RFA president Ed Soares announced on Tuesday that Brazilian flyweight dynamo Leandro Higo was unable to obtain a work visa in time for his 125-pound title fight with Matt Manzanares that was set to headline RFA 14 on Friday, April 11. Stepping in to face Manzanares in the main event of RFA 14 will be Higo’s fellow countryman Junior Maranhão.
“We tried to expedite the process to get Leandro Higo’s work visa issued, but obtaining work visas has become a much more rigorous process,” stated Soares. “Fortunately, Junior Maranhão already had his paperwork in order and he is eager to make his international debut at RFA 14. Higo will make his RFA debut as soon as his work visa is issued.”
The change of opponents has not changed the focus of the former Junior Olympian boxer Manzanares (7-2), who is set to headline RFA 14 at the City of Cheyenne Ice and Events Center in his hometown of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“It’s unfortunate that I’m not fighting Higo, but I’m here to fight anyone that is put in front of me. That’s my job,” Manzanares explained. “I expect the same result with my hand raised on April 11th.”
Maranhão (9-2) lives about 1,750 miles south of Higo’s hometown of Mossoró in the city of Guarujá, which is located on Santo Amaro island on the São Paulo shore in southern Brazil.
Maranhão trains at Bronx’s Gold Gym in Guarujá alongside UFC star Charles Oliveira and he is looking forward to joining his famous teammate on the international MMA scene. All nine of Maranhão’s career wins have been finishes in the first or second round and he is currently riding a 6-fight win streak. The 21-year-old Brazilian has not lost a fight since 2011.
“I don’t know a lot about Matt Manzanares other than he is a tough guy who has fought some really good opponents,” said Maranhão. “It is a dream of mine to fight in the United States. It’s even better that I get to fight for one of the top promotions in the world (RFA) that I have been following.”
RFA 14 – Manzanares vs. Maranhão takes place Friday, April 11 at the City of Cheyenne Ice and Events Center in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming. The entire main card will be televised live on AXS TV.