When NBC Sports Network Fight Night returns to the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, PA, Friday, June 14, it will feature a competitive triple header that promises more of the great action the series has become known for. The three hour telecast will begin at 8 PM ET. In addition, all three headliners will find themselves in “must win” fights, critical for their career advancement. The pressure will be great for them to collect a win and remain on track for the big fights that lie ahead for each of them.
Russian knockout artist Sergey Kovalev, 20-0-1, 18 KOs, has built tremendous momentum in the last year. His showy and brutal knockouts over Gabriel Campillo, Lionell Thompson and Darnell Boone, all in the past 12 months, have made him a feared man in the light heavyweight division. He’s won fans, polished his record, and climbed the ratings. A slip up now, would derail his momentum and force him backward.
Further, the fight on June 14, is a 12-round IBF Elimination Bout that could vault the winner into a title shot. Talk about “must win”. Kovalev must defeat Cornelius “Da Beast” White, 21-1, 16 KOs, of Houston, TX, on June 14th to keep moving forward. Another big KO would certainly help his cause, but White will be looking to play the spoiler and leapfrog over the better known light heavyweight.
Like Kovalev, Philadelphian Bryant Jennings, 16-0, 8 KOs, needs to win in Bethlehem. “By By” is coming off his breakthrough year when he went from unknown heavyweight prospect to bona fide contender. Jennings fought and won five times in 2012, but June 14th will be his first start of this year.
Currently Jennings is ranked #3 in the IBF, which means he is on the brink of a world championship opportunity. To stay on track for that, he cannot afford a loss. Jennings will face Andrey Fedosov, 24-2, 19 KOs, a Russian heavyweight now living and fighting out of Hollywood, CA, in a 10-round co-feature bout. He’s won three in a row and is aching to breakthrough, much like Jennings did last year. If he can topple the Philadelphian next month, he certainly will get the attention he desires.
Welterweight Ronald Cruz, 17-1, 12 KOs, will also have his back against the wall on June 14. However, Cruz must win for a very different reason than Kovalev and Jennings. Cruz, of Bethlehem, PA, returns to the ring for the first time since suffering his first professional loss. Last September, Cruz dropped a close split decision to Antwone Smith in the same Bethlehem ring.
To complicate things, Cruz’ return was delayed due to surgery to repair a hernia last winter. Now 100% healthy, Ronald will be raring to go on fight night. However, he may have his hands full on June 14th.
Facing Cruz will be the hard-hitting, Bronx-based Ray Narh, 25-2, 21 KOs, of Ghana. Narh is a battle-tested pro who brings more experience, a higher knockout percentage, and a height advantage into the bout. However as usual, hometown hero Cruz is expected to bring out his loyal Bethlehem fan base, who will support their man 100% and help to level the playing field in this pick ’em fight.
This jam-packed triple header will be the 4th edition of NBC Sports Network Fight Night in 2013 and will begin at 8PM ET. By the looks of the stakes in each bout, it might be the best so far.