This Friday night, Ievgen Khytrov (8-0, 8KO’s), arguably the most promising young prospect in all of boxing, returns to the bright lights of ESPN Friday Night Fights when he squares off against dangerous Puerto Rican contender Jorge Melendez (28-4-1, 26KO’s) in the 10-round co-feature bout of the evening, live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV.
Headlining the card is junior middleweight Tony Harrison (19-0, 16KO’s) putting his undefeated record on the line against the rugged Antwone Smith (23-5-1, 12KO’s).
“Jorge Melendez is an extremely dangerous opponent and very advanced for an 8-0 prospect. Khytrov is not a normal 8-0 prospect, however; he is a beast and he is elite. He is going to prove that Friday night on ESPN,” stated co-promoter Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment.
“I’ve trained really hard and have sparred with the top guys in the world in my weight class,” said Khytrov, regarding his preparation for Friday’s fight. “I am one hundred percent ready, grateful for this opportunity and thankful to my promoters DiBella Entertainment and Fight Promotions Inc., as well as my managers Al Haymon and Rory Donadio. I’m going to give it my best and give the fans an entertaining fight.”
Nicknamed the “Ukrainian Lion”, Khytrov was a stellar amateur, having compiled an astounding record of 450-50. He won the 2011 Amateur World Championships and represented his native Ukraine at the 2012 Olympics in London as well. Khytrov was a favorite to win the gold, but lost a highly disputed decision to eventual bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo in the opening round, despite twice dropping the hometown favorite Ogogo.
Following his disappointment at the Olympics, Khytrov immediately relocated to the US and began living and training in Brooklyn, NY. Khytrov, now co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment and Fight Promotions Inc., made his successful debut in December 2013 and has been on an absolute tear ever since, including seven of his eight career knockouts thus far coming in three rounds or less. Khytrov’s last four opponents, three of whom were defeated in nationally televised slots (ESPN, FoxSports1 and ShoBox), have had a combined record of 48-5-2. The bout on Friday night will mark Khytrov’s fourth time fighting on national TV in the last nine months and he is already penciled in for his second appearance on ShoBox: The New Generation on April 10, in Brooklyn, NY. Boxing insiders have begun comparing the 26-year-old to middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, whom Khytrov has said he wants to fight down the road, but first he must get by the dangerous and heavy-handed Puerto Rican Melendez.
In his last 15 bouts, Melendez is 15-2, 13KO’s, and is by far the toughest opponent to date for Khytrov. The former world-rated middleweight and former WBO Latino super welterweight champion Melendez has only been stopped twice in his career, way back in 2010 and 2009. Melendez is coming off an exciting and very close majority decision loss to former world title challenger Javier Maciel in June of last year. The 26-year-old Melendez knows that he cannot afford another loss at this point in his career and will be laying it all on the line come Friday night.
The card is promoted by Goossen Promotions and Warriors Boxing, with the Khytrov-Melendez bout promoted in association with DiBella Entertainment and Fight Promotions. The ESPN telecast will be aired live, beginning at 11 p.m. ET.