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ESPN2 Friday Night Fights Preview

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From the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, FL

Main Event for the Vacant IBF Light Welterweight Title - Juan Urango (16-0-1 13 KO's) vs. Naoufel Ben Rabah (24-1-0 13 KO's)

Cruiserweight Bout - Dale Brown (35-4-1 22 KO's) vs. Shane Swartz (17-4-0 12 KO's)

Heavyweight Bout - Oliver McCall (46-8-0 33 KO's) vs. Kenny Craven (27-17-0 22 KO's)

This is an interesting card, which is about the most you can hope for from ESPN these days.  The main event should be decent enough as Juan Urango is a young fighter taking a big step up and going for his first "major" title.  His opponent and former Tunisian Olympic Team member, Naoufel Ben Rabah, sports a record that isn't exactly a who's who of big name fighters, but he did have a convincing decision victory over Arturo Morua in his last fight on the undercard of the Barrera/Pedin fight.

Urango is based out of Miami and his last 5 fights have been in Hollywood, FL which is the site of tonight's fight.  So obviously he has an advantage as a hometown fighter should this fight go to the cards.  One look at Rabah's KO percentage shows that there is a very good chance of exactly that happening.

Fighters like "Chocalata" Rabah who have had every fight but one in Australia usually show a little higher ratio of fights that end via knockout as the level of competition is generally lower.  He was in line to get a mandatory shot at Ricky Hatton before "The Hitman" moved up in weight.  So as such he gets to travel to another man's "hometown" to try and get a win...boxing is an odd beast in that way.

My Prediction Give me Rabah by late round TKO.  I know it goes against everything that I said, but Urango has never been past 8 rounds and Rabah is the kind of fighter who can wear someone down over a long fight.  If things are close and it goes to the judges I don't see how Rabah can win a decision, so I think he'll be fighting aggressively from the opening bell.

On the undercard...

I'm excited to see Dale Brown fight again as I have always had a big soft spot for the cruiserweight division.  For a division that has been putting on some genuinely good fights as of late it gets no love.  Brown is a good TV fighter, who has only lost against the cream of the cruiserweight crop (Bell, Mormeck, Braithwaite, Jirov).

That being said, the matchmaking here makes very little sense as there is no reason for the Ring Magazine #7 ranked cruiserweight to be fighting against a fighter like Shane Swartz who is 2-4 in his last six fights.  Swartz spent a little time at heavyweight after starting his career fighting at 173.  I don't know if this is because he has problems keeping his weight down or if he just thought it was a good idea.

Look for an early highlight reel type KO for Brown.

In what amounts to the "swing bout" Oliver McCall will be fighting Kenny Craven in one of ESPN's beloved "who really gives a crap" fights.  ESPN loves the idea of having former heavyweight champs on their shows because they figure that big guys draw ratings.  But Oliver McCall is making a career out of beating a few low level fighters and then losing to someone at the "B" Level.  The last of these "B" level fights was a decision loss that was changed to a no contest when Juan Carlos Gomez tested positive for cocaine.

Craven is 4-7 in his last 11 fights so it looks to be a set-up for a McCall knockout win.  But at 41 years old it's hard to know for sure how good Oliver will look.

Hopefully we get a few good knockouts on this show to keep everyone awake for the main event.  But if I'm being totally honest I'm not going to watch this card, I've got a lot to get done...and absolutely no time for Oliver McCall.