Saturday night live from what is becoming the west coast boxing mecca in Carson, Calif. at the StubHub Center, Showtime Championship Boxing returns with a jam packed tripleheader of action. Headlining the card former world champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (31-2-1, 18KO) of Gilroy, Calif., returns after a year long layoff to take on the unknown hard hitting Yoshiro Kamegai (24-1-1, 21KO) of Sapparo, Japan in a 12-round welterweight bout. The co-feature of the evening sets up to be a good one as unbeaten Gary Russell Jr. (24-0, 14KO) of Capital Heights, Md. battles former amateur star Vasyl “Hi-Tek” Lomachenko (1-1, 1KO) of Ukraine in a 12-round bout for the vacant WBO featherweight title. Opening up the telecast will be a crossroads battle between former two-division world champion Devon Alexander (25-2, 14KO) of St.Louis MO. facing the battle tested Jesus Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18KO) of Los Mochis, MX., in a 10-round super-welterweight bout.
The card is filled with notable names from top to bottom including former world champions which has become a familiar trend these days for Golden Boy Promotions. Saturday night the co-main event featuring Russell Jr versus Lomachenko could certainly be a headliner in its own right yet serves as an appetizer as two of the best amateurs in recent years will clash that should garner plenty of attention to hardcore boxing fans. These two prospects turned contenders have taken two completely different roads in essence to receive a shot at the vacant WBO title. The 26-year old Lomachenko made his successful professional debut (Jose Ramirez KO4) last October under the Top Rank banner after winning back to back Olympic gold medals in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics in the lightweight division. The Ukrainian held an outstanding amateur record of 396-1 which led to his enormous build up creating masses of intrigue among boxing enthusiasts. After scoring his knockout victory over Ramirez, promoter Bob Arum received an abundance of criticism after placing Lomachenko on the fast track to a legitimate world title shot versus then WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido last March. It looked like a bit of karma that night for Lomachenko as Salido battled weight issues leading up to the 126lb title bout in which Salido was forced to vacate the title on the scales. In his bid to make history Lomachenko was bothered by the cagey boxing tactics that night employed by the bigger Salido and ended up falling short on the scorecards by narrow split decision. Lomachenko since day one has been public about fighting nothing but the best in the 126lb division and did not want engage in a tune up bout as he urged Arum to get him another shot at the vacant title. Lomachenko believes he learned plenty in his twelve rounds with the rugged Salido, “Of course I learned how to adjust to professional boxing, because I’ve never been in the ring so much. But I think just fighting 12-rounds with Orlando Salido I got more experience more than if I would be fighting just regular level guys for two years.” stated Lomachenko at the final presser. Lomachenko displayed many fascists of his game making adjustments showing a high boxing IQ while showing solid defense as a well rounded fighter. Facing a fellow southpaw and defensive wizard like Russell, Lomachenko is going to have to use his length let his hands go and dictate the pace to test the jaw of the untested Russell if he intends on making history winning a decision Saturday night.
The 26-year old Russell a former 2008 U.S. Olympian hails from Washington, D.C. area and raised in a boxing family trained by his father while his three brothers all lace up the gloves on the amateur level. Russell came up through the amateur ranks finishing with stellar record of 163-10 before turning professional in 2009. Known for his lighting fast hands, Russell casually positioned himself up the ladder at a snail pace for his first shot at a title Saturday night. Throughout his young career the question has never been about the potential although the caliber of opponents he has faced up to this point have raised more questions than answers. Russell began to catch many fans eyes as he made his HBO debut in 2011 scoring an easy 8-round shut out over Leonilo Miranda. Russell has since collected six wins four by way of stoppage over modest opposition to say the least including seemingly anyone within a stones throw away from a top ten ranking. Russell believes he was brought up perfectly by powerful adviser Al Haymon and fully prepared for the title shot, “You can look at my fights when I was 8-0, 10-0 and when you look at my fights now you will see plenty of maturity as a fighter and as a person. I’ve been pleased.” Russell stated at the final presser. Russell throughout his career has shown plenty of athleticism and technical skill which enables him to throw a flurry of combinations to overwhelm his opponents at times. Russell has also displayed the ability to be an outstanding body puncher mixing up his attack which could spell trouble for Lomachenko late in the fight. With Russell being the natural counter-puncher, the footwork could play a key role in the fight as both fighters will be making countless adjustments on angles in what figures to be an excellent chess match. The winner of this fight remarkably will become a world champion adding it’s first notable name to his ledger.
Tune in early to Showtime Extreme (8PM ET/ 5PM PT) as former light heavyweight champion “Bad” Chad Dawson (31-3, 17KO) makes his return to the ring to take on veteran George Blades (23-5, 16KO) in a 10-round bout. Opening up the ShoExtreme telecast, 2012 U.S. Olympian and unbeaten heavyweight Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale (10-0, 9KO) takes a step up in class against Devin Vargas (18-3, 7KO) in a 10-round bout.