Since its inception four years ago this month, Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation has prided itself on offering quality matchups at the prospect level. Substance will still be on display this weekend (Friday, July 22, 11PM ET/PT from the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, CA) as always. This weekend’s action will also feature style and redemption in both the co-feature and main event.
The main event features promising Oxnard (CA)-based junior welterweight Rolando Reyes (24-3-2, 15 KOs), as he takes on trial horse Courtney Burton. ShoBox viewers should be familiar with both names.
Reyes was last seen steamrolling Jose Antonio Ojeda three months ago on the network, in fact in the very same arena. The bout was a pick-em going in, with the streaking Ojeda riding an eight fight unbeaten streak. Reyes had won his last two, but was fighting a bigger opponent and perhaps the stiffest test of his career.
Manager Cameron Dunkin had expressed concern heading into the fight. In the gym, his kid does and says all of the right things. But sparring sessions and real fights – never mind on national television – are two different things altogether. Nevertheless, Dunkin saw the bout as a great opportunity for the kid. Ojeda is rarely in a bad fight, and the main event featured two southpaws who figured to stink out the joint.
All held true on fight night, only Reyes far exceeded expectations. An early knockdown paved the way for a onesided beat down before the contest was mercifully stopped after nine. Reyes grew more confident as the bout went on, and the result was his best performance to date.
Like the old saying goes, what does not kill you will make you stronger. Reyes has already endured his share of hardship early in his career, having fallen to 7-2-2 through his first eleven pro fights. In fact, none of his three career losses have ever been by more than two rounds on any official scorecard. His most recent loss, a ten-round split decision to Miguel Huerta, was the bitterest pill to swallow.
He and his corner believed that he did enough to overcome a first round knockdown to pull out the fight in the final two rounds. Two of the three judges disagreed, favoring Huerta’s aggression, though little of it was effective. Reyes learned a valuable lesson that night: do not move backward when fighting in Vegas. Anyone who watched Jermain Taylor “win” the middleweight championship from Bernard Hopkins this past weekend can co-sign onto such a notion.
Rolando has heeded Dunkin’s advice, having won his last three in convincing fashion. His last fight was his most impressive to date, though his next fight will require every bit as much – if not more – energy and determination.
Courtney Burton enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame when he annihilated Angel Manfredy on ESPN2 two years ago. The Manfredy camp handpicked Burton, who was thought to be a chinny journeyman with a glossy record (18-1-1NC, 10 KOs heading into the fight). Burton was coming off of an eighth round stoppage over badly-faded Gabriel Ruelas and a first round knockout against Tomas Barrientes. The two wins followed Burton’s lone loss (at the time) – a fifth round stoppage at the hands of Eleazor Contreras. It was that fight that led many to question Burton’s whiskers, as he was repeatedly bounced off of the canvas.
The only chin music that would come in his ESPN2 fight would be from his fists, as Burton nearly decapitated Manfredy in stopping him inside of eight rounds. Manfredy insisted “that wasn’t me in there tonight.” Burton didn’t know or care if he was facing the real Manfredy; what he wanted to prove was that the real Courtney Burton had arrived.
His last four fights haven’t helped strengthen his claim any. Five months after besting Manfredy, Burton headlined his second straight ESPN2 show. This one was the first ever from the Virgin Islands, and it ended in controversy as Courtney barely escaped with a disputed split decision over Frank Lorenzo. The win earned him an IBF eliminator against Julio Diaz, but he was brutally eliminated in an eleven round war.
Diaz would go on to win the title in his next fight, while Burton found himself in his fourth straight ESPN2 headliner. It was this fight, one year ago, in which Burton would rack up his last win to date, though with A LOT of help from the judges. Many at ringside and watching at home believed journeyman Emmanuel Augustus to be the victim of one of the worst decisions in recent memory.
