DETROIT – April 25, 2024 – Salita Promotions’ top American heavyweight Jermaine Franklin Jr. (22-2, 14 KOs) returns to his home state of Michigan to take on former US Olympian Devin Vargas (22-10, 9 KOs) from nearby Sylvania, OH, in the 10-round main event of the next installment of the “Big Time Boxing USA” boxing series on Thursday, May 23, from Wayne State Fieldhouse in Detroit and live on global premier sports platform DAZN (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).

In an intriguing eight-round co-feature, undefeated former national amateur champion Joshua James Pagan (9-0, 4 KOs) of Grand Rapids, MI, will take the biggest step up of his young career in a dangerous test against fellow undefeated prospect Roger Hilley (13-0, 8 KOs) ofChattanooga, TN, for the Junior NABF Super Lightweight Championship.

True to BIG TIME BOXING’s emerging format, several local prospects will appear in the night’s supporting televised bouts, including Detroit’s undefeated “Hitman 2.0” Da’Velle Smith (8-0, 6 KOs), once-beaten Dearborn-based KO artist Husam Al Mashhadi (9-1, 8 KOs),Mount Clemens, Michigan’s undefeated and hard-punching Luis Quintero (7-0, 7 KOs).  

Tickets for the live event are on sale now and can be purchased online HERE or in-person at the Wayne State Fieldhouse Box Office.

“We have assembled some of the baddest men from the Detroit boxing scene for this fight card,” said Dmitriy Salita, president of Salita Promotions, which is amid its first multi-event agreement with DAZN. “Future world champions facing tough competition in a true test of mettle and looking to take the next step — this is what the Big Time Boxing series is all about. Each man is hungry to make a statement of his own, especially Jermaine, who is one of America’s top-ranked heavyweights. I want to thank DAZN for giving all the fighters a worldwide platform to show out for Detroit. And I thank the Detroit boxing community for coming out to support their favorite hometown fighters.”

Still young for a heavyweight contender, the 30-year-old Franklin got back into the win column with a dominant 10-round unanimous decision (100-90 twice, 99-91) over the previously unbeaten Isaac Munoz Gutierrez last July in Detroit. A native of Saginaw, MI, Franklin was coming off a pair of close and thrilling decision losses to former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and top contender Dillian Whyte in his previous two outings.

Against Vargas, Franklin will be coming back after a 10-month layoff and looking to continue working his way back into contention.

“I want to show the world the new Jermaine,” said Franklin during a break in training. “I have some new smoke to show boxing fans. I learned so much after the Joshua fight. I must trust myself and my skills. My team told me, ‘If you want the belt, you have to go for it.’ You will see a new Jermaine. I promise that.”

Franklin says the hometown crowd will be all the fuel he needs for a spectacular performance.

“I’m so hyped to fight in front of my family and friends. I get a chance to come home and give my family a welcome-home knockout.  I have been to some great places to fight but nothing comes close to fighting at home in front of family.”

The 2021 U.S. Amateur Welterweight National Champion, 24-year-old Pagan turned pro in January 2022. Showing steady improvement, Pagan was last seen in October, when he scored a unanimous six-round decision over respectable veteran Braulio Rodriguez at Motor City Casino in Detroit. 

Reminiscent of the acclaimed ShoBox series, Pagan says taking on fellow undefeated Hilley in a “Someone’s 0 will Go” matchup this early in his career is a significant risk, but also a chance to increase his growing reputation at 140 pounds.

“I’m very excited to be fighting in the co-feature of Big Time Boxing in Detroit. I cannot wait to show the world what Joshua Pagan can do. On May 23, I’m getting a victory and nothing less.”

Known in boxing circles as “The Hitman,” Roger Hilley hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 29-year-old southpaw with power in both hands and sound boxing fundamentals, was last seen winning the American Boxing Federation Inter-Continental Lightweight title with a unanimous decision over rugged gatekeeper Oscar Bravo last May. Before embarking on his now seven-year professional boxing career, Hilley amassed an amateur record of 97-20 and fought in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic trials. He has also worked in camps with Floyd Mayweather Sr. and “Money” Mayweather himself.

“I’ve been blessed with a good team and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to compete and showcase my skills in the Motor City,” said Hilley. “Opportunities like this don’t come very often for me, so believe me I will be taking full advantage. After May 23, fight fans will remember my name!”

The 23-year-old Smith made his pro debut in September 2021, winning the WBC’s inaugural Big Belt Championship by knocking out Ricky Evans in the first round. Smith would follow that triumph with a pair of knockouts in November 2021 and May 2022, before winning a unanimous decision over Devontae McDonald last August. The Kronk Gym-trained middleweight prospect was most recently seen taking a wide unanimous decision over Argentina’s Rolando Wenceslao Mansilla in the inaugural “Big Time Boxing USA” event in February.

While it’s far too early to make binding proclamations, the 6’ 2” Smith has already been generating plenty of online buzz as the next coming of the legendary Detroiter Thomas “Hitman” Hearns. While his opponent, along with Al Mashhadi, and Quintero’s are still TBA, Smith says he’s just focused on the task at hand and not worried about the labels that fans are putting on him.

“I don’t know too much about my next opponent,” admitted Smith. “I just focus on myself and what I’m doing inside and outside of the gym. It’s always been me vs. me, and at this point in my career, things are getting more and more serious. I’m ready to take on bigger challenges and go to the next level. I’m just staying humble through it all and working very hard to prepare myself for those moments.”

This will be the third boxing event at Wayne State Fieldhouse, the home to the Detroit Pistons’ G-League affiliate, the Motor City Cruise, after “Big Time Boxing USA” debuted at the venue in February.

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