"ShoBox: The New Generation" kicked off its 15th consecutive year of bringing together the world's greatest boxing prospects by bringing nonstop action to the Tucson region. The series held a three fight broadcast card, with four fights leading to the televised matches.
During the main event, undefeated St. Paul, Minn. native Robert Brant (19-0-1, 12 KO) scored a stunning flash knockout victory over relentless competitor, Decarlo Perez (15-4-1, 5 KO) in the fourth round of their 10-round fight.
"I was shocked to see him go down like that," said Brant. "Even when you hit someone really well, you don't expect them to go out like that. I was watching him and thinking, I don't think he's going to get up.'"
Brant defeated his opponent with a pristine straight right, sending Perez between the ropes and onto the canvas. He had dropped Perez in the previous round, though he quickly regained his feet. Once Perez went down in the fourth, referee Rocky Burke immediately put a stop to the fight.
With another notch on his belt, Brant said he is already looking forward to advancing his career.
"My purpose is to become a champion," he said, "so now I'm on to the next goal."
Not to be overshadowed, the co-main event was a hard fought and impressive contest between two determined heavyweights, Jarrell Miller (16-0-1, 14 KOs) from Brooklyn, N.Y. and Donovan Dennis (12-3, 10 KO) from Devanport, Ind. There was little love lost between them, particularly Miller, who provoked Dennis both during weigh-ins and before the fight began.
"Once I hit him and he hits me, that's when we'll see who the real warrior is," said Miller. "My face lights up when I get hit. Every lefty I've faced, I've knocked out, so I'm not worried about fighting a lefty. "
Miller's confidence paid off in the end, despite a tough fight against Dennis for nearly seven rounds.
He had already knocked Dennis down twice in the first round and had him on shaky legs throughout most of the fight.
Despite an overwhelming performance by Miller, Dennis was able to find some success in the second and third rounds with some outside game, though a rolled ankle quickly changed that.
"In the second round, I rolled my ankle and couldn't move how I wanted to," said Dennis. "It was hard on my ankle. I fight hard though. I didn't even mention it to my corner until the sixth round. I'm not making excuses though.
"He caught me and that's the reason why I rolled my ankle so he did his job."
The televised fights started off with a bang when Kazakhstani knockout-pro Bakhtiyar Eyubov (10-0, 10 KO) wrecked Jared Robinson (16-3-1, 7 KO) of Sumter, S.C. in a three-round barn burner.
Eyubov quickly proved himself to be a serious threat right as the bell rang, immediately putting Robinson down and never taking the pressure off.
"I came from nothing, I had no support, no famous trainer," Eyubov said his of training. "It was me against the world
rough upbringings in rough neighborhoods
nobody told me to box the way I do. That's just who I am and that's just what I do. I try to hurt you every second."
Despite an impressive performance, Eyubov left a lot to be desired in terms of consistent form and pacing.
Though only the last three fights were broadcast on Showtime, all seven matches were world-class contests. The first three fights showcased local talent.
In the opening contest, Tucson-born Carlos Cordova (1-0, 1 KO) secured an impressive and overwhelming victory against Phoenix boxer David Courtney in the debut performance of both men's professional careers. Cordova won the fight by technical knockout in the second round after out-boxing Courtney in the first round.
Fellow Tucsonan Alfonso Olvera (6-2, 3 KO) also clinched a victory by technical knockout in his own fight, defeating Colbert Lozoya (7-12,1 KO) in the final round of their four-round welterweight fight.
Though he followed two successful Tucson fighters, Thomas Herrera (4-16-1, 1 KO) was unable to secure a victory after an extremely close fight with Phoenix resident Keenan Carbajal (9-3-1, 5 KO).
In the final fight before the broadcast began, Demond Brock (10-3-1, 3 KO) of New Orleans, took on Philadelphia's Samuel Teah (7-1-1, 2 KO) in a closely contested lightweight matchup. Both men gave it their all, though the fight ended in a draw. Judges Fred Encinas, Chris Flores and Steve Sandoval scored the fight 78-74 Brock, 76-76 and 77-75 Teah, respectively.
The first event in ShoBox's 2016 calendar was a smashing success, and the casino couldn't be more pleased with the results.
"It is exciting," said Steve Neely, chief marketing officer for Casino Del Sol Resort. "Showtime has been doing boxing for years and being a part of the telecast is always exciting.
"But, being the first of the year, that does add something special to it."
As for being able to bring boxing to Tucson, Neely said he and the staff at the casino are proud to be a part of what he considers a Tucson tradition.
"Boxing in Tucson has always been part of our fabric," he said. "It's a great opportunity to showcase Tucson to the world through Showtime."
© Copyright, 2016, Explorer Newspapers, Inc., All Rights Reserved., source Newspapers