On Friday night at the Buffalo Run Casino in scenic Miami, Oklahoma, ShoBox: The New Generation returns to Showtime with a tripleheader, featuring two familiar names for the series, and a third highly intriguing prospect making his ShoBox debut.
Here's a quick look at the three featured prospects, as well as their opponents.
Prograis (16-0, 13 KO) has emerged as a notable prospect at 140 pounds and a ShoBox favorite over the last seven months, making his debut on the series in an undercard slot last August, beating Amos Cowart by shutout decision over eight rounds. He followed that up with an eight-round stoppage win over Abel Ramos in December, that time in the main event fight.
Prograis, 27, is originally from New Orleans, now fighting out of Houston, where he relocated after Hurricane Katrina. His New Orleans ties are probably given away by his nickname, "Rougarou."
"My manager and my dad were just trying to come up with nicknames," he says. "Basically, everybody was just shooting out names and they shot out that one – ‘Rougarou’. At first, I didn’t like it, but it stuck with me. A rougarou is like a Louisiana-type swamp monster or werewolf."
The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations, either directly from French settlers to Louisiana (New France) or via the French Canadian immigrants centuries ago.
In the Cajun legends, the creature is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and possibly the fields or forests of the regions. The rougarou most often is described as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend.
Often the story-telling has been used to inspire fear and obedience. One such example is stories that have been told by elders to persuade Cajun children to behave. According to another variation, the wolf-like beast will hunt down and kill Catholics who do not follow the rules of Lent. This coincides with the French Catholic loup-garou stories, according to which the method for turning into a werewolf is to break Lent seven years in a row. [Wikipedia]
So, yeah, this is definitely a frontrunner for best nickname in boxing. And so far he's backed up the great nickname in the ring.
On Friday, he faces Aaron Herrera (29-4-1, 18 KO), a 27-year-old veteran from Yucatán, who is 5-4-1 in his last 10 fights, including a loss to prospect Pedro Campa in his last fight, on December 12. Herrera has been fighting professionally since he was 17 years old, which is why he's a veteran and the same-aged Prograis is a prospect.
Herrera has been stopped before, in 2013 against Selcuk Aydin in Germany. His other two losses came to Fernando Garcia in 2012 and Jason Pagara in 2013. He's beaten a few decent fighters, but this is the role for him now, a veteran to test where a prospect is standing.
Baranchyk (9-0, 8 KO) is a powerhouse junior welterweight prospect, nicknamed "The Beast," which is in the same spirit of "Rougarou" but not nearly as cool. Baranchyk, 23, of Belarus, also featured on the December ShoBox card where Prograis beat Ramos, knocking out Shadi Shawareb in the first round.
That's not an unusual result for Baranchyk. He's won five fights via first round knockout, and his only time going the distance came in his third fight, a four-rounder in December 2014. He's faced pretty light opposition so far, but so has his opponent on Friday: Nicholas "King Beamen" Givhan, of Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Givhan, 30, is old for a prospect, and takes his nickname from the movie Any Given Sunday. Givhan (16-0-1, 10 KO) is very confident that he's got the skills to pull the upset.
"My opponent has not fought anyone of my caliber," he says. "I know he’s been talking trash, but it won’t matter in the end. He has not had an opponent who can outthink, outshine and outbox him. I am that guy, I am that fighter. The cliché is true: to be the best you’ve got to fight and beat the best. We are both undefeated and this is the kind of a fight that separates the good fighters from the great ones.’’
Givhan's pro record is frankly suspect as well, as he's fought 14 times in Michigan, and once each in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Mississippi. To put it delicately, none of those states are known for putting on top class events. As much as Givhan may think this is a step up for Baranchyk, it's absolutely, no doubt about it a step up in class for Givhan.
Golub (10-0, 8 KO) might be the most intriguing prospect on this show, and that's with no disrespect meant to Prograis or Baranchyk, two good prospects. It's just, how many six-foot tall, southpaw welterweights are there out there?
When Lou DiBella signed Golub in 2014, he was signing a middleweight. And he was excited, and should have been, because Golub was a good middleweight prospect. Originally from Ukraine and fighting out of Brooklyn, he was a five-time national champion in Ukraine, won bronze at the 2009 World Amateur Championships, and went 270-32 as an amateur.
As a welterweight, he could be downright dangerous. His height, reach, and power are frightening on paper for a 147-pound fighter. There just aren't really any welterweights who can match the first two. Golub fought at middleweight for his first eight fights, then last October dropped down to 150 pounds as a feeler for a move all the way down to welterweight. When he stopped Kendal Mena in three rounds, he made the move to 147, and made his debut there in January, stopping Juan Rodriguez Jr in the first round on the Wilder-Szpilka undercard. This is his first chance to make an impression on ShoBox.
Golub will be facing Marlon Aguas (9-0, 6 KO), an unbeaten fighter from Ecuardor who is making his U.S. debut. Aguas turned pro in 2013. I'd be lying if I said I knew anything more about. He won the South American welterweight title in 2014, beating a Mexican fighter in Mexico, so that made lots of sense. Also, that fighter's name was Erick Mireles, which is like the carnival prize bootleg version of Erik Morales, I think. Maybe Marlon Aguas will be the surprise on this show, who's to say?