Friday Night Fights is back to its normal 9pm EDT start time tonight, and we'll be here to talk some fights. This one was better on paper a couple of days ago before Ji Hoon Kim pulled out of the co-feature, but the main event should be a decent scrap.
Ruslan Provodnikov (18-1, 12 KO) returns to the Friday Night Fights airwaves for the first time since his January loss to Mauricio Herrera. The 27-year-old Russian looks like Kostya Tszyu and fights a little bit like him, but I think it's safe to say that though he's generally entertaining, he ain't Kostya Tszyu. The good news, of course, is that he is generally entertaining.
His opponent is Ivan Popoca (15-0-1, 10 KO), a 29-year-old Mexican based in Chicago. In fact, Popoca has never fought outside of the Chicagoland area, so this trip to the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif., will be something new for him. Provodnikov is a huge betting favorite, and with good reason. Popoca hasn't really fought anyone of note, with his best win being either Hector Alatorre or Jose Luis Soto Karass (not Jesus Soto Karass), and he hasn't faced a fighter coming off of a win since 2008. Provodnikov would have kept that streak up, but he took a get well fight in Russia in February. For all intents and purposes, Popoca is an unknown quantity, and it's up in the air what Provodnikov is in for tonight.
In the co-feature, Marvin Quintero (21-3, 17 KO) faces Juan Santiago (13-6-1, 8 KO), a second late-notice opponent. Quintero was to face Ji Hoon Kim in what could have been a super scrap on paper. Kim was originally replaced by Gabriel Tolmajyan, but that's off, too. Santiago is a 26-year-old junior welterweight out of Colorado who has dropped his last two, but you might remember him from a ShoBox last May against Vernon Paris, where he pushed Paris to a split decision over eight.