Saturday, June 03, 2023  |



Steven Nelson vs. Cem Kilic pushed forward to January 11

Fighters Network

The clash between unbeaten super middleweights Steven Nelson and Cem Kilic, which was scheduled for Saturday night, is now on for January 11, Top Rank announced on Monday afternoon.

The 10-round bout will take place inside the Etess Arena at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in support of the main event between light heavyweights Jesse Hart and Joe Smith Jr.

Both fights will air live on ESPN (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).

The Nelson-Kilic fight was originally scheduled for the undercard of the Terence Crawford-Egidijus Kavaliauskas fight for Crawford’s WBO welterweight title at Madison Square Garden, in New York City, but was moved to January 11 when Rob Brant, The Ring’s NO. 9-ranked middleweight, suffered a biceps injury during training camp and had to withdraw from the fight. Brant was scheduled to fight former super middleweight title challenger Habib Ahmed in a 10-round bout.

Nelson (15-0, 12 knockouts) stopped gatekeeper Derrick Findley in his most recent bout on September 1. The 31-year-old, who resides in Omaha, Nebraska, trains alongside Crawford and WBO junior lightweight titleholder Jamel Herring.

“This is one of those moments. When this opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to take it,” said Nelson, who is trained by Brian “Bomac” McIntyre. “I compare this to when Terence Crawford got the late call to fight Breidis Prescott on HBO (in March of 2013). He took advantage of that opportunity and I am going to take advantage of the ESPN spotlight.”

Nelson, who began fighting in 2010, is a 2012 U.S. Olympic team alternate and a U.S. Army veteran. He is now fighting at 168 pounds after spending most of his pro career as a light heavyweight.

Kilic (14-0, 9 KOs), who was born in Germany and now resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks, stopped Martez McGregor on June 15. Kilic has shown more power and aggression in recent fights, having stopped seven of his last nine opponents.

Like Nelson, the 25-year-old also works with a well-known trainer in Buddy McGirt.

“While I’m disappointed not to fight on the December 14 card, I am beyond excited to showcase my talent to an even bigger audience just four weeks later on ESPN,” said Kilic, who is of Turkish descent. “I have been working hard in Florida with Buddy McGirt, so all sports fans can see the best Cem Kilic on fight night.”

Kilic, who is ranked No. 7 at 168 pounds by the WBA, is managed by Los Angeles-based Shane Shapiro.



Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, and He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.




Struggling to locate a copy of The Ring Magazine? Try here or

You can order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page.