Welterweight prospect Carlos Adames is ready for his close-up and is hoping to impress.
Adames, a former amateur standout from the Dominican Republic, will make his American television debut in a big spot on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Adames' bout, a scheduled 10-rounder at a contract weight of 150 pounds against Alejandro Barrera, will open the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card headlined by the highly anticipated bout between lightweight world champion Jorge Linares and junior lightweight titlist and No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter Vasiliy Lomachenko at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes and the ESPN App, with the rest of the undercard streaming live on ESPN+ beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET).
Adames (13-0, 11 KOs), 24, known as the "Caballo Bronco," has been waiting for this moment since signing with Top Rank earlier this year. He fought three of his first four professional fights in New York, but the rest of his fights have been in the Dominican Republic.
He is hoping his crowd-pleasing style and punching power will make an impression on what will be the biggest audience he has ever boxed in front of.
"I feel like I carry the responsibility of becoming the superstar that my country is waiting for," Adames said. "I have the talent, dedication and confidence to become a superstar that represents the Dominican Republic. I'm going to give it all for my country."
Top Rank is putting Adames in this coveted television slot because company executives are high on him and believe he can develop not only into a quality pro but also into an attraction.
"We noticed his wins in the Dominican, where he beat some decent opponents, and that's not a place where you usually see those kinds of wins," Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said. "He had people invest in those fights, so clearly nobody would do that if the people around him didn't believe he could make it. So he has some serious wins, he has an exciting style and he's got some charisma.
"There's also a New York market for Dominican fighters we feel has yet to be tapped the right way, so what better way to do that than by putting him on a card like this with all the exposure he'll get. It's a great way to launch what we think will be a terrific and very interesting career. We think there's something there with this kid."
Last July (two fights ago), Adames scored his most noteworthy victory, taking a lopsided 11-round decision against former junior middleweight world titlist Carlos Molina. Adames also owns a fourth-round knockout win over former Venezuelan Olympian Patrick Lopez. Now Adames has the experienced Barrera (29-4, 18 KOs), 31, of Mexico, in front of him.
Barrera has lost two of his past three fights, including a fifth-round knockout by Errol Spence Jr. (before Spence won a world title) and a majority decision to KeAndre Gibson in October. But in between those defeats, Barrera notched a 10-round split-decision win over Eddie Gomez.
"I'm going to leave it all in the ring and put on a great show for the fans that will be present at Madison Square Garden and for the millions that will be watching live on ESPN," Adames said. "I want to tell everyone to get their snacks and drinks ready because I am going for the knockout. Watch out. 'Caballo Bronco' is coming."
Adames was 240-22 in the amateur ranks and won gold medals in tournaments such as the 2015 Jose Cheo Aponte Tournament in Caguas, Puerto Rico, 2013 Bolivarian Games, 2012 Pan American Youth Championships and 2012 Dominican Republic Youth National Championships. He already was a pro when he came to the attention of Top Rank officials after serving as a sparring partner for former lightweight and undisputed junior welterweight world champion Terence Crawford in 2017.
The company kept tabs on him and eventually signed him when other promotional outfits also were interested.
"I sparred some good rounds with Crawford, and I did very well against one of the best fighters in the world," Adames said. "That gave me a lot of confidence, and it showed me that I could go very far as a fighter."
Top Rank believes the same thing.