Friday night's ShoBox: The New Generation fighters all made weight for a super bantamweight doubleheader. Jhonatan Romero (21-0, 12 KO) will face Efrain Esquivas (16-1, 9 KO) in the main event, with both fighters coming in at 122 pounds. Esquivas had to drop two pounds to make weight. In the co-feature, Roman Morales (12-0, 6 KO) will face Jonathan Arrellano (13-0-1, 3 KO). Both weighted in at 122 pounds.
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"It's exciting to be back on SHOWTIME and I just love the attention and exposure it brings to me.
"I expect Esquivias to come forward from the start and try and get right in my face, so I am prepared to do whatever it takes. Whether it means I have to box and move around or slug in the middle of the ring, I'm ready. I hurt my left thumb in my last fight, but it is 100 percent now.
"I feel I am mentally stronger than when I fought Chris Avalos (Romero won a split decision last Dec. 2 on ShoBox), and look to put on a better show this time.
"Esquivias is a good fighter. I've watched a lot of tape and know he is very aggressive and will be coming to fight his fight. But his style is good for me and I will adjust to whatever he is trying to do.
"This is an important fight with a top ranking on the line. I hope if I win I can fight for the world title in my next fight. I know I feel I'm ready.''
"This fight is for No. 2 in the IBF, so it is very important. I'm looking to win, make a good impression and fight for the title.
"I've seen Romero's fights. I'm not sure he likes to get pressured. But for sure I'm going to make him go backwards.
"I've trained hard and have worked especially hard getting off to a fast start. I know I'm a slow starter. I'm expecting to start fast and set a good pace. I like to be a crowd-pleaser and entertain the fans.
"Even though I thought I won my fight against Rico Ramos (he lost a majority decision last June 23), I didn't get discouraged when the decision didn't go my way. In fact, it made me become more motivated and work even harder.
"I plan to bring it against Romero. That's my style. I think I showed in my last fight (against Avalos) that I belonged. Now I need to show that I can win.''
"I've done it twice so I feel much more comfortable going eight rounds. I think I did a good job in my last fight on ShoBox (he won a unanimous decision over the Roger Mayweather-trained Alexis Santiago) and listened to my corner OK. When I needed to get my second wind, I did and kept pushing forward.
"I think this is the toughest fight I've had. I know Arellano is quick and moves a lot and is going to box. I just have to be smart, keep my hands up and try and cut him off. If I get him against the ropes, I'll go to the body. But I think jabbing a lot more is the most important key for me heading into the fight.
"I just hope to win so that when I get a few more fights and get some more experience, I'll be ready for a 10-round fight against a top-10 guy fight. I've been winning decisions, but that is good. I just want to win. There is no pressure to try for a knockout. If it comes, it comes.
"I've had some good sparring with Nonito Donaire. I think we've helped each other.''
"This is my first fight on ShoBox but I feel I've been preparing for it since I was a kid. So, naturally, I am very excited but at the same time I'm not overwhelmed. I've always felt that if I worked hard these kind of opportunities would come.
"This is going to be a great fight. I'm looking forward to fighting someone who is really going to try and push me. I feel I I have good movement and speed, but my trainer, Henry Ramirez, has been trying to get more to stay in the pocket and throw more.
"I work very hard. I'm looking at this great opportunity for me to prove myself.''
All photos by Tom Casino/Showtime