Belfast welterweight Paddy Gallagher [13(8)-3(0)] has secured a big fight in Kentucky next month.
Having been shortlisted as one of the four reserves for the inaugural ‘Jose Sulaiman World Invitational’, Gallagher has been voted in as the second seed of these four and is now scheduled to fight the #1-rated alternate on the tournament’s opening night in Louisville, birthplace of Muhammad Ali, on Friday April 27th.
The reigning BBBoC Celtic champion will face American Francisco Santana [26(12)-6(1)-1] in one of five major bouts at the hilariously-named ‘KFC YUM! Centre’.
Santana and Gallagher were picked ahead of Mexican Mauricio Pintor [20(13)-3(0)-1] and Russian Sergiy Lubkovich [7(6)-0] in a public vote over the last couple of weeks.
The pair will both be on reserve for the tournament proper and, should two of the eight fighters pull-out of their quarter-final match-ups, Gallagher could find himself in the big-money competition.
While not confirmed, it is assumed that, should Gallagher defeat Santana he would become the alternate for the semi-finals of the WBC-backed Evander Holyfield-promoted venture.
The four quarter-final bouts, picked in part by a public vote are:
Felix Diaz [19(9)-2(1)] v Derrieck Cuevas [16(13)-0-1]
Chris van Heerden [25(12)-2(1)-1] v Timo Schwarzkopf [18(10)-1(0)]
Frederick Lawson [26(21)-1(1)] v Baishanbo Nasiwula [13(6)-1(0)-1]
Radzhab Butaev [8(6)-0] v Brad Solomon [27(9)-1(0)]
California 31-year-old Santana has fought a number of big names over the years including unanimous decision ten-round losses current WBO light middleweight champ Sadam Ali and current WBC light middleweight champ Jermell Charlo, as well as drawing over six versus former IBF light middleweight title challenger Julian Williams and beating former WBA light middleweight champ Joachim Alcine over ten.
He has lost his last two bouts, dropping points decisions to Jose Benavidez and Mahonry Montes.