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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Williams

Featherweight Championship Doubleheader Undercard Announced March 2nd

Press Release:

Following three impressive victories in 2023, welterweight standout Brian Norman Jr. is gearing up for a breakthrough year.

Norman will defend his WBO International title against Janelson Bocachica in a 10-rounder on Saturday, March 2 at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. Norman-Bocachica joins a stacked undercard that will be headlined by the vacant WBA featherweight world title showdown between Uzbek phenom Otabek Kholmatov and American contender Raymond Ford.

In the co-feature, Mexico’s Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez defends his IBF crown against Japanese upstart Reiya Abe.

Kholmatov-Ford, Lopez-Abe and undercard fights will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+.

Norman (25-0, 19 KOs) made his pro debut in January 2018 and went 11-0 in his first year in the paid ranks. In 2021, he fought four times, including a first-round TKO against Roque Agustin Junco that December. After a year-long layoff, Norman regained his momentum in 2023 by tallying eight-round decisions against Rodrigo Coria in January and Jesus Perez in May before capturing his first regional title against Quinton Randall in November. Bocachica (17-2-1, 11 KOs) went 16-0 before handing Mark Reyes Jr. his first pro defeat in February 2021. Since then, he's been involved in several close contests, including a narrow decision loss to Alberto Palmetta last November.

The undercard will showcase a variety of emerging talents from the Top Rank roster, as well as the return of a home region hero:

Undefeated U.S. Olympic silver medalist Duke Ragan (9-0, 1 KO) will see action in an eight-round featherweight clash against Colombia’s Brandon Valdes (15-4, 7 KOs). Ragan signed with Top Rank in August 2020 and fought four times as a pro before capturing the silver medal in Tokyo. He then continued his career in the paid ranks in 2022 by scoring four additional victories. The Cincinnati native toughed out a split decision victory against Jose Perez last October.

In a battle of undefeated junior welterweights, Dominican Olympian Rohan Polanco (11-0, 7 KOs) will lock horns against Tarik Zaina (13-0-1, 8 KOs). Polanco conquered a trio of stiff tests last year, each with only one career loss. He decisioned Ricardo Quiroz in April and earned stoppages against Cesar Francis in July and Keith Hunter in December. Zaina aims to build off his biggest triumph yet, a unanimous decision win over Argentine contender Marcelino Lopez.

U.S. Olympian Troy Isley (11-0, 4 KOs) will face Marcos Hernandez (16-6-2, 3 KOs) in an eight-round middleweight bout. The 25-year-old looks to build off a successful 2023, including a unanimous decision verdict over Mexican veteran Vladimir Hernandez in November.

Heavyweight prospect Brandon Moore (13-0, 8 KOs) takes on Helaman Olguin (9-6-1, 4 KOs) in an eight-rounder. Moore returns following his Top Rank debut in November, an eight-round decision over Robert Simms.

Floyd Diaz (10-0, 3 KOs) puts his unbeaten record on the line in an eight-round bantamweight tilt against the upset-minded Puerto Rican Edwin Rodriguez (12-7-2, 5 KOs). Diaz decisioned once-beaten Max Ornelas for a regional title in November.

Middleweight prospect Nico Ali Walsh (9-1, 5 KOs) will make his 2024 debut in a six-rounder against an opponent to be named. The grandson of “The Greatest” starts his 2024 following a points triumph over Noel Lafargue last December in Conakry, Guinea.

Junior welterweight

prospect Bryce Mills (14-1, 5 KOs), who hails from nearby Liverpool, New York, will square off against Gerffred Ngayot (6-1, 5 KOs) in a six-rounder.

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