Two talented fighters with a combined record of 39-0-1 will collide when Leonilo Miranda (24-0, 23 KOs), of Mexico, faces Orlando Cruz (15-0-1, 6 KOs) of Puerto Rico in the main event tomorrow/Jan. 16, on ShoBox: The New Generation live on SHOWTIME (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast). The featherweight 10-rounder is one of three fights on the ShoBox telecast. In the others from the Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa, Okla., Marvin Quintero (14-1, 11 KOs) of Mexico will be opposed by ShoBox alum Nick Casal (18-3-1, 14 KOs) of Chicago in an eight-round lightweight bout and 2008 United States Olympian Gary Russell, Jr. makes his pro debut against Antonio Reyes (3-2) of Dallas in a four-round 26-pound match. NOTE: THURSDAY’S WEIGHTS – Miranda and Cruz weighed 127 pounds; Quintero and Casal weighed 131.5 pounds; Russell tipped the scale at 127, Reyes 125.
“I expect this to be the biggest, most difficult fight of my career but I am real excited about the opportunity to fight on such a major network like SHOWTIME and I am ready to showcase my talent and skills. Fighting on SHOWTIME makes this an even bigger fight.
“I know Cruz is a dangerous fighter, who doesn’t know the meaning of losing, but I am prepared and confident I will come out victorious.
“I do not put a lot of pressure on myself to win by knockout. The main thing for me is to fight my fight. I like to apply pressure but I can box, too. If the knockout comes, it comes.
“I like opponents who come to me and won’t run, but I am prepared for anything. Fans can count on me giving 110 percent. This will be a great fight.”
“I can box and slug and I have a lot of solid amateur experience fighting in the 2000 Olympics for Puerto Rico, so, yes, I feel very good about my chances. I’ve seen video of Miranda and know he’s got a great record. But I don’t think Miranda has ever fought anybody of my caliber.
“This was already the biggest fight of my life but the fact it is on SHOWTIME and will be shown all over makes it even more important for me than it already is. I have taken this fight very, very seriously, and prepared for it like it is a world championship fight.
“This is my chance to make a name for myself and for people to see what I am about. I thank (promoter) Gary Shaw and SHOWTIME for the opportunity. Hopefully, after this fight I will be in the top 10.”
“I am 100 percent Mexican, born in Culiacan, but raised and have lived almost my entire life in Tijuana. I got my first name, Marvin, from my father, who always loved the way Marvin Hagler fought, so he named me after him.
“I don’t fight like Hagler, but I hope one day to have the same kind of success. Friday could be the start for me because it is such a great opportunity.
“I know Nick Casal is very strong and comes to fight, but I’m very prepared and ready to give a great performance. The key for me is to fight smart and not get wrapped up into making it a war. If I can avoid the ropes, box and do everything I have done in training, I will come out on top.
“I feel an obligation to the fans and the SHOWTIME network to give a great performance.”
“This is a major big fight for me, but one that measures up perfectly for both of us. No way, this is not going to be a great fight.
“I need to win this fight and look good doing it, which I plan on doing. I feel I need to prove to myself more than anybody else that I can do this and that I am a contender.
“To give anything less than 100 percent is totally unacceptable. I’m definitely looking forward to Friday.”
GARY RUSSELL JR.
“I am feeling good and ready to perform. I’m not nervous at all. I’m more excited than anything.
“I can’t wait to show the fans what they missed had I fought in the Olympics. Look for a lot of speed and a lot of power.
“I think the main difference I’ve noticed so far training as a pro is that I can take my time a little more and pick my spots. In the amateurs with its computer scoring, it actually made it more difficult for me.
I wasn’t able to do the types of free-style things I wanted to do. But in the pros, I can.”
“I think quite possibly that they made a mistake fighting me for his first pro fight, but we all have to start somewhere. I believe all fighters should fight good fighters to get experience. You are only as good as the guys you fight.
“This is not an easy fight for either of us, but I know he is going to have to be at his best. Nobody wants to start his pro record with a loss, but this is my chance and I’m stoked, super excited and really looking forward to fighting on SHOWTIME.
“He was a great amateur champion and I know he has quick hands, but this is such a huge opportunity for me. I want to test him early and work his body because I’m not so sure he’s tasted real body shots before. He had better bring his “A” game because this is going to be a wonderful fight.”