Showtime® kicks off their Free Preview weekend today through January 13 which will allow more fans to watch undefeated prospect Ronny Rios take on former super bantamweight champion Rico Ramos for the vacant NABF featherweight title on the season debut of ShoBox tonight from the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. Meanwhile, John Molina will take on Dannie Williams on this week's installment of "Friday Night Fights" on ESPN 2 in a non-titled lightweight match from Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It might be a free weekend of fights but neither of these four combatants can afford to be giving anything away tonight.
The 22-year old Rios (19-0, 9 KO's) has already earned a reputation as being an exciting fighter. Even though he has not registered many knockouts, the youngster from Santa Ana, California is durable, snaps a sharp jab and bangs to the body consistently. He's an efficiently aggressive fighter who gradually wears down his opponent, registering a ninth round stoppage in his last fight in July over David Rodela who was unable to put up much of a defense by that point.
This will be Rios' first appearance on ShoBox and his first fringe title attempt which presents an enormous opportunity for him to impress a wider audience during the Free Preview weekend, prove he's a viable contender and propel his promising career much like this exposure did for the likes of WBA light middleweight champion Austin Trout and many others.
“The way I see it, fighting on ShoBox can be a life-changing experience for me. It can be the start of many more fights on television. I’ve seen guys start on ShoBox and then go to SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and that’s what I’m confident can happen to me," predicts Rios.
Ramos (21-1, 11 KO's) had his own life-changing experience when he captured the WBA super bantamweight title with a sensational one-punch knockout of Akifumi Shimoda on HBO's "Boxing After Dark" in July 2011. Up to that point in the bout, Ramos did not look like a fighter who was ready to compete at the world class level, losing by a wide margin on all three scorecards to the Japanese champion at the time of the knockout. This sense was further reinforced when Ramos lost the title in uninspiring fashion to the talented Guillermo Rigondeaux in his first defense six months later, being dropped in the first round and later knocked out by a body shot in Round 6.
With this fight against Rios, Ramos is out to prove that he is still a top-ranked fighter who is ready, willing and able to return to championship heights.
“I really want to get this win so I can get to the next level. I was at that level before, but now I want to get back to it………I really want to get back to where I was and it all starts tomorrow night,” Ramos declared at yesterday's weigh-in.
Similar fights for redemption take place on the ESPN 2 main event. When Williams (22-2, 18 KO's) was last seen on "Friday Night Fights" in March 2012, he had been manhandled by Hank Lundy in what may have been Lundy's most complete performance of his career. Williams knocked Lundy down in the first round but was unable to get close enough throughout the rest of the fight to land any other effective punches while eating a number of straight left jabs followed by right hands that were placed between his wide shots.
The 28-year old Williams stopped Rynell Griffin, an under .500 fighter, in his last fight and recognizes that he must get back on track with an impressive win tonight against Molina if he is to have any realistic shot at a title in the future.
"I need to show the world in this fight that my last televised fight was not me. That was a fluke,” said Williams. “The boxing world needs to see the real Dannie Williams. 2013 is a huge year for me. After I take care of business on Friday night, I want to get right back in the ring against ranked opponents and move my way to the top of the lightweight division.”
Molina (24-2, 19 KO's) is also trying to erase the memory of his last televised fight. In what was anticipated to be a potential war between two sluggers, Molina buckled under a barrage of punches by Antonio DeMarco from the opening bell and the fight was stopped within a mere :44 of the first round.
The Covina, California native protested the stoppage to the California State Athletic Commission on the basis that half of his body was hanging outside the bottom rope at the time. However, the decision was upheld giving Molina even more motivation heading into this fight tonight.
"It’s my job now to prove everybody wrong,” Molina said in regard to his fight against DeMarco. “I’m sure people are saying 'John who'? but come Jan. 11, I’ll have my chance to turn it all around.”
All four men know that tonight is a chance for them to turn it all around and point their careers in the right direction. Aside from the programming, there will be no freebies which makes these two bouts 'must watch' television.
Also:Antonio DeMarco, Boxing, Dannie Williams, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Hank Lundy, John Molina, Rico Ramos, Ronny Rios