Former North American Boxing Federation (NABF) light middleweight champ Michael "El Magnifico" Medina (26-3-2, 19 KOs) challenges present NABF titleholder Willie "The Great" Nelson (19-1-1, 11 KOs) tomorrow in the 10-round co-feature at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
"I wasn’t active," Medina explained, regarding why he was stripped by the NABF. "Now, I’m getting my belt back. I feel that it’s really still my belt. He’s the NABF champion but he didn’t take my belt from me. I’m looking forward to this fight. He’s a strong, young fighter and it’ll be awesome to add his name to my resume. A win will take me from this level to a higher one with bigger fights. I’m confident that, after this fight, I’ll be getting more fights on television networks."
The 12-round main event on ESPN Friday Night Fights features International Boxing Federation (IBF) Featherweight Champion Billy "The Kid" Dib (35-1-0-1NC, 21 KOs), who is promoted by 50 Cent, defending his title against challenger Evgeny Gradovich (15-0, 8 KOs), who is rated No. 11 by the IBF.
Medina captured the NABF belt on December 22, 2011, winning a 10-round decision over veteran Grady Brewer. However, Medina was later stripped of his belt because he failed to defend his title due to him being unable to land fights, not because he turned down opponents.
"He didn’t have a promoter and Mike just got caught in the middle of things," his manager Steve Feder noted. "I wasn’t with him until his last fight which, ironically, was on the same card (Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. PPV, September 15, 2012, in Las Vegas) that Willie Nelson last fought. So, Mike will be fighting for the same belt that he didn’t lose in the ring. He signed with Lou (DiBella) and now he’s in a fight to get his belt back. He’s always wanted to be in these kinds of fights. This is a good fight for both guys.
"Mike’s a good boxer who adapts well depending on who he’s fighting. He gets a lot of different looks sparring at Wild Card Gym. Eric Brown (Medina’s trainer) has done a good job with him. Mike likes to mix it up. He’s hoping that the two of them stand there and go at it. He’s not looking to box and move, which should make for a lot of action."
Nelson won the vacant 154-pound title stripped from Medina by way of a 10-round decision in his aforementioned title fight against John "Dah Rock" Jackson (13-1, 12 KOs).
Standing 6’4" with an imposing 84-inch reach, WBC No. 5-rated Nelson (19-1-1, 11 KOs) is a freakishly built light middleweight, against whom Medina will be giving away three-and-a-half inches in height, as well as a nine-inch reach advantage.
"It’s unusual," Medina spoke about fighting such a tall opponent. "I haven’t fought guys that tall but I have been sparring with taller guys, middleweights and super middleweights, and I’ve also been working with good technical boxers like (Nobuhiro) Ishida. He’s a good teacher and I’m comfortable that I’ll benefit from that.
"He’s (Nelson) tall but I’ve watched some tapes of his fights and he likes to fight on the inside. If he does, that will help me because I’m aggressive. His height and reach can only be a factor if he jabs and moves, but we’ve been working on different strategies for whatever way he fights."
February 28, 2013