Ornelas-Soliman, Walker-Estrada Highlight Showtime Doubleheader on Nov 17th

NEW YORK (Oct. 25, 2006) – One half of the popular Southern California-based “Bash Brothers,” Enrique Ornelas, will face world-ranked Sam Soliman in the main event on Friday, Nov. 17, on “ShoBox: The New Generation.” True to the “ShoBox” mantra, the 26-year-old Ornelas will take on his toughest opponent to date in a 10-round middleweight bout.

Also, in a battle of unbeaten heavyweights, the 2003 Golden Gloves champion Travis “Freight Train” Walker will battle the man who defeated him three times in the amateurs, 2004 United States Olympian Jason “Big Six” Estrada.

Walker (21-0-1, 17 KOs), of Tallahassee, Fla., will attempt to turn the tables on Providence R.I.’s Estrada (7-0, 1 ND, 1 KO) when they meet in an eight-round match. One of the most decorated amateur heavyweight boxers in U.S. history, Estrada beat Walker the last time they fought at the 2004 U. S. Olympic Trials.

The outstanding doubleheader at Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, Calif., is presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions and will air on SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).

The crowd-pleasing Ornelas (25-2, 15 KOs) hails from Guanajuato, Mexico. A winner of five consecutive bouts, the six-foot Ornelas, has been consistently stepping up the level of his competition. But, he never has faced anybody like Soliman, who is ranked No. 4 by the International Boxing Federation (IBF), No. 6 by both the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA), and No. 13 by the World Boxing Organization (WBO). Soliman (32-8, 13 KOs), of Melbourne, Australia, won the respect of the boxing world when he nearly upset former two-time world champion Ronald “Winky” Wright on Dec. 10, 2005.

“This will be a culture shock for Ornelas,” said Soliman, who will turn 33 four days before the telecast. “He is a tall, young guy who can fight, but relies on his reach. He will not be able to do anything with his reach when I am finished with him. I am going to get inside and make sure he cannot throw his punches, and make him pay.

“The fight will not go the distance. I throw 100 punches a round, and they are all going to land flush. I am going to make sure that Ornelas does not come back for more.’’

The younger brother of undefeated, No. 1-ranked WBC super middleweight contender Librado Andrade, Ornelas was scheduled to fight Soliman in August 2006, but the fight was cancelled.

Trained by former world champion Wayne McCullough, the offensive-minded Ornelas is known as a non-stop, heavy-handed puncher with impressive skills. He has recorded a number of knockdowns, but goes down a lot, too.

Regarding his style, Ornelas said: “I am more of a counter-puncher. I am aggressive when I need to be, but I am more of a patient fighter. I am learning how to pace myself better.”

Born and raised in Leon Guanajuato, Mexico, Ornelas and Andrade have the same mother and father despite having different last names. The different names occurred because their father failed to show up at their confirmations in the local Catholic Church. In Mexico, if only one parent is present, the child takes the last name of that parent.

When Andrade was confirmed, his father was not there, but the church said he could have his dad's name. However, if it happened again, that child would have to take his mother's last name. That is what happened when Ornelas was confirmed, so he took his mother's maiden name.

The youngest of seven children, Ornelas moved with his mother, brothers and sisters to La Habra, Calif., when he was seven years old. It was at this time that Librado, who is two years older, took him to a gym for the first time.

“The first time we went to the gym, my brother said, ‘I will not hit you hard. I am going to show you how to protect yourself.’ Well, he beat the heck out of me and made me cry,’’ Ornelas said. “I did not go back for a week. I thought he just wanted to beat me up. Finally, I said, ‘Let’s go do it again’.”

Ornelas only had 15 amateur fights. “I lost all the time,” he said. “I never trained or fought like an amateur. I hit too hard. But the other guys would get points. I never had the style to get points.”

A star wrestler in high school, Ornelas turned pro at 19 on Oct. 7, 1999. In his 13th start, he captured a WBC junior belt. Other noteworthy early wins came on a third-round knockout over Richard Karsten (12-1 going in) on Feb. 26, 2004, and on an eighth-round TKO over Miguel Martin (17-1) less than five months later on July 15.

Stamina and an inability to pace himself may have cost Ornelas when he suffered his first loss, a come-from-behind, ninth-round knockout by Christian Cruz (9-1) on Sept. 30, 2004, in Los Angeles. Hurt in the first from a right hand, Ornelas shook it off and rallied to drop Cruz three times. In the ninth, however, Ornelas seemed to tire and got floored with a counter right. He did all he could to survive, but after getting smashed with two more right hands, the bout was stopped at 2:38.

“Losing was tough but it made me stronger,’’ Ornelas said. “It will only help me as I move on.”

Ornelas triumphed in his next start with an eight-round majority decision over Giorbis Barthelemy on Dec. 16, 2006, in Los Angeles. Ornelas scored a knockdown in the first, but his opponent came back with a knockdown of his own in the second. Ornelas rallied to floor Barthelemy in the fifth and sixth to win 76-72, 75-73 and 74 twice.

