The junior middleweight fight between Gabriel Rosado and Jesus Soto Karass has been bumped to main event status on Saturday night's NBC Sports network boxing premiere, and two new fights have been added to the broadcast as well.
Editor's Note and Correction: The main event is actually the heavyweight fight between Maurice Byarm and Bryant Jennings. Rosado vs Soto Karass is still positioned as the co-feature. - Scott
The original main event was scheduled to be a 10-round heavyweight fight between Eddie Chambers and Sergei Liakhovich, but Chambers was forced out of the fight on January 13 with fractured ribs, and Main Events couldn't find a suitable replacement opponent for Liakhovich on such short notice.
The replacement bout will also be a heavyweight fight, set for 10 rounds, between prospects Bryant Jennings (11-0, 5 KO) and Maurice Byarm (13-0-1, 9 KO).
"This series is about giving the fans exciting, action-packed fights where the outcome is in doubt," said promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events via press release.
"It is truly a shame that Chambers and Liakhovich cannot fight on Saturday, but athletes get injured. We tried all weekend to find a suitable replacement to face Liakhovich, but truly competitive opposition could not be found on such short notice. Last night we decided that it would be in the best interests of the fans and the series to go in another direction and present a fight that will live up to the standards that we have set for this project. We are thrilled to have come up with such a compelling bout. The fans in Philadelphia and those watching on TV will have plenty to cheer about on Saturday night."
Neither the 29-year-old Byarm nor the 27-year-old Jennings really projects as a future star, but it's definitely a risky fight for both, and is better than bumping up the scheduled Joel Julio mismatch from the undercard.
Jennings was featured (well, sort of) on the Khan vs Judah undercard last July against Theron Johnson, and won a wide six-round decision. He wasn't particularly impressive, but he had no trouble with the opponent that night. I didn't put him on my shortlist of guys to watch, even in the heavyweight division, for whatever that's worth.
"I often hear people say that there are no American heavyweights," said Russell Peltz, matchmaker for the NBC Sports Network series. "We are presenting a terrific fight on Saturday night at the [ECW Arena] between two promising American heavyweights who are willing to test themselves sooner rather than later."
The other televised fight will be a light heavyweight six-rounder between Cuba's Sullivan Barrera (8-0, 6 KO) and Toledo's Damar Singleton (8-0, 4 KO). I know nothing about Singleton, but having seen Barrera, he's your typical unexciting Cuban prospect. At 29 he's not all that young, and he's probably got no big upside. In Barrera's last fight in June, he knocked out Frank Paines (a guy who gave Despaigne too many problems in a Friday Night Fights main event back in summer 2010) in two rounds. Don't expect that you're seeing the next Yuriorkis Gamboa-type breakout Cuban going in and Barrera probably won't be any big disappointment.
I know it doesn't seem like I'm majorly excited about these replacement fights, and that's just because I'm being honest. I'm not that excited about them. But I truly do believe that Main Events did about the best they could given the lousy situation that was thrown at them. They're basically giving us a couple of ShoBox-type fights instead of some crappy showcase that won't do anything for anyone, and that's perfectly fine, and tells me they're serious about presenting competitive fights -- even if they have to go down the card a bit to find them.
Plus, that main event has serious sleeper potential. There's no HBO/SHO competition on Saturday, and I truly recommend tuning in or Rosado vs Soto Karass. That could be a hell of a fight. I know this isn't the sort of fight they wanted to kick off the series, but it might get things going on a great note.