Middleweight contender Esquiva Falcao will fight Ainiwaer Yilixiati in a 10-round bout that will serve as the co-feature of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card on Feb. 1 (ESPN, 10 p.m. ET), Top Rank announced on Thursday.
Falcao (25-0, 17 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw and 2012 Olympic silver medalist, and Ainiwaer (17-1, 12 KOs), 26, of China, were originally supposed to meet further down the card. They were moved into the co-feature slot of the show, which will take place at the Mission Hills Haikou resort in Haikou, China, (where it will be Sunday morning, Feb. 2) when former junior lightweight titlist Masayuki Ito suffered a shoulder injury, forcing him out of the original co-feature against Yongqiang Yang.
Unified junior welterweight world titlist Jose Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) headlines the card in a mandatory defense against former world titleholder Viktor Postol (31-2, 12 KOs).
“We’ve promoted Falcao since the beginning of his career, and this is his opportunity to showcase his tremendous ability in front of a large audience on ESPN,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. Falcao was pleased to be in the spotlight.
“2020 is the year I challenge for a world title, but my journey continues in China against a very tough opponent,” Falcao said. “This is a chance to show I can compete with all the middleweights, and at 30 years of age, I am in the prime of my career. My amateur career took me all over the world, and I can’t wait to travel to Haikou to put on a show for the Chinese people, my fans back home in Brazil and everyone watching on ESPN.”
Ainiwaer (17-1, 12 KOs) has won seven in a row, including a two victories since moving down to the middleweight division.
There will also be three preliminary bouts that will stream on ESPN+ beginning at 8 p.m. ET:
Chinese junior lightweight Yang (13-0, 10 KOs) will remain on the card and face the Philippines’ Jhon Gemino (21-12-1, 11 KOs) in a 12-rounder for a regional title.
Chinese lightweight Jianhao Diao (2-0, 2 KOs) will take on Eduardo Mancito (18-10-2, 9 KOs), of the Philippines, in a six-rounder.
Korean super middleweight Sung Jae Jo (11-0, 8 KOs) will square off with China’s Zulipikaer Maimaitiali (12-2-1, 8 KOs) in a 10-rounder for a vacant regional belt.