Friday TV Cheat Sheet Special: ShoBox: Delivering the Future Again Tonight? By Martin Mulcahey, MaxBoxing (Feb 11, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing - Tweet
Consecutive weeks of my favorite boxing series, Showtime’s invaluable “ShoBox: The New Generation” franchise, is cause for celebration in my book. Last Friday, “ShoBox’s” scheduled triple-header was depleted by the last-minute injury cancellation of Archie Ray Marquez. True to its commitment to quality, “ShoBox” did not schedule a mismatch just to fill airtime. Not coincidently, “ShoBox” delivered the fight of the weekend, a ten-round split decision war between Luis Franco and Leonilo Miranda. Tonight, “ShoBox” heads to the plate with two more fights that could, given the matchmaking, duplicate last week’s prizewinning performance. Those paying attention will note “ShoBox” has hit many more home runs than it has suffered strikeouts.
Opening the card, emanating from Bally’s Grand Ballroom in Atlantic City (part of a rejuvenated New Jersey boxing scene), is a fight in the talent-rich super middleweight division, a pairing of “Da’s,” with Cornelius “Da Beast” White attempting to defuse Donovan “Da Bomb” George. The pair has taken divergent paths to arrive at the same destination. Aged prospect Cornelius White (29 years old) only had 13 amateur bouts, while youngish (and previous “ShoBox” participant) Don George (26 years old) was a three-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion. The duo has combined to stop 32 of the 36 foes, and neither has traversed the scheduled ten-round distance yet. On paper, this is a pairing where fans need to be in their seats at the opening bell, since it could end at any second or stage of the fight.
The last time Donovan George was in the ring, he was hammered mercilessly by Francisco Sierra, his face looking like it had been worked over with a meat tenderizer. A case for George’s father/trainer’s arrest on child neglect for allowing that beating to continue so long could have been proffered. The last time George was on “ShoBox,” he won a fast-paced battle against former Ghanaian Olympian Osumanu Adama. Some are concerned that George is returning to the deep end of the pool so soon after a brutal setback. Co-promoter, Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing, does not see it that way. "Donovan thrives on this kind of pressure. We asked him if he wanted to take a couple tune-ups before jumping back into the world-class level and he wouldn't even consider it. He feels like what happened with Sierra was just a bad night.”
The statistic which sticks out with Cornelius White is that the Houston native has scored 15 stoppages in 16 appearances and 13 in a row. Although, it has to be said, the opposition was devoid of a stern test and only two opponents entered with winning records. The limited footage I saw of White did nothing to refute his record as manufactured but White signing with Goossen Tutor Promotions is indicative of potential. White’s record was built in weak-commissioned Texas and Arkansas but he is pumped about the opportunity to step up the level of competition. "Now I'm on Showtime and I can show the world what I have. One year from now, I will be ready to fight for a world title." A lofty ambition but one that over 40 “ShoBox” alumni has achieved.
White is raw, having only fought 13 amateur bouts, and it’s been two years since he fought below 168 pounds. That is certainly not because he lacks fitness; White is built like a beast from available film footage and pictures. Getting down to super middleweight shows dedication, as long as he did so without draining himself of energy and vitality. In Houston, White gets good sparring with unbeaten “ShoBox” graduate Marcus Johnson that will have done more to prepare White than any of his 16 professional opponents. White is looking for more than a win; he wants to impress. “The fans will see a lot of action. George is a strong guy but I'm coming. I'm not coming to play or to hug. I'm coming with my hands up. One of us is going to get knocked out and it won't be me."
In the main event, two-time world title challenger Alejandro Valdez provides a veteran test for the latest hot shot to emerge from California in Rico “Suavecito” Ramos. The added spice of a Mexican fighter mixed with a Puerto Rican heritage boxer should get fans’ (of that long-standing rivalry) tastes buds salivating. It’s a shame the fight is not taking place on the West Coast, given the fan bases of both boxers in California. Still, the matchup remains attractive no matter the venue. Valdez has boxed in America five times and Ramos fought his last bout in North Carolina so neither will be affected by the road trip. What could be a problem for Ramos is the location of the fight in the ring, since Valdez enjoys a three-inch height and considerable reach advantage at 5’8½” to Ramos’ muscular 5’5” frame.
