To round out the SHOWTIME Championship Boxing tripleheader headlined by the highly-anticipated rematch between Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto, Golden Boy Promotions and DiBella Entertainment have announced two more high-impact fights from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on Saturday, Feb. 11.
In a 10-round junior middleweight showdown before the main event, Cuban star Erislandy Lara returns for the first time since his controversial fight against Paul Williams to battle fellow contender Ronald Hearns. Opening the SHOWTIME Championship Boxing broadcast will be a 10-round featherweight matchup which will see unbeaten Gary Russell Jr., the consensus 2011 “Prospect of the Year” award winner, look to continue his meteoric rise against Dat Nguyen.
One of Cuba’s greatest amateur boxers and the owner of three consecutive national championships and one world championship, Erislandy Lara (15-1-1, 10 KO’s) defected from his homeland in order to chase glory as a professional and he is well on the way to achieving that goal. Unbeaten in his first 16 professional fights, Lara was the victim of one of the most controversial decisions in recent history last July when judges awarded former World Champion Paul “The Punisher” Williams a 12 round decision win in a fight most observers believed the Guantanamo native won. Undeterred, the 28-year-old will be back in the ring on Feb. 11 and is determined to be the lone judge on fight night.
The name “Hearns” is royalty in boxing circles thanks to the exploits of soon-to-be inducted Hall of Famer Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns. The Hitman’s son, 33-year-old Ronald “The Chosen One” Hearns (26-2, 20 KO’s), is doing his best to continue the family business into the next generation. A professional since 2004, the lanky boxer-puncher has won five of his last six fights, with the only loss coming in a middleweight title bout against Felix Sturm in 2011. Now back at 154 pounds, Hearns feels stronger, faster and ready to issue Lara his second straight defeat.
Named the 2011 “Prospect of the Year” by ESPN, Sports Illustrated and The Ring Magazine, 23-year-old Gary Russell Jr. (19-0, 11 KO’s) earned those accolades the old fashioned way – by fighting. The Maryland southpaw was 6-0 last year, fighting as often as possible, dazzling fans and opponents alike along the way. Now ready to make his move on the featherweight elite, Russell can’t wait to surpass his 2012 campaign with even more big wins.
Vietnam native Dat Nguyen (17-2, 6 KO’s) is an ultra-tough competitor known for his straight-ahead style and willingness to go toe-to-toe with anyone who dares step into the ring with him. Winner of six of his last seven bouts, the 29-year-old, who now makes his home in Vero Beach, Florida, is hoping that a win over the unbeaten Russell will be the catalyst for a 2012 to remember for him.
Tickets, priced at $300, $150, $100 and $50, are on sale and are available at all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations (select Smith’s Food and Drug Centers and Ritmo Latino). Ticket sales are limited to eight per person. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets also are available for purchase atwww.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.