O’Shaquie Foster upset previously undefeated Jon Fernandez in a battle of ShoBox: The New Generation veterans, scoring an impressive unanimous decision victory over the highly regarded prospect Friday on SHOWTIME from Firelake Arena.
Fernandez (16-1, 14 KOs), a protégé of former unified world champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez, became the 180th fighter in the history of the ShoBox series to lose his undefeated record after three other previously undefeated fighters dropped decisions on Friday.
The 25-year-old Foster (14-2, 8 KOs), a resident of Houston, executed his team’s game plan to perfection, utilizing superb movement and connecting opportunistically with counter shots. Foster was far sharper on both offense and defense, connecting on 36 percent of his total punches compared to just 16 percent for Fernandez.
Fernandez was frustrated by Foster, a crafty and experienced fighter who was one win away from representing the United States in the 2012 Olympics. In his previous six bouts, Fernandez averaged 8.4 jab connects per round but was limited to just 13 jabs in tonight’s entire 10-round fight.
“This was the best fight of my career,” said Foster, who was appearing on the ShoBox series for the fourth time. “I knew I had it in me, I just never put it together. I have a new team, I have a new trainer, a new strength and conditioning coach. This was what I dreamed of and we put in the work to make it happen.
“I knew he was a puncher and he’d come forward the whole fight. I knew I had to work off my jab and use my lateral movement. He had a little power, but he never got me clean. We’re going to sit down and look at the drawing board. I can tell you this, we’re not the B-side anymore.”
Fernandez improved throughout the second half of the fight, landing a big right hand in the sixth round that briefly wobbled Foster. However, the Spaniard was unable to extend his impressive KO streak of 14 consecutive fights.
“His style was frustrating, but we were expecting it,” said the 23-year-old Fernandez, who was widely regarded as one of the top prospects in boxing. “We thought his conditioning would go down and he’d slow down in the later rounds. He didn’t (slow down) and that surprised me.
“I feel like we can still get better and better. We just had a bad game plan for this fight.”
Irvin Gonzalez Jr. (11-0, 9 KOs) out-boxed Carlos Ramos (9-1, 6 KOs) from start to finish to score a unanimous decision victory in the co-featured bout of tonight’s ShoBox: The New Generation telecast. The judges scored the fight 79-73, 78-74, 80-72. Gonzalez, who was the more active and aggressive fighter, kept his unbeaten record intact despite facing a frustrating and defensively shrewd opponent in Ramos.
“It took me a few rounds to figure him out, but once I did he didn’t have anything on me,” said Gonzalez. “He only had the left hand and that was about it. He really didn’t throw any punches.
“This was a big learning experience for me. This was my second eight-rounder and it opened my eyes a little bit. I know I’m conditioned well but I have to go back to work.”
The 22-year-old Gonzalez, a fourth-generation boxer in his family and native of Worcester, Mass., outhustled the skillful southpaw Ramos, who was not nearly active enough throughout the eight rounds. The longer, leaner Gonzalez, who averaged 58 punches per round to Ramos’ 28, relied on his length advantage and fought at range.
The tentative and defensive Ramos, on the other hand, landed only 27 punches in the remaining seven rounds after landing 11 in the opening round. Gonzalez, for his part, exceed 50 punches in all but the third round.
In the second bout of the quadrupleheader, Philadelphia’s Steven Ortiz (9-0, 3 KOs) edged Brooklyn’s Wesley Ferrer (12-1-1, 7 KOs) in an evenly-matched and difficult-to-score matchup of undefeated prospects. The two fighters were separated by no more than five total punches in each round of the majority decision, which was scored 78-74, 77-75, 76-76.
Both fighters fought at a deliberate pace, but neither was able to find their rhythm and consistently land combinations. Ortiz started stronger, but Ferrer grew into the fight and was the busier fighter in the middle rounds. The final two rounds were the deciding factor in the fight. The two judges who had Ortiz winning on their scorecards favored Ortiz in rounds seven and eight.
