I'll start this recap by saying that I love the ShoBox series. I really do. But whenever we get a "special" ShoBox, there's nothing special at all. Tonight's offering kept that tradition alive.
In the main event, WBA "regular" 154-pound titleholder Austin "No Doubt" Trout beat the crap out of a hopelessly overmatched Frank LoPorto in a fight that was even worse in practice than it was on paper. While the live crowd stood on their feet and cheered, a TV camera inspection of the fight revealed a disgusting mismatch that should never have taken place at all.
In the first round, LoPorto was put on the canvas with a close right hook. After the round, he went back to his corner, already looking like he'd lost the fight. "He's too fast," he told his trainer. But out LoPorto went, round after round, increasingly growing desperate for someone to stop what became a one-sided beating of a clearly inferior fighter who shouldn't have been in there at all, in a ridiculous fight that the WBA never should have put together in the first place. But in their world, Frank LoPorto was the #14 junior middleweight contender. Right.
Finally, in a brutal sixth round, with LoPorto looking terribly desperate for the fight to be stopped, his corner jumped on the apron and screamed for referee Rafael Ramos to stop the bout. Ramos, though, didn't see or hear them, and let LoPorto take a few more shots for good measure after being staggered into the ropes. As the white towel of surrender flew at Ramos' back, he finally stepped in to call a halt to the "action."
The truth is, Austin Trout is a better boxer than he showed tonight. LoPorto was so bad and so overmatched that he made Trout look sloppy, which he really isn't. More than anything, it's probably been a while since Trout was in a ring with someone who so badly lacked fundamental boxing skills.
Now I don't say all of this to dump on LoPorto. It's not his fault he was in a fight he shouldn't have been, and he was too tough and too proud to fall down or give up. He gave a very gritty performance tonight in a fight that he knew in round one he couldn't win.
But Austin Trout deserves not just a better opponent, but a much, much better opponent than he got tonight. Trout is now 24-0 (14 KO), while LoPorto falls to 15-5-2 (7 KO).
Middleweights: Michael Oliveira DQ-8 (TKO-8?) Xavier Toliver
In the co-feature, things were a little more competitive, which is not to say they were competitive. Michael Oliveira, the 21-year-old middleweight prospect from Brazil, took an early rush from Atlanta's Xavier Toliver, shook it off, and came back to dominate the fight. In the eighth round, with Toliver looking and sounding so bad in the corner that his trainer wanted to stop the fight (and said he would if two more good punches landed), Toliver was disqualified for hitting on the break.
While referee Robert Chapa certainly wasn't preventing us from seeing any more than we needed to, the corner of Toliver was right to complain that he hadn't been warned. Toliver, 31, had been docked a point for headbutting earlier in the fight, but Chapa's call for the DQ was wrong.
So was the ruling that it was a technical knockout, which should get changed.
Oliveira (16-0, 12/13 KO) reminded me of John Duddy in this fight. He's got leaky defense, but he comes to fight and throws punches in combination pretty well. His upside is, I would say, severely limited, and there was a belief among some watching tonight that he didn't show a ton of passion in the ring. He is from a privileged background, which is always a stamp of disapproval in boxing until you prove that you're not a spoiled kid. He's still got a lot of work to do, and hopefully an absurd fight with Acelino Freitas will not come to fruition next year. Nobody needs to see "Popo" take a few punches from a far bigger man just to pass the torch in the ring.