Just days from celebrating its ninth anniversary, SHOWTIME will televise a quintessential ShoBox: The New Generation fight card from DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss., just a short drive from Memphis, Tenn. In emblematic fashion, this edition of ShoBox will feature highly-regarded prospects in the toughest and arguably most important fights of their careers.
World-ranked middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero (18-0, 15 KOs) will put his undefeated record on the line against tough veteran Ishe Smith (21-4, 9 KOs) in a 10-round bout in the main event of a tripleheader telecast on Friday, July 16, live SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
The tripleheader will be the 143rd ShoBox telecast since the series began on July 21, 2001.
Promising, unbeaten knockout artist Shawn Porter (15-0, 12 KOs), of Cleveland, Ohio, will face fellow prospect Ray Robinson (11-1, 4 KOs), of Philadelphia, Pa., in a 10-round junior middleweight (catch weight 150 lbs) bout.
Philadelphia’s Lanard Lane (12-0, 7 KOs), another talented, undefeated prospect, will put his perfect record up against Mike Dallas, Jr., (14-0, 5 KOs), of Bakersfield, Calif., in an eight-round welterweight bout.
The tripleheader is promoted by Prize Fight in association with DiBella Entertainment.
The power-punching Guerrero, of Salisbury, Md., by way of the Dominican Republic, has scored all 15 of his knockouts inside of four rounds. The No. 5-rated World Boxing Organization (WBO) contender at 160 pounds, Guerrero is fresh off a dominating second-round TKO victory over Michael Walker on April 16 in Salisbury on ShoBox.
ShoBox color commentator and boxing historian Steve Farhood has called all three of Guerrero’s fights on SHOWTIME and witnessed him develop from a fringe prospect into a legitimate threat in the middleweight division.
“Fernando Guerrero has unmistakable star appeal, and in taking on Ishe Smith, he’s ready to prove he has the class to match the flash,” Farhood said. “Smith will be Guerrero’s toughest test to date. It’s a critical step for Guerrero, who’s ready to move from prospect to top-20 contender.”
Former light heavyweight kingpin and current ShoBox expert analyst Antonio Tarver agrees.
“It’s been nice watching him develop because he seems to have all the tools to become a contender,” Tarver said. “We just want to seem him step up the competition and we think Smith is that step for him. He was under matched in his last fight and he had a nice win in front of his hometown, but it wasn’t the best indication of what his potential is. The Smith fight should be that indicator.”
“He has all the natural, God-given talent and ability, but the mark of a champion is how he fights under pressure and under adversity. If he loses a round or two, will he be able to dig deep and bring out something special?”
Tarver thinks that Smith will serve as that necessary tough test for the prospect who has won 14 of his 18 fights in under four rounds.
“Smith has never been stopped and has been going the distance recently,” Tarver said. “He hasn’t been winning much, but we don’t expect him to quit in this. We’ll see the best of Ishe Smith because he knows this is a must-win. Smith is looking to reestablish himself and that makes him a dangerous fighter. This should be a real test for both men.”
While Guerrero agrees that Smith will be a tough opponent, he admits that he isn’t training differently for the veteran than he has for any of his previous opponents.
“Every step is a critical step — lose once to anyone and you will see how critical it is,” Guerrero said. “I take every fight as the most important and toughest challenge of my career. I worked as hard for this fight as for the guys that were 3-4 back in the beginning.
“As far as my toughest fight? Ask me again after the fight.”
The 23-year-old Guerrero isn’t worried that he only has 59 total rounds of ring experience under his belt with just one fight going the full 10 rounds.
“If I see an opportunity to slam the door shut I am going to do it,” Guerrero said. “If it happens in the first or the 10th, that is what you are suppose to do. No one on my team expects me to carry a fight extra rounds just to get more experience.
“If you need more rounds you fight tougher guys, and that is what we are doing. I can’t imagine (former trainer/manager) Cus D’Amato telling (Mike) Tyson he should have carried his guys more rounds to get ring experience. I have only been a pro for two-and-a-half years, but I know we are getting close to contending for a title as you can see the better opponents we are facing now.”
Prior to the Walker victory, Guerrero scored a thrilling fourth-round TKO victory over Jessie Nicklow on Dec. 18, 2009, on ShoBox. The former Jr. Olympian’s career-best win came in a hard-fought 10-round majority decision over former British Commonwealth welterweight and junior middleweight champion Ossie Duran on Oct. 10, 2009.
A southpaw who spars with brothers Anthony and Lamont Peterson, Guerrero is trained by Barry Hunter, who describes his fighter as a gym-rat and a workaholic.
Guerrero is going to have his work cut out for him against the veteran and re-energized Smith, who participated in the first season of the reality TV series “The Contender.” Smith recently sparred with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, Jr., in Las Vegas before his fight against Shane Mosley.
“Going to Mayweather’s camp rejuvenated me,” Smith said. “It rededicated me to the sport that’s been in my blood since I was born. I know it benefited him to some degree, but it was huge for me.
“At that time I had my advisor tell me, ‘Get in the gym,’ but I had fights keep falling out. I couldn’t stay focused on boxing. When I got that call to go help him it just refreshed me as a fighter and as a man. I needed that at that particular time.”
Fresh off the experience of training with one of boxing’s brightest stars, Smith, of Las Vegas, Nev., now has an opportunity to take down one of the sport’s most coveted prospects.
“This has been my best camp in 10 years — by far my best camp I’ve ever had,” Smith said. “He’s young, he’s hungry and that will make for a really interesting fight. I’m very experienced in boxing, in sparring, I’ve sparred some of the biggest names in the sport.”
The 31-year-old Smith knows his experience could give him the opportunity to push the hard-hitting Guerrero to the brink.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see what the young man can handle,” Smith said. “When we get into swimming and get into the deep, deep waters, it will be interesting to see if he still needs those floaties. My job is to take the young man into deep waters and cut those floaties off and see if he’ll sink or swim.”
“I’ve fought some big names: (Joel) Julio, (Daniel) Jacobs, (Sechew) Powell, (Sergio) Mora. I’ve been here, I’ve done that. The question isn’t what I’m going to do; the question is what he’s going to do. We will take off those floaties. There’s no question about that, but we’ll see if he sinks or swims.”
Curt Menefee will call the action from ringside with Steve Farhood and Antonio Tarver serving as expert analysts. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.