- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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When welterweight titlist Randall Bailey dropped out of his title defense against Devon Alexander on short notice, it left Showtime and Golden Boy in a bit of a bind for Saturday night's card. But they elected to salvage the show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas by elevating the original co-feature to the main event.
In that fight, Olusegun Ajose (30-0, 14 KOs) of Nigeria faces slugger Lucas Matthysse (31-2, 29 KOs) of Argentina for a vacant interim junior welterweight belt. But when the announcement was made, Showtime and Golden Boy also said that a second fight would be added to the telecast.
What would it be? Well, they never said, only that they were working on a few things. None of them came to pass, so on Wednesday they announced that the 10-round middleweight bout between prospect J'Leon Love (12-0, 7 KOs) of Las Vegas and Chicago's Ramon Valenzuela (7-1, 1 KO) would move up to the main Showtime telecast (9 p.m. ET/PT).
Love-Valenzuela was originally supposed to be part of the Showtime Extreme coverage of preliminary fights (7 p.m. ET/PT).
Love, 24, who is with adviser Al Haymon and recently had his promotional contract sold by Lou DiBella to Mayweather Promotions, will be fighting for the fourth time this year.
Valenzuela, 21, is coming off a loss on May 25, so it is a bit questionable that Showtime would put such a low-caliber fight on the premium telecast. This fight might rate an opening fight on the network's prospect series, "ShoBox: The New Generation."
I joked with Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza this week that since they did not have a notable fight lined up, perhaps it would have been fun to do it WWE-style and just let the audience be surprised when it was fight time.
In any event, this is a golden opportunity for Love and Valenzuela to show what they've got under odd circumstances.
"We don't take anybody lightly," Love said. "I know the guy's coming off of a loss recently, which makes him even hungrier to get back in the game and get a victory, so I know he's coming to fight. I know he has a lot to prove right now, but I'm not the one to make a statement against. We're looking to get that victory. We're two young fighters with a lot of skills, and we're going to put it on the line and get it done. It's going to be a good fight."
Said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, "This is a wonderful opportunity for J'Leon and he will definitely take advantage of the opportunity to showcase his skills on Saturday night. We're really excited and looking forward to him going out there to take care of business against Valenzuela."
The Showtime Extreme telecast will include Daquan Arnett (6-0, 4 KOs) of Orlando, Fla., against Mexico’s Jesus Tavera (3-2, 1 KO) in a scheduled six-round junior middleweight fight and Las Vegas’ Ishe Smith (23-5, 11 KOs) facing Puerto Rico's Irving Garcia (17-7-3, 8 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder at junior middleweight.
When welterweight titlist Randall Bailey dropped out of his title defense against Devon Alexander on short notice, it left Showtime and Golden Boy in a bit of a bind for Saturday night's card.