Undefeated super middleweight prospects Sean Hemphill (14-0, 8 KOs) from New Orleans and David Stevens (11-0, 8 KOs) from Reading, Pa., both made weight Thursday, a day ahead of their eight-round main event showdown on SHOBOX: The New Generation tomorrow night, Friday, January 20 live on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/PT from Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem, Pa.
The co-feature pits undefeated prospect and Philadelphian Atif Oberlton (7-0, 6 KOs) and the power-punching Russian now training in South Florida Artem Brusov (12-0, 11 KOs) in an eight-round light heavyweight bout. Plus, in a battle of two unbeaten Pennsylvanians, KO artist Julian Gonzalez (8-0-1, 8 KOs) from Reading faces Ellwood City’s Rosalindo Morales (9-0, 2 KOs) in an eight-round super featherweight bout that opens the three-fight telecast.
International Boxing Hall of Famer Barry Tompkins will call the action with former world champion Raul Márquez and veteran combat sports reporter and MORNING KOMBAT host Brian Campbell also serving as an expert analyst, and Hall of Famer Steve Farhood remotely performing unofficial scoring duties. The executive producer of SHOBOX: The New Generation is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
The tripleheader is promoted by King’s Promotions.
Super Middleweight Eight-Round Bout
Sean Hemphill – 166 pounds
David Stevens – 165.7 pounds
Referee: Shawn Clark; Judges: Steve Weisfeld (NJ); Dewey LaRosa (Pa.); Adam Friscia (Pa.)
Light Heavyweight Eight-Round Bout
Atif Oberlton – 174.2 pounds
Artem Brusov – 173.7 pounds
Referee: Eric Dali; Judges: Steve Weisfeld (N.J.); Dewey LaRosa (Pa.); Anthony Lundy (N.J.)
Super Featherweight Eight-Round Bout
Julian Gonzalez – 129.9 pounds
Rosalindo Morales – 129.5 pounds
Referee: Shawn Clark; Judges: Steve Weisfeld (NJ); Dewey LaRosa (Pa.); Adam Friscia (Pa.)
“I’m focused and hungry and this is the opportunity that I really wanted. I think I have the advantage in experience and a little bit of maturity knowing he’s younger than me. He has 11 fights and I have 14, which is not that much of a difference, but in terms of fighting and the many styles I’ve faced as a pro and in the amateurs, I feel like that will help me a lot. My height and reach advantage and the team that I have backing me and supporting me also is important.
“Buddy McGirt’s addition as a trainer has just let me know that the tools that I do have are really great tools and I just need to do more of it, using my jab, standing on my toes and taking little angles, trusting my defense. Buddy just assures me to keep doing what works best for me and staying sharp and helping me with different strategies and techniques.
“One of my greatest attributes is my height and my reach and being elusive on my feet and dancing around the ring a little bit. I definitely want to box him and keep him at the end of my jab and set up combinations here and there. But yes, it’s boxing for me. That’s what I do.
“I expect Stevens to come forward and to try and land power shots, a one-hit wonder type of thing. I had a great camp, did a few weeks in New York, worked with different guys up there, then a couple weeks in Florida, and had some really good guys to work with there so it’s been a really good camp for me.
“I would like to box but if I have to fight him, I will fight. I’m a fighter at the end of the day and if he brings it to me, I’m going to bring it right back. He’s the best guy I’ve fought on paper, and this is the biggest fight of my career.
“My dad was a two-time world kick-boxing champion, and I grew up in the gym and I was always around fighters growing up. But when I was a kid, I never pictured myself taking up boxing. I never really chose to do it until Hurricane Katrina happened, and I moved to Texas with my mom, and I was dislocated from my dad for awhile and I started wrestling in high school. I ended up moving back with my dad to New Orleans as a teenager and then I started going back to the gym and falling in love with the sport of boxing. I had my first competition at 15 and since then I made a commitment to myself that this is what I’m going to do.”
HEMPHILL’S MANAGER, ADAM GLENN
“Sean is someone who I’ve known for a really long time. When I first met him, he actually came up to New York to help one of my dad’s fighters get ready for a SHOBOX fight when he worked with [former prospect] Travis Peterkin. He was young but I felt like we really understood each other. We both had fathers who were in the sport and who we were really close to and his character and the person he is really attracted me to him.
“But he also has a lot of heart and a lot of dog in him. I want him to fight less and use the talent and skills more because he can make a lot of these fights really easy for himself. But if a guy brings it, he can handle it and seeing a talented, versatile guy like that, I thought he has a really high ceiling. He has world championship potential.”
“This means a lot to be fighting on TV and in a main event. It’s important that I show that I’m main-event material when I get up there. I’m just excited and ready to go.
“I feel like my power comes with me everywhere I go, especially when I rehydrate, especially when I put on those 10-ounce gloves.
“I don’t really see much in my opponent. He’s another man in there with an undefeated record so you have to teach him how to lose. He’s coming to take from me and I’m coming to take from him, but I don’t see much. I’m not really impressed. He’s an undefeated fighter so I’m sure he’s not going to lay down. I have to go in there and take it. I see length and movement. I’m not going to sleep on his power but that’s not one of the things that stood out to me.
“I’m a pressure fighter so I’m going to get into his face right away. That’s what we’re working on in camp. I’m trying to be a pest in there. I’m not trying to let him relax or set things up. I’m trying to get right on him.
“My trainer Ronnie Shields has brought a lot to the table. To me as far as trainers, he’s like a God. He always knows what to expect from an opponent. There’s been times when we’ve gone through five opponents in a week and he’s had something for each and every one of them. Ronnie brings a lot. He’s made a great impact on my career. He has me feeling nice and ready and confident before fights. A week in the gym with Ronnie and I feel like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to get this dude.’ No matter who it is.
