Middleweight: The Best American Prospects



Tonight, Antoine Douglas headlines ShoBox: The New Generation from Westbury, N. Y.

This will be Douglas’ third appearance on ShoBox.

Douglas is 22-years-old, unbeaten, and among the most attractive U.S. prospects in the game.

Four promising home-grown middleweight prospects:

HUGO CENTENO, 24-years-old, 22-0, 1 NC: Has rebounded strongly from his disappointing performance against Julian Williams. Kayo of James De La Rosa in December was eye-opening.

ANTOINE DOUGLAS, 22-years-old, 16-0-1: Exciting style. We’ll see if he learned from his draw with Michel Soro, a fight in which Douglas faded late.

TONY HARRISON, 24-years-old, 20-0: Many could argue he’s more of a junior middleweight. Has looked good in dispatching a string of faded veterans in Bronco McKart, Tyrone Brunson, Grady Brewer and Antwone Smith.

DOMINIC WADE, 24-years-old, 17-0: Heavy-handed puncher who looked good, but not outstanding, in most notable win, vs. Nick Brinson. Has already gotten off the floor to win (vs. Dashon Johnson).

ShoBox Preview: Some 0’s Have To Go

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About the only kind of fighter not seeing action on Friday’s smorgasbord edition of ShoBox is a Swedish meatball.

Included will be a nomadic lightweight who’ll be fighting in his sixth different country in six fights … and a pair of baby featherweights who’ve never fought outside of Texas.

There’ll be a super middleweight who won his last fight while on his knees … a lightweight from a country I’ll bet you never heard of … and in the main event, an exciting middleweight whose mother may be more entertaining than he is.

In all, we’ll see eight fighters, six of whom are unbeaten. The combined records: 105-3-4.

A fight-by-fight look:

Antoine Douglas-Thomas Lamanna, middleweights: Mama Douglas’ cameo was the highlight of Antoine’s last appearance on ShoBox, a draw with French veteran Michel Soro last July.

While I interviewed her between rounds, she showed as strong a jab as her son, and at least in the later rounds, a bit more energy.

That aside, Douglas, 16-0-1, is young (22) and refreshing. Naturally aggressive and quite promising. In Lamanna, 16-0, he faces a tall, tough kid from New Jersey who’s making a monstrous jump in class.

In other words, quintessential ShoBox: two unbeaten prospects who are willing to risk their fistic futures.

Ismael Barroso-Issouf Kinda, lightweights: Barroso’s five most recent fights have been in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, his native Venezuela and Panama. Now, the unbeaten and sharp-punching southpaw fights in the U.S.A. for the first time.

At 32, Barroso isn’t really a prospect. And he’s hasn’t yet done enough to have secured contender status. What he’ll gain from a win over the tough Kinda is invaluable American television exposure.

By the way, Kinda is from Long Island via Burkina Faso, which used to be Upper Volta.

If you can find that country on a map, you’ve probably traveled even more extensively than Barroso.

Jerry Odom-Andrew Hernandez, super middleweights: In January, the big-punching Odom was a sizzling and unbeaten prospect when he faced Hernandez, 8-0-1 with 1 ND, at Madison Square Garden.

Odom remains a sizzling prospect, but he’s no longer unbeaten.

In the fourth round, Odom was on the verge of scoring a stoppage when he threw punches while Hernandez was down.

Odom, 12-1 with 1 ND, was disqualified. This rematch is about one thing: cleansing his record, so he can move forward.

Anything less than a kayo win will be disappointing.

Pablo Cruz-Adam Lopez, featherweights: There are so many similarities between these two: both are Texans; both are unbeaten, but have fought squishy-soft opposition to date; both have low kayo percentages; both are six-round fighters jumping to eight.

They’ve even sparred together.

The difference?

Lopez has a much deeper amateur background. We’ll see if that’s neutralized by the fact that Cruz is the naturally bigger fighter.

Cruz, 11-0, marches forward, while Lopez, 9-0, counterpunches. This should be a good style matchup between young 126-pounders who are looking to begin to establish names and reps.

See you Friday night in Westbury, N.Y.!

Vasquez Dominates Lartey

Pittsburgh Fight Night-0017 - Sammy Vasquez - Emmanuel Lartey

Sammy Vasquez put on a show for his hometown fans in Pittsburgh, winning a near-shutout 10-round unanimous decision (99-91 twice, 100-90) over Emmanuel Lartey in the main event of ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday, Feb. 20 from CONSUL Energy Center. 

