It was the year's first “ShoBox: The New Generation” show, and it started with a bang. The ShoBox programming has a history of matching their young talent tough, making the fights an opportunity to create new fans amongst boxing’s hardcore who tune in and position themselves for future events.
This ShoBox card took place at the Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem, PA, and from watching it on TV, the venue looked as though there were little to no empty seats. It was all hands on deck to make the most of this show, so Mark Fratto and his company Linacre Media produced the Uber popular “Fight Night Live” stream on Facebook and Flo Combat with NYFights founder Michael Woods calling the action. This was the table-setter of what would come later that night with the live Showtime card.
DAVID STEVENS SCORES A HUGE KO WITH TWO SECONDS REMAINING IN THE FIGHT
You know you are in for a treat when Showtime hosts Raul Marquez and Barry Tompkins is giddy about a fight. Marquez couldn’t contain his excitement at the beginning of the telecast when discussing the main event, and little did everyone else know that it would be merited as the fight would deliver.
David Stephens (12-0) was the power puncher who was facing Sean Hemphill (14-1), the boxer. Early on, Hemphill was using his feet effectively and boxing well, but Stevens kept touching him, whether punches to the head, body, arms, or chest. Although Hemphill was successful in many spots, Stevens appeared to be the one that was winning the war and wearing Hemphill down with his offense. As the rounds continued, I tweeted that Hemphill was getting hit with some clean overhand rights and that he couldn’t continue to do that if he wanted to make it through the fight.
After feeling like he was down on the cards, Stevens went all in during the eighth round as he felt Hemphill was ready to go. With 21 seconds left, Stevens scored a flurry of punches, sending Hemphill down for the fight's first knockdown. Although he beat the ten count, Hemphill was on extremely shaky legs, and if the referee had stopped it, no one would have batted an eye, but he didn’t. The fight continued, and Stevens jumped on Hemphill, hoping to finish the job, which he did with a left hook that rocked Hemphill. At that point, the referee saw enough and stopped the fight with just two seconds remaining.
WHAT AN ENDING 😮💨
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) January 21, 2023
“I felt like it was a good performance in front of my hometown crowd,” Stevens said. “I didn’t know how the judges had it scored, and I knew I wasn’t executing like I should have been, and I had to pick it up like my corner was telling me. Near the end, I just had to stay relaxed. I think I could have done a better. Just improved on a little bit of everything. We were both breathing pretty heavy near the end there, and I knew I just needed to keep pushing.”
ATIF OBERLTON SHINES BRIGHT UNDER THE SHOBOX LIGHTS ON FRIDAY NIGHT
Coming into fight week, the talk around boxing circles was about a light heavyweight southpaw from West Philly named Atif Oberlton (8-0). The hard-hitting 24-year-old shared his story and his desire to be a world champion and a fashionista that would be a part of Fashion Week someday. Oberlton faced Artem Brusov (12-1), which was no walk in the park as Brusov had an extended amateur career and had the experience to give Oberlton some problems. Brusov was tough and made Oberlton work in there, but it also forced him to level up more than he had in the past, and that’s what further solidified his blue-chip status. Oberlton went on to win a unanimous decision (79-73, 78-74, and 78-74), but more importantly, he showed the suits at Showtime that he is ready to be given more of a push in 2023.
After the fight, Oberlton said, “I feel good and was glad I went the eight rounds. It really showed my conditioning. A lot of guys who have my type of record early on in their careers don’t take advantage of the opportunities and taking on opponents like I am. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. He’s a guy from Russia, and he’s no slouch. I started a little slow, but that’s the thing about pro boxing is you have more rounds to show what you need to show. I’m proud of myself tonight.”
JULIAN GONZALEZ OPENS THE TELECAST WITH A BANG
Super featherweight prospect Julian Gonzalez (9-0-1) opened the telecast and almost immediately had you paying attention even before the fight as he had unified super bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton Jr. walking out with him as they headed towards the ring. That immediately caught everyone’s attention, and it was a signal that Julian Gonzalez could very well be a serious guy, and boy was he.
Although Rosalindo Morales (9-1) was more than game for the fight, you could tell that it hurt right away when Gonzalez landed. In the first round, Gonzalez dropped Morales, but even then, Morales, who was also undefeated before last night, kept coming and trying to find ways to win. Gonzalez kept applying pressure and busting up Morales, whose face was starting to reflect the punishment. Finally, in the fourth round, the referee called a halt to the action leading to a TKO victory for Gonzalez. I’m ready to see more of Gonzalez, and I know the rest of the purists who tuned in are too.