NBCSN Fight Night November 8 Triple-Header Scouting Report

Bethlehem, PA: The Nov. 8 special triple-header edition of NBCSN Fight Night at Sands has the ingredients to be one of the most entertaining and action-packed fight cards of 2014. The event will feature a pair of the heavyweight division’s heaviest hitters, as well as rising prospects from both the light heavyweight and welterweight divisions.

The main event for 2014’s final edition of NBCSN Fight Night will feature two heavyweights with plenty to prove in a suddenly wide-open division. Amir “Hardcore” Mansour and Fred “Big Fred” Kassi will collide in the scheduled 10-round main event.

Mansour (20-1-0, 15 KOs), 42, is an aggressive, hard-hitting heavyweight with knockout power in both hands. Every punch thrown by Mansour has bad intentions and he will look to put them on full display when he battles the tough Fred Kassi. Twelve of Mansour’s 15 knockouts came in the 1st or 2nd round. In his most recent bout, the Philadelphia native came up short against former cruiserweight titleholder and current heavyweight contender Steve Cunningham – despite knocking Cunningham down twice – in a Fight of the Year candidate.

Kassi (18-2-0, 10 KOs), 35, is a New Orleans, LA native who is looking to make a name for himself. A professional since 2003, Kassi has ten career knockout victories, with none of those opponents making it past the third round. He has a puncher’s style, with power in both hands, and aims to deliver a knockout blow to the equally heavy-hitting Mansour. “Big Fred” is coming off of two consecutive knockout wins, with one of those wins coming against former super middleweight title contender Rubin Williams.

The middle bout of the triple-header will feature a 10-round welterweight contest between Dmitry Mikhaylenko out of Gelendzhik, Russia, and Bethlehem, PA’s Ronald Cruz. This bout might steal the show, as both of these fighters like to come forward in hopes of breaking down their opponents physically.

Undefeated Dmitry “The Mechanic” Mikhaylenko, (17-0-0, 6 KOs), 28, is an overwhelming puncher who has the ability to tire out his opponents with his limitless punch count. He likes to smother his opponents with non-stop bodywork in a vigorous, in-your-face attack.

Ronald Cruz, (20-4-0, 15 KOs), 28, has been in the ring with much tougher opposition than his opponent Mikhaylenko. Cruz is an offensive fighter, similar to his opponent, who likes to throw a lot of punches and will not hesitate to engage with anybody. Cruz will be competing in front of his hometown in Bethlehem, PA for the 9th time in his career, where he has posted a record of 5-3.

The Nov. 8 telecast will kick-off with a 10-round light heavyweight contest between the undefeated WBO #10 ranked contender Vasiliy Lepikhin and knockout-artist Jackson Junior.

Vasiliy “The Professor” Lepikhin (16-0-0, 9 KOs), 29, made his professional debut in 2005 and has steamrolled his opposition since, utilizing his 74″ reach and powerful combinations to earn himself a spot in the WBO and WBA rankings. His previous four bouts all ended in knockouts for “The Professor”, including his last fight when he burst onto the US boxing scene by easily dismantling knockout artist Robert “The Butcher” Berridge in five rounds.

Jackson “Demolidor” Junior, (15-0-1, 13 KOs), 28, is a Brazilian boxer who is no stranger to finishing fights. He has 13 career knockouts wins, with 10 of those knockouts occurring between the 1st and 3rd rounds. Junior has a powerful right hand and likes to walk his opponents down, in hopes of forcing them to engage with him.

“Demolidor” narrowly avoided his first defeat in early 2013 when he was stopped by WBC #2 light heavyweight contender Umberto Savigne, but the bout was later ruled a no contest because of a post-fight drug test that was failed by Savigne.

Main Events’ CEO Kathy Duva had this to say about the triple-header, “The Mansour-Kassi fight is a throwback to the heavyweights of the past. Mansour fights every fight like his life depends on it and I have no doubt that Kassi will be ready for a dogfight. Mikhaylenko-Cruz is a dream fight for fans. These two guys have similar styles – their defense is their offense. Lepikhin is a fighter to watch after coming to the US and dominating a highly-regarded and ranked contender in Robert Berridge. He could be something special, but he has to get by a very hard-hitting Jackson Junior first.”

