It’s not the biggest belt out there. But it’s the first opportunity for Jesse Magdaleno to win one.
The undefeated 21-year-old super bantamweight from Las Vegas will fight for the vacant WBC Youth championship tonight at The Mirage, and Magdaleno plans to beat Jonathan Arellano and claim the prize.
“I’m already getting a (display) case built for it,” Magdaleno said. “I’m taking that belt home with me.”
Magdaleno (12-0, nine knockouts) is not prone to making such declarative statements. But he is dominating his opponents and on such a fast track to fighting for bigger titles that Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman is having a hard time finding opponents for him.
Tonight’s eight-round bout against Arellano (13-1, three KOs) will be televised nationally on ESPN2 (Cable 31).
“I’m using it as motivation,” Magdaleno said. “I want to win and look good doing it.”
Magdaleno’s trainer, Pat Barry, decided to test him in preparing for this fight by having Magdaleno spar with featherweight Patrick Hyland (27-0, 12 KOs), who will face Javier Fortuna (25-0, 15 KOs) for the WBA interim championship Saturday on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight at the MGM Grand Garden.
“We’re trying to step up the quality of the preparation for Jesse,” Barry said. “We’re trying to find better and more consistent sparring. The local guys can only push Jesse so far.”
Magdaleno said mixing it up with the bigger Hyland was a good way to prep for tonight’s bout.
“He has a longer reach, and I had to work to get inside against him,” Magdaleno said. “He’s a heck of a fighter, and he made me think inside the ring when we sparred.”
Magdaleno hopes to get a chance to fight for the NABO title early in 2013. But for now, he’ll try to win his first belt as a pro.
“You’ve got to start somewhere,” he said. “But this is a big step for me; my first chance to win something, and I’m taking that belt home with me.”
In tonight’s main event, Ray Beltran (26-6, 17 KOs) will face Ji-Hoon Kim (24-7, 18 KOs) for the NABF lightweight championship. Beltran was one of Pacquiao’s sparring partners during Pacquiao’s Los Angeles training camp.
The first bell is scheduled for 5:15 p.m., with the ESPN2 telecast at 7.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.