NEW YORK (Jan. 15, 2014) – ShoBox: The New Generation made its reputation by matching up-and-coming prospects in their toughest fights to date.
Since its inception in July 2001, 50 fighters have advanced from prospect to contender to eventual world champion after appearing on ShoBox. Most recently, Shawn Porter became the 50th member of this elite group after he defeated DevonAlexander on December 7.Conversely, a total of 111 boxers suffered their initial defeat on the popular, critically acclaimed series.
This Friday, Jan. 17, eight fighters with a combined record of 96-1-5 with 57 knockouts will compete in a quintessential “ShoBox” telecast live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) from Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tenn.
Undefeated, highly regarded, lightweight Ivan “The Terrible’’ Redkach (15-0,13 KO’s), of Los Angeles, by way of Ukraine, takes on Tony “Lightning” Luis (17-1, 7 KO’s), of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, in the 10-round main event.
Redkach is regarded by many as a “can’t miss’’ prospect and a future world champion with significant power. But the virtually untested 27-year-old has never been in the ring with the likes of Luis, setting the stage for the first real test of the Ukrainian’s career.
In a battle of unbeaten junior middleweights in the ShoBox co-feature, John “The Apollo Kidd’’ Thompson (14-0, 5 KO’s), of Newark, N.J., faces “The Brooklyn Rocky” Frank “Notorious” Galarza (11-0-2, 7 KO’s), of Brooklyn, N.Y., in an eight-round bout. Two more eight-rounders, all featuring undefeated fighters, round out the telecast: Antoine “Action” Douglas (11-0, 7 KO’s), of Burke, Va., by way of Washington D.C. squares off against Marquis “MD Goodnite” Davis (8-0-2, 5 KO’s), of Tampa, Fla., in a middleweight match and Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker (12-0-1, 9 KO’s) of Dallas will be opposed by Abel Ramos (8-0, 4 KO’s), of Casa Grande, Ariz., by way of Gettysburg, Pa., in a junior welterweight scrap.
Regarding the telecast’s top two fights, ShoBox expert analyst Steve Farhood said: “In the main event, Ivan Redkach is a fighter everybody in boxing will be watching. The southpaw fights with a ferocity and meanness that separates him from other unbeaten prospects. He's moving up in class, and his lightweight bout with Canada's Tony Luis figures to be a must-see main event.
“John Thompson has fought once before on ShoBox, and he impressed. He's a tall boxer who has a tendency to bang with his opponents, which isn't always ideal for him, but satisfies fans. He's facing an unbeaten opponent in Frank Galarza, so Thompson has the opportunity to make a serious statement and establish himself as a prospect to watch.’’
Among many who readily acknowledge Redkach’s aggressive, fan-friendly style and ability are columnist Steve Kim of MaxBoxing and Francisco Salazar of Ventura County Star Newspaper and Boxingscene.com.
“Ivan, like many other fighters from the former Soviet Union, brings a hard-nosed, fan-friendly style that I think will resonate with the public,’’ Kim said. “He really attacks the body and is a fighter that isn't hesitant to let his hands go. I don't think he'll be in a lot of boring fights as he moves up the boxing ladder.”
Said Salazar: “Ivan is as explosive a fighter at a prospect level as one could find and has a television-friendly style that would make casual fans more intrigued to watch him. What I like about his game now is that he has developed and enhanced his boxing skills to compliment his punching power. I think he has a great upside and has not hit his window yet. Ivan still has a way to go to be considered a serious contender, but I can only imagine what the 'finished project' will be when he becomes a complete fighter.”
The 5-foot-9-and-one-half-inch Redkach won the vast majority of his approximately 300 amateur bouts and was a 2008 Olympic Games alternate for Ukraine before turning pro in November 2009. Redkach started to box at the age of six.
“I started right after kindergarten,’’ he said. “I moved to Brovari (a suburb of Kiev) when I was 12. I went to a special sports school. All of the most talented athletes from all over Ukraine go there. They have great boxing – Sergiy Dzinziruk was there, the Klitschko brothers were there. It's like a boarding school – you live there, you train there.”
The WBC’s No. 13-ranked contender, Redkach has had his way as a pro, winning all but two of his fights inside the distance. He possesses decent skills and movement, but power is his game. Twelve of his 13 knockouts have come in three rounds or less, with six coming in the first.
A confident Redkach is looking forward to his ShoBox debut.
“So many world champions started out fighting on ShoBox, and now it's my turn,’’ said Redkach, who trains in Southern California at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood and Ponce de León's gym in Montebello. “National exposure in the U.S. is why I uprooted my life and moved (to America).
“Tony Luis is fast, throws a lot of punches, but that's all. It doesn't matter. I'm going to fight my fight and do my job. My style is very, very tricky. I'm more of a pressure fighter, a puncher.”
Luis, 26, is an ambidextrous boxer with quick hands and feet who’s at his best when he pressures his opponents and wears them down with body punches. The 5-foot-7-and-one-half inch former WBC Continental Americas super lightweight champion has won two in a row since suffering his lone defeat on an upset ninth-round TKO to late substitute Jose Hernandez in a thrilling affair on Jan. 25, 2013. Hernandez once fought a draw with world-ranked Mickey Bey, but he took this fight on less than two weeks’ notice and was definitely the underdog.
"After my loss, I did have a lot of anger in the beginning,’’ said Luis, who outpointed Rafael Luna across six rounds in his last outing on Nov. 9. “ I was very bitter. But then I realized that had I fought the right fight and listened to my corner, I never would have lost. I truly believe that I turned that fight into an unnecessarily difficult one because I fought the wrong game plan.”
