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Miranda and Pascal enter stage one

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

The last time most of us saw Edison Miranda, he was getting his clock cleaned by Kelly Pavlik.

That was eight months ago, and was also the last fight at middleweight for "Pantera," which should come as no surprise. We'd heard several times of his troubles making 160 pounds, and he had fought several times in his career over 160, his highest recorded weight at 174.

After early career bouts in his native Colombia and the Dominican Republic, Miranda made his U.S. debut on May 20, 2005, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, which has become one of American boxing's top "B" venues. Sure, it won't house a Floyd Mayweather fight any time soon, but it's a great atmosphere -- the fight fans down there are diehards. His last fight, a win over Henry Porras in October, saw him return a humbled man. Well, at least as humbled as the trash-talking Miranda can get.

Speaking not a word of English, Miranda's brash demeanor and cocky attitude manage to break down all language barriers. The concrete-fisted Colombian fighter never makes any bones about his intention. He's going to go for the knockout, even at his own peril.

And as a guy whose only losses have come to unbeaten middleweight champs Pavlik and Arthur Abraham, Miranda's comments never seem to go into the "too much" category. He's cocky, and far from invincible. But can you ever count him out? Not with those punches, you can't. He'd have a puncher's chance against anyone.

In two days, ESPN2's Friday Night Fights will come with a terrific card that is meant to build to something even better. Miranda comes to main event the Seminole Hard Rock again, a venue at which he is 5-0 in his career. Originally scheduled to face Donny McCrary, Miranda is now slotted in against McCrary's fellow "Contender" alum, David Banks. Banks (15-3-1, 2 KO) is pure folly for Miranda. With no punching power, really, he cannot possibly go toe-to-toe with his foe and survive. He has solid technical ability, but tends to get hit a lot.

Sounds disastrous, doesn't it?

One fight before Miranda and Banks take center stage, Haitian-Canadian Jean Pascal will meet Omar Pittman (15-3-1, 8 KO) in the main preliminary bout. Pascal, like Miranda, is a powerful super middleweight contender. Also like Miranda, he loves to talk.

Pascal has been featured on ESPN2 a few times, and is familiar to those that are habitual Friday Night Fights viewers. He's also part of the very real Canadian uprising in the sport, mostly consisting of fighters born outside of The Great White North that have wound up making their names there. Along with Romanian-born Lucian Bute, Haitian-born Joachim Alcine, and real deal Canadian Steve Molitor, Pascal is turning the country once known almost exclusively for hockey into a hotbed of pugilistic activity. This will also, as a matter of fact, be Pascal's very first professional bout outside of Canada. In fact, it will be his first outside of Quebec.

ESPN's master plan with these two fights is very simple: Miranda hammers Banks, Pascal hammers Pittman, and the two meet up in a few months, in what would likely be the centerpiece of this season of Friday Night Fights.

Miranda-Pascal is a fight that any network would love to have, I'd have to think, and it's quite a steal for ESPN. It could easily be the main event of a Boxing After Dark or one of those "special" Shobox nights. For a program that opened its season with another putrid Dominick Guinn fight, that's definitely saying a lot.

Let's not beat around the bush, either. Miranda is going to beat Banks. Pascal is going to beat Pittman. Either fight going the other way would be a very big upset.

Which means that when the smoke clears on Friday, get ready for trash talking. Get ready for ESPN to find the date for Miranda-Pascal, which they've likely already done. Get ready for an explosive super middleweight showdown to come to you live on a Friday night, on regular old cable, either late this spring or early this summer.

What's not to like? It's not a fight that's going to disappoint. In many ways, it lines up similarly to Pavlik-Miranda. With Edison Miranda, you know you'll get a show. Whether or not his opponent can take it up that notch with him is the question. Jean Pascal has certainly shown the ability to do that thus far, though it would be the first serious test of his chin.

Sure, these are tune-up fights. But I figure we're going to see two knockouts on Friday, and both have the chance to be of the sensational variety. I'm going to tune in, and then I'm going to gear up for the real fight in a few months.

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