Vasquez (18-0, 13 KOs) entered the bout seeking his 10th consecutive knockout against an opponent who hadn’t been knocked down before and had been in the ring with two U.S. Olympians.  The military veteran wasn’t able to finish Lartey (17-3, 8 KOs, 1 NC), but that was just about the only thing that didn’t go his way in a thoroughly impressive performance in which he landed 50 percent of his power shots. 

Vasquez started slow and was able to pick his shots in the early rounds, but he accelerated the tempo in the second half of the fight as Lartey appeared to slow down.  The hometown favorite did his best work with Lartey against the ropes and landed at will in the middle rounds.  Lartey seemed like he was ready to quit on his stool after the eighth, but he continued and Vasquez slowed his production in the final two rounds and cruised to the victory.

“I thought he was going down a few times but he hung in there,” Vasquez said.  “The jab was going well, but I made a couple of mistakes because I started feeling comfortable.  I knew he was hurt after the eighth and my corner told me to step off the gas a little bit and pick my punches more instead of just storming him.

“I thought he was going to quit a couple times on his stool.  He’s a tough guy – no one could knock him out. I couldn’t either.”

Lartey dropped his third fight to a top prospect after decision losses to Errol Spence Jr. and Felix Diaz.

“Sammy is a tough fighter,” Lartey said.  “He’s really strong. I did my best, but he was just too good.”

After the fight, ShoBox announcer Steve Farhood broke down Vasquez’s impressive game plan.

“It was a very controlled and intelligent performance by Vasquez, accelerating as the rounds progressed, dominating every round and controlling the action whether boxing, attacking or pinning Lartey against the ropes,” Farhood said.  “He showed a lot and he deserves the reputation he has as being one of the top young American welterweights.”

Pittsburgh Fight Night-0007 - Craig Baker

Craig Baker knocked out Humberto Savigne in a stunning upset, finishing the heralded former Cuban amateur with a highlight-reel TKO at 1:58 of the second round.

Savigne (12-2, 9 KOs, 1 NC), who had a huge size advantage and was the heavily favored fighter, landed a series of right hands in the first and looked like he could make it a quick night against the undefeated-yet-untested Baker.  But the Texan fought like an opponent who had nothing to lose against Savigne, an experienced veteran with over 400 amateur bouts under his belt.

Baker (16-0, 12 KOs) landed a few decent shots in the first and came out blazing in the second, throwing a high volume of punches with Savigne against the ropes.  Fighting in a small ring, Savigne had nowhere to go and continually ate shots on a suspect chin before falling face forward to the canvas.  Savigne got up, but he fell into the ropes and was clearly out on his feet, forcing the referee to halt the contest at 1:58.

“I hurt him in the first round and I could tell that his chin was weak, I could tell that I could finish him,” Baker said.  “In the second, I just smelled blood and I knew I had to go to work, I had to finish him.

 “Nobody gave me a chance going in, but I was the undefeated fighter and he wasn’t.  I worked too hard to come here and lose.  I just have to keep working.  You haven’t seen the last of me – this is a life changing moment.”

 The 36-year-old Savigne was clearly shocked after the fight.

 “He was the better man tonight,” Savigne said.  “I wasn’t expecting him to be as tough as he was.  I made a huge mistake in taking him lightly. This is something that I’ll learn from.  Now I’ll go back to the drawing board.  I’ll go back to the gym – I’ll keep working hard and I’ll be back.

 “In the first round, Baker hit me on the side of the ear and I lost equilibrium. I was completely dizzy. He hurt me with that shot.  He was the better man tonight.”

Pittsburgh Fight Night-0011 - Claudio Marrero - Orlando Rizo

Claudio Marrero won a dominating unanimous decision victory over Orlando Rizo in the opening bout of the telecast.  Marrero (18-1, 13 KOs) controlled the bout from the outset, knocking Rizo (18-6, 11 KOs) down four times en route to a convincing victory scored 78-71, 78-70, 80-68. 

Marrero was the more aggressive and effective fighter, landing 43 percent of power punches and 39 percent of his total punches.

“I was trying to set up the big shots so I could end the night,” Marrero said.  “It got away from me at times, but it was a good preparation for taking that step for a shot at a world title.

“I’m not disappointed I didn’t knock him out.  I underestimated his tenacity to get back up and stay in the fight and I need to work on my discipline so that doesn’t happen again.  I feel that I’m ready for a shot at a title whenever I get an opportunity.”