Another instalment of Shobox: The Next Generation was held last night in Indio, California. It was a decent three fight television card headlined by undefeated American heavyweight Deontay Wilder (29-0), who dispatched of Belarusian Serhei Liakhovich in the first round. Also making appearances were Americans Jermell Charlo and Brandon Bennett, both of whom, like Wilder, had Al Haymon’s men in their corners. A native of Cincinnati, Bennett walked to the ring accompanied by money-flushing welterweight Adrien Broner, who performed a forgettable rap song and then yelped ‘Band Camp’ during the introductions. It was an awkward moment, the sort that occurs when a celebrity rashly tries their hand at another discipline, confident their fabulousness will translate. It didn’t.
Much-hyped featherweight Gary Russell Jr. also fought on the card but his match wasn’t televised. This was a wise and merciful decision by Showtime, because he faced off against Juan Ruiz, who’s lost his last six fights. So, to that end, nice decision, Showtime! The network’s one broadcasting miscue? Interviewing Adrien Broner, naturally (indeed, it always comes back to him). I understand why the network wants to hear him talk; I just wish he had something interesting to say. It wasn’t the swearing, gloating, or even the obnoxious gum chewing that riled me, just his general and pointless unpleasantness. His words aren’t clever enough to make his villainy appealing.
Junior middleweight Jermell Charlo stopped an overweight Antwone Smith when he landed a right hand over top of Smith’s ear. Bennett, meanwhile, fought a sloppy but entertaining match against Mexican Francisco Vargas. There was a lot of clinching, particularly from Bennett, and a nasty clash of heads that left Vargas with a searing gash over his left eye. The Mexican was the more effective puncher on this night and easily won by decision. While Bennett showed flashes of hand speed and a strong chin, he never posed a serious threat to Vargas, who found out early that he could walk right through the American’s punches. With the win Vargas improved to 16-0-1 and Bennett dropped to 16-1.
In the main event, the gigantic Tuscaloosa heavyweight, Deontay “The Brown Bomber” Wilder, smashed Serhei “The White Wolf” Liakhovich within two minutes. A long jab set up an immense right hand by Wilder that caved in Liakhovich’s face. The Belarussian fell to the mat, his legs violently convulsing in a frightening illustration of the severity of the trauma he’d just sustained. A medical team set upon him right away, and Liakhovich eventually regained his senses and walked back to his dressing room unaided.
As expected going into the fight, we learned nothing new from this outing by Wilder, and received only further confirmation that the hard-punching Deontay can put a grown man to sleep easily. As the Showtime commentators repeated several times, the plan for this bout was to get Wilder more rounds. This didn’t happen, so as a learning experience the match failed. However, for marketing purposes it’s a boon in the Tuscaloosan’s growing myth, which Showtime will seize and enhance through promotional cameos in which boxing people breathlessly attest to his ‘prodigious’ power (prepare for an assortment of bombastic adjectives). The guy can punch, a truth boxing fans now hold to be self-evident, but we can’t know what Deontay Wilder is really made of until we see what happens when he gets hit back.