Western New York prizefighters haven't experienced very much success when it comes to seizing the moment in recent years.
Nick Casal hopes to buck that trend. The Niagara Falls junior welterweight will enter the biggest fight of his young career against another undefeated prospect on national television.
Casal will fight Jose Antonio Izquierdo at 11 p.m. Friday on the Showtime network. The eight-round bout will take place at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss.
"I'm looking forward to showcasing my skills," Casal said. "I just want to show everybody I'm one of the top prospects in the country. I want to be a world champion, and this would be a good chance to show I can do it.
"It's a big step up. This is the first step to bigger fights, main event and maybe a title shot. This is a big steppingstone right here."
Casal, who turned 21 last week, has experienced some turbulence in the past 18 months. Just as he was starting to be mentioned in the world rankings after winning his first 10 pro bouts by knockout, Maryland suspended him for a positive drug test in June 2005.
He suffered the first blemish on his record in June with a draw against an inferior opponent and was knocked down for the first time in October. He has been arrested and charged with assault in Niagara Falls.
Izquierdo, a hard-hitting Cuban fighting out of Mexico, might be the perfect opponent to help Casal regain momentum and climb the contenders list.
Casal and Izquierdo each own a 15-0-1 record. Casal has 12 knockouts, one fewer than his opponent.
"One of our 'O's' has got to go," Casal said, referring to their undefeated records. "There's no excuses, and that's what I like: a competition."
Izquierdo is coming off an eight-round majority decision three months ago over Leo Martinez, a .500 fighter, in Las Vegas. The narrow victory snapped a string of nine knockouts, seven of which ended inside two rounds.
"I'm pretty sure it's going to be a slugfest," Casal said. "It's what I want. All I can say is tune in because it's going to be a good fight."