Then, on March 25, 2005, in Tucson, Ariz., Ornelas dropped a 10-round majority decision (98-90, 95-93 and 94 apiece) to Samuel Reese. Ornelas had built a lead but Reese registered knockdowns in the eighth and 10th-rounds to win.

Two weeks before the Reese rumble, however, Ornelas competed in the Los Angeles Marathon. “I ended up getting sick after the race and had to take two days off from training,” he said.

Ornelas, who is 5-0 with two knockouts since the Reese bout, weighed 160 pounds in his three 2006 starts. In his last start, Ornelas floored Raul Munoz twice en route to a first-round knockout on Aug. 18, 2006, in Temecula, Calif.

A married father of three, Ornelas knows the importance of his upcoming scrap with Soliman. “For me, this is like a world title fight,” he said. “Soliman is a great fighter and warrior, but I am ready.’’

An Australian of Egyptian descent, the five-foot-eight-and-one-half-inch Soliman has won 20 of his last 21 starts. The defeat came when he lost a WBC title elimination bout on points to Wright in Uncasville, Conn., on Dec. 10, 2005.

What most expected to be an easy night’s work for Winky turned out to be anything but as Soliman pushed the heavy favorite to the limit. Every time Wright scored, the slippery Soliman rallied. He threw an astounding 1,260 punches in 12 rounds to Wright’s 652. Afterward, the courageous Soliman was given a standing ovation.

“The Winky fight is the last one I am ever going to have that goes the distance,’’ said Soliman, who is coming off of a sixth-round knockout over Munoz on March 3, 2006, in Temecula. ‘’I will make sure of that. I proved it against Munoz and I will prove it again against Ornelas.

“Expect a more powerful, hard-hitting Sam Soliman on Nov. 17. When it comes to putting away an opponent and not letting it go to a decision, I have never been as adamant as I am for this fight.’’

A guy who maintains peak condition and is always in the gym, Soliman is a relentless, two-fisted puncher who delivers blows from different angles. He is not known for bone-crunching power or accuracy, but manages to outwork and outscore his opponents.

“I have trained very hard for this fight and am totally fit,” Soliman said. “But I have been working especially hard on adding power to my punches. Ornelas goes down a lot. We will see if he can take it.’’

From the instant Soliman began watching Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran, he knew he wanted to box. His parents, however, were less enthusiastic and stressed education.

“I kept telling them, ‘but I can do it.’ They said, ‘Yeah, right.’ All my life I have tried to prove them wrong. I finished high school, but I skipped a lot of school. I tried to concentrate on school, but I always wound up going back to the gym.’’

After winning countless belts in tae kwon do, karate, and kick boxing, Soliman turned to boxing full time. With a 73-11 record in the amateurs, he turned pro as a cruiserweight at age 23 on April 20, 1977. In only his second fight, Soliman captured the Australian cruiserweight title. However, he lost his third and fourth outings and was just 12-7 after losing to, among others, Howard Eastman, Raymond Joval and Anthony Mundine.

“I had no manager and was on my own for several years,” Soliman said. “When I turned pro, I could not wait for a title, so I took one in my second fight. Some fighters get all the breaks, but my trainer never had the big connections. I was just this little local bloke who would travel to fights by myself. I knew no one in England, but I went there by myself and won the Commonwealth title.’’

In one of his finest victories, Soliman outpointed Joval across 12 rounds in a rematch on July 18, 2004, in Temecula. Soliman scored a knockdown in the fourth, cut his opponent over the left eye in the sixth and won by the scores 120-107 twice and 119-108.

A 19-fight winning streak ended when Soliman lost to Wright. Soliman fought at a blistering pace and outworked Wright in many rounds. Wright was unable to dictate the pace for one of the few times in his career, but landed the harder punches and staggered Soliman in the 10th. Soliman never went down, recovered, and finished the round well, but two judges scored the round, 10-8, for Wright.

Soliman won the last two sessions on two of the scorecards, but fell short by 117-110, 115-113 and 115-112. “The people saw it as my victory,” he said. “I do not know how the three judges didn’t.”

In his lone 2006 start, Soliman dominated en route to knocking Munoz out at 1:49 of the sixth. Soliman took the fight on five days’ notice after his originally scheduled foe, Vernon Forrest, withdrew.

Soliman, who earlier this year played a boxer in a soon to be released movie, is managed by Stuart Duncan and trained by Dave Hedgecock. Nigel McCartney is the boxer’s strength and conditioning coach.

Walker and Estrada turned pro within five months of each other in 2004, but Walker has three times as many fights. Including his debut on July 30, 2004, Walker fought six times in ’04, nine times in ’05 and seven times so far in 2006.

“I did not have the background of some of the guys, but anybody watching my career since I turned pro knows I have advanced a lot in a short amount of time,” the 27-year-old Walker, who is six-foot-four-and-one-half inches tall. “I am pretty athletic. Boxing came pretty easy.’’

Armed with good reflexes and natural talent, Walker only had about 32 amateur fights, but was good enough to become the 2003 National Golden Gloves super heavyweight champion.

