By Johnny Walker
Friday night’s edition of Showtime’s Shobox: The Next Generation was part of a free programming block designed to lure people into subscribing to the cable network, but even hard-core boxing fans, never mind the casual sports viewer, might have had trouble lasting through the two far less than scintillating fights shown this evening.
In the opening bout of the Shobox card, broadcast from Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio California, light middleweight Daquan Arnett moved to 10-0 with an uneventful eight-round unanimous decision win over Brandon Quarles (10-1-1, 2 KO).
The bout was marked by long periods with the men leaning on each other and holding, as Quarles constantly pressed to get inside. Quarles landed some hard right hand shots in rounds two, three and four, and that was about it for clean punching. Arnett was hardly more impressive, grunting in an annoying Maria Sharapova style as he threw each shot and even switching to the southpaw stance to no great effect.
Things got so bad that referee Ray Corona admonished both fighters after breaking up a clinch early in round six: “You’re on TV, you want to look like this?”
Corona’s message failed to motivate the fighters, however, and pretty soon boos were ringing out from the frustrated boxing fans in attendence. Round seven saw more holding and leaning and more booing. Corona had finally had enough and docked Quarles a point for holding, though to be fair both fighters were equally culpable.
Both fighters’ corners called for more intensity in the final round, but another wrestling match broke out instead, and the fans angrily booed once more.
Finally this dull and ugly fight came to a merciful end, and Arnett was judged the winner by scores of 78-73, 77-74 and 76-75.
Surely the thinking among viewers was that the next fight, featuring featherweights Ronny Rios and Rico Ramos (say that 10 times fast), could only be better than the opener. And it was, but only barely.
The opening rounds of this one were also turgid, with Rios controlling what little action there was from the center of the ring while Ramos circled around him. At times the bout had the feel of a glorfied sparring session, with neither man seeming particularly motivated to take matters into his own hands once and for all. Things were so slow in round two that the punch connects were a mere 9-7, with Rios having the edge.
A flurry at the end of round five by both fighters seemed to finally jar them awake, and the pace began to pick up. Rios started to pound Ramos to the body with authority in round six, mixing in some uppercuts and overhand rights. By round seven, Rios seemed to be in complete control, but then, typically for this bout, another spell of inertia set in, and round eight saw Ramos score with a couple of hard shots with only 10 punches landed in the stanza overall.
Ramos kept his momentum going in round nine, picking up the pace and pressing the action with some flurries. But in the final round, both men seemed to run out of gas, leading to them standing at a distance and striking poses like two statues when they should have each been trying desperately for the win. The crowd was stunned by this absurd turn of events and began to boo. No doubt both fighters were happy to hear the final bell.
For his efforts, Ronny Rios (20-0) was judged the winner by scores of 100-90, 97-93 and 96-94, the perfect score perhaps being a bit unfair to Ramos, who falls to 21-2 with the loss.