Analysis: The SHOBOX Tournament

By Tom Donelson
Updated: August 10, 2006

NEW YORK — SHOBOX (Showtime Championship Boxing) is conducting their Super Middleweight tournament for prospects, with the winner being the IBO champion. Of course, being the IBO champion doesn’t make the winner, the Super Middleweight champion.

It does make the winner a player in the division. It also gives the losers some notoriety as well. This is the SHOBOX version of “The Contender”, only without the drama.

In the opening match, Henry Buchanan outboxed Lucas Arias. Both fighters came in the fight undefeated and spent most of the time avoiding each other. In a one lost and you’re out tournament, both young fighters fought cautiously, except for some showboating by Buchanan.

This contrasted with French fighter Jean Paul Mendy, who took care of business with a one round knockout of Dallas Vargas. Mendy, who came in the fight with the reputation of being a boxer, banged the Ohio based Vargas all over the ring. Now Buchanan will face Mendy in October as part of the semi-final in the tournament.

The following weekend saw Anthony Hanshaw out slicked Mexican fighter Esteban Camou. Camou was fighting in the United States for the first time and hoping to make a name for himself.

Camou’s goal was to rough up Hanshaw but Hanshaw hand and foot speed proved too elusive for Camou. It was shut out for Hanshaw.

In the second fight, Lafarrell Bunteng came in as a last second replacement to face hard punching Jose Luis Herrera. For the first four rounds, both fighters felt each other out before an Bunteng explosion in the fifth round stopped Herrera in an upset.

This sets up a meeting between Bunteng and Hanshaw.

SHOBOX has set up a tournament with different styles and added an international flavor. In the first round, four foreign fighters faced four Americans.

We saw boxer-puncher, boxers and sluggers facing one another. And in the semifinal, a slick boxing Hanshaw faces off against a hard charging slugger Bunteng.

Hanshaw will be favorite with his amateur experience and superior boxing skills but Bunteng has the great equalizers.

Inexperienced Henry Buchanan faces a more experienced Jean Paul Mendy. Both fighters are boxer-punchers but in the quarter final, Mendy showed more power in his punches.

It could be a boring affair when you see two boxers facing off so one of these fighters will have to play aggressor. And Mendy has shown that he can do that very well.

What makes this tournament exciting is that we are seeing young prospect in a do or die battle. This is not just about advancement but winning a title and becoming a leading contender in the division.

This is what makes SHOBOX special for the series forces young fighters to grow up and fight legitimate opponents. No tomato cans or the barely breathing for these young prospects.

We see young fighters grow up and become legitimate contenders. Sechew Powell fought several time on SHOBOX and we saw a maturation process.

Powell had a tough, close loss to Kassim Ouma in his last bout but showed that he belonged among the elites of the junior Middleweight.

Robert “the Ghost” Guerrero had two tough fights on SHOBOX with Gamaliel Diaz, losing the first one before outslugging Diaz in capturing the second bout.

Now Guerrero faces Eric Aiken for the IBF featherweight title. Aiken upset Valdemir Pereira to snatch the title by disqualification and Guerrero has a chance to own a piece of the featherweight championhship.

Guerrero’s maturation was shown on his last SHOBOX bout as he changed his strategy to stop Diaz.

The SHOBOX tournament will gives one maybe two stars to focus on in January, when the two winners face off against each other. The tournament idea is a great idea simply because if forces young prospect to fight genuine competition.

If this is successful, the question is will SHOBOX do this for other divisions?