In his second fight of the double elimination U.S. Olympic Trials, Walker dropped a 15-4 decision to Estrada. After a 30-25 setback to George Garcia eliminated him from the Trials, Walker said, “This is something I will always remember, but it was probably one of the worst tournaments I have been to. Even some of the judges said this was some of the worst judging they had seen.”

Walker began boxing at the late age of 21 and turned pro at 25 on July 30, 2004. “The boxing coach at my high school, who also was the dean, asked me to box, but I played football, ran track and was on the weight-lifting team, so I told him I wasn’t interested,” he said.

“Then I saw a fight on TV. Lennox Lewis beat some guy in 58 seconds of the first round and the dude got $300,000. That just stuck in my head. ‘I could make that money.’ I was basically sitting at home. I had a job, but it was a nothing job that was not going anywhere.

"So, I went back to the high school and starting training. I have been going to the gym since.”

Brought along carefully, Walker won his initial 13 outings before stepping up in class and boxing to an eight-round draw against Jason Gavern on Sept. 30, 2005, in Brooks, Calif. The improving Walker has won eight consecutive contests since, including six inside of the distance. In his last start, he scored a second-round TKO over John Clark on Sept. 2, 2006, in Los Angeles.

Walker has been anticipating the bout with Estrada since the pair turned pro. “I am going to destroy this guy,” he said. “There is no way I am going to leave it to the judges. I owe Estrada.”

Managed by Steve Munisteri and co-trained by former junior welterweight contender Dwight Pratchett and Dick Wood, Walker currently resides and trains in Houston.

The super quick, highly regarded, six-foot-one-inch, 25-year-old Estrada is perhaps America’s top heavyweight pro prospect.

One of the most celebrated amateur boxers in U.S. history, Estrada completed his amateur career with a spectacular 261-14 record (excluding international matches). Among his many noteworthy accomplishments, Estrada became the first boxer to win both the U.S. Nationals and U.S. Challenge three straight years (2001-03). The first U.S. super heavyweight in history to win the Pan-American Games (2003), Estrada went unbeaten at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

However, the biggest guy on the U.S. team disappointed in the Olympic Games. In a totally unexpected performance, Estrada was uncharacteristically lackluster and lost a chance for a medal by dropping a 21-7 decision to Cuba's Michel Lopez Nunez in Athens.

Estrada weighed 228 pounds when he beat Nunez in the finals of the 2003 Pan Am Games. But, he tipped the scales at 262 and fought passively when they met at the Olympics. Estrada said he never pursued Nunez because he figured he would lose anyway and did not want to take any more punishment.

“If I am going to lose, I am going to lose getting hit as little as possible,” Estrada said. “This is just one part of my life. It is just the end of this book. I will have to bring a new book out."

If Estrada’s pro career was a book, it would be a best seller. A terrific boxer with excellent hand speed, defense and smarts, Estrada has not lost a minute of a round among 40 since turning pro on Dec. 10, 2004.

Estrada’s lone pro victory inside of the distance came in his second bout when he scored a first-round TKO over Jerry Simpson on April 1, 2005, in New Haven, Conn. Since fighting to a no decision on Feb. 13, 2006, Estrada has won two straight. After hurling a 10-round shutout over Robert Wiggins on May 18, 2006, Estrada fought to an eight-round victory over Maurice Wheeler on Sept. 23, 2006.

“The best quality about me is that I am smart in the ring and can change my style to adapt to whatever style of fighter that I am fighting,” Estrada said. “I love the pro game.’’

A tremendous boxer for his size, Estrada is very adept without much of a punch. He routinely trains with middleweights and super welterweights, and is almost always just as quick.

“People say my son cannot punch, but look at the levels of the guys that he is fighting,” Estrada's father, Roland, said. “Nobody at his level is fighting these guys. Jason has a lot of speed. He makes guys miss and takes advantage of that. He has the talent, but most importantly, he is smart about what he does and how he takes care of himself. He is willing to fight anyone.”

Said the younger Estrada, who has a son named Lennox and has sparred with former world champions Hasim Rahman and John Ruiz: “It is all about confidence. I am not afraid to fight anybody. What does it prove to beat guys that are not that good? I want to prove myself to be the best.”

Growing up in the projects of Providence, Estrada began boxing at the age of 10 and immediately fell in love with what he calls the “thrill of competition.” Translated, it means he has been fighting for as long as he can remember.

“I had to fight to prove myself day after day after day,” Estrada said. “That is not me. I had to defend myself. But, I do not have to fight anymore, though. Now, the word is out.’’

Estrada expects to make it four straight victories over Walker without much difficulty.

“This guy will come to me, so I will probably knock him out,” said Estrada, who also defeated Walker in the 2002 National PAL Championships and 2001 Everlast U.S. Challenge. “The last amateur fight with Walker was not even close. I think I won by 10 points. This one will not be close either.”

Blow-by-blow announcer Nick Charles will call the action from ringside with expert analyst Steve Farhood at his side. The executive producer of “ShoBox’’ is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing.

Article posted on 25.10.2006

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