Barboza part of Navarrete-De Vaca undercard


Top Rank on Wednesday finalized the undercard for the fight between junior featherweight world titlist Emanuel Navarrete and Francisco “Panchito” De Vaca.

The world title bout will headline the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card on Aug. 17 at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, the undercard bouts that will stream on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. were unveiled.

Junior welterweight hopeful Arnold Barboza Jr., welterweight Chris van Heerden and middleweight prospect Janibek Alimkhanuly each will appear in scheduled 10-round fights.

Barboza (21-0, 8 KOs), 27, of Los Angeles, who is coming off a third-round knockout of faded former junior welterweight world titlist Mike Alvarado on April 12, will face Jose Luis Rodriguez (25-13-1, 13 KOs), 32, of Mexico.

“That Alvarado fight boosted my confidence to a whole new level,” Barboza said. “I’ve always been confident, but I needed to know I could do it at that level. The hard work paid off. We’ve trained hard for this fight. I’m at another level now, and we’re ready to showcase that on the 17th.

“Everyone looks at the rankings, but it’s the next man up on the contract for me. Of course, I want a title shot, but the longer these champions wait, the harder it will be for them because I am building my confidence in the ring.”

South Africa’s van Heerden (27-2-1, 12 KOs), 32, who fights out of Los Angeles, will meet Aslanbek Kozaev (33-2-1, 8 KOs), 31, of Russia, who has won seven fights in a row. The fight will be van Heerden’s second since he signed with Top Rank earlier this year.

“It’s a homecoming for me on Aug. 17,” van Heerden said. “The L.A. fans will adopt this South African boy. I am grateful to Top Rank for the opportunity to compete and stay busy on my road toward a world title.”

The Buddy McGirt-trained Alimkhanuly (6-0, 2 KOs), 26, a 2016 Olympian from Kazakhstan, who fights out of Oxnard, California, will fight Stuart McLellan (27-3-3, 11 KOs), 32, of Canada.

“With every fight, I gain more valuable experience, and I will be ready to challenge for a world title before long,” Alimkhanuly said. “I have an incredible trainer in my corner and the confidence needed to advance to the next level. This is a very big stage, and I will show everyone that I’m a middleweight to watch.”

Also on the undercard:

  • Junior welterweight and 2008 U.S. Olympian Javier Molina (19-2, 8 KOs), 29, will face Manuel Mendez (16-5-3, 11 KOs), 28, of Ontario, Oregon, in an eight-rounder.

  • Welterweight Brian Mendoza (17-0, 12 KOs), 25, of Las Vegas, will face Larry Gomez (9-1, 8 KOs), 26, of West Jordan, Utah, in an eight-round bout.

  • Uzbekistan native Dmitry Yun (1-0, 0 KOs), 25, who turned pro in June, will square off with Javier Martinez (4-6, 3 KOs), 36, of Austin, Texas, in a six-round lightweight fight.

  • Junior welterweight Elvis Rodriguez (2-0-1, 2 KOs), 23, of the Dominican Republic, whose last fight on June 28 ended in a first-round technical draw due to an accidental head butt, will fight Jesus Gonzalez (6-2, 2 KOs), 26, of Houston, in a six-rounder.

The main card will also include the previously announced 10-round featherweight co-feature between former junior welterweight world titlist Jessie Magdaleno and Rafael Rivera.


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