- Joel Rodgers
In Shreveport, the year 2019 feels like Christmas, and not just because you still have plastic reindeer on your roof – but rather because professional boxing returns to Shreveport.
Friday night, January 11th Showtime Boxing is bringing their talent, their cameras, their lights, and their ring girls. Ding! Ding! Ding!
ShoBox, Prospect Developmental Series on Showtime kicks off –or should we say– steps into the ring with a tripleheader featuring five undefeated fighters in challenging matchups. Live On SHOWTIME At 9 p.m. From StageWorks Of Louisiana In Shreveport.
StageWorks of Louisiana has hosted professional boxing before, and now it will again. Top lightweight prospect Devin Haney (20-0) will face fellow-unbeaten Xolisani Ndongeni (25-0) in main event.
(Devin Haney and Floyd Mayweather Sr at Mayweather Boxing Gym in Las Vegas)
Mayweather Sr. and his son, Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr will be at the event. Get your tickets while you can.
In the co-feature, two-time National Golden Gloves Amateur Champion and highly touted Californian prospect Ruben Villa (14-0, 5 KOs) will take on hard-hitting former Puerto Rican amateur champion Carlos Vidal (14-0, 13 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight bout. The opening bout of the tripleheader will feature undefeated Cuban heavyweight Frank Sanchez Faure (10-0, 8 KOs) against an opponent to be announced.
“We are excited to begin our 18th year of ShoBox with another card featuring today’s top prospects matched tough,” said Gordon Hall, Executive Producer of ShoBox: The New Generation. “Simply put, this series is boxing’s best proving ground for tomorrow’s champions. Devin is on the fast track to becoming a world champion while Ruben is facing his first legitimate test in his quest to turn from prospect to contender. A tripleheader featuring five undefeated fighters is the perfect start for what promises to be a banner 2019 for ShoBox: The New Generation.”
The event is promoted by Devin Haney Promotions and Bishop Promotions LLC, in association with Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing. Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale now and available at www.akafights.com.
Haney has been considered one of boxing’s top prospects since turning professional at the age of 17 in Mexico in 2015. In his last fight on Sept. 28 on ShoBox, Haney won via near-shutdown decision of three-time world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos, handing the veteran his first loss since dropping a decision to Mikey Garcia in 2014.
Haney grew up in Oakland and fights out of Las Vegas, where he has earned a reputation as a prodigy having sparred with Floyd Mayweather, Shawn Porter and Jessie Vargas. The flashy and outspoken 20-year-old is now ranked in the top 15 of three of the four major sanctioning bodies (No. 8 WBA, No. 10 IBF, No. 11 WBC) after just 20 professional fights.
“I’m looking to start off 2019 with another great performance on SHOWTIME,” said Haney, whose three scheduled ShoBox opponents have entered with an impressive 91-4-2 record. “I’ll be facing a very dangerous undefeated fighter in Xolisani Ndongeni, who has been ranked as high as No. 3 in WBA and has never experienced defeat. He’s not just coming to fight, Ndongeni thinks he can win. These are the fights I need. I’m going to show the world once again that I’m not a prospect, I’m an elite fighter, and I deserve a world title shot.”
Ndongeni has rallied off 25 straight victories since turning professional in 2010 while campaigning largely in South Africa. His lone start outside of his hometown came in 2016 in California, where he handed previously once-beaten Juan Garcia Mendez the second loss of his career.
Ndongeni, who has nine scheduled 12 round fights on his resume, has been ranked as high as No. 3 by the WBA and owns a victory over former 130-pound world champion Mzonke Fana. He has won a number of regional titles and claimed the IBO’s vacant 135-pound title via ninth round knockout in 2015.
“Devin Haney is a great young boxer and I think it will be a good test for the both of us,” Ndongeni said. “I have the edge in experience. I have been in 12-round title fights and I feel I am more than capable of handling anything he brings to the ring. A win against Haney will take me back to the top of the rankings and open doors for me to be able to fight many more times in the U.S.”
The 21-year-old Villa started boxing when he was just 5 years old and compiled an impressive 166-17 record as an amateur. The Salinas, Calif., native was a two-time Junior Olympic National Champion and the 2014 and 2015 National Golden Gloves Champion. He owns two wins over eventual Olympic Silver Medalist Shakur Stevenson as an amateur before losing to his rival twice in the 2016 Olympic Trials. Villa turned professional in 2016 shortly after the Olympic Trials and has registered 14 professional victories in just over 24 months. The southpaw will face his toughest test to date and just his second undefeated opponent in Vidal on January 11.
“My team and I are really grateful and excited to finally be able to showcase my talents on a national platform and we will not take this opportunity for granted,” Villa said. “I’ve been working overtime to look perfect for this event. I’m coming to put on a show and prove I’m ready for the bright lights.”
Vidal was a two-time Puerto Rican National Champion with an amateur record of 104 wins against just 10 losses. The 29-year-old is a strong power-puncher with 13 KOs in 14 professional fights, with all 13 coming inside of three rounds. Villa, who lives and in trains in Las Vegas, will be making just his second start in the United States against his first undefeated opponent.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to prove myself against another undefeated fighter,” Vidal said. “I live in the gym and have dedicated my life to this dream of being a world champion. This is just the first step of that process and nothing is going stop me from achieving that goal.”
The 26-year-old Faure fought on the Cuban National Team and competed in more than 200 amateur fights. After defecting from Cuba, the heavyweight turned professional in September of 2017 and has won 10 fights in just over 14 months. Faure lives and trains in Las Vegas, where he is managed by International Boxing Hall of Fame referee Richard Steele.
“Growing up in Cuba, I’ve always dreamed of having this opportunity to fight on television in America, and now that dream is becoming a reality,” Faure said. “I’m going to punish my opponent and give the fans a reason to watch me every time I step in the ring. I’m the next Cuban sensation.”
Shreveport also has two of its local fighters stepping into the ring Friday, January 11th. I stopped by Dement Brothers Boxing Club to talk with Jake Dement about Blake Franklin and Kendrik Williams.
Dement is excited to see the local guys in action. Kendrik Williams, who is making his pro boxing debut. And Blake Franklin, a talented boxer who is returning to the ring just two months after his last fight.
Dement is also excited to see boxing coming home, home to Shreveport/Bossier. A sport, and area of northwest Louisiana, his family has stood toe-to-toe with for over 40 years.