Isaac Chilemba is getting a big chance on the February 3 edition of Friday Night Fights, when the South African light heavyweight faces former middleweight and super middleweight title challenger Edison Miranda, the hard-punching Colombian veteran, in the main event on ESPN2.
Here are a few quotes from Team Chilemba as he gets ready for the date.
"I have a great deal of respect Edison Miranda, he's a worthy opponent, but I'm coming to make a statement come fight night. There is no room for error, and I'm not going to leave it up to the judges to decide the outcome. Make no mistake about it...I'm gunning for a knockout."
On Training with Dan Birmingham
"Training camp has been rough, but at this level nothing comes easy. I've been working hard on some new training techniques and I know I'm getting better every day. Sparring has been great and Dan has given me the perfect game plans to come out victorious. He's the best trainer in boxing."
Damian Ramirez, Manager:
"Isaac is very determined and ready to take his career to the next level. This fight is a great opportunity for him to showcase his skills on a national level. Miranda is a proven warrior and he's going to leave everything in the ring, that's why this fight is going to be great for the fans in attendance and those watching on TV."
Lou DiBella, Promoter:
"This is Isaac's chance to immediately enter the top echelon of the light heavyweight division."
This is actually a much better fight than what was originally scheduled, a rematch of Miranda vs Yordanis Despaigne. That fell through when Despaigne lost his last fight (and looked lousy doing so), leading to the Cuban's withdrawal from the rematch in mid-January.
It's the proper use of Miranda, as he'll serve as gutchecker for a potential rising talent, and the right fight for Chilemba, who at 18-1-1 (9 KO) is ready to take some steps if he's going to do so, and Miranda is both a risk and beatable if Chilemba is going to be a serious player.
DiBella's claim that beating Miranda puts Chilemba into the "top echelon of the light heavyweight division" is a bit much, unless you're BoxRec and you've somehow ranked Miranda 10th in the world at 175 (to be fair, Chilemba is 9th, and Enzo Maccarinelli 12th even though he's never made the light heavyweight limit once in his career).
The undercard for the February 3 show is also set, and it features.......................Cubans.
Rances Barthelemy (14-0, 11 KO) will face Hylon Williams Jr (15-0, 3 KO) in a prospect vs prospect battle at 135 pounds (or thereabouts).
Barthelemy, 25, will probably be hyped as Not Your Typical Cuban Fighter, then fight like Your Typical Cuban Fighter, but he has a knockout rate going for him so for now we'll pretend he's a big power puncher and aggressive, just like Sullivan Barrera. Barthelemy has thus far faced a series of patsies.
Williams, 21, fights out of Las Vegas and can box a little, but seriously has no power whatsoever. That KO rate isn't an illusion or anything. He really, really can't punch, and probably isn't destined for stardom any more than Danny O'Connor is.
Barthelemy vs Williams is set for eight rounds.
The sandwich fight will pit heavyweights Magomed Abdusalamov (12-0, 12 KO) of Russia and Pedro Rodriguez (8-0, 6 KO) of Cuba. Abdusalamov is 30 and Rodriguez is 31, so we're probably not talking about future stars here either. Abdusalamov was the 2005 and 2006 Russian amateur champion at super heavyweight, but failed to make the 2008 Olympics when he lost to David Price.
Rodriguez came to the pro ranks a light heavyweight in 2008, going up to cruiserweight quickly, and now he weighs around 240 pounds for fights, so, you know. Take your guesses there about how serious he is as a pro fighter.