By NICK GIONGCO
Filipino fighter Mark Bernaldez tries to turn up the heat on Friday when he meets unbeaten American stylist Albert Bell in an eight-round lightweight match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
It’s going to be another closed-to-the-public show being staged by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., making Bernaldez the third Filipino boxer to fight in the cornonavirus era after stablemate Mike Plania and little-known Reymond Yanong saw action last month.
Plania and Yanong likewise saw action on Arum’s events that were closely monitored by the Nevada Athletic Commission to ensure safety protocols are observed.
Bernaldez arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday with lead trainer Osmiri ‘Moro’ Fernandez from their training camp in sunny Miami where he was based the last four months.
Fernandez was also in Plania’s corner during the upset win over world No. 1 Joshua Greer and is of the belief that lightning’s going to strike twice.
But Bell (16-0 with five KOs), who had won almost every amateur tournament in the amateurs insists he has other plans in mind.
“I’m just ready to seize the opportunity, and I do think it’s a big moment. All eyes are on me, so it’s time to show out,” the Ohio native Bell said in an interview with his hometown paper the Toledo Blade.
Bernaldez (20-3 with 14 KOs), like Bell, will be making his 2020 debut because of the pandemic.
A win should catapult him to bigger things like Plania although Bell is sure not to hand it over to him on a silver platter.
“I’m definitely on that platform as a top contender. This fight, I want to go out there and look good, get the win, and then the next fight I want to fight for the world title.”
Bernaldez will have his hands full come fight night.
Meanwhile, undefeated feather prospect Mark ‘Magnifico’ Magsayo was scheduled to leave for Los Angeles on Wednesday to train at the Wild Card in Hollywood.
Magsayo’s trip was arranged by Sean Gibbons of MP Promotions, who plans to secure a fight for him in September.
Magsayo will be joined by his wife Frances in a place just a stone’s throw from Freddie Roach’s famed sweat shop on Vine Street in Hollywood.
Last March, Magsayo signed a promotional deal with Manny Pacquiao’s outfit.