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"Firepower!" undercard has thunder-stealing potential

Report by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone

Saturday night’s symphony of violence between Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao has had a stranglehold on the world of boxing since the megafight was announced months ago. It’s a sure bet that many fans of the sport will be willing to dump their hard-earned cash to watch what takes place when the two fighters clash at the MGM Grand Garden arena in Las Vegas, NV.

However, Bob Arum isn’t satisfied with just delivering a quality main event.

At Thursday’s press conference dedicated to the undercard bouts, Arum made it clear that the fights before the main event aren’t going to be elevator music playing in the background as those at home make last-minute beer runs. Top Rank has assembled an undercard that features the son of a legend, several young stars in the making and a fight between two Mexican fighters that should guarantee its fair share of action.

When the pay-per-view begins, Alfonso Gomez will face Jesus Soto-Karass in a 10 round welterweight title fight that Arum says “may steal a lot of the thunder from the main event.”

“Anybody who has watched boxing for the last two or three years knows that these two boxers come to fight,” Arum explained. “You’re going to see a very entertaining fight for the WBC Continental Americas welterweight title.”

Gomez is no stranger to having his share of the spotlight. The Contender Season One competitor has won over fans with his never say die attitude and has victories against the late Arturo Gatti and Ben Tackie. He also had the opportunity to face Miguel Cotto for the WBA championship but came up short.

“I just want to say that I prepared very hard for this fight. I know that I have Soto-Karass in front of me and he’s a fighter who keeps coming and coming,” Gomez said. “Whoever wins this fight gets closer to a world title fight. I promise to give you a great fight.”

Jesus Soto-Karass has refocused himself after losing three fights in a row back in 2004-2005. Since then, Soto-Karass has gone 13-0-2 with victories over Vince Phillips and a stirring TKO win over Daniel Estrada. An all action fighter, Arum grins from ear to ear when mentioning that Soto-Karass “has never been in a boring fight in his life.”

“I’m very motivated and very prepared for this fight because I’m hoping that after this fight it leads me to a world title fight,” Soto-Karass said through an interpreter. “A lot of people are saying that this fight might steal (the show) from the main event. I want to let everyone know that this will be a big battle and will steal the show.”

Also on the card, boxing technician Yuri Foreman will put his undefeated streak on the line as he faces Daniel Santos for the WBA super welterweight title.

“It’s my childhood dream to win a world title,” the Brooklynite said. He’s amassed a 27-0 record (8 KOs) and has been enhancing his resume with each victory. Foreman looks to make a splash when he steps into the ring with Santos and become the first Israeli world champion. “I’ve been ready for this and I’ve been getting ready for this all my life. It’s a great honor to fight a world champion like Santos - who is a great champion. I’m going to do my best to win.”

WBA Super Welterweight Champion Daniel Santos owns a victory over Antonio Margarito and looks to put a halt to Foreman’s undefeated streak. Understanding that he is a relative unknown to the casual boxing fan, Santos says he is taking Saturday night’s opportunity to make an impact and become a big name in the world of boxing.

“To be part of this card is something big for me,” the Puerto Rican said. “I’m going to fight a guy who is a good opponent and will do everything to try and win the fight. Those who don’t know anything about me yet will start believing in the new Daniel Santos. You will like what you see.”

Many eyes will be the growing legend of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. as he takes on Troy Rowland in a ten round middleweight bout that will take place right before the main event. The son of the legendary Mexican fighter Julio Cesar Chavez has been making a name for himself in Mexico with a 40-0-1 record and an impressive 30 knockouts. Since making his debut back in 2003, Chavez Jr. has been brought along carefully but will look to be impressive against Rowland.

“I’m really happy to have this great opportunity. All of the other fighters have extra pressure because we have never been on a card like this and I hope to shine on Saturday,” Chavez said. “I respect Rowland and I think he’s a really good fighter. I’m looking for bigger fights and I’m not looking past him. I have a lot of pressure because of my name. I’ve been training since a little kid to be the best and I will not let you guys down.”

When Troy Rowland’s name was announced as Chavez’ next opponent, a collective “Who?” echoed throughout the boxing world. Rowland owns a 25-2 record but has fought exclusively in his hometown of Grand Rapids, MI. Rowland will be making his first trip to Las Vegas and is looking to make the most of his opportunity and hopefully shock the world while he is at it.

“This is the opportunity of my life to fight a guy who’s 40-0-1. We’ve got the opportunity to take away this guy’s ‘0’ and we’re going to try and do that,” an excited Rowland said. “We’re not taking him lightly. I’ve read on the internet that he’s fighting a nobody because nobody knows my name. But I’ve been around and had some good fights. We’re going to go at it for ten rounds. We’re going to tear it up right before Cotto and Pacquiao and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

With all that being said, fight fans should be in for a pleasant surprise with the bouts leading up to the main event. Make your last minute beer runs before the card airs because you may miss something special.


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