ESPN’s Friday Night Fights presented by Corona is returning for its seventeenth season. The Worldwide Leader in Sports has announced that FNF will begin its new season on Friday, January 3rd live at 9pm ET on WatchESPN and ESPN Deportes+. The show’s seventeenth season will kick off with a bang, too. Season Seventeen will open with a twelve-round IBF title bout between Junior Lightweight titlist Argenis Mendez ( 21 – 2 – 1, 11 KOs) and undefeated Rances Barthelemy (19 – 0, 12 KOs). Also slated for the season premiere of Friday Night Fights presented by Corona will be a ten-round co-feature featuring up-and-coming Middleweight contender Caleb Truax (23 – 1, 4 KOs). As an additional note, ESPN Deportes will re-brand its broadcasts with the new name, Noche de Combates. The newly re-branded broadcast was previously branded as Viernes de Combates.
The season opening bout, the first of the 2014 season’s twenty-six total fights, will be broadcast live from the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. It is co-promoted by former Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson and his promotional company, Iron Mike Productions. Tyson also promoted the final bout of FNF’s 2013 season, which featured Argenis Mendez in the world title main event.
Brian Kweder, ESPN Senior Director of Programming and Acquisitions, expressed expectations for the 2014 season in a recent statement. He also noted changes being made for the upcoming season of FNF. “We are eagerly anticipating the upcoming season of Friday Night Fights and Noche de Combates,” he said. “We start the season just as we finished last season with a world title fight co-promoted by Mike Tyson’s Iron Mike Productions. The biggest change for 2014 is that we are assigning dates to promoters with as much advance notice as possible to allow for even better fights and bigger crowds. We’ve partnered with a group of promoters who have always delivered in the past and are committed to upping the ante even further for 2014. Having a world title fight and names like Kendall Holt, Zsolt Erdei and Arash Usmanee early this season show that the strategy is already paying dividends.”
Long time FNF broadcast team Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas will be back again for all of the ringside action each week. Tessitore will call the matches and Atlas will have in-match analysis for every match broadcast on ESPN2. Both men have been awarded the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. Teddy Atlas won the award in 2001 and Tessitore in 2010. Studio host Todd Grisham will be back for his second full season on FNF. He will fill in for Tessitore in ESPN2’s season opener and will have all of the latest boxing news and highlights. Also back again will be Bernardo Osuna. Osuna will contribute to broadcasts both on FNF and Noche de Combates.
Pablo Viruega and Delvin Rodriguez will have the call for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+. The will be joined live by studios hosts Leopoldo Gonzalez and Claudia Trejos. As a new addition to the studio show for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+, Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez will join Gonzalez and Trejos in studio throughout the season. Osuna will contribute reports and interviews each week. The latest slate of fights is available below.
|Date||Time (ET)||Main Event||Location||Networks|
|Fri, Jan 3||9 p.m.||Argenis Méndez (21-2-1, 11 KOs) vs. Rances Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KOs) —12-rounds, IBF Junior Lightweight Title||Target Center, Minneapolis, Minn.||ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN|
|Fri, Jan 10||9 p.m.||Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10 KOs) vs. Juan Antonio Rodríguez (25-4, 23 KOs) — Junior Lightweights||Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino, Tacoma Wash.||ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN|
|Fri, Jan 24||9 p.m.||Javier Molina (14-1, 6 KOs) vs. Kendall Holt (28-6, 16 KOs) —10-rounds, Junior Welterweights||Little Creek Casino, Shelton Wash.||ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN|
|Fri, Jan 31||9 p.m.||Zsolt Erdei (33-1, 18 KOs) vs. Elvir Muriqi (40-5, 24 KOs) —10-rounds, Light Heavyweights||Codey Arena, West Orange, N.J.||ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN|
More information on the latest from FNF and Noche de Combates is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn.fnf, http://twitter.com/ESPNBoxeo, and http://twitter.com/ESPNFNF. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.