Tiger Johnson has been ready for prime time ever since representing the U.S. at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics. The welterweight standout will get a chance to put his skills on display in prime time as he fights an opponent to be named in a six-round special feature Saturday, May 21, at the Resorts World Event Center at Resorts World Las Vegas. Johnson’s bout will open the ESPN telecast of the Janibek Alimkhanuly-Danny Dignum WBO Interim middleweight world title bout.
Alimkhanuly-Dignum, a 10-round lightweight co-feature between Jamel Herring and Jamaine Ortiz, and Johnson’s return will air live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
Following his Olympic run, Johnson (3-0, 2 KOs) made an impressive pro debut by stopping Antonius Grable in the fourth round last November on the Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter undercard. The 23-year-old followed up that performance with a decision win over Xavier Madrid and a fourth-round TKO over Sebastian Gabriel Chaves.
The following undercard bouts are scheduled to stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 5:15 p.m. ET/2:15 p.m. PT.
Southern California standout Adam “Blunose” Lopez (15-3, 6 KOs) will face Dominican puncher William Encarnacion (19-2, 15 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight bout. Lopez became a fan favorite after a breakout performance against Oscar Valdez in November 2019. Despite losing that fight, Lopez demonstrated the poise and composure that would eventually lead him to wins over Louie Coria, Jason Sanchez, and a razor-thin majority decision loss to former world champion Isaac Dogboe. The 26-year-old faces yet another tough challenge in Encarnacion, who is coming off a loss against top contender Abraham Nova.
2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas (12-1, 11 KOs) will take on Colombian Ruben Cervera (13-2, 11 KOs) in a junior lightweight clash scheduled for eight or six rounds. Balderas is coming off three consecutive stoppage victories since signing with Top Rank last year.
Former world champion Jessie Magdaleno (28-1, 18 KOs) returns from a nearly two-year layoff to fight Mexico’s Edy Valencia Mercado (19-6-6, 7 KOs) in an eight-rounder at featherweight. Magdaleno has won three in a row since losing the WBO junior featherweight crown to Isaac Dogboe in April 2018.
U.S. Olympic silver medalist Duke Ragan (5-0, 1 KO), from Cincinnati, Ohio, will put his unbeaten record on the line against Victorino Gonzalez (5-2, 2 KOs) in a featherweight bout scheduled for six or four rounds.
Steven “So Cold” Nelson (17-0, 14 KOs), from Omaha, Nebraska, returns from an extended layoff to take on Louis Rose (17-3-1, 7 KOs) in an eight-round light heavyweight battle. Nelson, who knocked out DeAndre Ware in September 2020, suffered a torn Achilles shortly after that bout.
The undercard will also feature three swing bouts:
Undefeated lightweight contender Giovanni “El Cabron” Cabrera (19-0, 7 KOs), a Chicago native who signed with Top Rank earlier this year, will face Argentinean veteran Elias Araujo (21-4, 8 KOs) in an eight-rounder.
Lightweight prospect Charlie Sheehy (2-0, 2 KOs), a former Team USA amateur standout from Brisbane, California, returns in a four-rounder against New Orleans native Burnell Jenkins (2-1, 1 KO).
Rising junior welterweight Kasir “Mazzi” Goldston (4-0, 1 KO) will fight Cuban spoiler Yaniel Alvarez (2-1, 1 KO) in a bout scheduled for six or four rounds.