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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Jones has a belt, and an agenda

Steve Christilaw Correspondent

There’s a sense of urgency surrounding Rodney “Smooth” Jones as he prepares for tonight’s nationally telecast fight with Teddy “Two Gun” Reid – a bout postponed from Northern Quest’s initial ESPN2 card in January.

The 36-year-old from Stockton, Calif., holds the NABF super welterweight belt and goes for his 11th consecutive victory tonight in a fight carried live on ESPN2 from the casino’s Pend Oreille Pavillion in Airway Heights.

Northern Quest Casino took on tonight’s boxing card at the last minute. Because the “Tuesday Night Fights” telecast is live on the Eastern Time Zone, the first bout begins at 5 p.m. The pavillion’s doors open at 4.

“Rodney knows that every fight at this stage of his career could be the one, the last one,” his manager, Tom DiFrancesco said. “At his age, at this point in his career, if he loses he doesn’t have the time to go back and take the five or six fights it would take to get another shot at a belt.”

That means Jones (35-3-0, 22 knockouts) is all business about each and every fight he takes – especially against a quality opponent who has a reputation for hitting hard and often. Jones arrived in Spokane on Monday a full pound under his contracted weight of 154 pounds and able to relax, eat regular meals and finish preparting.

“Teddy Reid (23-6-1, 17 knockouts) is a tough guy,” DiFrancesco said. “But Rodney is a hard worker who knows exactly where he wants to go and what he has to do to get there.”

Jones had to pull out of the originally scheduled fight when a piece of floating bone lodged in his knee joint, effectively locking his leg in place.

Surgeons where able to make a small incision in the knee and remove the bone and Jones made a rapid recovery.

“It was one of those situations where, if we’d had another week, Rodney would have been able to fight that fight,” DiFrancesco said. “It’s tough on a fighter to get prepared for a bout and then have to cancel the week before. That last week, you’re primed and ready to go. That’s why, three weeks later, we had him in the ring again fighting (a victory over Rudy Lovato in Lemoore, Calif.).”

Jones has a long list of accomplishments, having held the NABF welterweight title and the USBA light welterweight crown. He’s ranked No. 7 by the WBC, behind Seattle’s Alex Bunema and No. 1 contender Oscar De la Hoya

Reid is listed as the Interim NABF champion at 154, the result of a special arrangement by promoter Arthur Pelullo for the January fight at Northern Quest. Pelullo was contracted to provide a championship fight to headline the card. The arrangement called for Reid to fight last-minute replacement Eddie Sanchez for the interim championship belt, with the winner guaranteed a bout with Jones in a title fight.

Reid is ranked No. 7 by the IBF, which ranks Jones No. 10. Neither fighter is ranked by the WBA

“Rodney is a quality champion,” DiFrancesco said. “He’s also a quality opponent, an opponent you take on very carefully if you’re a champion holding another belt.”

DiFrancesco said his fighter is anxious to continue his climb up the boxing ladder and challenge for a world championship.

“We’ve got to take these fights as they come, but we’re certainly looking for a shot,” he said. “We just have to trust Arthur Pelullo and Banner Promotions to make that happen for us.”

The co-feature bout originally scheduled to open the card – a USBA super bantamweight title fight between Artyom Simonyan and Agapito “El Cicion” Sanchez – was cancelled at the last minute. Instead, the card will open with a bout between Seattle’s Walter “2 Guns” Wright (5-1-0, three knockouts) and Billy Lyell (7-2-0, two knockouts) in a middleweight bout.

Two local fighters also are scheduled to appear. Heavyweight Chauncy “The Hillyard Hammer” Welliver and cruiserweight Shawn Hawk each will battle an unnamed opponent.

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