Though it's not a return of the series, ESPN2's Wednesday Night Fights is back in action for a one-off event this week, as Cuban prospects Erislandy Lara and Yordanis Despaigne take to the ring in Monroe, Louisiana, for a televised double-header.
Lara (12-0, 7 KO) has had most of his pro career televised, giving hardcore fans a very good look at the progression of the 27-year-old. After wins over veterans Grady Brewer and Danny Perez in January and April, Lara took an easy fight in July against Puerto Rican William Correa. The result was predictable, as Lara stopped Correa in 2:34.
On Wednesday, he'll face 30-year-old Mississippi journeyman Willie Lee (17-6, 11 KO). Lee has been stopped five times in his career. One of those was his last fight, an overwhelming TKO-3 loss to Vanes Martirosyan in December. That came one fight after Lee upset Alex Bunema, which was easily the best win of his career. Lee also has stoppage losses to Sechew Powell (2006), Ishmail Arvin (2004), a young Chad Dawson (2003), and Yusaf Mack (2000). Mack was making his pro debut in that fight.
Lara is also fairly well-known for being taken out of Ricky Hatton's training camp prior to Hatton's fight with Manny Pacquiao, as reports suggested that Lara was shredding Hatton when they sparred. He is already one of the most talented 154-pound fighters in the world, and with his extensive amateur pedigree, really ought to be fighting guys more on the level of Brewer and Perez than Correa and Lee, but he's staying active -- this will be his fourth fight in 2010, and he fought seven times in 2009. He'll be knocking on the door for a major title shot sooner than later.
Fellow Cuban defector Yordanis Despaigne (6-0, 4 KO) will be in the co-feature. Despaigne is 30, and in his last fight scored a 10-round shutout of Richard Hall, a big, hard-punching veteran who was making a comeback after having been inactive since 2007. Hall knocked out Jaffa Ballogou in 20 seconds in the first fight of his comeback, and was then handled with relative ease by Despaigne.
With his experience, the fact that he's 30, and the light heavyweight division in a bit of a makeover phase right now, Despaigne could also be a serious contender in the very near future. His opponent on Wednesday is Frank Paines (11-0, 10 KO), a Colombian fighter with a Colombian record. His first eight opponents were all winless (one was making his pro debut), and his last three haven't been a lot better.
I wouldn't anticipate that Lara or Despaigne will have much trouble on Wednesday. Both of these are basically just stay-busy fights, but we're talking about two very talented fighters who definitely are worth watching as they continue to climb the ladder. Bad Left Hook will have live coverage on Wednesday night at 10pm EDT.