Vicente steps up to face Rodriguez on FNF

January, 9, 2014
Jan 9
12:04
PM ET
A night of pure action could be in the works when junior lightweights Juan Antonio Rodriguez and Yenifel Vicente headline ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" at the Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino in Tacoma, Wash.

Mexico's Rodriguez (25-4, 23 KOs), 25, will make his debut on American soil against Vicente (25-1-2, 17 KOs), 27, of the Dominican Republic, a late replacement for 130-pound contender Arash Usmanee who suffered an ankle injury.

The main event has been reduced to eight rounds because Vicente, who is based in Miami, is moving up two weight classes to take the fight. He enters having won his last two fights, including a June knockout of Jorge Diaz, following an August 2012 decision loss to fringe contender Chris Avalos.

"[The fight] is short notice -- one-week notice -- but we were training and we're ready," said Herman Caicedo, the trainer and co-manager of Vicente. "Yenifel is already at 130 pounds. He didn't go home for Christmas, didn't go home for New Year's. He hasn't left Miami since the June fight."

Rodriguez, a southpaw, comes into the bout riding a four-fight winning streak since suffering a July 2012 decision loss to former featherweight titlist Billy Dib in Australia. Caicedo believes Vicente will be ready for Rodriguez, despite the late notice.

"I saw a fight or two of Rodriguez on YouTube," Caicedo said. "He's going to come forward and doesn't know any other way. He has no shortage of guts.

"[Rodriguez] is left-handed, but my entire team is left-handed. That's all the sparring we've got here -- Juan Carlos Payano, Claudio Marrero. They're all left-handed and Yenifel is constantly tuning up with those guys at the gym."

The bout figures to be an all-out war due to the similar characteristics of both fighters.

Rodriguez is a high-guard southpaw who uses his jab very carefully, is a generally accurate striker and is very dangerous in short range, especially with jab-hook combinations to the body. This was how he finished Sergio Torres in four rounds in June.

Vicente, meanwhile, is fast, aggressive and throws a lot of punches. That's how he surprised and defeated experienced former world title contender Francisco Lorenzo in 2009.

"It's time for Yenifel to get a big fight," Caicedo said. "He has proven himself. Yenifel comes and he brings it. There's no holding back on his part. I'd like to see him get some good opportunities this year and step up."

Former world title contender Zahir Raheem (34-3, 21 KOs) continues his comeback at junior welterweight in the 10-round co-feature against Bayan Jargal (17-4-3, 11 KOs) of Mongolia.

Raheem, 37, has revitalized his career with a five-fight win streak and is in search of a victory that could open the door to a new world title opportunity. In November, he stopped the experienced Tim Coleman in the second round.

At the height of his career in 2005, Raheem defeated Erik Morales by split decision. He has also suffered defeats against the likes of Rocky Juarez, Acelino Freitas and Ali Funeka. Jargal, 31, who fights out of Arlington, Virginia, will look to bounce back from suffering four defeats in his last six fights.

In the televised opener, former cruiserweight contender Lateef Kayode (19-0, 15 KOs) will fight for the second time as a heavyweight against Jonte Willis (9-7-1, 3 KOs).

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