Willie Nelson Headlines ESPN FNF on Aug 8
On August 8, DiBella Entertainment and Dynasty Boxing, in association with Rumble Time Promotions, will head to Fallon, NV, to host that week’s edition of ESPN Friday Night Fights/ ESPN Deportes’ Noche de Combates. Headlining the card will be top-rated junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson (22-1-1, 13KO’s) taking on the hard-hitting and dangerous Mexican Luis Grajeda (17-2-2, 13KO’s) in the 10-round main event.
In the co-feature, fast-rising 18-year-old phenom Norbert Nemesapati (14-0, 13KO’s) will be looking make a splash in his US debut when he faces fellow unbeaten Lennox Allen (17-0-1, 10KO’s) in an eight-round super middleweight matchup.
Opening up the card will be the highly anticipated pro debut of China’s 2008 Olympic Games silver medalist Zhang Zhilei, in a four-round heavyweight special attraction.
ESPN will begin live coverage at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN.
“From top to bottom, this is a terrific event, featuring up-and-coming local talent in exciting fights on the undercard and three intriguing televised bouts on ESPN. Willie is knocking on the door to a world title opportunity and an impressive performance against the hard-punching Grajeda moves him in that direction. The co-feature pits two undefeated boxers in the most important fight of their careers. Norbert is on the fast track to stardom and is looking to make an immediate impact on the super middleweight division in his US debut, but this is the type of opportunity that Lennox has been waiting for, to prove that he is among the best 168lb. fighters in the world. It is a true crossroads bout, with the winner clearly cementing himself as a legitimate player in the 168lb. division. Opening up the card, you have Zhilei, a silver medalist who many believe has the ability to be a future star in the heavyweight division. This is a big event for the people of Fallon and we are excited to be a part of it,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment.
“The Fallon Fights: The Rural Rumble is one of Fallon’s premier special events, drawing visitors from northern Nevada and California,” tourism director Rick Gray said.
“We’ve been working with Lou (DiBella) to get Willie Nelson back on ESPN ever since his spectacular first-round knockout of Michael Medina last season on Friday Night Fights,” said Brian Kweder, ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions. “We’ve had a great track record in cultivating future world champions on Friday Night Fights and we believe Willie will be joining that list in the near future.”
“The live telecast of Fallon Fights by ESPN will show the country what a great event this is. The fights are outdoors, under the stars, and reminiscent of those fights in the early mining camps and the epic battles between Corbett and Fitzsimmons and Johnson versus Jeffries,” Gray said.
“Fallon welcomes ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. We have worked hard to put on a top-notch event that would draw the attention of the network,” Fallon tourism director Rick Gray said.
“The fights are a labor of love. All of the City’s departments worked together to support the production of the event,” Fallon Mayor, Ken Tedford, said.
“On behalf of Dynasty Boxing, we are happy to be working with DiBella Entertainment and ESPN, and extremely grateful for them giving Zhang Zhilei the opportunity to showcase his professional debut on ESPN,” said Dino Duva, President of Dynasty Boxing, promoter of Zhang.
A native of Cleveland, OH, Nelson is one of the most talented and dangerous 154-pounders in the world. Since his lone loss to once-beaten Vincent Arroyo via majority decision on ShoBox in 2011, Nelson has switched trainers, moved up in weight and has never looked better, winning six straight bouts. Having scored sensational victories on both the Showtime and ESPN networks in 2012 and 2013, Nelson scored the biggest win of his career, earning a 10-round unanimous decision in an absolute war with Luciano Cuello on HBO in June 2013. Nelson was set to take on the top-rated and three-time middleweight world title challenger Matthew Macklin on HBO last December, but was forced to pull out after suffering an injury to his elbow while in training. Nelson last fought in June on the undercard of the Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez HBO PPV bout at Madison Square Garden, annihilating Darryl Cunningham in just one round. Nelson is on the doorstep to challenging for his first world title and is hungrier than ever to get his shot, but he must first defeat the extremely dangerous Grajeda.
Nicknamed “Slayer”, Grajeda has absolute dynamite in both his hands. The 28-year-old Mexican was a 2005 and 2007 Mexican National Champion as an amateur, as well as a 2007 Pan American Games quarterfinalist before turning pro in 2008. In 2010, Grajeda lost a very competitive and hard-fought eight-round unanimous decision to top-rated world contender Jermell Charlo. Since that defeat, Grajeda has gone 8-1-1 with seven of those wins coming by way of knockout. Grajeda has pure dynamite in his fists and has scored a number of vicious knockouts throughout his career, including an upset victory over longtime perennial contender Hector Camacho Jr. in 2012. The one knock on the highly skilled Nelson is his suspect chin, and the heavy-handed brawling Grajeda will certainly be looking to check Nelson’s beard early and often. With Nelson being the type of fighter to never take a backward step in a fight and always willing to stand toe-to-toe, this matchup will certainly make for can’t-miss TV.
The Hungarian teenage phenom Nemesapati will be looking to show the boxing world that he is a superstar in the making when he takes on his toughest opponent to date in fellow unbeaten super middleweight contender Lennox Allen. The WBC Youth Silver super middleweight champion Nemesapati turned pro in 2012 in his native Hungary, following a very successful kickboxing career. After winning a four-round unanimous decision in his pro debut, Nemesapati has stopped 13 consecutive opponents and is now ready to show the boxing world that he is the real deal when challenges Allen.
The 28-year-old Allen is riding a five-bout winning streak since suffering the lone blemish on his career, an eight-round majority decision draw to dangerous super middleweight Darnell Boone. The southpaw Allen, who holds an impressive victory over middleweight contender Nick Brinson, is looking to prove once and for all that he is one of the most talented 168lb. fighters in the world, and an impressive showing against the highly regarded phenom will certainly put the super middleweight division on notice.
Opening up the card will be the highly anticipated pro debut of 2008 Chinese Olympic Silver medalist Zhang Zhilei in a special attraction four-round heavyweight bout. Zhilei has the size, ability and athleticism to make a major impact on the heavyweight division, and a very bright future is expected for the China-native.
Tickets are currently on sale and are priced at an extremely affordable $27 ringside, and $12 for general admission. Special VIP tables are also available for purchase at $500. The VIP tables accommodate seating for eight guests at ringside and includes a complimentary bucket of beer, executive suite restrooms, cocktail service, dedicated full service bar, food station and a Fallon Fights souvenir for each guest. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling (775) 423-4556 or by visiting the Fallon Convention Center or NAS Fallon MWR. You can also purchase tickets by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.