- Michael Woods, Boxing
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Boxing returns to Verona, N.Y., on Friday when middleweight contender Sergiy Dzinziruk, seeking to nail down a title shot by the end of the year, gloves up in the main event against rawhide-tough spoiler Brian Vera.
ESPN2 and WatchESPN will televise the main event (9 p.m. ET) and some undercard action on "Friday Night Fights."
The event will unfold at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino, and the mainer stands out as a rock-solid pairing for FNF.
Dzinziruk (37-1-1, 24 KOs), a 36-year-old Ukrainian who lives in Germany and is promoted by Gary Shaw, beat Daniel Santos in 2005 to win a 154-pound crown, and held the title until 2010. He drew with Jonathan Gonzalez in his most recent bout, in September, so I expect him to be sharper and better motivated on this occasion.
"I felt like my last time out, I didn't capitalize on every opportunity that was presented to me. It was my fight to grab and it slipped away because I let it," he said. "I've prepared to get back into the win column, and anything less is unacceptable. I will define the moment and not let the moment define me."
The 31-year-old Vera (21-6, 12 KOs), who fights out of Austin, Texas, is coming off of a victory over perennial contender Sergio Mora last August.
"I respect every opponent, but Vera is a different monster," Dzinziruk said. "The guy never quits and he is always willing to take the fight to the most uncomfortable places possible. I'm willing to go wherever is necessary, but it won't be Vera calling the shots because I'm going to dictate the pace and control the fight. With my conditioning, I will systematically break my opponent down and reestablish my position amongst the division's elite."