- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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"The Drunken Master" is coming back to ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
Junior welterweight Emanuel Augustus (38-31-6, 20 KOs), something of a cult figure and longtime fan favorite on the series despite his poor record, will face rising prospect Ruslan Provodnikov (15-0, 10 KOs) of Russia as a late replacement in the 10-round co-feature on Friday night (10 ET) in Laredo, Texas.
Augustus, who has engaged in numerous entertaining fights on ESPN2, passed his medical tests and was approved for the fight by Texas authorities on Wednesday morning, promoter Artie Pelullo said.
Augustus, 35, replaces Frankie Figueroa, who withdrew a few days ago.
"[Figueroa] said he injured his ribs in sparring and he sent me a doctor's note," Pelullo said. "But he also said wants to make the fight with Ruslan again, so if he wins, we are going to make the fight again. It shows me he is really injured and didn't just pull out. But with Augustus, we have a very good replacement fight."
Augustus is known for his carefree fighting attitude and crazy moves in the ring. His 10-round decision loss to Micky Ward in 2001 is widely considered the greatest action fight in the history of "Friday Night Fights" and he gave Floyd Mayweather Jr. perhaps the toughest fight of his career in 2000.
"It's a dangerous fight for Ruslan, but it's a good fight for television, and that's the truth," Pelullo said. "[Augustus] has been in with everybody."
Had Augustus not passed his medical tests, Pelullo had Ben Tackie on hold.
Augustus has lost two in a row, including a split decision to Figueroa in November 2008 and a ninth-round TKO to Wale Omotoso in Australia last August.
In the main event, South Korea's Ji-Hoon Kim (20-5, 17 KOs) meets Ameth Diaz (27-9, 19 KOs) of Panama in a lightweight title eliminator. Since the IBF's 135-pound title is vacant, the winner will be ordered to face the next leading available contender for the vacant belt, Pelullo said.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
2hBy Dan Graziano