Sillakh v Grachev, Evans v Fortuna on FNF; Jhonson v Hernandez, Jack v Brand on ShoBox

25 Apr

On The Beak – Admin

On April 27, undefeated light heavyweight contenders Ismayl Sillakh (17-0-0, 14ko) and Denis ‘The Pirate’ Grachev (11-0-1, 7ko) will meet in the ten round main event on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights (FNF) at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Sillakh of California has won his last two fights by knockout. A victory Friday, will position him to fight the winner of Bernard Hopkins v Chad Dawson II.

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In March 2011, Sillakh won a ten round decision against previously undefeated 2004 Cuban Olympian Yordanis Despaigne on FNF. His manager Ivaylo Gotsev said: “When you watch Ismayl float through the ring, you just can’t help but be reminded of Muhammad Ali… he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.

“He’s like this reincarnation of these old fighters that were so pretty to watch and had the passion for it. He loves what he’s doing and has an incredible passion for this sport.”

California’s Grachev, a former professional kick boxer, has won his last three fights, two against previously undefeated fighters. Grachev said of Friday’s fight: “I know a lot about Sillakh. He’s a good, good fighter – strong, big amateur background. He’s very good in his pro career, but I’m going to break him.”

In the co-feature, undefeated junior lightweights Yaundale ‘Money Shot’ Evans (16-0-0, 12ko) and Javier ‘El Abejon’ Fortuna (18-0-0, 13ko) will meet in the ten rounder. Evans, of Cleveland, is coming off a third-round TKO win over Andres Ledesma, while Fortuna of California won a 10-round unanimous decision over Miguel Roman in his last fight.


The following week, five promising boxers – four of whom are unbeaten – make their debuts on ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday, May 11 at Texas Station Gambling Hall and Hotel in Las Vegas. Former Cuban amateur standout and 2004 Olympian, junior middleweight Yudel Jhonson (12-0-0, 8ko), and six-time Swedish national champion and 2008 Olympian, super middleweight Badou Jack (10-0-0, 8ko), head up a strong contingent of talented, undefeated newcomers on a telecast that also includes power-punching super middleweight Alexander Brand (17-0-0, 15ko) and skilled lightweight Rances Barthelemy (15-0-0, 11ko).

The southpaw Jhonson, of Miami, Florida, faces former world title challenger Freddy ‘El Riel’ Hernandez (30-2-0, 20ko), of Mexico City, in the ten round junior middleweight main event. Hernandez, who is coming off a unanimous ten round decision over ex-world champion Luis Collazo, will be making his fourth start on ShoBox.

Unbeaten super middleweights Jack and Brand clash in the eight-round co-feature. Jack, of Las Vegas, by way of Stockholm, Sweden, is a former sparring partner of Floyd Mayweather and Andre Dirrell. Brand, of Bogota, Colombia, is the longest tenured boxer in the history of the Colombian Olympic team with 437 fights as an amateur.

In the opener of a televised tripleheader, Barthelemy, of Havana, Cuba, meets southpaw Aalan Martinez (10-1-1, 6ko), of East Los Angeles, via Michoacan, Mexico, in an eight round lightweight bout.

Jhonson was the Pan American Junior Champion at light fly in 1998 and the Cuban National Champion at welterweight in 2002 before capturing a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. Overall, he went 379-16 in the amateurs while winning numerous titles. He turned pro on May 22, 2009, shortly after he’d defected to the United States with fellow Cubans Yordanis Despaigne and Guillermo Rigondeaux.

The 5-foot-10, 30-year-old Jhonson fought four times in 2009, five times in 2010, and three times in 2011. He is coming off a third-round TKO over Eduardo Mercedes last Oct. 15 in the Dominican Republic. Jhonson registered a career-best seventh-round TKO over Richard Gutierrez on March 25, 2011. The following June 3, Jhonson won a 10-round decision over Jose Torres.

The vastly more experienced Hernandez is 3-0 on ShoBox. Two of the victories came against former world champions in back-to-back fights in 2010 – a fourth-round TKO over Mike Anchondo on September 17 and a fifth-round knockout over DeMarcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley on February 5. In his ShoBox debut on October 23, 2009, Hernandez registered a unanimous ten round decision over southpaw Damian Frias.

The 5-foot-10, 33-year-old Hernandez, a pro since February 2001, has performed well in three of his last four outings. On October 15, he dropped Collazo in the eighth to win by the score of 96-93 on the three judges’ cards. Hernandez’ only defeat since losing a split 12 round decision to Golden Johnson on Feb. 25, 2005, came when he stepped way up in class and lost to then-world champion Andre Berto in November, 2010.

Jack has thus far been consistently impressive whilst campaigning on American canvas

In the co-feature, Jack, who trains at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas, will be making his sixth consecutive start in the US. His initial five fights after turning pro on June 6, 2009, took place in Sweden or Finland. The 6-foot-1, 28-year-old Jack started boxing at age 18. He went 122-28 as an amateur and represented his father’s country, Gambia, in the Olympics. He is the only boxer to represent Gambia in any Olympic Games.

Regarding his upcoming scrap, Jack said: “Both of us are big punchers. It’s going to be an exciting fight for the crowd. I like to go to the body a lot, that’s one of my biggest weapons. I’ll be ready for him.”

In Brand’s amateur career, he went 417-20. Brand, 35, turned pro at the age of 32 on August 9, 2009. Campaigning exclusively in Colombia, he won his first 12 professional fights by (T)KO. This will be his second outing in the US. In his stateside debut, Brand won a unanimous six-round decision over Terrance Woods last November, in Las Vegas.

Brand, who’s fought twice in 2012, is coming off a fifth-round knockout over Luzimar Gonzaga last March 30, in Cartagena, Colombia. Meanwhile, Barthelemy, 25, is a 5-foot-11 crowd-pleasing puncher-boxer who won his last start with an impressive eight-round unanimous decision over former top amateur star and then-unbeaten pro, Hylon Williams, on February 3, in Las Vegas.

Boxing’s in Barthelemy’s blood. Two of his siblings are also prizefighters — older brother Yan, the 2004 Olympic Gold medalist at light flyweight, and younger brother, Leduan. Their cousin is longtime pro, Giorbis Barthelemy.

Rances started to box at an early age: “As a child in Cuba, I had a lot of discipline problems in school and I was always getting into fights,” he said. “I was diagnosed as being hyperactive. So the school’s personnel took it upon themselves to place me in their sports curriculum and I was selected for the boxing program. I’ve been fighting since.”

Nicknamed ‘Kid Blast,’ the fast-rising Barthelemy had an impressive amateur career, winning the majority of his 200 fights and earning the Cuban junior national championship before defecting to the US. He turned pro on August 8, 2009, in Columbia, SC. The confident Cuban scored knockouts in his first 12 fights, but has gone the distance in two of the last three.

Martinez rebounded from the lone defeat of his career to knock out Ronald Rodriguez in the third round last December 16, in Vernon, California. After the 5-foot-9, 28-year-old Martinez won his pro debut in October 2004, he fought just one time in both 2005 and 2006. After three fights in two and a half years, he didn’t fight again for four and a half years. But the southpaw slugger has been much more active since, fighting three times in ’09, four times in 2010, and twice in 2011.

Martinez’ only loss came when he came up short in a competitive matchup against Evgeny Gradovich on April 29, 2011, in Las Vegas. Martinez lost a six-rounder by the scores of 58-56 and 59-55 twice.

The event is promoted by Warriors Boxing.

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