Long and lean Valdez uses his size well and at 27 years old, has plenty of life in his punches. The Mexican is a wild card, who can look good defeating Heriberto Ruiz and Oscar Andrade or overmatched in a two-round kayo loss to Hozumi Hasegawa. A dangerous hot-and-cold performer; opponents do not know what version will bounce out of the corner until the first punch is thrown. Valdez’s chin is questionable at the highest level; besides the Hasegawa loss (a slightly premature stoppage), he was put on the canvas by Heriberto Ruiz. For comparison’s sake, I would say Valdez has the look of a less powerful Jhonny Gonzalez. A year ago, gave pound-for-pound threat Fernando Montiel fits, knocking Montiel down in a cut induced technical draw where it looked like Valdez cut Montiel with a punch.
Valdez sees Ramos as his ticket back to a world title fight. "It is great to get this fight to get me back on the map. I have tasted what it's like to fight on boxing's biggest stage. That experience will lead me to victory." He has studied footage of the young phenom and was left with more questions than impressions. “He is untested. We want to test his chin. We want to be the first to give him a loss.” The objective is easily definable for Valdez. “I have seen Ramos fight a few times and he is very talented but young. I feel that my southpaw style and edge in experience against quality opponents will be more than he is ready to handle."
Young Rico Ramos is already rated number one with the WBA at junior featherweight and in the top ten of the other sanctioning bodies as well. Much of that is thanks to his attention-grabbing, “Knockout of the Year”-worthy destruction of Heriberto Ruiz in his last fight. A single punch that changed Ramos’ life. "Yeah, people are still talking about that one; it's been all over Facebook and Twitter. A lot of people were shocked by it. A lot of people had me losing that fight." Ramos said he remains levelheaded in and out of the ring and approaches this fight like every other one. "I'm not looking for a knockout. I just want to win every round and look good at the same time. I will box like I was taught to do and if the knockout comes, I guess I make the fans a lot happier. Tomorrow night, you can expect to see a lot of jabs from me, right-hand ring generalship. You can expect that I will stay composed and use the ring a lot for to my advantage.”
The Californian honed those skills in the amateurs and hooked off the jab before his tenth birthday. Won a PAL championship and second-place silverware at the Golden Gloves and US Nationals, finishing with a 97-17 record. Great combination of speed and well-chosen aggressiveness made the transition to the pros easy for Ramos. Seemingly, never throws less than three punches at a time but does not get greedy and remain stationary too long. He also understands this fight leads to bigger things. "This is it. This is my time to shine. This is going to be a real step up for me. I know Alejandro plans to bring it on February 11th but there is no way he stands in my way of a world title shot." A 23-year-old with veteran moves and focus is hard to come by, which is why Ramos is backed by managerial muscle like Al Haymon…wryly nicknamed “Haymon Box Office”.
The card has been put together by Dan Goossen, who is pleased with the line-up and venue outside his California comfort zone. “Besides having a world-class solid boxing event for the Showtime viewers, it's always exciting bringing events like this to the East Coast fans, especially at Bally's Atlantic City.” Goossen thinks “Suavecito” will be in demand all over America by fight’s end. "Rico Ramos continues to take on all comers and Valdez is certainly another barometer to where Rico stands with the best in the division. His willingness to fight anyone combined with his lighting hand and foot speed will make Ramos a fan favorite." What could be the brawl of the night was not far from Goossen’s mind. “We're equally enthused to see the power of Cornelius White against a man that certainly has the experience and exposure factor over him in George. I'm anxious to see the development of White and if he is someone that will make an impression on all those watching."
It should be another exciting night for “ShoBox,” although the absence of Nick Charles (bravely fighting bladder cancer with the help of his family) leaves a void in the broadcast. I miss the chemistry and sense of anticipation Nick Charles and Steve Farhood conveyed audiences and find it hard to get used to the change with the addition of Curt Menefee. Not that Menefee is bad, quite the opposite, just that the free-flowing banter and camaraderie has not yet developed. To help mollify the transition, Antonio Tarver joins the team as expert analyst and should have plenty to talk about in Rico Ramos.
The telecast airs live at a special time, tonight at 11:30 PM ET/PT, with a delayed airing on the West Coast.