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Franklin Manzanilla steps in against Shakur Stevenson on July 13th

Manzanilla dropped WBC champ Rey Vargas in a losing effort last February

Recent super bantamweight title challenger Franklin Manzanilla has been tabbed to replace Hairon Socarras in the main event of a July 13th Top Rank on ESPN card, taking on Shakur Stevenson in Newark.

Manzanilla (18-5, 17 KO) is, all things considered, a better pick than I’d feared. He was a gimme opponent for Julio Ceja, then the WBC #1 super bantamweight contender, but wound up breaking Ceja’s nose and forcing him to bow out after four. The Colombian took his Ceja’s place in the queue and challenged Rey Vargas this past February, and though he lost clearly, he did floor the champ in the second round.

Considering Vargas fights Tomoki Kameda on the 13th, you could say this is Manzanilla’s second time competing against him.

While Stevenson (11-0, 6 KO) will still be the heavy favorite and massively outclasses Manzanilla on a technical level, Manzanilla can punch and showed against Vargas that he can force an elite fighter into a gritty, ugly sort of tussle. I’d say it’s more interesting than the Socarras matchup.

The ESPN portion of the broadcast also includes a bantamweight bout between Joshua Greer Jr. (20-1-1, 12 KO) and Nikolai Potapov (20-1-1, 11 KO). You can check out the ESPN+ undercard lineup here; notable names include Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh (10-0, 7 KO) and 20-year-old lightweight puncher Joseph Adorno (12-0, 10 KO).

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