Dmitry Mikhaylenko to Face Ronald Cruz Nov. 8th

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Dmitry Mikhaylenko
Photo Credits: Rich Graessle/Main Events

Bethlehem, PA:     Undefeated Russian prospect Dmitry “The Mechanic” Mikhaylenko (17-0. 6 KOs) was scheduled for a 10-round welterweight fight with Emmanuel Lartey (17-2, 8 KOs), of Ghana, as part of a special triple header edition of NBCSN Fight Night on Nov. 8 at Sands Resort Casino in Bethlehem, PA, but when Lartey pulled out last week, local sensation Ronald Cruz (20-4, 15 KOs) stepped up to the challenge.
 
The 28-year old Mikhaylenko, who hails from Gelendzhik, Russia, made his US debut Aug. 2 when he defeated Sechew Powell on the undercard of the Sergey Kovalev versus Blake Caparello title fight in Atlantic City, NJ. This will be his first appearance on Fight Night.  
 
About the change of opponent Dmitry said: “I do not see any problems switching to another opponent. At this point of my career it really does not matter who will be in front of me. I come to fight and hope my opponent does as well.”
 
Cruz, a native of Bethlehem, is no stranger to fighting in front of his hometown crowd. This will be his ninth fight at Sands Resort Casino.   
 

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Ronald Cruz
Photo Credits:
Rich Graessle/Main Events 
 
“I feel blessed to once again have another opportunity to fight on NBCSN and this time I’ll be taking advantage of the opportunity,” said Cruz. “I feel great training with a different trainer in Billy Briscoe and feel great with the adjustments that he has made to my style. I’m sure that this time y’all will see an improved Ronald Cruz. I’m excited and I’m confident that I’ll be coming out win an impressive victory on Nov.8th. I’m sure the viewers will be very entertained with two aggressive fighters going head-to-head. I can’t wait!”
 
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said: “We hate to lose a scheduled opponent, but in this case, I think we’ve been able to upgrade. Cruz brings a big fan base to the Sands and has fought on Fight Night before, so our audience knows him. He’ll have another opportunity to get a statement win and this fight will tell everyone where Mikhaylenko stands as a welterweight prospect.”

Photos: Spence Jr. Dominates Cruz. Wade Decisions Brinson on Shobox.

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LAS VEGAS (June 27, 2014) – Undefeated Errol Spence, Jr. didn’t lose a round and may have made the transition from prospect to contender in a dominating unanimous decision victory (100-90 three times) over the durable Ronald Cruz in the main event of ShoBox: The New Generation on SHOWTIME ® from The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Spence (13-0, 10 KOs) was remarkably efficient with his power punches, landing 282 shots compared to Cruz’s 65 at a rate of 58 percent. Looking like a potential future world champion, the 2012 U.S. Olympian was technically sound and sharp with his punches, picking apart the courageous Cruz (20-4, 15 KOs) as he went past the eighth round for the first time in his career. Conditioning certainly wasn’t an issue for the 24-year-old, who threw more punches in the 10 th and final round (114) than he did in any other round in the fight.

“After this fight, I learned that I can go the full 10 rounds and sustain my energy for all the rounds,” Spence said. “I blocked, banged, threw the punches, stayed composed, and stuck to the game plan. I came into this fight in great condition and I can attribute that to a great training camp.

“I honestly thought I was going to knock him out in the sixth or seventh, but he’s tough and he came to fight. I’ve seen his fights before and he always comes in with a lot of pride.”

Fighting a southpaw for the first time, it was impressive the outmatched Cruz made it to the final bell with the amount of punishment he was taking. He suffered a cut over his left eye due to accidental headbutt in the second round and another cut over the right eye from a punch in the seventh.

“I don’t know what went wrong in there. It was hard to see out of that eye from the cut and he kept landing that straight left. I didn’t want them to stop the fight because I still thought I had a chance.”

