One of Ross Greenburg’s last projects before he was shown the exit at HBO was to create a show similar to Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation. The premise of the show was pitting young talents in against each other and /or against tough veterans that would test the talents of the young prospect. Since Greenburg’s exit, former Sho Sports boss Ken Hershman has taken the reigns over at HBO. He didn’t fully commit to the idea but last Saturday night At Foxwoods was one of those “prospect” shows that Greenburg had envisioned. It was a 3 fight televised card that featured a prospect against a former world champion, a contender against an inexperienced prospect, and a late replacement fight featuring two guys willing and ready to try and make a statement on HBO.
There was a lot of feedback from this card, some positive and a lot negative. On paper minus the main event, all the bouts seemed evenly matched where the winner of the fight was no guarantee.
Pros: Taking Advantage of the opportunity
Considering that the opening bout between Isaac Chilemba and Zsolt Erdei was scrapped due to an injury, the replacement bout between Alex Perez and Antonin Decarie was a good filler. Reason being most folks on press row and in the stands really couldn’t gauge on a winner; two guys near or at 30 with the winner moving on to a bigger name and the loser taking a big step back.
Antonin Decarie took advantage of an injury to Erdei and made the best of his televised slot knocking out Perez in a fashion where the folks at HBO might want to bring him back on a Boxing After Dark telecast. Decarie mentioned the name Robert Guerrero as a possible opponent. Now he may not be on the class of Guerrero, but for a guy nearing his 30’s, he might have to take that jump sooner than later in the boxing business. Decarie from Canada would love to return to the U.S. and to have another HBO highlight reel.
-Upsets Make Boxing Great
Vic Darchinyan was supposed to be the stepping stone Luis Del Valle needed to join the big party at super bantamweight. With the island of Puerto Rico starving for a new star, Del Valle was supposed to make his jump. That never happened.
Del Valle was the favorite going in but never fought a fighter as awkward or as experienced as Darchinyan. Darchinyan is a 3 time world champion who has been in with the elites of the lower weights. Since his departure of the 115 lb division, the power of the Armenian has not been evident. But that still didn’t mean he was dangerous to his young opponent.
Darchinyan outwitted, outworked, and frankly outclassed the young Puerto Rican. While the fight may have been ugly and maybe unappealing to fans, the fight served its purpose to the card letting the world known Del Valle isn’t quite ready to handle someone as crafty and as experienced as Darchinyan.
Darchinyan may have salvaged the tail end of his career because of this fight and is probably in line to face a bigger name and a money fight at 122; something that was probably going to be in line for Del Valle. Del Valle is still young and needs to improve certain things in his arsenal which will fully prepare him for the big time. Time is on his side.
Cons: Rodriguez vs. Escalera
What was a mismatch on paper was a mismatch in the ring. Edwin Rodriguez was the bigger, more experienced, and better man by far on Saturday. Rodriguez has been on HBO and has beating guys that were more proven than Escalera like Will Rosinsky and Don George. Rodriguez rehydrated to 22 lbs on fight night, so aside from having the skill and experience advantage, he also had the size advantage.
From the onset, it went as expected; a one side beating in the favor of Rodriguez. Escalera would land some good shots but Escalera doesn’t have that one punch KO power and most of his KO’s have come against guys not on the level of Rodriguez.
For Rodriguez it felt like a step back in competition and this fight wasn’t the signature win that will stand out on his resume. But I guess it all can’t be like that and sometimes you have to take what you can get. Now it’s time for the big boys at 168 for Rodriguez. The division is so flooded with talent that it would be absurd if Rodriguez doesn’t take on someone with his skill level or better. He wants Kelly Pavlik next, let’s see if Top Rank and Lou Dibella can work something out.
Escalera sort of like Del Valle, but in a more punishing way proved that he wasn’t ready to take on guys like Rodriguez or better. Unfortunately for him, he took a much worse beating while showing much heart.
The Bad: Escalera’s Corner and Ref Steve Smoger
The corner of Escalera let the fight continue too long and let their fighter take unnecessary punishment. Escalera fought bravely but was not in the fight at all. He doesn’t have the one punch power that you could say would give him the epic ‘puncher’s chance.
Escalera is young and works a fulltime job. So for him to come out in the 7th and the 8th in a fight he did not win one round and was seemingly never going to be in could be detrimental to his health. As a young fighter, not only could this fight have ruined his career but maybe hurt him outside of the ring. The corner is supposed to protect the fighter from himself, that didn’t happen.
Steve Smoger was the second life of defense for the fighter’s well being may have waited one round too long to stop the fight. Escalera came out in the 8th round, bruised, bloodied, and finished and took an unnecessary punch to the ear which probably busted his ear drum. While walking out of Foxwoods last Saturday, I saw Escalera coming out of the elevator being held up by his lady with gauss in his ear and beaten up pretty bad. A loss is a loss and a fight is a fight but some punishment may be unnecessary but hopefully Escalera can come back from this and continue his career.
All in all, the card told us a lot about the fighters on the card. Was it the best card possible? Maybe not, but it proved its point. October 27th is the second edition of this format of Boxing After Dark being handled by Gary Shaw. The card seems to better all around being headlined by up and comer Thomas Dulorme, featuring world title holder Miguel Vasquez, and a solid test for prospect Karim Mayfield in Mauricio Herrera.