In his third fight on the NBC Sports Network, Philadelphia’s “King” Gabriel Rosado will face Charles “Killa” Whittaker out of the Cayman Islands in the Fight Night main event. In a division full of stars – Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez, Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara and more – Rosado’s recent performances on Fight Night have earned him a name among stiff competition and a No. 3 ranking in the IBF.
The bout is an elimination fight to determine the mandatory challenger to face IBF junior middleweight champion Cornelius “K9” Bundrage, and standing in Rosado’s way is Whittaker, who comes into the fight winning 14 straight decisions, including an upset victory over Giorbis Barthelemy in an elimination match to determine his No. 2 position in the IBF.
Coming off a recent string of success, knockout artist Sergey Kovalev headlines the interim bout after making his Fight Night debut on the undercard of Rosado vs. Powell in Bethlehem, Pa. on June 1. Kovalev stopped his foe, Darnell Boone, by TKO in the second round of that fight, and to put that knockout in perspective, Boone handed Adonis Stevenson his lone professional loss and went the distance with Andre Ward, Jean Pascal and Erislandy Lara.
Facing Kovalev on Friday is light heavyweight Lionell Thompson, who steps into this bout with only two weeks notice after the originally scheduled and former world champion, Gabriel Campillo, was forced to withdraw after suffering an injury to his back in training. Thompson is a highly-decorated amateur who counts five New York Golden Gloves titles among his many championships and has spent the last two months in Las Vegas sparring with Chad Dawson in preparation.
Welterweight prospect and hometown favorite Ronald Cruz takes on Antwone Smith in Fight Night’s co-feature bout for Cruz’s WBC Continental Americas welterweight title. Cruz maintained his perfect record and impressed against Prenice Brewer in the Fight Night co-feature bout in Bethlehem on June 1, and is now ranked No. 12 in the world by the IBF and No. 15 by the WBC.
Smith is an experienced veteran who is generally considered a gatekeeper for welterweight prospects, having gone the distance with former welterweight champion Kermit Cintron and Roberto Garcia. This match represents a big step up for Cruz and is a classic crossroads fight.
Other matches from Fight Night in Bethlehem fans should keep an eye on are Jason Sosa taking on Esteban Rodriguez in the junior lightweight bout, Pedro Martinez and Willaim Miranda facing off for the heavyweights, junior welterweights Jerome Rodriguez and Kywayne Hill doing battle and Alex Sanchez taking on Dominique Foster in the junior middleweight bout.
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