ShoBox color commentator Steve Farhood couldn’t think of anything bad to say about Spence following the impressive performance.

“For the entire fight, we had nothing but glowing praise for Spence to the point where I felt compelled to think of a negative and I was stumped,” Farhood said. “He’s good technically, he’s mature, and when you throw 114 punches the first time you’ve ever seen the 10 th round nobody can question his condition either. Spence will be a contender soon and he’s a star in the making.”

In the opening bout of the telecast, undefeated middleweight prospect Dominic Wade kept his perfect record intact with a unanimous decision victory over previously once-beaten Nick Brinson, scored 96-94, 97-93 twice.

Wade (16-0,11 KOs), who went past six rounds for the first time in his career, was relaxed and controlled the pace from the opening bell. His speed and efficiency was the difference, as he kept Brinson (16-2-2, 6 KOs) at a distance and consistently landed power shots and combos with ease. Wade slowed a bit in the later round as he entered previously uncharted waters, but he fought carefully, kept his distance and didn’t allow Brinson to disrupt his game plan.

“I am happy with the way that I fought tonight,” said Wade, who looked tired but unscathed. “I felt good and strong in the ring. I have been training to go the distance and I wasn’t looking for a knockout.

“Brinson has an awkward style but I executed my routine and plan and it worked out in my favor. I kept my left hand low because I was worried about him coming up on top of me. Overall, I am proud of my performance.”

After losing his first 10-round fight and coming back from the second-longest layoff of his career (8 months), Brinson was disappointed by the result.

“I started a little slow tonight,” Brinson said. “He clearly won the first three rounds, but I felt like I came on strong in the middle rounds, especially with the body shots.

“I was the aggressor towards the end of the fight. I felt like maybe it was a draw, but the judges’ didn’t see it that way. I gave it my all and sometimes it just doesn’t fall in your favor.”

While not overly impressed with his performance, Farhood thought it was a valuable learning experience for Wade.

“It was a big step up for Wade and I thought that he responded reasonably well,” Farhood said. “He shined in the first half of the fight, decelerated a bit in the second half, but going the 10-round distance for the first time is a huge step for someone who had fought as few rounds as he had.”

In a non-televised bout, undefeated light heavyweight and 2012 U.S. Olympian Marcus Browne (11-0, 8 KOs) scored a first-round TKO against Donta Woods (8-3, 7 KOs) in a fight that lasted just 91 seconds. Browne was originally scheduled to oppose Yusaf Mack (31-7, 17 KOs) on the ShoBox telecast but the fight had to be canceled after Mack failed a pre-fight blood test.

Highlights of Browne’s fight against Woods were shown between rounds of the co-feature fight as Browne was interviewed by Farhood.

“We worked hard in this camp and it paid dividends,” Browne said. “I’m starting to get comfortable and starting to get in groove. I’m young in the sport of boxing and I’m here to stay for a long time.”

Erislandy Lara, who faces Canelo Alvarez on SHOWTIME PPV ® on Saturday, July 12, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, was interviewed before the main event to talk about the biggest fight of his career and the influence that social media had on making the showdown a reality.

“I’ve never been in a big fight like this, but thank God I’m able to control myself and deal with the cameras and the press and everything that comes with it,” Lara said. “I used social media to challenge him. I knew the fans and the press would respond to that and that’s how I got the fight.

“Supposedly they say he’s the best at 154 pounds, but I think I’m the best. I think it’s a good thing that the best are fighting the best.”

As ShoBox approaches its landmark 200 th telecast next month, former IBF light middleweight champion, Ishe Smith, who appeared on the series five times, was interviewed by Farhood and asked about the impact ShoBox has had on his career.

“This series means everything to my career,” Smith said. “I started in 2002 and it’s just been a blessing to main event ShoBox four times. I went 4-1 on the series and watching Errol Spence take on a tough fighter this early in his career reminds me of when I fought David Estrada when I only had 11 or 12 fights.”

Photos Credit: Esther Lin / SHOWTIME Tom Hogan / Golden Boy Promotions
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