ESPN2 is going live at 9pm tonight for this week's edition of Friday Night Fights, featuring a potentially terrific sleeper fight between Maxim Vlasov and Isaac Chilemba from the Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The two super middleweights are getting their first wide U.S. exposure with the bout.
Vlasov (19-0, 10 KO) is a 24-year-old from Sambra, Russia, standing a billed 6'3". He turned pro in 2005 and though his record is nothing spectacular to date, he's a fine prospect who might have better power than his record would let on. His best wins are a majority decision over tough club fighter Don Mouton, a TKO-1 of Julius Fogle, and a TKO-3 of Jerson Ravelo. He also has a win over former middleweight prospect Jonathan Reid, but that win came eight years after Reid was last really considered a prospect at all. In other words, he's done some work against some decent opposition, but hasn't faced a top guy yet.
Chilemba (15-1-1, 8 KO) probably isn't that top guy, but this does make for an intriguing fight between would-be contenders. The 23-year-old South African went to a draw against countryman Thomas "Tommy Gun" Oosthuizen in his last bout in November, and this will be his first time fighting outside of his native country. Vlasov, on the other hand, has fought regularly in the United States already.
The undercard also promises action, as featherweight prospect Juan Carlos Burgos (25-1, 18 KO) gets back on the horse after a failed bid against Hozumi Hasegawa in November. His opponent is veteran Frankie Archuleta (27-7-1, 14 KO), a fine bounce-back opponent who has a history of coming to fight, though at 35 he's well past his best days, and his last two fights that I saw (against John Molina and Martin Honorio) showed the wear and tear he's accumulated over the years. You're likely to see highlight reel offense from Burgos in this one.
This thread will be open for the rest of the day, so feel free to talk some boxing before, during, and after the fights.