Despaigne eager for challenge against veteran Hall
Story by Felix Chavez
Photo by Chris Cozzone
Talk about taking a step up.
On Friday night at Isleta Casino and Resort, just south of Albuquerque, former Cuban amateur star Yorandis Despaigne will undoubtedly face his biggest test as a pro when he faces former world title challenger Richard Hall in a scheduled 10-round light heavyweight fight.
The bout is the main event of ESPN's "Friday Night Fight Series" and can be seen live on ESPN2 at 10 p.m ET / 8 p.m. MT.
The 30-year-old Despaigne is a perfect 5-0 with four knockouts in his career, while the 38-year-old Hall is the owner of 29 wins and seven losses. Despaigne just turned pro last May.
"I am eager to take on the best," Despaigne said. "I was excited to get this fight when I heard it might happen. I'll get in there, take my time and see how things go. I'll make adjustments as the fight goes on. I expect a tough fight."
While Despaigne has nowhere near the pro pedigree as Hall, he seemed confident, while respectful of his opponent. Hall has faced the likes of Julian Letterlough, Roy Jones Jr. and Dariusz Michalczewski.
But while Despaigne has yet to face a big-time opponent, his amateur career was an impressive one. He fought in the Olympics and other international competitions. He fought the likes of Tomas Adamek, Andre Dirrell and Jean Pascal in his career.
"While it's not the pros, I do believe that the amateur experience will help me," said Despaigne, who started boxing when he was 11 and who owns four knockouts as a pro. "I've always wanted to be a pro. I just want the chance to showcase my skills and I'll take on whoever gives me a chance."
Cuba has had is fair share of solid pro and amateur fighters over the years. But while Despaigne said he has a great deal of respect for all of the fop fighters, his favorite remains heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson, who won three Olympic Gold Medals.
Despaigne is part of a current crop of Cuban fighters, who are garnering plenty of world wide attention.
Featherweight Yurokis Gamboa is unbeaten in 18 fights, super bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux is an up and comer as is unbeaten junior middleweight Erislandy Lara.
"Fight fans should be ready to see some great young Cuban fighters do well," Despaigne said. "I'm fortunate to get television exposure against Richard Hall and fans will enjoy watching all of us. We work hard and have good skills."
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