The controversial win did nothing for Burton, raising more questions than answers. Many wondered if Burton was overrated all along; they also questioned the standards of the disgraced Michigan Athletic Commission. The decision was God-awful, and referee Dan Kelley (not to be confused with Dan Kelly, the Tennessee Boxing Commissioner) was equally inept. Kelley penalized Augustus for the heinous crime of pivoting his way out of a clinch and warned for – yes, you read this correct – landing a punch on a knockdown that was never called.
Whereas many agreed with Ed Mosley’s scorecard of 97-92 for Augustus, Robert Paganelli and Jack Richards instead favored the hometown kid.
Five months later, Burton would redeem himself – in a losing effort. This past December on the last ShoBox card of 2004, Burton and Ebo Elder engaged in perhaps the best fight in the series’ history. Burton busted up Elder early, and seemed to pull away as the fight went on. Heading into the twelfth and final round, he was ahead on two of three scorecards, and three minutes away from a career-best win.
Unfortunately, his chin would not cooperate. Elder rallied back to twice drop Burton in an epic twelfth round, before the bout was halted with less than a minute to go in the fight.
Making his second straight trip to Chumash Casino, which played host to the aforementioned classic, Burton knows this may be his last chance. More so than just looking good, or even winning, Burton comes into the ring with redemption in mind.
Redemption is also on display in the co-feature, though it is overshadowed by flash. Former Contender entrant Ahmed “Baby Face” Kaddour (18-2, 9 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time since twice losing on the former NBC series, as he takes on Maxell Taylor (12-1, 5 KOs).
Undefeated heading into the reality show, Kaddour went in with the belief that he was not only the best of the sixteen contestants, but also the prettiest. An aspiring model, Kaddour has already made plans for life after boxing. He also enjoys the finer things in life, as he prides himself on his collection of Gucci and Versace.
But none of that means anything if you can’t fight.
Kaddour knows this, and realizes that fans will see a fighter who failed to impress in his most recent appearances, five round losses to Ishe Smith and Alfonso Gomez. While Kaddour accepts the fact that he was outfought on both occasions, he refuses to take it as a sign of things to come.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m still undefeated in the real world,” insists Kaddour, who is the first fighter from the series to participate in a bout under a banner other than The Contender. While the likes of Smith, Gomez, Peter Manfredo and Contender champ Sergio Mora will spend the next two years facing each other, Kaddour resumes his once-promising career.
In his way stands southpaw Maxell Taylor, who couldn’t be further to the left of Kaddour. Aside from their different stances, Taylor is every bit as lowkey as Kaddour is outspoken. Taylor prefers to let his fists do the talking. They have, however, yet to make any significant noise, as the unheralded Taylor makes his televised debut. The only advantage he holds going into the fight – other than his southpaw stance, which may or may not be a factor – is ring experience.
Taylor’s amateur run of 240-40 has enabled him to advance quicker than most rookies. He participated in a ten-round bout in just his ninth pro fight, which came a mere seven months into his career. He won a ten-round decision, which came in the middle of his current nine-fight win streak heading into this weekend. The deepest Kaddour has gone is eight rounds, which came in his stateside debut, where he barely pulled out a majority decision.
The co-feature is scheduled for only eight rounds, though Kaddour may have to contend with ring rust in addition to properly pacing himself. His last fight came ten months ago, when he dropped a five round decision to Alfonso Gomez in what served as his comeback on the TV series. His previous loss to Ishe Smith was to earn him a trip home. But the outspoken junior middleweight was voted back on when Juan de la Rosa suffered injuries and elected to exit from the show. Back came Kaddour … though he didn’t stick around very long.
He didn’t stick around very long in his last “real life” fight, a first round knockout against Fontaine Cabell. He figures to fight longer against Taylor, though Kaddour insists that he is up to the task.
“I’ve sparred a lot of rounds with (WBO junior middleweight) world champion Daniel Santos to help me prepare for my southpaw opponent,” Kaddour says. “I’m ready for anything this Friday.”
Boxing fans should be ready for anything as well. The series normally focuses on up-and-coming fighters with little back-story. This telecast offers plenty of sidebars, which helps fill what would otherwise be considered a slow weekend of boxing.