Friday Night Fights returns to The Rollins Center, at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino on February 24, 2012. Headlining the card in the main event are junior welterweights Edgar Santana of Bronx, NY (26-3, 17 KOs) and Manuel Perez (16-7, 4 KOs). In the co-feature, local favorite “Mighty” Mike Tiberi (18-1, 7 KOs) gets his first crack at a title as he takes on Toris Brewer (14-4, 6 KOs). The bout is for the WBF Intercontinental Super Middleweight Championship. Also on tap is an intriguing super featherweight title matchup between 24 year old Juan Carlos Burgos (28-1, 19KOs) and 34 year old Cristobal Cruz (39-12-3, 19 KOs).
The last time I visited Dover Downs, B.J. Flores scored a razor thin decision over Darnell “The Ding-A-Ling Man” Wilson for the USBA Cruiserweight title. It was an awesome night of boxing and there wasn’t a bad seat in The Rollins Center. You could argue that a $40 seat was just as good as a ringside seat. In the house that night was famed trainer Lou Duva, whose presence alone made me promise to come back to this awe-inspiring venue.
Edgar Santana, to say the least, has had his share of ups and downs. In 2008, Santana was arrested force for his role in a drug trafficking ring. There were some who thought that we’d never see Edgar in a boxing ring again. However, he’s back and once again in the title hunt. At age 33, and with a three year layoff, Santana knows this may be his last shot at something major. A couple of his early losses have some still scratching their heads. However Edgar now knows that he is one person who he needs to count on. “When I started boxing, I went with seven of my friends to Mickey Rosario’s gym in Spanish Harlem,” Santana told Doghouse Boxing in an interview. “I remember he told us, out of all seven of us, only one or two of us were going to make it. He said the rest would go into a life of drugs or end up getting killed.”
“Looking back, I’m the only one left. Everyone else is either in jail or is getting killed.” This is Santana’s last chance and I expect him to come out and show that to Manuel Perez.
Manuel Perez won’t go easy, however. He’s a tough matchup for Santana. Perez has been in with Brandon Rios twice and has a draw and a stoppage loss to show for it. He also went the distance with once promising contender Matt Remillard. Perez has been in tough and youth is on his side, but I’m going with Santana in this one.
Mike Tiberi has boxing in his blood. The Tiberi name rings bells not only in Smyrna, Delaware, but throughout the Delaware Valley. Boxing runs through generations in this family, from father Mario Tiberi to sons Mario, Jr., and Mike. Mike has 18 wins in 19 bouts, with his lone setback in 2008 against Dwayne Shelton in Millersville, Maryland. Friday will be and attempt at his first crowning moment. I’m sure the house will be packed to back the young, local favorite.
The best thing I can say about Toris Brewer is that he has 14 wins. Just about all of them, however, have come against guys with losing records. Mike Tiberi has a winning record. You do the math…. Get the champagne ready Delaware- you’ll have a new champion on Friday night.
Young Tijuana, Mexico native Juan Carlos Burgos comes into the main event on a three fight winning streak, since suffering his only pro defeat against Hozumi Hasegawa. He looks to protect his WBC Silver Super Featherweight title on Friday night against the rugged Cristobal Cruz.
Burgos, the nephew of former champion Victor Burgos, is currently ranked #9 in the world and can’t afford any slip-ups. The WBC has inserted him as the #2 ranked fighter in his weight division. He won’t have an easy night at the office, as #11 ranked Cristobal Cruz looks to crash the party and earn himself a major title opportunity. Burgos has the experience of fighting on the Pacquiao/Marquez III undercard this past November. That experience may come in handy against the experienced, former champion Cruz.
Cristobal Cruz came up the hard way. The Tijuana, Mexico native has gone the distance with the hardnosed Orlando Salido twice (1-1 record), Jorge Solis twice (1-1), Zahir Raheem, and Steve Luevano. Between 2005 and 2007, Cruz had a seven fight stretch in which he had four losses and a no-contest. His career seemed to be over. However, a victory in 2007 led to an IBO title shot against Thomas Mashaba. Cruz won a majority decision and followed that with a split decision win over Salido for the IBF featherweight title. He defended that title twice before losing to Salido in a second fight.
This may be the most intriguing fight of the evening. If Cruz is on, it could be a long night for the young Burgos. However, the more likely scenario is a Burgos stoppage by cuts, or a decision victory for Burgos. Cruz, closer to age 35 than 34, fought three times in 2009, once in 2010, and once in 2011. One bout ended in a wide decision loss to Salido. The other two ended in technical draws, as head butts by opponents opened gashes over different eyes. The bleeding caused both fights to be stopped. Even though both bouts ended in a draw, it’s not a good sign going in against a young puncher. I’ll go with Burgos by stoppage on cuts or UD in this one.
The televised card will be on ESPN2 at 9:00pm eastern. If you are anywhere near Delaware, the first bout begins at 7:30pm. Come on out and enjoy Friday Night Fights!