By Tyson Bruce
Cleveland, Ohio- Shobox is a program designed to match talented prospects against fellow up and comers or in step up fights. Boxing, unlike other major sports, does not have a farm system or minor leagues to nurture young talent for the big leagues, so Shobox is an invaluable tool for building young fighters. Their alumni is the who’s who of boxing’s big names, featuring such guys as Andre Ward, Chad Dawson and Danny Garcia.
This Friday’s card in Cleveland perfectly illustrated the format that has made the program such a success, as we saw Amir Imam score a resounding knockout over fellow undefeated prospect Jared Robinson and the veteran Hank Lundy school the more inexperienced Angelo Santana.
The main event was a high stakes showdown between lightweights at very different stages of their respective careers. Hank Lundy is a highly talented and well seasoned contender whose career has been plagued with inconsistancies and lapses in focus. He has beaten top ranked fighters like Richard Abril and Olusegun Ajose but has also suffered defeats in fights that he was favored to win against John Molina and Reymundo Beltran. His opponent Angelo Santana, 14-1-0-(11), was once considered one of the can’t miss prospects in boxing before suffering a meltdown knockout loss against the unheralded Bahodir Mamadjonov.
The fight started out in competitive fashion as Lundy sought to use his greater athleticism and speed to outbox the stronger and more powerful Santana. Lundy began the bout in an orthodox stance but frequently switched to his more natural southpaw stance throughout the bout. The first four rounds were very hard to score, as Lundy threw a great deal more punches but Sananta landed at the higher percentage.
The bout began to change dramatically in the fifth round as Lundy started to find his rhythm and outbox the more one-dimensional Sananta. One of the major questions going into the bout was how Santana, who had never previously gone beyond six rounds, would handle the later rounds against the vastly more experienced Lundy. It turns out not well, as Santana looked noticeably tired from midway point of the bout forward.
Lundy used his smooth movement and sneaky potshots with both hands to tame Santana in what became a very predictable affair. Santana looked lost for answers as he frequently gazed down at his apparently damaged shoe and complained about it persistently. You began to wonder whether it was Santana’s attempt to create an excuse for why he was losing the bout. The official score cards read 98-91 on all cards, reflecting the one-sided nature of the contest.
The most dramatic and entertaining fight was by far the undercard bout between junior welterweight’s Amir “Young Master” Imam, 13-0-0-(12), and fellow undefeated prospect Jared “Quiet Storm” Robinson, 10-1-0-(6). Imam was a highly decorated amateur (he lost in the finals of the Olympic trials against super prospect Errol Spence) and is one of the least known but most impressive prospects in all of boxing. After this performance the secret may be out as he scored one of the most theatrical and stunning knockouts thus far in 2014.
In the first, Robinson jumped right on Imam pushing him back to the ropes but landing very few punches of note. Imam showed incredible poise as he countered off the ropes and eventually stunned Robinson with a cracking right hand. Imam came into the bout with the reputation of being a huge puncher, as he had gone past two rounds just once in his professional career.
Robinson started the second and third rounds with a much more cautious approach, as he back peddled away from the dangerous Imam. Imam showed a diverse offensive attack as he scored with solid jabs and wicked body shots while Robinson carefully protected himself from Imam’s right hand. Despite being outgunned Robinson showed he came to win as he landed a few solid left hands that caused Imam’s nose to bleed and even resulted in a small cut over the left eye.
In the fourth round Imam unloaded the goods, as he used a probing double jab to set up an explosive overhand right that landed directly on Robinson’s temple. The punch literally blew Robinson through the ropes and he tumbled completely off the ring apron, landing dangerously on his head. Incredibly, Robinson managed to pull himself up and get back into the ring within the designated time frame. The referee, however, took a long look at Robinson and deemed that he was not fit to continue.
It was an explosive knockout that is sure to become a YouTube sensation and marketing platform for the young Imam. Boxing fans may not have heard of him before tonight but they certainly have now. Expect bigger and better things on the horizon for the Albany native.