(Jerry Odom, right, takes aim at Vilier Quinonez; via)
In a self-ballyhooed 200th broadcast, Showtime’s prospect-oriented ShoBox did a lot of what it was supposed to: a prospect was upset, a prospect was tested by its forge and came out stronger, another prospect suffered a blemish and only one prospect coasted to victory.
On a night that featured three lower-level boxing broadcasts overlapping with one another to some degree — boxing is brilliant, right? — the entertainment value of the Showtime card amounted to one very good fight, one dramatic but annoying one and two with little fireworks.
In the main event, middleweights Antoine Douglas and Michel Soro fought to a majority draw, a fair outcome. Douglas was in control early, doing the smarter and better job. It was easy to overlook, since his mother consumed much of the screen and punished ear drums with her endless screeching, which sounded like what would happen if you scraped nails over Donald Duck’s voice for a couple weeks then turned the volume up to 11. It feels dickish to say mean things about a fighter’s family, but she was a distraction, to the point of driving viewers to total misery. In the second half of the bout, Soro started to up his work rate, and by the 8th, he had Douglas hurt. He stayed hurt until the final bell; he might’ve still won the 10th, but the 9th was possibly a 10-8 round, so fearsome was the drubbing.
Douglas is only 21 but this draw wasn’t a win for his status as a prospect, anyway. Soro, as the less heralded guy, probably comes out a little ahead.
The best fight was the super middleweight clash between puncher Jerry Odom and Cuban Vilier Quinonez. That “Cuban” part meant he came with a certain degree of schooling, and he combined a Cuban’s typical intelligence, timing and versatility with atypical aggressiveness. Odom looked robotic by comparison early, as he spent large portions of the fight cornering Quinonez on the ropes, then expecting him to stay put and waiting far too long to let loose with a predictable attack. A head butt-induced cut didn’t slow Quinonez much; a 4th round combination featuring two big right hands dropped him. But he rebounded quickly, winning some rounds with accurate, hard shots and giving Odom his own cut, the first of his career, with another head butt. Odom appeared to get smarter as the fight went on, finding a home for his body punches and letting loose with shots at more opportune moments when he kept cornering Quinonez. He finally caught him for good in the 7th, connecting on a right hand that Quinonez ducked into then finishing him off with a left hook that sent him stumbling face first into the ropes. The final right hand only ended what was left of Quinonez’s balance.
Odom collapsed, sobbing, after the win, his blank expression wiped away by the realization that he was in real danger of losing against a smarter, better boxer who was smacking him pretty hard. With the heart he showed, and with the growth he displayed mid-fight, and with that power of his, this was more impressive than not, and he’s well worth keeping in the spotlight.
Welterweight Cecil McCalla — like Odom and Douglas, from the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia cohort — handled Oscar Godoy with relative ease. McCalla was ultra-aggressive despite a low knockout percentage, and Godoy wore an expression of nervousness early. When he tried to get in gear, McCalla shifted his up one. It’s a step forward, for sure. McCalla demonstrated an alpha male quality that was an asset, this time around, although whether it would be against a harder-punching opponent is difficult to say.
Tony Luis provided the evening’s upset, topping Wanzell Ellison by decision after failing against the previous best foes of his career. Ellison fought Luis at lightweight but has gone down to near featherweight before, and he looks like someone who should be much closer to 126, as his punches had zero effect at 135. Ellison used his speed to throw empty junk, mainly, and Luis just looked more the pro, blocking a lot of what Ellison was throwing, outworking him and landing the more telling blows.