Last night's season premiere of ShoBox turned out to be a boxing event where not only did the premium cable network give something away. The Showtime® Free Preview weekend kicked off with the highly regarded featherweight prospect Ronny Rios against former super bantamweight champion Rico Ramos at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California where neither fighter seemed terribly interested in taking over.
While Showtime® was providing some free airtime in an attempt to entice more subscribers, each fighter had moments where they gave rounds away to one another. The typically aggressive Rios (20-0, 9 KO's) was generally passive, outlining a rather curious fight plan that involved trying to lure Ramos (21-2, 11 KO's) to come forward so counterpunching opportunities could be realized. Given Ramos' tentative style, this resulted in an uneventful first two rounds with both men waiting on each other.
Ramos' plan was to apply pressure with combination punching upstairs and downstairs but it wasn't executed. While he did begin to let his hands go a bit more in Round 3, it was Rios who was more effective with hard left hooks to the body on the inside.
After having been whacked on the inside in the previous round, Ramos stayed on the outside in Round 4 while circling side-to-side in what Showtime analyst Steve Farhood described as 'purposeless movement.' Rios continued to land lefts to the body and some straight shots upstairs.
The 25-year old Ramos was more active in Round 5 while Rios merely stalked his opponent rather than cutting off the ring and sustaining an attack. At the midpoint of this 10-round bout, one was expecting Rios to step on the gas and begin to wear down the somewhat confused Ramos rather than take the round off.
It was Round 6 where Rios did just that. The 22-year old Santa Ana, California resident consistently fired multiple left hooks to the body with a number of uppercuts sprinkled into the mix. Rios was composed and focused, appearing to have turned the corner toward the impressive showing he had set out to display for his big ShoBox debut.
Ramos seemed to be in a 'no win' situation by Round 7. He was unable to find range on the outside with his jabs falling short, his right hand not finding a home and a left hook that was entirely absent. While on the inside, he was getting hammered with body shots with Rios crowding him and weighing him down.
However, Rios all but gave away the final three rounds. He inexplicably waited on Ramos and was rather tentative down the stretch. At one point, Rios' corner was heard asking him what was wrong and the restless crowd began to boo what little action both men were providing. It was not the kind of finish one would expect from a rising prospect who was being given an opportunity to position his career with broad television exposure.
Nevertheless, Rios had done enough in the earlier rounds to get the unanimous decision with scores of 100-90, 97-93 and 96-94. Judge Fritz Werner scored every single round for Rios which only punctuated the 'giveaway ' nature of the evening.
Although Rios remains undefeated and now holds the NABF featherweight title, the curious fight strategy and lackluster finish raises questions pertaining to his readiness and hunger at this stage of his young career.
As for Ramos, the former WBA super bantamweight champion could very well be a 'one-hit wonder' who seems to have lost his nerve and possibly the will to fight.
The televised co-feature with junior middleweight prospect Daquan Arnett and previously unbeaten Brandon Quarles was a rather messy and uninspiring affair. Arnett, a 20-year old amateur standout from Winter Park, Florida, was the busier fighter throughout the bout while Quarles tried to crowd and stifle the youngster which led to a good deal of grabbing, leaning and wrestling. Although he won a unanimous decision with scores of 78-73, 77-74 and 76-75, Arnett (10-0, 6 KO's) tired badly and did not respond well to the pressure applied by Quarles (9-1-1, 2 KO's), thus leaving another prospect with more work to be done.
One hand giveth, the other taketh away.
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