Treasure hunt reveals boxing gems this weekend: Braekhus, Diaz, Franco, Rios in action

Fans might not see the ‘big names’ on this weekend’s fight schedule, but there are several bouts from around the world worth seeking out and watching.

Cecelia Braekhus (right) with trainer Johnathan Banks of the U.S. prepares for his title defense Friday night in Norway. Photo: Jarle H. Moe, First Lady Boxing

SAN DIEGO, June 8, 2017 – Fight fans might be under the impression “nothing” is happening in boxing this weekend. It’s true the American premium networks don’t have a major event Saturday night. This is hardly where boxing begins and ends. While you might have to work a little bit to find the bouts worth your time, the treasure hunt will be worth it.

Friday: Cecilia Braelhus defends title, ShoBox returns on Hall of Fame Weekend

Friday night, the “First Lady of Boxing,” Cecilia Braekhus (30-0, 8 KOs), the number one pound-for-pound women’s professional boxer in the world and the single undisputed division champion of boxing holding all five major titles in the women’s welterweight division (WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO), will face the current junior welterweight world champion Erica “La Pantera” Farias of Argentina (24-1, 10 KOs) who will step up to welterweight for this significant women’s championship fight. You’ll need to watch for this one to pop up on YouTube, but it will be worth seeking out. You can also follow on social media via #BattleofBergen

Cecelia Braekhus is the most decorated women’s professional boxer currently active. She puts her five titles on the line Friday in Norway. Photo: Courtesy Team Braekhus

It is the first fight ever for Braekhus in her hometown of Bergen, Norway. It is just the third professional fight of any kind in Norway after a decades-long ban on boxing. A crowd of 15,000 is expected at the Bergenhus Fortress-Koengen, normally a concert venue.  “I’m so excited to be fighting in Bergen, my home since I was a very small child, it means a great deal to me to fight here on Friday night,” said Braekhus.

This is a significant challenge to Braekhus, considered the finest women’s boxer in a generation. She trained in Spain with Johnathan Banks, trainer of former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. “This the only fight this event deserves. Erica is the toughest opponent of my career, but I’m ready for Friday night to defend my titles.”

“This is the biggest fight of my career, I have so much respect for Cecilia and all that she has accomplished in women’s boxing. She has truly been an inspiration to me,” said Farias. “I’ve trained very hard in Argentina for this fight and plan on being victorious on Friday night.”

Regis Prograis and Joel Diaz Jr. both make weight for Friday’s main event at the Turning Stone Resort as “ShoBox” returns to Showtime. Photo: Courtesy Showtime Boxing

Showtime Sports hosts its “ShoBox: The New Generation” series from the Turning Stone resort in Verona, New York on Friday. It is Showtime’s International Boxing Hall of Fame celebration, with the Class of 2017 being inducted in Canastota just down the road this weekend including longtime Showtime broadcasters Steve Farhood and Barry Tompkins. The main event features a battle of unbeaten junior welterweights both looking to making a significant move forward in their careers. Joel Diaz Jr. (23-0, 19 KOs) of Palmdale, California fights Regis Prograis (19-0, 16 KOs) of Houston. Whoever wins can leave prospect status behind and start calling himself a real division contender. Between Diaz, age 25, and Prograis, age 28, they have 19 knockouts in their last 20 fights combined. Expect plenty of fireworks in this fight.

Saturday: Featherweight Daniel Franco steps up to main event

Featherweight Daniel “Twitch” Franco, with trainer and father Al Franco, would like a piece of the competitive featherweight division action. Photo: Roc Nation Sports

With an injury forcing junior welterweight Maurice Hooker to bow out of Saturday’s main event on the CBS Sports Network card from Sloan, Iowa, the original 10-round co-feature is now the main event. Former USBA champion Daniel “Twitch” Franco of Rancho Cucamonga, California (15-1-3, 10 KOs) faces southpaw Jose Haro of Utah (13-1-1, 7 KOs). The telecast starts at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Franco, 25, is looking to bounce back after his first loss in March to veteran Christopher Martin, and he’s hungry to prove himself. In a conversation with Ringside Seat, Franco said he’s unafraid to get right back on the horse and avenge his loss, saying he had the same attitude during his successful amateur career. “I learned about myself. About the will that I have, that I’m able to keep on pushing, and push beyond that. I won’t let this slow me down, it’s only going to make me push harder,” said Franco.

Franco fights in a featherweight division loaded with talent. “Featherweight is completely stacked, a lot of great fighters that have a lot of speed, power, boxing ability. What sets me apart the most in the division is my size. I’m 5-9, my reach is very long. I’m able to move around well, ex jab, ex footwork that will play a role with this fight, and will play a role further down the line in this division.”

While Franco hasn’t fought before in the main event, he’s fought on the undercard of several cards featuring light heavyweight champion Andre Ward at Oracle Arena in Oakland and feels no intimidation. “I’m going to be smart, very ferocious, I’m going to come out victorious. It comes from the training I put in, if I’m willing to make the sacrifice for the fight, willing to put in the hard work, that’s all the confidence I need,” said Franco, who is trained by his father, Al.

Sunday: Veteran brawler Brandon Rios ends his two-year retirement

Veteran Brandon Rios finds out what he’s got to offer after two years in retirement Sunday. Photo: Sean Michael Ham, Premier Boxing Champions

A familiar name returns to the ring Sunday in a Premier Boxing card on Fox Sports 1 after two years in retirement. Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios made a name among fight fans for his trilogy of slugfests with Mike Alvarado, but he stepped away from the sport after a difficult loss to Timothy Bradley in November 2015. But with all the activity in the welterweight division, the 31-year-old Rios is back with new trainer Ricky Funez of Ten Goose Boxing of Southern California to take a crack at things. He is also working with a nutritionist for the first time. Televised coverage begins at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT after the Mexico vs. USA World Cup qualifier on FS1.

“I know that I have to climb the ladder and that’s what I’m here for,” said Rios. “When I said that I was done, I was done. Eventually though I started getting that urge again, to get on that stage and perform on TV. My wife told me that if I wanted to fight again, I had to come back dedicated. I feel like I’m in really good shape after working with a nutritionist for the first time. My nutritionist is with me 12 hours a day and it’s had me feeling great heading into this fight. I’ve always been a brawler, but I’m capable of boxing, especially with my inside game. The way I can deflect punches is a strength,” said Rios.

Rios faces Aaron Herrera of Mexico, a veteran fighter who should be willing to go toe to toe with Rios. Herrera has been working with Mexican champion Juan Manuel Marquez. With a win, Rios might interest a promoter willing to shop him around as an opponent for the likes of Lamont Peterson or Victor Ortiz.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.

Copyright © 2017 by Falcon Valley Group


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