The first one is in the can for the “Ring City USA” crew and first, the good news.
They pulled off a night of fights during the pandemic, no small feat in itself.
Super feather O'Shaquie Foster will look back on this Thursday night in Cali with fondness, as he upped his record tp 18-2 with a stoppage win.
The outside the ring talent showed competence and communicated well, even through masks. The mix of live action and taped promo/intro pieces were placed together deftly. There are takeaways for the gang to be proud of, and build on.
But, I turned on the card, on delay, because I was watching some MSNBC, and when I put down the remote, after I saw the 27 year old Foster (pictured above in Tom Hogan photo) have his way with 62-13 Miguel Roman, I found myself thinking about how hard it is to make noise in the entertainment arena.
With so much content available, be it on screens, or for gamers, or movie buffs who can scan the endless catalogue on Netflix, it makes sense that people are wanting to make a splash, so they stand out.
Some of that happened with the “Ring City” gang, as they presented a vision of what they'd be bringing to the table, on NBC Sports Network, with a series of cards that would feature “competitive” bouts. The crafters of this sports entertainment venture are Evan Rutkowski, Kurt Emhoff, Sam Katkovski, Frank Samuel and Jeff Huggins. Ring City’s budget for shows will exceed that of “ShoBox,” we were told, and we were also informed that this would be boxing at its “purest.”
No harm in looking for marketing hooks that are sticky, of course, but expectations, once set, can weigh a bit heavy on a startup. “Anyone Anytime Anywhere,” that promised pursuit conjured certain hopes in some of us.
You can go that Peter Nelson route, and use terms like “promoter agnostic,” and that will actually get you some second looks from people who get intrigued by that brand of biz-speak. But the public is spoiled these days, and can be rotten sons of bitches as they critique even something that didn't cost them a thin dime, or even a fat nickel. If you tilt towards over promising, unless you over deliver, it is probable that “they” will turn on you, and shift their attention to some other shiny object.
So, you know what? It is harder than it looks from the outside to get into the promotional fray, and success comes with hard work, an adherence to a savvy angle, patient money backers, and doses of good luck along the way.
A little shot across the bow at “ShoBox,” for not always delivering on expectations, on their mission statement, meant that out of the gate, RCU ideally would have a legit 50-50 tossup main event, which would play out in the ring as it looked on paper.
But instead, the young lion chewed up the past prime trial horse, the Texan Foster put away Roman. If it's business as usual like that too often from the Ring City crew, they won't find themselves enjoying one tenth of the run that ShoBox has.
The scraps were well presented, the production was professional and crisp…but it was what it was.
No, there wasn't a promise of the re-invention of the wheel from the drivers looking to make their mark with this series. But unfortunately, boxing is so consistent in booking lopsided, in getting wins for A siders, so those featured players climb the ranks and get moved into marquee/money fights, that it FEELS to us fans, often, that we NEED a design tweak to our wheel.
This can still happen for RCU, they are back in the ring for that second swing Dec. 3, again at Wild Card Gym, and ideally for the series heads, Brandon Adams at 21-3 sullies the resume of Serhii Bohachuk (18-0).
Because you can find those swell human interest storylines to help casuals from clicking to something else, or making a Tik Tok or whatever, and share them adeptly and earnestly, but that won't elevate a series to must see territory. The matchups have to be coin flips on paper, and in the ring. If that happens, then RCU can get closer to what that ambitious headline writer teased in an ESPN.com story: “Why Ring City has a chance to shake up the boxing industry.”
It will be very hard. Trying to make it work as a “middle class” player, you may have noticed, is a real hard life in this USA.
Here is the release which went out after the fights finished:
Los Angeles – November 19, 2020 – Top super featherweight contender O’Shaquie Foster rose to the occasion Thursday night, knocking out two-time world title challenger Miguel Roman in the ninth round of the main event of Ring City’s inaugural fight card in Los Angeles. Foster’s knockout, which took place at Wild Card Boxing Club, kicked off the prospective series aimed at elevating the next generation of boxing talent.
Foster (18-2,11 KO’s) dominated the fight from the outset, setting the precedent with a big right hand that floored Roman (62-14, 47 KO’s) 1:30 into the first round. The punch cut into Roman’s eye and the 34-year-old took time to regain momentum.
“I feel great and like I showed everybody I can box,” Foster told ringside reporter Curran Bhatia. “I showed the world that I’m talented and hope everyone will want to see me fight again.”
Roman, who entered the fight with over triple the number of knockouts as Foster, showed his signature fortitude. While Foster controlled the distance and created angles, Roman tried to force the action throughout, refusing to give up the inside. But Foster’s conditioning and eye for creating opportunities couldn’t be matched and earned him his long-awaited coming out win.
“It feels unbelievable to be on this stage and show my talent to the world,” Foster continued. “I would love to face the winner of Berchelt vs. Valdez next, or even Carl Frampton. Any of the top guys, I’m ready to get in the ring with.”
In co-feature action, Mexican slugger William Zepeda (22-0, 20 KO’s) didn’t disappoint in his U.S. debut, knocking out Roberto Ramirez (23-3-1, 16 KO’s) in the latter half of the fifth round to snap Ramirez’s ten-fight win streak. The win marked Zepeda’s 12th consecutive stoppage to bring his total to 20.
Zepeda got the job done efficiently and stayed consistent throughout. Both fighters came out utilizing the jab, relying heavily on their front hand in the initial rounds. Zepeda gained confidence with each round and opened it up in the third, where he unleashed a high volume of punches. The pressure paid off as Ramirez tired and began to lean in, negating his own height advantage.
The momentum was heavily in Zepeda’s favor in the fifth round as he became more comfortable sneaking in his right hook and landing it effectively. Referee Ray Corona stopped the fight with 20 seconds remaining in the fifth round when a hurt and tired Ramirez was caught on the ropes.
In featured undercard action, Eduardo Hernandez (30-1, 27 KO’s) dominated Eduardo Garza (15-3-1, 8 KO’s) on his way to a third-round stoppage. Garza dominated from the opening bell, quickly getting comfortable with his right uppercut and seizing control of the action. Hernandez employed an arsenal of crisp punches to keep Garza cornered and overwhelmed to the point where any counterpunch Garza threw was misdirected. A body shot with 45 seconds remaining in the third round dropped Garza for good, with Hernandez picking up his 30thwin and 27th stoppage.
Former two-time welterweight champion Shawn Porter called the action alongside NBC Sports play-by-play commentator Bob Papa. Brian Campbell served as fight night analyst with Curran Bhatia reporting from ringside. The night kicked off a three-night slate of Thursday fights on NBCSN. Successive Ring City cards will be broadcast live at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST on Dec. 3 and Dec. 17. Ring City fights will stream live on the NBC Sports app, with highlights featured on NBC Sports’ YouTube Channel.