Mitchell vs. Murray, Lara-Williams, Molina-Cintron on 7/9; Lee fights on Rios-Antillon undercard

John Murray has vowed to continue Manchester’s sporting success – and put a smile back on the red half of the city. The former British and European lightweight champion takes on big London rival Kevin Mitchell on July 9th at London’s ExCeL in a mouthwatering clash, live on Sky Sports 1HD.

The Vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) Intercontinental crown will be on the line – as well as Murray’s undefeated record – and there is a potential world title shot for the winner.

Mancunian ace Murray has promised victory to follow up a season of plaudits for both Manchester City and Manchester Utd, even if the latter were out-played by Barcelona on Saturday night at Wembley.

“The city has had a great 12 months football wise,” said massive Man City fan Murray.

“City were brilliant in winning the FA Cup and qualifying for the Champions League.

“And you’ve got to take your hat off to United for winning the league again and getting to the final of the Champions League.

“Now it is up to me to make it a great summer for Manchester as well.

“With Ricky Hatton retiring, we need a world class fighter because Manchester is the best fight city in the country.

“With the football season over, I want the Blues and Red fans to come down to London and support me.

“My fight against Mitchell is the perfect opportunity for me to showcase my talents and really make a name for myself and show that I’m ready for the world title.

“He’s going to putting everything on the line as he will have nowhere to go if he losses so I’m sure he’s going to come out all guns blazing, and it will be a real war.

“I’ve also got to go into his backyard, but I know that all of Manchester will be behind me, and that’s a great boost going into the biggest fight of my career.”

Tickets for North ‘n South are available now, priced at £40, £50, £75, £100, £150 and £200, from 0844 844 0444 or ticketmaster.co.uk

Lara vs. Williams, Molina vs. Cintron on July 9th

Right now, a typical schedule of boxing’s upcoming bouts would include the following two entries with few other details:

July 9: Erislandy Lara vs. Paul Williams (HBO)
July 9: Carlos Molina vs. Kermit Cintron (Showtime)

However, the work that went into propelling Lara and Molina into these high-profile fights against former world champions is an example of professional boxing when everything is working the way it should.

Lara and Molina took distinctly different paths to their shots at potential stardom, but both can credit many of the same parties for the series of events that finally got them there.

It begins with a brand-new casino on the heart of the Las Vegas strip named The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and its CEO, John Unwin.

Early this year, Unwin revealed his plans to give world-class boxing a swanky twist by innovating the way it is presented.

The surprisingly refreshing result was unveiled on March 24 when Molina and Lara met in a main event that was also broadcast on “beating heart of boxing” series ESPN Friday Night Fights (more on them later).

Sofas. Open bar. $250-a-seat VIPs elevated to fighter eye level, enjoying the action from an amazing viewpoint.

The reviews were smashing. The Las Vegas Sun said “it was like a trendy club built inside a boxing venue. The intimate setting is one-of-a-kind.”

As always, ESPN’s Boxing Director of Programming, Doug Loughrey did his part that night as well, not only with the top-shelf production that has become the series’ trademark, but also with the way he presented the Cosmopolitan’s innovative approach and in the crafty matchmaking of pairing these two fighters seemingly on radically different trajectories.

The undefeated Cuban, Lara, had been an amateur hotshot; pegged for fistic stardom from the day he escaped his homeland and announced plans to turn professional. Meanwhile, Mexican Chicago resident Molina hadn’t fought in two years due to promotional problems and had four losses on his slate.

Frankly, approving that match-up took vision most in boxing do not have. To many, an uneventful mismatch seemed imminent.

Many were wrong.

Molina vs. Lara was a back-and-forth affair that finally ended in a majority draw, with one judge scoring for Molina.

It was the same kind of result that, week after week, Loughrey and his team put together despite their considerably smaller budget compared to HBO and Showtime. Looking deeper than the fighters’ names and which promoter they fight for, the Friday Night Fights team has made a science of pairing up compatible styles of fighting and turning coal into diamonds. ESPN has become the feeder system for televised boxing.

The opulence of the event and its surprising result stuck in the minds of boxing’s insiders long after the final bell.

It was followed up by another show at The Cosmopolitan on April 29, this time on the deck of their luxurious Boulevard Pool.

Molina was brought back to face hard-punching contender Allen Conyers.

Even the Las Vegas wind couldn’t spoil what turned out to be another home run for Unwin and his creative team, as a sell-out crowd milled around sipping cocktails and taking in the fantastic views while Molina hammered out a TKO 7 over Conyers.

And once again, ESPN was there to present it to the world.

ESPN Friday Night Fights has been the televised foundation for a sport with waning mainstream coverage. Without them to tell the hundreds of boxers’ stories who appear on their air every year, who knows how much deeper boxing would sink.

And every week, they tell the story well, with an expert broadcast team sharpened to perfection by years of experience.

And so, both Lara and Molina now find themselves in every boxer’s dream position. Taking on world champions and being one punch away from becoming stars. Molina has opened everyone’s eyes with his two fantastic Cosmopolitan performances and the seemingly invincible Lara looked just vulnerable enough against Molina to lure in a big fish in Williams.

On July 9, the two young fighters will be the ones throwing the punches, but behind them will be the excellent work of many talented people.

These are the kinds of stories that are the result of things going absolutely right in boxing.

Mike Lee to fight on Rios-Antillon undercard on July 9th

CHICAGO, IL (May 31, 2011) Notre Dame Boxing Champion Mike Lee will return to the ring, making his Southern California debut on Saturday, July 9th at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, just outside of Los Angeles.

Having received unprecedented attention from boxing fans and media across the country since turning professional one year ago, the 23 year old Lee will be featured on the undercard to the SHOWTIME broadcasted World Lightweight Championship bout between Brandon Rios and Urbano Antillon.

On May 6th, Lee made his network debut, looking sensational in a four round decision win over Gilbert Gastelum in a bout broadcast on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.

In front of a packed ballroom of Team Lee supporters, the 2009 Notre Dame Finance Graduate controlled the action from the outset, dominating Gastelum with a piston like jab and devastating body shots throughout the fight.

Under the guidance of world renowned trainer Ronnie Shields, Lee is currently undefeated with a record of 5-0-0 with three knockouts. The top rated light heavyweight prospect will be making his first appearance in Southern California where a huge crowd of Notre Dame Alums and Chicagoland Supporters is expected.

More information on Lee’s fight on July 9th will be announced shortly. The Home Depot Center is located at 18400 Avalon Boulevard in Carson, California. Further information can be viewed on their website at www.homedepotcenter.com

Advance tickets to the July 9th event may be purchased by calling the Team Lee Offices at 877-530-4269 during business hours or after 5pm at 630-400-6380.

Lee graduated from the University Of Notre Dame in 2009 at the “top of his class”, with a degree in Finance. He is a native of Wheaton, Illinois and a graduate of Benet Academy.

After winning the Chicago Golden Gloves, Lee was signed by Top Rank Incorporated, boxing’s premier promotional company.

For more information on Mike Lee, please visit his website at www.mikeleeboxing.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter at Mike Lee (Boxer). Further information can also be obtained on the Top Rank Incorporated website at www.toprank.com

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Boxing News Mitchell vs. Murray, Lara-Williams, Molina-Cintron on 7/9; Lee fights on Rios-Antillon undercard