“I think it was a pretty close fight,” said a disappointed Ferrer. “I thought I was winning the first few rounds, but I know I got out-worked in the last two rounds. At the end of the day, the judges saw something else and he got the win. If I won the last few rounds I would have won the fight.”
Ortiz, who held a narrow 127-115 advantage in total punches landed and a 99-93 advantage in power punches landed, felt he did enough to win but was not completely satisfied with his performance.
“I was coming off a long layoff and wasn’t as sharp as I should have been,” said the 25-year-old Ortiz. “I landed the sharper jabs and landed the harder shots. I think my ring experience and ring generalship was the difference in the fight.
“I want to come back a lot sharper and a lot smarter. At the end of the day, it was a learning experience. I got the win against a tough guy.”
In the telecast opener, Denver’s Misael Lopez (9-0, 4 KOs) got the better of Staten Island’s James Wilkins (5-1, 5 KOs) in a battle of young, previously undefeated super featherweight prospects, tallying a unanimous decision victory (79-72, 77-74, 76-75).
The action-packed fight saw both fighters come out swinging, setting the tempo for the rest of the eight-round bout which saw a total of 1,320 punches thrown. Wilkins brought the pressure to Lopez throughout, but Lopez’s volume of punches, movement and combinations enabled him to control most of the rounds. Lopez’s conditioning proved key. In the final four rounds, Lopez led 139-68 in total connects and landed 213 power punches to just 115 for Wilkins throughout the duration of the eight rounds.
Wilkins, who was featured on the SHOWTIME documentary CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS that premiered immediately preceding tonight’s ShoBox telecast, was deducted a point for a low blow in the fifth round after several warnings. In the seventh round, Wilkins appeared to score a knockdown when he connected with a strong right hand that knocked Lopez off-balance, but referee Mike England ruled that Lopez’s right hand did not touch the mat.
“I think the difference was I was able to make him miss, land the cleaner shots and used my boxing to dictate the pace,” said the 22-year-old Lopez. “I’m looking to keep going and stay on the big stage. Hopefully people and promoters will notice that I’m the real deal.”
In his national television debut, the ever-confident Wilkins felt wronged by the judges’ scorecards and the referee’s apparent missed knockdown in the seventh.
“I think I did enough to pull it off,” said Wilkins. “I could see a split decision, maybe, but I dropped him and that wins the fight. That was a 10-8 round. I want to go back to the gym, work hard and get right back. You haven’t seen the last of me.”
Tonight’s quadrupleheader was presented by DiBella Entertainment in association with MaravillaBox Promotions, Holden Productions and The Real Deal Boxing, and sponsored by Gagliardi Insurance.
The full telecast will replay on Monday, September 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME and will be available on SHOWTIME ANYTIME® and SHOWTIME on DEMAND®.
Barry Tompkins called the action from ringside with boxing analyst and historian Steve Farhood, who was celebrating 40 years in boxing this week, and former world champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer was Gordon Hall with Chuck McKean producing and Rick Phillips directing.
In non-televised undercard action, heavyweight Prospect George Arias of Bronx, N.Y. improved to 12-0, 7 KOs with a second-round knockout (2:18) of Byron Polley, (30-24-1, 13 KOs), of St. Joseph, Mo. Polley was down once in the first and again in the second round which resulted in the stoppage.
Junior Middleweight Dennis Knifechief, of Shawnee, Okla. moved to 12-8-1, 7 KOs with a fourth round TKO (1:51) of the valiant Chris Barnes, (4-8-1, 3 KOs) of Tulsa. Barnes fought on after being dropped in the first and second rounds and twice more in the fourth.
Top Middleweight Prospect Ardreal Holmes of Flint, Mich., looked dominant and improved to 7-0, 4 KOs with a four-round decision of Houston’s Rick Graham (6-21-3, 2 KOs). The fight was scored 40-35 twice and 38-37.
A scheduled six-round cruiserweight battle between Bo Gibbs Jr, (20-1-0, 8 KOs), of Carney, Okla., and David Lujan, (4-9-0, 1 KO), of Wichita, Texas, resulted in a no-contest due to an accidental clash of heads in the first round.