The chief sparring partner for world featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis is ecstatic about the opportunity presented him.
"My comeback comes full circle on Jan. 17,’’ the five-year-pro said. “It's going to be exactly a year since my first loss. Last year, I was the undefeated prospect and I was the favorite coming in. This year, it's Ivan in that same position, and I'm the opponent coming in. Last year, José Hernandez didn't care. This year, I'm José Hernandez.’’
And Luis’ game plan for Redkach? “I think I have to take him deep into this fight,’’ he said. “Ten rounds is a long night for anyone. I've got to fight smart in the early rounds and take him deep.’’
Thompson, a well-conditioned 6-foot-1, 24-year-old, continues to improve under the watchful eye of trainer, former world champ Buddy McGirt, and is currently ranked No. 20 in the WBC. Thompson had an excellent amateur career, winning the 2007 Golden Gloves tournament and was the bronze medalist at the 2007 National Golden Gloves. He had wins in the tournament over 2008/2012 Mexican Olympian Oscar Molina and Detroit prospect Domonique Dolton.
A fast, quick-handed boxer, Thompson has stayed busy since turning pro in June 2011. He fought three times that year, seven times in 2012, and four times in 2013.
Thompson has won two straight since winning his ShoBox debut on a unanimous eight-round decision over previously undefeated Giovanny Rodriguez on May 10, 2013. In his last outing, a scheduled 10-rounder, he scored a third-round TKO over Jonathan Batista on Nov. 14.
Outside the ring, Thompson respects Galarza but he feels his experience will be the difference.
“I've watched Galarza fight. I know he's a pretty cool person,’’ Thompson, a natural right-hander who can switch to lefty, said. “He does a lot of positive things for the community. I like that. I do the same thing for my community – like feeding the homeless. But as far as boxing goes, he needs more experience. He makes a lot of simple-minded mistakes. He tries to box, but he's looked at as a puncher, so he's probably going to try to rely on that.
“Expect something new from me. Working with Buddy is the best thing that ever happened to me. He brings so much to the table. Everything has just developed 100 percent.’’
Galarza, an offensive-minded, six-foot, 28-year-old, is the least experienced boxer on the telecast. He didn’t turn to boxing until his late teens and had just 11 amateur fights. But the three-year pro likes to brawl and has made good progress since his prizefighting debut in June 2010.
"I don't know anything about Thompson,’’ said the physically-strong Galarza. “Style-wise, I know this will be a good fight. He’s 14-0, undefeated like I am. He’s been on ShoBox. But I'm mentally prepared as far as what I need to do. I need to go win.
"I'm prepared for anything. I'm hoping to keep myself on ShoBox. I want to put on a show.”
Galarza, who was raised by an aunt and uncle after his parents died, owns and runs his own youth organization in Brooklyn, 'Youth Fighting Forward.'
“We work with kids who are affected by crime and violence,’’ he said. “We use boxing as a way for them to get in, but it's mainly about education. We want to build youth leaders out of it. It was just an idea that I came up with, something I wanted to do based on my past. I lost my parents at a young age. I lost my father when I was seven, and my mother when I was nine. My mother OD'd on drugs. My father passed away from a gunshot wound complication in his leg.’’
Burke, 21, is competing in his first scheduled eight-round match. An outstanding amateur who compiled a record of 110-20, he was the bronze medalist in the 2011 U.S. National Championships and the 2011 Golden Gloves before going on to fight in the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Burke’s sister, Tyrisha, is also an undefeated pro boxer and she, too, went to the U.S. Olympic Trials. “We were the first brother and sister team to make the Olympic Trials,’’ said Antoine, who is coming off an eye-catching third-round TKO over Colby Courter last Dec. 4.
Describing his style, Burke said, “I would say I adjust. If I can out-will you and you let me beat you down, then I'll do that. If I can box and pick you apart, that works just as well. We work on things to adjust to what the other fighters bring. Everybody does their homework.’’
Davis, who turns 25 on Feb. 5, is trained by ex-world lightweight champion Nate Campbell. The 5-foot-9 Davis is stepping up to eight-round status for the first time and taking a significant step up in class.
“I've been preparing nonstop for this fight,’’ said the aggressive-minded Davis, who started boxing at the age of 17. “This is a great opportunity for me. I’ll be ready.’’
Hooker, 24, has trained with some good great fighters in recent years including former world champion Miguel Cotto and Ruslan Provodnikov. The two-year pro will be making his eight-round debut against Ramos.
“I’m a boxer who can punch,’’ Hooker said. “I've been getting ready for this fight since the beginning of November. I’m ready to fight now.’’
Ramos, 22, an accomplished, top-rated U.S. amateur before making his pro debut in September 2011, has never been scheduled to fight more than four rounds. He’s also never fought outside of Arizona and he accepted this assignment on short notice.
“After my last fight, we were back in the gym the following week and we've been training ever since,’’ Ramos said. “So when this opportunity came along I was already in the gym.
A prospect who utilizes a good jab but can box or brawl, Ramos has gained experienced by working in training camps with Jessie Vargas and Jesus Soto Karass. Ramos, who hails from a fighting family, certainly won’t be in awe of the surroundings this Friday.
“We saw a couple of videos of Hooker sparring,’’ he said. “I know he's tall, and he likes to fight tall. He's undefeated, so I think he's a good opponent.’’
The event is promoted by DiBella Entertainment, in association with GH3 Promotions, Greg Cohen Promotions and Prize Fight Boxing.
Barry Tompkins will call the ShoBox action from ringside with Farhood and former World Champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?