A familiar name, especially to the local boxing fans, will make his first ring appearance in just under five years this Friday night in his own hometown of Niagara Falls, New York.
Former red-hot prospect Nick “Hands of Gold” Casal (22-4-1, 17 KOs) says he’s expecting some rust, but should have enough to overcome when he takes on 37-fight veteran Antonio Chaves Fernandez of Brockton, Massachusetts, in one of the untelevised supporting bouts at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino. The fight will be Casal’s first at home as a professional.
In the night’s 10-round main event, WBO #11-, WBA #12- and IBF #15-rated heavyweight boxer Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (16-0-1, 14 KOs), defends his WBA NABA Heavyweight title against Topeka, Kansas, slugger Nick Guivas (12-3-2, 9 KOs). And in the 10-round lightweight semi-final, red-hot Filipino prospect Harmonito “El Huracan de Gensan” Dela Torre (17-0, 12 KOs) will make his debut on US soil against capable veteran Guillermo Sanchez (15-18-1, 6 KOs) of Buffalo.
Presented by Greg Cohen Promotions, Salita Promotions, FightCard Productions and Winner Take All Productions, “Championship Boxing on CBS Sports Network” will be broadcast live nationally at 9 pm EST.
Tickets for “Championship Boxing on CBS Sports Network” start at $35 and are available at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino box office, www.ticketmaster.com or you can charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
30-year-old Casal was headed for big things in boxing before suffering a loss of focus and all four of his losses in a two-year stretch from 2007 to 2009. Since then, inactivity has been the name of his game.
So where was he and why wasn’t he fighting?
“I never really left,” said Casal during a break in one of his final training sessions. “I’ve been working full-time for the last three years, but I was ready to go and trying to get a fight the whole time. I had a number of them fall through. I had one fight fall through at the weigh-in when a guy failed his physical. That was heartbreaking. But now, I finally have a team in place that can keep them from falling through and I’m glad to be finally getting back in the ring.”
Casal says he’s basically the same talented fighter he always was… with a few improvements.
“Physically, I feel exactly the same as I did five years ago. Mentally, I would say I’m a little stronger and a lot more patient than I was when I was younger. I set my shots up a lot better. I don’t think the ring rust will be as bad as it is for other guys who take a lot of time off. I’ve been in the gym training fighters and working out the whole time. I expect to have a little bit of rust, but not as much as someone who was completely out for years. I picture it going very well if I stick to my game plan and stay very focused.”
Working with father Ray at their Casal’s Boxing Club Gym in Niagara Falls since February, Casal says he will now compete in the welterweight division and expects to take an aggressive approach to getting back on track.
“I want to win a few regional titles and then earn a world title shot. Around this time next year, I’d like to be in some important fights.”
Casal says he owes his apparent resurgence to promoter Greg Cohen, with whom he signed earlier this year.
“He’s a great promoter and does shows in my hometown. I’ve never fought here as a professional. I fought in Buffalo a few times in 2011, but never fought here. That was important to me. People are calling like crazy for tickets. I’m excited to get it on. With the crowd behind me, I’ll be 100% ready. I’ve just been waiting for the right guy to help me get to where I want to be. Looks like I found him.”
On fight night, doors open at 6 pm and the action starts at 7:00 pm. The Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino is located at 310 4th Street in Niagara Falls, NY. For more information, call 877-873-6322 or visit www.senecaniagaracasino.com.