Tomorrow night on ESPN2, Friday Night Fights is back for its season premiere, with a lightweight main event between Darleys Perez and Jonathan Maicelo. Let's take a brief look at the fight, and look at the particulars.
Perez, 31, is a Colombian fighter with a pro record of 31-1 (20 KO), his lone loss coming in June 2013 on HBO against Yuriorkis Gamboa. Perez was pretty competitive in what turned out to be a fairly dull fight, but it also has to be said that Gamboa is not a true lightweight, and we've seen the ultra talented Cuban struggle fighting above 126 pounds not just against Perez or Terence Crawford, but also against Michael Farenas, who was outclassed but able to use his power to hurt and drop Gamboa in their December 2012 fight.
It may not mean that Perez's showing against Gamboa was smoke and mirrors stuff, but Gamboa fought in an exceptionally tentative style that night, and it may have been because he really didn't like the physical matchup against the naturally larger Perez.
Darleys currently holds the interim WBA lightweight title, beating Argenis Lopez to gain that standing in June of last year, and making a successful defense in October against Jaider Parra. He will defend again on Friday night.
Maicelo, 31, was born in Peru and now fights out of North Bergen, New Jersey. He's been seen on FNF before, notably in his lone loss, knocked out in April 2013 in the eighth round by Rustam Nugaev:
Nugaev used a steady pressure game to break down Maicelo, and then catch him making a mistake, leaning in to punch with his hands down. A single short, solid right hand was enough to end that fight, as Maicelo's spirit and resistance had been withered away over the first seven rounds and change, and one great shot was all it took after that.
Maicelo (21-1, 12 KO) is looking for a bit of redemption with this fight. He fought just once in 2014, but it was a nice win over Art Hovhannisyan in July, coming via strangely scored split decision (100-90, 97-93, 94-96) in Washington, another Friday Night Fights outing.
ESPN's Brian Campbell gives his quick thoughts on the matchup:
Also on the card, we'll see 28-year-old welterweight Francisco Santana (21-3-1, 10 KO) take on Kendral Mena (20-0, 11 KO) in a 10-round bout. Mena is a Dominican who has fought between 140 and 154 pounds in his last five fights alone, and has an extremely empty record, never fighting anyone with even a .500 record of their own. He's a late replacement for former welterweight titleholder Randall "KO King" Bailey.