Tonight at 10pm EDT, we'll be live with discussion and round-by-round coverage of what looks to be an entertaining Friday Night Fights card, leading us into tomorrow's big Showtime two-fight feature with Vazquez-Marquez IV and Perez-Mares. This could be a hell of a weekend for good fights if all goes as it could.
Main Event: Ji Hoon Kim v. Ameth Diaz
This IBF lightweight title eliminator is scheduled for 12 rounds. Kim (20-5, 17 KO) is quickly becoming a favorite of diehard FNF viewers. He turned some heads when he stopped Koba Gogoladze in the first round in May 2008, his first fight in the States. (Hey, there's a budding potential admission to this post.) He's fought six times since then, winning all the fights by stoppage, though the three he had in his native South Korea were junk. In his two most recent fights, he stopped Zolani Malari in South Africa, and last time out impressed again on FNF with an exciting win over Tyrone Harris (TKO-5).
Diaz (27-9, 19 KO) has been stopped six times in his career, and isn't a big step up from Harris. But the 26-year old Panamanian does have two straight wins over Fernando Angulo (UD-7) and Cesar Soto (UD-9) in his home country. In his most notable fights, he was knocked out in four against Takehiro Shimada, virtually shut out by Joan Guzman, and stopped in four by Souleymane M'baye. He's also been beaten inside the distance by Angulo (back in 2004), Jaime Rangel, Juan Mosquera, and a Colombian named Jorge Luis Noriega Medrano.
This is no marquee attraction, but the ingredients are there for a fun fight, as long as it lasts. Kim's record hides how effective he's become, and he's pretty much all action. Diaz should be willing to meet him toe-to-toe.
Co-Feature: Ruslan Provodnikov v. Emanuel Augustus
From a prospective FNF favorite to an old one. Emanuel "Drunken Master" Augustus is back, taking a fight with Russian junior welterweight prospect Ruslan Provodnikov on short notice. Augustus (38-31-6, 20 KO) is one of those guys I suspect time may forget, but those who saw him never will. He's provided too much entertainment over the years, and is a welcome replacement for Frankie Figueroa and his "Gato moves" and "thang thang." Figueroa is generally anything but exciting, while Augustus is only boring when the other guy forces it to be that way.
Provodnikov (15-0, 10 KO) is really one of my favorite prospects. At 26, he's very sound fundamentally, and has been compared to Kostya Tszyu, which actually goes further than just looking like Tszyu. He's been brought along carefully and wisely, and in February on FNF scored a KO of Javier Jauregui (which paired with Kim-Harris).
Really, Provodnikov should win without a ton of trouble. Emanuel is 35 years old and is getting past that point where we can truthfully say he is better than his record. He was better than his record. He's living in Australia now, where he's fought four of his last five fights. In his last outing, he was stopped in nine by Wale Omotoso, and before that, he was featured on the despicable Calzaghe-Jones PPV undercard against, coincidentally, Frankie Figueroa. Figueroa won a close eight-round decision.
It's been a while since Augustus truly played the role of spoiler or guy who was a far tougher test than he was supposed to be. The Figueroa fight was close, but Figueroa is a lot better in his own mind than he's ever been in the ring. The last "true" "Drunken Master" performance was probably the fight on FNF where he was robbed against Courtney Burton in 2005. But maybe he's got one more in him. And even if he doesn't, the fight should be entertaining.
Join us at 10pm EDT for live coverage!