MIAMI — Tony Holden has made a really tasty batch of lemonade out of a bunch of lemons.
With five of the six members of his Four State Franchise on the disabled list with various injuries, that opened the doors for what Holden calls a “mega fight” that will anchor Friday night’s show at Buffalo Run Casino & Resort.
Billel Dib (21-1-0, 10 knockouts) of Sydney, Australia, faces Yuandale Evans (18-1-0, 14 KOs) – one of three Cleveland, Ohio, fighters on the card – with the USBA lightweight championship on the line.
“What that means is the winner will be ranked top 10 in the WBA and will be set up for a world title fight” said Holden, who is co-promoting the event with DiBella Entertainment.
Dib, who fought here in February, is a two-time Australian featherweight champ and is ranked sixth in the world by the WBO.
Evans lost to Javier Fortuna by first round TKO on April 27, 2012, in Austin, Texas.
He’s only fought twice since then.
“I got hungry,” Evans said. “I switched trainers and got hungry. My whole style has changed. Everybody knows I am a puncher and everybody knows I have a lot of knockouts (14). They’re not the quality of fighter I will be facing this time.”
Kenzie Morrison is the only member of the Four State Franchise core group that is not injured.
Trey Lippe Morrison suffered a hand injury that required surgery and forced him to drop out of a June 9 fight in Verona, New York.
Dillon Cook is recovering from an elbow injury, Jesse Cook suffered a shoulder injury and Jarrett Rouse recently suffered a hand injury while sparring.
And Ivan “The Beast” Baranchyk, who joined the team last year, has started running again after a foot injury in his February fight against Abel Ramos.
“This is a tough time for the boys right now,” Holden said. “We’re overcoming it. It’s either everyone is injured at once or everybody’s healthy at once. Right now, we are moving on. This fall will be strong for the boys.”
Holden said he’s anticipating Baranchyk being part of an August card here.
“I am in negotiations with Showtime for them to come back probably in September or October to do an event with he and Trey Lippe Morrison,” Holden said.
Dib, who learned about Buffalo Run Casino and the 4SF while watching a “ShoBox: The New Generation” card from his home in Australia, logged a unanimous decision over Carlos Padilla in a December card.
“When I found out I was back here, I was really excited,” Dib said. “I was told back in January that I would be fighting sometime in April.”
He’s been training in the “other” Miami — Miami, Florida — for about eight weeks.
“We’ve been getting in some great sparring, getting some great work,” Dib said. “There are world class athletes there, so the sparring has been tremendous. I am just ready to put on a great show, ready to win this title and keep moving forward.”
I am looking forward to taking on Mr. Evans. He’s a great, quality opponent and that’s what we are after: decent fights, quality fights. That’s what’s going to take us to the next level.’
While he’s been the main event many times in Australia, this will just be his third fight in the United States — and the first time he’s in the main event.
“We were blessed to get this fight,” Holden said. “This is a big fight. This is a ‘ShoBox’ main event fight that we just caught because there was an opening. I was not expecting this at all. When the time came, we jumped all over it.”
This is the break Evans has been looking for.“
“This is the type fight I have been waiting for for five years,” Evans said. “I have sparred with different heights and different weights. I have done it all. I am going to give you a good show.”
A self-professed nerd, Evans said he was a straight A student who was more into drawing, art and computers than boxing.
A younger brother took up the sport and Evans would travel with him to lend support.
“I took a liking to it,” Evans said. “I wasn’t a fighter at first, but when I found the gift that I have that most boxers don’t have, that most bangers don’t have, I took it on.
Evans is a past Golden Glove champion who was ranked third in the country before turning pro in 2009.
Defensive minded Fred Neal now trains him; he previously had been under Bernard Sappho since he was a kid.
Boxing since he was 10, Evans had more than 180 amateur fights under his belt.
“I am not so into knocking everybody out any more,” said Evans, who goes by the nickname “Money Shot.”
“This is a turnaround fight. It’s not a sprint. My mind has changed. I am older now.”
He has been featured on HBO and ESPN cards in the past.