- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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It can't get here soon enough, but the new season of "Friday Night Fights" on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (and simulcast every week in Spanish on ESPN Deportes) will kick off on Jan. 4.
ESPN boxing programmer Doug Loughrey is in the process of putting together the early part of the schedule, but the season premiere will take place in Miami and be headlined by a scheduled 10-round junior lightweight bout between prospect Rances Barthelemy (17-0, 11 KOs), a Miami-based Cuban defector, against Arash Usmanee (20-0, 10 KOs), a native of Afghanistan based in Montreal.
The scheduled 10-round co-feature is slated to be junior middleweight Jonathan Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KOs) of Puerto Rico against Derrick Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs) of Philadelphia. Gonzalez is coming off a terrible performance in a terrible fight against former titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk in September, a fight for which Gonzalez showed up at 163 pounds -- nine pounds over the 154-pound contract limit.
The Jan. 11 show is still being put together, and there is no card on Jan. 18. The site for the Jan. 25 show will take place at a site that hasn't been finalized. It will be headlined by the always-exciting Russian junior welterweight contender Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs), an FNF regular for the past few years. His opponent hasn't been finalized, but one possibility is the Philippines' Jason Pagara (30-2, 19 KOs).