The ESPN Friday Night Fights schedule has a bunch of program favorites returning for bouts this summer. Here's a quick look at what's currently on the docket for the program.
June 22: Mike Dallas Jr vs Javier Castro
Dallas (18-2-1, 7 KO) lost a pair of fights on the show in 2011 to Josesito Lopez and Mauricio Herrera, with Lopez knocking him out and Herrera nicking a decision many felt should have gone to Dallas. He's a decent fighter but has yet to really separate himself from the pack of regular FNF guys. He's been working with Virgil Hunter since last year, but it was tough to see any notable improvement in him on February 17, when he defeated Miguel Gonzalez in a sloppy FNF main event.
Castro (27-4, 22 KO) has a nice KO rate, and the 28-year-old Mexican is on a decent three-fight win streak right now after back-to-back losses to Ameth Diaz and some dude named Dunis Linan.
Another Virgil Hunter-trained fighter will be in the co-feature, as middleweight prospect Brandon Gonzales (15-0, 10 KO) will get back in the ring for the first time since an unimpressive performance against veteran Ossie Duran last October. He's not facing a challenge, as he's matched with Elie Augustama (6-4, 3 KO) in a fight that really doesn't deserve to be on TV, but that's how it goes sometimes.
June 29: Ruslan Provodnikov vs Jose Reynoso
The always-exciting Provodnikov will also be making his second FNF appearance of 2012, following his way-too-easy win over David Torres on January 27. Provodnikov (21-1, 14 KO) just got out of camp where he served as a sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao, with Freddie Roach at one point even going so far as to bullshit that Provodnikov is better than Timothy Bradley. Having seen them both fight many times, and even accounting for the fact that I genuinely like watching Provodnikov fight, I can tell you with no bias that Provodnikov is not as good as Timothy Bradley. Just, like, throwing that out there. Controversial opinion, I know.
Reynoso (16-3-1, 3 KO) is a 5'10" southpaw who's never beaten anyone particularly good. One would really like to see Ruslan take on a better caliber of opponent than his usual foes, but one also suspects (if one is me) that Provodnikov is likely never really going higher than ESPN main events.
The co-feature will pit young super bantamweight Roberto Castaneda (20-1-1, 15 KO) against Christopher Martin (23-2-3, 6 KO). Castaneda, 21, was pretty badly beaten by Felipe Orucuta in January, his last fight as a bantamweight. Martin, of course, is familiar to ESPN and ShoBox viewers. He can box, but he's a gatekeeper now, going 0-2-1 in his last three.
July 6: Marvin Sonsona vs Orlando Cruz
Truthfully, I didn't know that we'd ever see Sonsona back on the stage again. The young Filipino prospect, still just 21, had a rough stretch a while back, drawing with Alejandro Hernandez in November 2009, and then coming back three months later to get beaten down by Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in Puerto Rico. There were all kinds of questions about Sonsona's commitment to the sport, and really just whether or not he wanted to be a pro boxer.
I said back then that a lot of his issues seemed like issues any 19-year-old kid might have. Now he's back, having won two straight, and this will be a test for him. Cruz (18-2-1, 9 KO) isn't a contender or anything, and losses to Daniel Ponce De Leon and Cornelius Lock proved that, but he's good enough to give Sonsona (16-1-1, 13 KO) problems if the old issues are still there.
31-year-old Russian heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov (14-0, 14 KO) will look to keep his KO streak alive against Maurice Byarm (13-1-1, 9 KO) in the co-feature. Abdusalamov has recently beaten up some fat guys and club fighters, while Byarm lost to Bryant Jennings in January.
July 13: Glen Johnson vs Andrzej Fonfara
Already talked about this one a month ago. Jose Luis Castillo is in the co-feature against Chicago fighter Ivan Popoca. Johnson is moving back to 175 with this fight.
July 27: Hank Lundy vs Raymundo Beltran
This is a fight to look forward to, a real sleeper with great fight potential. Lundy (22-1-1, 11 KO) is working on four straight FNF wins since his loss to John Molina last year, and looked better than ever outclassing Dannie Williams in March. Beltran (25-6, 17 KO) can fight, and has given prospects Luis Ramos Jr and Sharif Bogere all they wanted in recent fights.
August 10: Michael Katsidis vs Darley Perez
Katsidis (28-6, 23 KO) seems content to keep trying to fight his way back into contention, no matter how unlikely that is. His loss to Albert Mensah on April 13 was an incredible display of grit and workrate, but he lost, clearly. Perez (25-0, 19 KO) is a Colombian with a run-up record, but not as soft as the typical Colombian Record, as he's been fighting in the States for his last few outings. If Katsidis can't win here, then it's really over, but there's no telling how long he'll hang on. He'll always have an audience.