by Tim Harrison
ShoBox: The Next Generation returns Friday night with the first of what can we can expect to be many showcase/tests for Mayweather Promotions prospects. Lightweight Mickey “The Spirit” Bey Jr. (18-0-1, 9 KOs) takes on former lightweight title contender John Molina Jr. (25-3, 20 KOs) in the main event, while 2008 Olympian Badou Jack “The Ripper” (14-0, 10 KOs) takes on Farah Ennis (21-2, 12 KOs) in the co-feature. The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada will play host and Showtime will televise the fights at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT.
Bey, still considered a prospect at 30 years of age, turned pro in 2005 but has had several periods of inactivity over the last few years. Bey fought only once in 2011, nearly one year after his last fight in 2010, and wound up in a disappointing majority draw with Eric Cruz. After 3 wins in 2011, injuries claimed 2012. And after his February 2 win over Robert Rodriguez, a positive test for testosterone (at a whopping 30-to-1 Testosterone to Epitestosterone ratio) kept Bey on the shelf for 6 months, in addition to wiping out a nice knockout win.
Molina is a hot-and-cold fighter coming in on the heels of a chilly performance against Andrey Klimov on Friday Night Fights in June. Molina was unable to use his strength and size advantages over Klimov, and was unable to pull the trigger with a constant jab in his face. Yet only five months earlier in the 2013 Friday Night Fights season opener, Molina looked great on his way to taking out Dannie Williams in only four rounds. Molina, who holds a win over a faded Frankie Archuleta and a nice knockout win over Hank Lundy, will come in as the opponent and carry the name value, but he’s been in with better opposition and will be the biggest test of Bey’s career to date.
Bey is a naturally gifted fighter honing his skills under the guise of Floyd Mayweather Sr. at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bey’s punches are fast and accurate, and he uses movement and angles, only stopping to throw a few punches before moving again. Molina is a harder puncher, but he doesn’t let his hands go often enough. In his 2009 loss to Martin Honorio, Molina fell behind early on as Honorio outworked him in the early rounds, and Molina was unable to close the gap in the later rounds. Look for the time off and negative attention that comes with a positive PED test to affect Bey early on before he turns it on and runs away with the middle and late rounds en route to a decision win.
Badou Jack turned pro in 2009 after representing Gambia in the 2008 Olympics and losing to Vijender Kumar in the opening round. Jack fought in his native Sweden and in Finland during the first year of his career, but made his debut in the United States in June 2011. Jack has fought mostly club-level opposition and is making his second ShoBox appearance. His first came against Alexander Brand last May. Like Mayweather Promotions stablemate Bey Jr., Badou Jack is in with his best opponent to date and his first ten-round fight. Jack last fought on the off-tv undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s May 4 fight with Robert Guerrero, scoring a three-round KO of Michael Gbenga.
Ennis is a mainstay on the Philadelphia/New Jersey fight circuit. The best win of his career came last month against former super middleweight contender Anthony Hanshaw. Ennis held a narrow lead heading into the final round against Hanshaw, but scored a knockdown to put some distance between he and Hanshaw.
Jack, like Bey, trains at the Mayweather Boxing Club, but under Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. Jack is raw and quite powerful, and looks slightly out of sorts when he’s forced to change directions and search for his opponent. Ennis isn’t a particularly powerful puncher, and is at his best when countering. Ennis will find plenty of countering opportunities against Jack, who will be looking to impress in his first ten rounder. Jack, the A-side here, will have to adjust and work for his dinner, but he’ll likely stop Ennis late as he takes another step up the super middleweight ranks.
While Bey and Jack are faced with the stiffest tests of their careers and are facing opponents who will make them work, ShoBox is a series to showcase prospects and talents. Unfortunately, Molina and Ennis aren’t the focus, and while they will do their own parts to entertain, both will fall short.
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