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Q 'n' A With ShoBox Exec Producer Gordon Hall

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image002ShoBox: The New Generation is led by, at left, Rick Phillips (director), Gordon Hall (executive producer) and Richard Gaughan (producer).

NEW YORK (July 14, 2011) – When Gordon Hall was selected 10 years ago to be the executive producer of a new boxing series on SHOWTIME dedicated to giving young prospects a place to display their skills and start what would ultimately become the first steps to winning a world title, there was no way he could envision the success the series would attain.

This week, the popular ShoBox: The New Generation celebrates its 10th anniversary on Friday, July 15, at 11:05 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) from Texas Station Gambling Hall & Casino in Las Vegas. Hall said he is excited for the fight-week festivities and the Top Rank-promoted doubleheader which will feature a night of junior lightweight action with undefeated Diego Magdaleno (19-0, 7 KOs) squaring off against Alejandro Perez (15-2-1, 10 KOs) and Casey Ramos (13-0, 4 KOs) taking on Georgi Kevlishvili (8-2, 3 KOs).

Hall knows the importance of a fighter getting the “ShoBox call” from him. “For young boxers, it's a good opportunity to be seen and be the focal point of the broadcast,” Hall said. “And because they are in step-up fights, it helps to develop their careers at a faster pace, which is good for them.”

Hall describes himself as a “casual” boxing fan in college, who became an educated fan after arriving to work at SHOWTIME in 1990.

“I knew a lot of the bigger names and would get together with friends to watch the big fights,” he said. “It wasn't until I worked as a Production Manager on NBC Sportsworld where we regularly showed boxing that I started to follow it more closely.  Then when I started at Showtime, all we did was boxing, so it wasn't hard to become an educated fan.”

 

Hall answered six questions recently:

Question: Take us back to that first night of ShoBox in 2001. What was going through your mind when the ShoBox fighters were introduced for that first show?

Hall: “That was a long time ago and my memory is not what it used to be but obviously, there's a lot of time and effort put into launching a new series and this series was not one that focused on big name fighters or contenders.  I just wanted to get across our definition and purpose of the series and the fighters’ stories.  Then hopefully see some talented fighters, have some competitive fights. Though the fights could have been more competitive, we did get a look at Leonard Dorin, who became the first fighter to fight on ShoBox and go on to win a world title.”

Question: Did you envision ShoBox would be where it is today, stronger than it's ever been?

Hall: “I never really thought about it.  I just always believed in the show and hoped what we were doing would help develop fighters, give them exposure, and help grow the sport.”

 

Question: This past weekend Rico Ramos became the 43rd ShoBox alum to win a world title. Did you think this many future world champs would emerge from the series?

 Hall: “The 43 world champions is significant primarily because we have only had a little over 150 shows – that’s roughly one every fourth show. I didn't think about how many future titlists we would feature but I am pleased with what we have accomplished.”

 

Question: You watch a lot of undercard fights and a lot of tape of upcoming fighters. What do you look for in a potential ShoBox fighter?

Hall: “I generally look for a fighter who has had some amateur credentials as a lot of the fighters that fight on ShoBox don't have much pro experience.  I'll review their pro records, speak with matchmakers and promoters about their development and try to get them to take the next step.”

 

Question: You must be proud when you look at a Top 10 pound-for-pound fighter like Andre Ward who displayed his skills early in his career on ShoBox. Did you think Andre was going to turn into such a special fighter watching him develop?

Hall: “Yes. Andre Ward is a source of pride for everyone at ShoBox because we feel like we essentially helped develop his career early on. Of course, Andre was well-known to some for winning an Olympic gold medal but we wanted him on ShoBox to let more fans get a look at him in the early stages of his pro career. After four ShoBox fights against not the best opposition, Ward proved he was a complete fighter – and not just a skilled fighter –  against the rough-and-tumble Edison Miranda. That was a defining fight for him at the time and it let the public see that he wasn’t just a pretty fighter, but a legitimate Top 10 guy. One thing we’ve tried to do with this series is create an awareness and a familiarity with upcoming prospects who fans might be interested in following all the way to a possible shot at a world title. We’ve tried to bring guys back like Chris Avalos, Luis Franco and Lateef Kayode. Edwin Rodriguez and Shawn Porter are also guys who we feel have a good shot at becoming future world champions. That’s what ShoBox is all about.”

 

Question: What is your favorite ShoBox memory?

Hall: “We had a title fight on ShoBox between Tim Bradley and Junior Witter.  Bradley had fought on ShoBox three times, never fought out of California and was in the top 10 and went to England to fight Witter for the title.  Bradley was a big underdog but upset Witter for the title.  We had a sense of accomplishment because Bradley developed on ShoBox and because of those opportunities we gave him, he was put in position to fight for the title.”

The 10th anniversary edition of ShoBox will be dedicated to the late Nick Charles. Curt Menefee will call the action alongside expert analyst Steve Farhood. Gordon Hall is the executive producer of ShoBox with Richard Gaughan producing the Rick Phillips directing.

 

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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