By Bill Green
Photo: De’vo Vom Shattenreich
On the undercard of tonight’s televised ESPN2 card at the Texas Station Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, a very interesting lightweight matchup between Mickey Bey Jr (18-0-1, 8 KOs) and Rob “Red Hot” Frankel (30-12-1, 6 KOs) will take place. Both fighters come in with something to prove to fans, media, and themselves. For the undefeated Bey Jr, it’s fighting better opposition and putting on a spectacular performance, especially since his last two bouts have been far from stellar. Bey Jr was held to a draw by Jose Hernandez (13-5-1, 5 KOs) and was dropped by journeyman Hector Velasquez (52-17-3, 37 KOs) before going on to win a dull but unanimous decision. Frankel has plenty to prove as well as he is 3-3 in his last six bouts, including a self-admitted lackluster performance against Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis (15-3-2, 5 KOs).
Bey Jr, from Cleveland, Ohio, is clearly the favored fighter as he boasts over 200 amateur victories, including being an alternate on the 2004 USA Olympic team, while maintaining an undefeated pro record of 18 wins. Bey Jr has extremely fast hands and has all the confidence that you would expect in a young undefeated fighter. However, Frankel will definitely be a step up in a class for the recently signed Top Ranked fighter.
Frankel, from Denver, Colorado, has had a much different path to the pros due to his limited amateur experience. Frankel has had to fight some of boxing best prospects and contenders, often times on short notice or in their back yard. But, what Frankel does possess is heart, and plenty of it. Although, Frankel has 12 losses on his career, those losses came against world class fighters such as former world jr welterweight champion Lamont Peterson, former world jr welterweight title challenger Dimitry Salita, two-time world lightweight champion David Diaz, and #1 WBC lightweight contender John Molina.
Top Rank is billing this card as “The Future is Now”. They see boxing prospects, Mercito Gesta, Diego and Jesse Magdaleno, Jose Benavides, and Mickey Bey as the next generation of boxing stars. Does this bother you, that you are being billed as a “stepping stone?”
No, not it all. Listen, I know why we got the call. They see our 12 losses and see a win for their guy. I know the business. I’m being brought in for Bey to look good. But, guess what? I’m not a pushover and I’m definitely not a stepping stone. Boxing is full of upsets, especially most recently. I like my chances on Friday night.
I assume you are talking about your close friend and stablemate Manny Perez. Perez upset both Edgar Santana and Jose Miguel Cotto. Does Manny give you added inspiration?
Most definitely, I feel like Manny’s wins are my wins and my wins are Manny’s. We are brothers; we help push each other for every camp. I want to keep the momentum going.
This fight is being fought at 135 lbs. Your last couple of fights have been at 140. Will fighting at 135 present any problems for you?
Well some people say I cut much easier at 135, like in the Molina fight. It’s crazy, because I feel sharp at 135 and I felt like I was boxing Molina perfect and then bam my face doesn’t hold up. But, I think my team has figured out the proper nutrition for this fight. I feel comfortable at 135.
In your last fight, Pendarvis was able to frustrate you and offset your rhythm with flashy combinations thus going on to win a unanimous decision. Do you see Bey following a similar game plan for this fight?
The fight with Pendarvis wasn’t the real me. I felt sluggish and couldn’t maintain a steady attack. It wasn’t my night, wasn’t at my best. But, no excuses, I lost the fight. For this fight, I’m in tremendous shape. As far as Bey goes, I think there is a major difference between the two. Bey will stay in the pocket more and is an orthodox fighter. Also, I don’t think Bey is as slick as Pendarvis. I think my pressure and overhand right will present plenty of problems for Bey.
The fight will once again take place on ESPN, home of several of your fights. What do you believe ESPN sees in you?
We love ESPN! I thank them for always giving a guy like me a chance. I feel like win or lose, I come to fight. They see me as a blood and guts type fighter, a throwback. One thing about this fight you can guarantee is that it will be crowd-pleasing. I love hearing the roar of the crowd.
Rob, you are 3-3 in your last six bouts. However, three of those losses are against world ranked contenders. You are a huge draw in Denver, Colorado, and generally dominate the competition over there. Wouldn’t it have been smart, to just pad your record and take some tune-up fights?
I know my record would have looked way different if I would have done that. But, that is not who “Red Hot” is as a person or a fighter. I have overcome plenty in my life. I was able to overcome addiction and legal problems by re-dedicating myself to this sport. I feel like cutting corners is not who I am. I’m driven by fighting these prospects and contenders. Like I said before, boxing is full of upsets and I’m fully capable of pulling off one of my own.
Is this a must win for you?
In some ways yes. If I want to keep getting these opportunities like being on ESPN or being interviewed by FightNews, than I have to make a statement. That statement is pulling off an upset over Mickey Bey Jr.