"ShoBox: The New Generation" celebrates its 15th anniversary on Friday night (Showtime, 10 ET/PT) at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, with a four-fight card featuring the series’s calling card: prospects.
In the main event, junior featherweight Adam Lopez (15-0, 7 KOs) faces Roman Ruben Reynoso (18-1-1, 7 KOs) in a 10-rounder. There are also three eight-round bouts: super middleweight Jerry Odom (13-2-1, 12 KOs) vs. Julius Jackson (19-1, 15 KOs), lightweight O’Shaquie Foster (10-1, 7 KOs) vs. Rolando Chinea (12-1-1, 6 KOs) and junior middleweight Khiary Gray-Pitts (13-0, 10 KOs) vs. Ian Green (9-1, 7 KOs).
The staying power of the series -- it has aired 484 bouts and counting -- has been its generally quality matchmaking. When you watch you don’t automatically know who is going to win.
In fact, 150 fighters have suffered their first loss on the show, 96 fights have matched undefeated fighters and 67 fighters have gone on to win world titles after a “ShoBox” appearance, including 11 who lost on the series (such as Luis Collazo, Robert Guerrero, David Diaz and Badou Jack). Seventy-five others have fought for world titles after appearing on the show.
“This is certainly an accomplishment for the series, but we wouldn’t be here for 15 years without the fighters,” said executive producer Gordon Hall. “The credit should go to the young men who are willing to step up and take risks early in their career. As we’ve seen over the last 15 years, matching fighters tough at a young age escalates their career development, and we’re thrilled to provide the platform to introduce viewers to these talented fighters.”
I was ringside for the first card, which took place July 21, 2001, at Bally's in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and featured lightweight Leo Dorin, who went on to win a world title, stopping Martin O'Malley in the ninth round of a fight between undefeated fighters. Who could have guessed it would be going strong 15 years later?
Here are just a few of the boxers who have appeared on the series and gone on to great success: Deontay Wilder, Erislandy Lara, Shawn Porter, Gary Russell Jr., Tyson Fury, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, Andre Ward, Nonito Donaire, Devon Alexander, Carl Froch, Timothy Bradley Jr., Jessie Vargas, Juan Manuel Lopez, Chad Dawson, Paulie Malignaggi, Ricky Hatton, Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams.
A couple more stats: 22 U.S. Olympians have fought on the series, which has had cards in 71 cities, 26 states and eight countries. My favorite stat of all belongs to the Lou Gehrig of boxing announcers: Analyst Steve Farhood has called all 219 “ShoBox” telecasts and will be ringside for No. 220 on Friday night.