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Two months ago local boxers Les Ralston and Nick Casal were hoping to land a spot on NBC's reality-TV show "The Contender."

Neither of them will get their wish.

Instead, each will continue to search for his big break in a more traditional way: trying to impress with a persuasive undercard performance.

Ralston will make his Western New York debut Wednesday night at Frontier Field in Rochester. The Cheektowaga middleweight, looking to rebound from his first professional loss, will fight Daniel Neal on a show headlined by former heavyweight champ Hasim Rahman.

Casal will fight Friday night in Louisville on the undercard of Mike Tyson's latest comeback bout. Casal, a rising junior welterweight from Niagara Falls, will face John Rudolph.

Ralston has been eager to fight closer to home. All but two of his fights -- his pro debut at Turning Stone Casino near Syracuse and his last bout May 15 in Chicago -- have taken place in the Carolinas. He is 13-1 with seven knockouts.

"I'll have a lot of family and friends who are making the trip to Rochester," Ralston said. "It will be the most support I've ever had since I turned pro. It's not quite like fighting in Buffalo, but I'm thrilled."

Ralston hasn't fought since he suffered his first pro setback, an eight-round unanimous decision loss to Sergio Mora on NBC. Neal also is coming off his lone pro defeat. The 41-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, is 7-1-1 with two KOs.

"I need to come through with a good performance," Ralston said. "I was on the verge of getting a lot of backing and sponsors before my last fight. It's important that I come back strong."

There are nine bouts and 52 rounds scheduled Wednesday in Rochester, but if it rains the outdoor card could be postponed a day.

Rahman, fighting for the fourth time in four months, will continue his push toward another title against Terrence Lewis in the 10-round main event. The card also will feature Flower City favorites Robert Frazier and Charles Murray.

Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased at or by calling the Frontier Field box office at (585) 423-9464.

Forgive Casal if he gets a tad excited about his fight. He will get to meet Tyson, his pugilistic idol, at Wednesday's news conference. Louisville native Muhammad Ali will be seated ringside Friday night.

"If he's nervous he's not letting it show," said Casal's father and trainer, Ray Casal. "I don't want to say this early in his career that he's a true-blooded professional already, but he doesn't let his emotions out.

"He's pumped up about it, but not in a way that it has gone to his head. He's ready to go in there and show people something."

The Casal-Rudolph bout won't be shown on the pay-per-view telecast. Tyson will fight Danny Williams in the main event.

Casal is coming off a dominant 44-second victory over Timothy Crane one week ago on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" that raised his record to 2-0 with two KOs.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission is still awaiting the medical records it requested nearly five months ago from suspended Town of Tonawanda heavyweight Joe Mesi.

Nevada asked for results of all brain examinations done after Mesi defeated Vassiliy Jirov in Las Vegas.

"We haven't imposed a deadline, but he will remain on suspension until we can determine whether he should be taken off suspension," said Keith Kizer, Nevada's deputy attorney general who works with the athletic commission.

MRI reports obtained by The Buffalo News state Mesi sustained at least three subdural hematomas, bleeding caused by torn blood vessels.

Brain bleeds result in an automatic ban from boxing in Nevada, and until Mesi's suspension is lifted he won't be allowed to fight anywhere in the U.S.

Buffalo lightweight Hector Alejandro is looking at a potentially whirlwind schedule in the coming months.

Alejandro, handled by local boxing impresario Rick Glaser, will fight respected veteran Frank Houghtaling on Wednesday night in Erie, Pa. Glaser is trying to place Alejandro on an Aug. 7 card at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.

If the 7-1 South Park High grad keeps winning and stays healthy, he's slated for an Aug. 24 downstate appearance on ESPN2's "Tuesday Night Fights," his first eight-round bout Sept. 4 in the Cayman Islands and yet another date Sept. 17 in Las Vegas.


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