Boxing fans take note: This Friday night on ESPN 2, Friday Night Fights will feature former amateur boxing standouts and rising contenders doing battle in the light heavyweight division.
Hailing from Simi Valley, CA, 26-year-old Ukrainian star Ismayl Sillakh (14-0,12 KO's) will defend his WBC-NABF Light Heavyweight Title against 31-year-old Cuban standout Yordanis Despaigne (8-0, 4 KO's) who resides in Coral Gables, Florida.
Rarely do we see two quality former amateur greats battling each other so early in their professional careers. Sillakh is ranked No. 8 and Despaigne is ranked No. 9 by the WBC.
Sillakh, who is trained by Shadeed Suluki and managed by Ivalyo Gotzev, had an outstanding amateur boxing record of 302 wins with 16 defeats. He was the world amateur 17-and-under champion in 2001 and silver medalist at the World Amateur Boxing Championships in 2005 and 2007.
Sillakh, no stranger to facing Cuban boxers in the amateur ranks, has faced the best in the world at welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight, defeating and losing to several top Cuban amateurs along the way.
In his last amateur tournament in 2008, he won gold at the European Olympic Qualifications in Pescara, Italy.
In the pro ranks Sillakh has stayed very active and since turning pro in 2008. He fought six times in 2008, three times in 2009 and five times in 2010.
The Ukrainian star's biggest victory as a pro was a second round TKO over Daniel Judah (23-4-3) in April 2010, winning the vacant WBC-NABF Light Heavyweight Title. In his last fight in December 2010, he defeated an always-tough Rayco Saunders (20-12-2) by unanimous decision.
Cuban boxing star Despaigne also had an illustrious amateur career representing Cuba as a middleweight in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He defeated current WBC Light Heavyweight Champion, Canadian Jean Pascal 36-24, then lost to American Andre Dirrell 11-12.
In 2003 at the World Amateur Championships, at middleweight, Despaigne defeated current heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek 27-20.
Despaigne defected to the United States along with Cuban boxing standouts Guillermo Rigondeaux and Yudel Jhonson.
Like Silakh, Despaigne has also stayed active as a pro, fighting four times in 2009 and four other times in 2010.
His biggest victory as a pro was against Richard Hall (29-7-0) in May 2010 by unanimous decision.
This outstanding match-up is being promoted by Roy Jones Jr's Square Ring Promotions (Sillakh's promoter) and The BlueWave Group (Despaigne's promoter).
The Wide World of Sports Complex, in Kissimmee, Florida will host the event. Coverage on ESPN 2 will begin at 9:00 PM.
Don't miss this light heavyweight showdown as Sillakh and Despaigne should make for an entertaining battle, as both fighters attempt to remain undefeated and move up in the rankings.