A handful of top prospects are set for action on the Pacquiao-Bradley III undercard for April 9, with featherweight Oscar Valdez and junior welterweight Jose Ramirez already booked with opponents, and two more notable names also likely for action.
In what is thus far the most significant of the fights, Valdez (18-0, 16 KO) will face former featherweight titleholder Evgeny Gradovich (21-1-1, 9 KO) in a ten-round fight. While this is definitely a step up for Valdez, it's worth noting that Gradovich, 29, has really struggled in his last four outings. He went to a draw in November 2014 against Jayson Velez, then lost a one-sided technical decision to Lee Selby last May. He followed that up with a controversial win over Brazilian club fighter Aldimar Silva Santos on October 24, and returned on January 9 in Spain, beating Jesus Galicia, another club level fighter, by majority decision.
Valdez, 25, was rated our No. 1 featherweight prospect in the 2015 Year in Review, and the former two-time Olympian has looked like a blue chipper thus far, with skill and power.
Ramirez (16-0, 12 KO) is also a top-rated prospect, our No. 1 ranked at 140, and is currently slated to face veteran Manuel Perez (25-11-1, 6 KO). This is not as intriguing a fight as the Valdez-Gradovich matchup, to say the least. Perez, 31, has bounced between 126 and 147 in his career, losing to the likes of Matt Remillard, Brandon Rios, Diego Magdaleno, Mercito Gesta, Paul McCloskey, Vernon Paris, Anton Novikov, and Victor Ortiz, which was his most recent notable fight in late 2014.
Also tentatively set for action are Lithuanian welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas (11-0, 10 KO), who was our No. 4 welterweight prospect, and Ukraine's Oleksandr Gvozdyk (8-0, 6 KO), our No. 4 light heavyweight prospect.
With Top Rank promoter Bob Arum admitting that Pacquiao-Bradley III isn't going to be an easy sell on pay-per-view or at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, one could have reasonably speculated that he'd look to make a more star-studded pay-per-view undercard, and certainly we may get another big fight added to the show, since it's kind of hard to imagine that Valdez-Gradovich would be the main co-feature. But if they stick with the prospects only, and sort of write off the card being some massive financial success, it's at least a really good batch of young fighters.