ESPN ANNOUNCES FIRST SHOW OF 2013
Press Release: On Friday, January 4, 2013, ESPN's Friday Night Fights begins it 2013 run with a show at the Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida. The twelve-round super featherweight main event will feature Cuba's Rances "Kid Blast" Barthelemy (17-0, 11 KOs), against Afghani-Canadian Arash Usmanee (20-0, 10 KOs). In the co-feature, junior middleweights Jonathan "Mantequilla" Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KOs) of Puerto Rico and Derek "Pooh" Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs) tangle.
Warriors Boxing and Bad Dog Productions will promote the show.
Cuban-born 26-year-old hometown favorite Barthelemy is one of three Barthelemy brothers who are now professional fighters. His younger brother Leduan (2-0, 2 KOs) and his older brother, 2004 Olympic Gold medalist Yan (12-3, 4 KOs), are both fighting in the 122-pound division. Standing an imposing 5' 11" for a 130-lb fighter, Barthelemy's size is a huge obstacle for opponents to overcome. In the biggest fight of his career last March in Las Vegas, Barthelemy took a unanimous decision over formerly undefeated fellow prospect Hylon Williams, prevailing by scores of 80-72 and 79-73 (twice).
The 30-year-old Arash Usmanee is a five-time national amateur champion in his adopted home of Canada. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the Canadian Province of Alberta when he was only three years old, after his father was killed in a bombing.
The 23-year-old Gonzalez is a former amateur standout and a 2008 Olympic representative for Puerto Rico. In his last fight, the San Juan native fought to a draw with recent WBO light middleweight titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk (37-1-1). The fight was broadcast nationally on HBO and established Gonzalez as a top 154-lb contender.
The 32-year-old Ennis won twelve-round decision over Nigerian Olympian Eromosele Albert in 2009. Ennis has collected three local "Fight of the Year" mentions on the Philadelphia boxing scene, most notably his win over Gabe Rosado in a twelve-round instant classic. With quick hands that crack like thunder, Ennis can be elusive, but has been known to win grueling brawls.
"We are really excited to start off our 16th season of Friday Night Fights on January 4 with a solid main event down in Miami, which will be a hub of excitement leading up to the BCS a few days later," said Doug Loughrey, director of programming and acquisitions at ESPN.
"It is an honor to be putting on this year's premier broadcast and, clearly, it's a solid night of action-packed boxing between four world-class fighters hungry to step up to the next level. The Magic City Casino is a beautiful destination in Miami and we're looking forward to putting on an unforgettable night of boxing," said Leon Margules, President of Warriors Boxing.
"Magic City Casino is thrilled to be the host site for the season opening event of ESPN's Friday Night Fights. The new venue will be packed and the main event featuring two world ranked undefeated fighters is sure to be a battle to remember," said Scott Savin, Chief Operating Officer of Magic City Casino.
"We are delighted to showcase "Kid Blast" in Miami once again and to inaugurate the first sporting event at the spectacular new venue at the Magic City Casino" said Richard Dobal, managing member of Bad Dog Productions." Barthelemy has had success at their outdoor facility, but the new indoor arena is a sight to behold. Bad Dog and Warriors Boxing expect 'Stage 305' at the Magic City Casino to become the 'Mecca for boxing' in Miami."
Tickets go on sale today and can be bought on the Magic City Casino website www.magiccitycasino.com.