Newburgh, New York, will return from a three-year hiatus to face Terrell Woods (24-46-8, 17 KOs) of Forrest City, Arkansas in a six-round bout.

In a clash of unbeaten lightweights, Juan Antonio Velazquez (4-0, 3 KOs) of Houston will square off against Chancellor Battenberg (3-0, 3 KOs) of Kingwood, Texas in a four-round bout.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing

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