Undefeated lightweight Angelo “La Cobra” Santana (14-0, 11 KOs), from Miami, Fla., will face Carlos Cardenas (20-6-1, 13 KOs), from Barinas, Venezuela, for the World Boxing Association interim lightweight championship, and undefeated super lightweight prospect Amir “Young Master” Imam (8-0, 7 KOs), from Albany, N.Y., meets Jeremy “Hollywood” Bryan (16-2, 7 KOs), from Paterson, N.J., in the co-feature on Friday, April 12 at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
The 12-round world championship fight will be the first for both Santana and Cardenas, The WBA’s No. 3- and No. 4-ranked contenders, respectively. Santana, a 24-year-old southpaw, was a two-time national champion in Cuba before defecting to Miami to follow his dreams of winning a boxing title. Blessed with heavy hands, he has stopped his last seven opponents in five rounds or less.
In a sensational performance, Santana served notice that he was a force to be reckoned with by registering a third-round technical knockout out over world-class contender Justin Savi on June 23, 2012, at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla.
Santana won his last fight on ShoBox with a scintillating fifth-round knockout on Nov. 16 over previously undefeated Johnny Garcia—who gained attention in early 2012 by out-pointing Cuban prospect Yordenis Ugas. Santana scored three knockdowns, one in the first and two in the fifth. He finished Garcia in an ESPN.com Knockout of the Year candidate with a picturesque right-left combination.
Cardenas is a tough Venezuelan who campaigned at super featherweight until last year. He was a two-time WBC Continental Americas champion as well as a WBC FECARBOX regional champion.
At 28, he possesses an age and experience edge over Santana. While this will be the first 12-round match for Santana, Cardenas will be making his seventh appearance in a 12-round fight.
Promoter Don King sees similarities between boxers, civil rights pioneers and the American dream.
“I have named the event Fight For Freedom …The Dream Lives On in dedication to all the Freedom Fighters and trail blazers who fought for a better America,” King said. “My boxer Angelo Santana risked his life on a raft from Cuba with 27 others, braving the hazards of the ocean and inclement weather to arrive in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. The Dream lives on.”
“On the night of this fight, it will be exactly 31 years since we lost the inimitable and incomparable ‘Brown Bomber’ Joe Louis. I remember a memorial we had at Caesars Palace with me and Frank Sinatra on behalf of the great champion of freedom and the boxing world. Remember what Joe said during World War II: ‘We can’t lose because God is on our side.’ The Dream lives on.
“I recently saw that Warner Bros. will launch their new movie “42” on the night of our fight. Branch Rickey broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947, and now Jackie Robinson is an American hero. The Dream lives on.
“Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. An assassin took him from us on April 4, 1968. They killed the body, but his Dream lives on as evidenced by the fact that 45 years later we have an African American President in the White House. I must add to that a quote from Frederic Douglass: ‘Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening.’”
King also wanted to thank Treasure Island Resort & Casino owner Phil Ruffin for hosting the event.
“Phil Ruffin is another great American and businessman personified. I love Phil and I believe he and Angelo Santana will make history in a night remembered for Angelo’s great performance.”
The eight-round ShoBox co-feature showcases two very accomplished amateurs that are gaining notice as professionals. Imam, 22, will be facing his toughest opponent to date in the more experienced Bryan, 27.
The fast-handed power-punching Imam, a 2011 U.S. Olympic alternate, has won all but one of his fights by knockout. Since winning a four-round decision in his pro debut on Nov. 5, 2011, Imam has won seven fights in a row by knockout, all inside four rounds.
Bryan was a National Golden Gloves Champion and national under-19 champion who notched wins over current WBA/WBC 140-pound world champion Danny Garcia and former world-title challenger John Molina in the amateurs. Bryan, a pro since November 2007, is coming off the biggest win of his career, an eight-round unanimous decision over former European champion Yuri Romanov on Jan. 4 in Miami.
In the top non-televised undercard bout, Ryan “The Irish Outlaw” Coyne (21-0, 9 KOs), from St. Louis, and Marcus Oliveira (24-0-1, 19 KOs), from Lawrence, Kan., will collide in a battle of unbeatens in a WBA light heavyweight elimination bout. The two were to have met on the undercard of Bernard Hopkins vs. Tavoris Cloud on March 9 before Coyne suffered a cut during training that resulted in a postponement.
The winner of Coyne vs. Oliveira, scheduled for 12 rounds, will become the No. 1-ranked light heavyweight by the WBA and the mandatory challenger to its champion, Beibut Shumenov.
Coyne gained attention while campaigning as a cruiserweight when he was chosen to participate in the fourth season of The Contender. He made it to the semi-finals before suffering an accidental headbutt that forced him to leave the competition. In his final fight at cruiserweight, Coyne captured the World Boxing Council United States Championship with a unanimous decision over the previously undefeated David McNemar on June 25, 2011.
Coyne is 3-0 since moving down to the 175-pound limit in October 2011.
Oliveira has shown considerable power by winning 19 of his 25 matches by knockout, a 76% knockout ratio. He scored a pair of third-round knockouts in fights against his most notable opponents: former cruiserweight world champion Kelvin “Concrete” Davis in 2008 and Antwun Echols on Jan. 28, 2012.
The ShoBox: The New Generation doubleheader will be televised live on SHOWTIME beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). It will take place in the Treasure Island Ballroom and is promoted by Don King Productions in association with Treasure Island.
Tickets to the event—all priced at $100 each, plus tax and fees—are on sale now and can be purchased through the Treasure Island box office or by calling (866) 712-9308 or (702) 894-7723. Doors open at 3 p.m. PT, and a full undercard will be presented prior to the televised matches.