By David Robinett at ringside
Photos: Tom Casino/Showtime
Featherweights Ronny Rios and Rico Ramos headlined a tactical night of boxing before a packed (and patient) ballroom on ShoBox: The Next Generation at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. Rios, (20-0, 9 KOs), the rising prospect in this matchup, scored a unanimous ten-round decision victory over former titlist Ramos, (21-2, 11 KOs), by scores of 96-94, 97-93, and an unfairly wide 100-90, capturing the vacant NABF featherweight title.
On paper the matchup appeared to favor the up and coming Rios, who moved down one weight class from his last fight while Ramos was moving up one weight class. Additionally, although Ramos memorably knocked out Akifumi Shimoda with one punch to win the WBA super bantamweight title in 2011, he was dominated by Shimoda prior to that one punch and lost every round before getting knocked out in his first title defense against Guillermo Rigondeaux.
In the ring the fight played out as expected, with the smaller, more mobile Ramos trying to stay on the outside and carefully pick opportunities to counter while Rios tried to close the distance and make it more of a slugfest. Unfortunately neither fighter was particularly successfully implementing his game plan, resulting in a slow pace where Rios was able to win the short bursts of action he was able to initiate but Ramos was able to avoid Rios for long stretches of each round. Several rounds ended with the fighters simply staring at each other waiting for the other to move before the bell sounded.
On those occasions when the fighters did engage, Rios had his best moments digging into Ramos’s body, particularly with the left hook. Rios seemed to hurt Ramos with a series of body shots in round six, but Ramos adjusted in round seven by widening the space between them and Rios never seriously threatened Ramos again. For his part, Ramos had some success catching Rios coming in with jabs and counter right hooks, but he was simply not active enough to win rounds, even though he looked like he was capable of winning had he stepped it up another gear.
Ultimately, Rios proved he hasn’t reached his ceiling yet, and keeps his unbeaten record intact while moving on to the next step in his progression as a prospect. The same can’t be said for Ramos, whose brief moment of glory knocking out Akifumi Shimoda appears to have been the pinnacle of his boxing career. Ramos may be good enough to beat most fighters in his weight range, but against the three best opponents he has faced, Shimoda, Rigondeaux, and Rios, he has been outboxed, outworked or outclassed for all but a few brief moments.
Arnett Edges Quarles in Battle of Unbeatens
In the ShoBox co-main event, Daquan Arnett edged Brandon Quarles in a battle of unbeaten junior middleweight prospects, winning an eight-round unanimous decision by scores of 76-75, 77-74, and 78-73. It was a solid, if unspectacular effort by Arnett, (10-0, 6 KOs), who started strongly by answering Quarles’ attempts to establish a jab by firing off right and left hook combinations to Quarles’ head and body.
Arnett maintained his momentum in round two, landing a left, right, left straight hand combination that drove Quarles back across the ring. Quarles, (9-1-1, 2 KOs), increased his punch output and started to stalk Arnett, even appearing to outland Arnett in round two, but Quarles was arm punching while Arnett was answering back with crisp two and three punch combinations.
Arnett settled into a pattern of moving away and countering the forward-moving Quarles in rounds three and four, and while Arnett seemed comfortable in that style, it allowed Quarles to build some momentum, particular when Quarles was able to drive Arnett against the ropes and sit on his punches a little more. Arnett finally gave in to Quarles’ pressure and both fighters spent most of the fifth round clinching and fighting with their free hand, with Quarles getting the better of the exchanges.
However, Quarles’ success was short-lived as he appeared to tire over the last three rounds. Particularly in round seven, Quarles’ arms looked like noodles swinging at Arnett. Arnett appeared to sense his opponent’s fatigue, and with a spring in his step, Arnett unloaded a dozen unanswered punches in the center of the ring. Not hard enough to hurt Quarles, but it drew a rise from the crowd and likely cemented the victory for Arnett. To add insult to injury, Quarles was also deducted a point for holding near the end of round seven by referee Ray Corona. Arnett threw in another shoeshine at the gassed Quarles in an otherwise uneventful round eight before cruising to the final bell.
Caballero Stays Busy, Notches An Easy Win
In the evening’s walkout bout following the ShoBox telecast, popular local fighter Randy Caballero, (18-0, 10 KOs), scored his second victory in the last seven weeks, dispatching former title challenger Luis Maldonado, (38-10-1, 29 KOs), just 39 seconds into round four of a scheduled ten-round junior featherweight bout. Caballero was in control early, scoring a first round knockdown, but Maldonado came alive in round three, outworking his younger foe. However, in round four, Caballero caught Maldonado with right hook to the body and a punch to the head, dropping the veteran to his knees. Maldonado beat the count but referee Ray Corona waved the fight over.
Caballero, currently ranked #3 by the WBO at bantamweight, has designs on a title shot later this year while Maldonado, at 34 years of age, is far removed from his flyweight title challenges against Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan, losing to his third consecutive undefeated prospect.
In Other Action
2012 Olympian super heavyweight Dominic Breazeale, (3-0, 3 KOs), continued his fast start in the pro ranks, knocking out Caleb Grummet, (3-3-1, 2 KOs), in round two of a scheduled four-round bout. Grummet’s claim to fame coming in was giving Indianapolis Colts player Tom Zbikowski a tough cruiserweight fight in 2011, when “Tommy Z” was fighting during the offseason NFL lockout. Grummet has not appeared to have improved since then, offering little resistance to the nearly forty-pounds heavier Breazeale.
Julian Ramirez, (6-0, 5 KOs), barely worked up a sweat pounding on Sergio Najera, (4-9, 0 KOs), for about 90 seconds before the referee stopped the fight on the advice of the ringside physician due to a cut near Najera’s left eye. Official time of the stoppage was 1:35 of round one in a scheduled six-round junior featherweight bout.
Santiago Guevara, (5-0, 3 KOs), worked up just a bit more sweat than Julian Ramirez, taking seven minutes to dispose of Juan Zuniga, (4-9-1, 1 KO). Guevara knocked down Ramirez once in round two with a left hook to the head and twice in round three on body shots before Zuniga told the referee he had had enough. Official time of the stoppage was 0:59 of round three in a scheduled four-round lightweight bout.
In the evening’s opening bout, heavyweight Gerald Washington, (6-0, 4 KOs), scored a four-round unanimous decision over DJ Hugley, (1-6, 1 KO). All three judges scored the bout 40-36.
The seven-bout card, with a seemingly interminable 100-minute delay between undercard bouts, was presented by Golden Boy Promotions. On the bright side, for the fans milling around during the long delay, future hall of famer Erik Morales was on the grounds to meet with fans and sign autographs.