Spotlight | on boxing

Contenders Foreman, Oliveira, hope to get back on track in South Florida

Brazilian boxer Michael Oliveira, left, works out with trainer Orlando Cuellar at the Thump Gym in Miami, as he trains for a fight against Acelino 'popo' Freiras on June 2, 2012 in Punta Del Este in Uruguay.
Brazilian boxer Michael Oliveira, left, works out with trainer Orlando Cuellar at the Thump Gym in Miami, as he trains for a fight against Acelino 'popo' Freiras on June 2, 2012 in Punta Del Este in Uruguay.

Coming up

Monday (10 p.m., Fox Sports 1): Fidel Maldonado vs. Luis Ramos, 10, junior welterweights.

Saturday (10 p.m., HBO): Andrew Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez, 12, for Ward’s WBA super-middleweight title.

Special to the Miami Herald

Fully convinced that their respective setbacks are no longer obstacles, Yuri Foreman and Michael Oliveira again target a championship destination.

Foreman and Oliveira will attempt to improve their title hopes Tuesday night at Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena in Hollywood. The fighters will be featured in separate bouts of an announced eight-bout show.

A former 154-pound world champion, Foreman will face Mexico’s Javier Gomez in a scheduled eight-round bout. Oliveira will fight Norberto Gonzalez, also of Mexico, in the show’s main event.

“The preparation is almost complete, we are just putting some finishing touches,” Foreman said Friday from Gleason’s Gym in New York. “I can’t wait for Tuesday night.”

A native of Belarus, Foreman won the World Boxing Association super-welterweight title with a unanimous decision win over former champion Daniel Santos in 2009 but lost the belt against Miguel Cotto under freakish circumstances the following year.

Foreman tore the ACL in his right knee midway through the fight, and although he fought two additional rounds after sustaining the injury, the fight was stopped in the ninth round, giving Cotto the technical knockout victory.

The injury stalled Foreman’s career for two years. Foreman (31-2, 8 KOs) returned to the ring in January and has already won three fights since his comeback.

“I never had this type of injury before; I thought in two months I would be ready to recuperate,” Foreman said. “But I took my time. It was difficult not to fight. It was challenging.”

Foreman’s Jewish faith was a major factor in his recovery. In fact, Foreman is an aspiring rabbi, ready to make the transition once his boxing career ends.

“Boxing is a microcosm of life,” said Foreman, a married father of two boys, ages 3 and eight months. “There are always going to be obstacles. There are some examples you might not like. But you can always turn them around for the positive.”

Oliveira’s setback was not linked to injury but a disappointment that could dash a young fighter’s title hopes and derail a career. The native of Brazil and Miami resident won his first 17 professional fights until he faced fellow Brazil native and two-division world champion Acelino Freitas early last year in Uruguay.

Freitas, returning to the sport after a five-year layoff, scored a ninth-round knockout win over Oliveira in their middleweight bout.

“A lot of people saw that fight against Freitas as a glass half empty experience for me, but I consider it half full,” Oliveira said. “I saw it as a push forward rather than a setback.

“You are always going to have detractors - that I should have beaten Freitas. I fought nine strong rounds against a multi-division champion with more experience than me.”

A 2009 Miami Killian High graduate, Oliveira (21-1, 16 KOs) has four knockout wins after his loss against Freitas.

A second boxing show planned for Hard Rock Live Arena this week has been cancelled.

Friday night’s card, promoted by Iron Mike Productions, was scheduled to showcase a World Boxing Council-sanctioned tournament as the featured bouts. But the show was scrapped after WBC president Jose Sulaiman recently underwent open heart surgery.

Around the ring

• Andre Ward returns to the ring after a 14-month absence when he defends his World Boxing Association super-middleweight title against Edwin Rodriguez on Saturday night in Ontario, Calif. Considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) injured his right shoulder while training late last year and underwent surgery in January.

• Late Saturday, Mikey Garcia overcame a second-round knockdown and knocked out Rocky Martinez in the eighth round to win the World Boxing Organization junior-lightweight title in Corpus Cristi, Texas. Garcia (33-0, 28 KOs) floored Martinez (27-2-2) with a left hook to the body early in the eighth. Martinez was counted out at 56 seconds of the round.

Earlier, Nonito Donaire made his first ring appearance after his first loss against Miami resident Guillermo Rigondeaux with a ninth-round technical knockout win over Vic Darchinyan. Donaire (32-2, 21 KOs) floored Darchinyan (39-6-1) with an overhand left to the head and finished him with a flurry of unanswered combinations that forced Cole to stop the featherweight fight at 2:06 of the round.

Donaire, a former flyweight, bantamweight and junior-featherweight titleholder, was behind on two judges’ scorecards when the fight was stopped.

In a bout featuring former U.S. Olympians, Demetrius Andrade won the vacant WBO junior-middleweight title with a split decision win over Vanes Martirosyan.

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