Undefeated Antoine Douglas fought Michel Soro to a majority draw last Friday in Verona, New York in the main event of the 200th episode of ShoBox: The new generation. In a way, it was a typical ShoBox card.
Instead of showcasing an overprotected blue chip prospect paired with an overmatched rookie or journeyman, viewers saw Douglas tested in a way he’d never been before by a game and well-matched opponent in Soro.
Douglas dominated the first half of their ten round bout but the experienced Soro rallied and stole the second half of the contest. At times, Soro even looked close to finishing Douglas.
Scores were 96-94 for Soro and 95-95 (twice). The draw seemed true as the matchup.
Since 2001, fight fans have come to expect this type of event from ShoBox, the hard core little boxing program that could. Gordon Hall, the ShoBox executive producer who has been there from the start, says that the goal is always to do things different, and better.
Mostly, that means bringing together top prospects in “step-up” fights instead of showcasing and favoring one boxer over everyone else and giving them easy opponents. “Our goal is to showcase top talent, but in competitive, well-matched fights, and then to develop future champions and give them opportunities to move on to big things,” Hall says.
Convincing top prospects, their coaches and promoters to fight tough opponents early in their careers is a challenge for Hall and the ShoBox crew, but it is worth the struggle. “It can be hard to convince a guy, his promoter and the promotion’s matchmaker to step up and fight another tough, undefeated guy, early in their career, but the Showtime platform helps convince people,” he explains.
So does the ShoBox record of producing future champions and stars. Twenty one U.S. Olympic boxers went on to compete on ShoBox cards as pros.
In all, eight fighters won a world title in their very next fight following a ShoBox appearance, and four fighters won their first world titles on ShoBox cards. Among many others, Tim Bradley, Andre Berto, Ricky Hatton, Samuel Peter, Paul Williams, Shawn Porter, Diego Corrales, Nonito Donaire, Chad Dawson and Andre Ward, have all made ShoBox appearances over the years.
Gordon admits that he’s gotten better at putting together competitive match ups as ShoBox has progressed – largely because the show now works with many promoters, as opposed to the two they first began with 200 events ago. There have been particularly challenging fighters and camps, when it comes to making the fights he wanted to, however.
“Andre Ward’s people were particularly hard to convince to take tough fights,” Hall remembers of the champion and Olympic Gold medalist.
“We probably made some compromises to get Ward on our cards but we felt like we had to have him because of what he’d accomplished in the Olympics and because we knew he’d become a great pro.”
If putting together solid events is a big challenge, simply keeping the show on the air has been as well, for Gordon. “Every time I go into a meeting at Showtime, I feel like most of the people in the room don’t know the guys we have on the shows, so I feel like it was always a challenge to convince people that a little show like this was worth it,” Hall says.
“But I really have to thank Showtime for standing behind it and recognizing that the fans enjoy the show. I mean, Showtime, could just decide to only do the premium fights with the big stars, but they’ve supported the show. And, really, there couldn’t be premium boxing and big stars to promote if they didn’t work their way up through shows like ShoBox.”
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