Undefeated Brazilian middleweight contender Esquiva “La Pantera” Falcao will look to turn back Chinese contender Ainiwaer Yilixiati in a 10-round middleweight fight Saturday, Feb. 1 at Mission Hills Haikou in Haikou, Hainan, China.
Falcao- Yilixiati will serve as the co-feature to the highly anticipated bout between WBC/WBO junior welterweight world champion Jose Ramirez and former world champion Viktor “The Iceman” Postol (ESPN, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
The undercard will stream on ESPN+ beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
“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,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.
“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.”
Falcao (25-0, 17 KOs), a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, turned pro following a stellar 215-15 amateur run that also included a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships and a gold medal in 2012 at the prestigious Cheo Aponte Tournament. He turned pro under the Top Rank banner in 2014 and is now ranked in the top 15 by three of the four major sanctioning organizations.
A southpaw boxer-puncher, Falcao went 3-0 in 2019 with knockout wins over Manny Woods and Jesus Antonio Gutierrez, in addition to a decision win in Brazil against Jorge Daniel Miranda. Yilixiati (17-1, 12 KOs) has won seven in a row, including a pair of victories since moving down to the middleweight ranks.
In live action on the ESPN+ undercard stream:
Unbeaten Chinese prospect Yongqiang Yang (13-0, 10 KOs) will face Filipino veteran Jhon “The Disaster” Gemino (21-12-1, 11 KOs) in a 12-rounder for the WBO International 130-pound belt.
In July 2018, Yang knocked out the big-punching Harmonito Dela Torre in two rounds on the Manny Pacquiao-Lucas Matthysse undercard, and he most recently stopped JR Magboo in two rounds to win the WBO Global lightweight title.
Rising Chinese lightweight Jianhao Diao (2-0, 2 KOs) will take on Eduardo “The Nightmare” Mancito (18-10-2, 9 KOs) in a six-rounder.
Korean super middleweight prospect Sung Jae Jo (11-0, 8 KOs) will fight Zulipikaer Maimaitiali (12-2-1, 8 KOs) in a 10-rounder for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title.