“Ronnie has really helped me pick things up as far as attacking the body and using my jab, but I’ve always been a little bit of a body puncher, but he’s been on me about those things. Sean is pretty lengthy and likes to use his legs so we’re going to have to gas him out a little by going to the body and slowing him down. I’m trying to really show that I’m ready for high-level opposition. And the quicker I can get him, then I can show I’m ready to face guys that will get me ready for guys like Canelo [Alvarez] and [David] Benavidez and [Demetrius] Andrade.
“I’m the oldest of 12 siblings, so I have to be a good role model.”
“I’m excited for the opportunity. I’m going to display all my hard work and talent and let that speak for itself. I’m just going to have a fun night of boxing.
“My confidence comes from just having to be confident because nobody was going to be confident for me. It was one of those things where I had to build myself up. The things that I went through early on in life showed me that you need to have faith in yourself or no one will.
“In boxing, I’ve had to prove myself over and over again to other people, and also to myself that I am the best in the business. I proved that as a child early in age, I proved it as a teenager, I’ve proved it as a man and I’m proving it now in the pro ranks as I’m continuing my career. As a child, I was always different. At the age of 14, I got Alopecia going into my freshman year of high school. That did something to my self-confidence as a young kid. Me having no hair made me completely different so I had to build myself up and boxing gave me a chance to do that. I believe the phrase, ‘Boxing is life’, because you can compare so many things that happen in life to boxing and you just have to keep fighting. That’s what world champions do.
“I just know that Artem Brusov is a Russian, and those guys come strong and they come in shape. I’m prepared for anything. I feel as though he isn’t anything that I haven’t seen before. I have international experience. I fought in the world championships in Russia before. I’m just coming to display the best me and put my boxing talent on display.
“This fight isn’t about proving anything to the fans or the media, it’s about proving to myself that I am who I say I am. It’s very important for me to look impressive in all my wins. I’m never really happy for an ugly win, but I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day. But we’re definitely looking to have a pretty win and continue to have pretty wins all the time.
“Coming up, you have to fight everything that you have to fight in life, along with your opponent. Coming up from Philadelphia is never easy. It’s every man for themselves and you have to show that you’re one of the special ones to go out there and shine and be a star.
“My favorite Philadelphia fighters are the old school guys. I like Tim Witherspoon, Eric Hunter was a good, technical boxer. I liked George Benton a lot. I love to study. I’m a huge student. Philadelphia is so rich in boxing. I recently watched Curtis Parker. He was an amazing fighter. I love to watch Michael Spinks. He dominated the light heavyweight division for a long time. I like to look at those who were in my shoes before me to see how they got it done and see what it takes to get to the next level. I recently got to meet him at an awards ceremony and I asked him a couple questions, like what he did for his conditioning, because I see that he always pushes through in his fights.
“I think this is a great chance for me. I’m facing a game opponent and he has a good record. But I’m not too bad either and I just really want to show the people a very good fight, I hope.
“For each fight I like to show different styles. Sometimes I can press, I can be a puncher, and sometimes I can box. It depends on the fight. Inside work will be important and we’ve been working on many things to prepare for this fight.
“This is a big step-up fight for me. We shall see in the ring. This fight will answer a lot of questions.
“I don’t mind fighting a lefty. I have been sparring a lot of southpaws and my last two fights were against lefties.
“There aren’t too many differences fighting in Russia and in the United States. In the U.S. I see that the fighters here throw more punches and come forward. It’s more of a show. It’s been hard to get people to fight me.”
“I had a draw in my fight last April, and I’m OK with it. It was just a whole learning process. I fought through some adversity and was having some other personal issues. But I just feel like I needed it, to even just get me those six rounds because I was just knocking everyone out before then. I agreed with the scoring and the judges’ decision.
“I’m blessed and just excited. I can’t wait. I’ve never faced any adversity in the ring or been hurt or in trouble.
“I’m in there to go the distance, that’s what we train for. This is my first lefty and I focused on that in sparring.
“Someday I want to be one of the greats and want to hold some belts and hardware.
“Floyd [Mayweather] is one of my favorite fighters, just what he did both inside and outside of the ring. He’s a genius. Fighting-wise I like Canelo [Alvarez] and Errol [Spence] because I go to the body a lot. And Andre Ward. I look at everyone. I’m a student of the game.
“I’ve sparred in the past with Stephen Fulton Jr., and that was a great experience for me. Scooter’s one of the best and it gives me a lot of confidence. I was like a sponge and I just tried to soak it all up.
“Reading’s going to show out on Friday night. David [Stevens] is my guy. He’s a heavy hitter and he’s smart. He’s a dog, really. I can’t say much more than that.”
“Just to be on this platform and fighting on SHOBOX will change my life. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.
“I’m a pretty straight-forward fighter. I’ve learned a lot the last few years – the technical aspects of the sweet science. I like to say I am slick, at times. I don’t like to get hit. I mean, nobody does. I come as your typical Mexican fighter: Straight forward and a power puncher. Just do whatever I have to do to get the job done.
“My opponent has eight knockouts so I know he’s going to come forward too. He obviously has power and I have to be smart about it. I’m going to be the aggressor and take it to him. He’s young, I’m sure he’s strong. I know he’s going to try and overpower me.
“I work in a steel mill and it’s back-breaking work and 12-hour shifts. This is a dream come true and if I get a win on Friday night it could change my life.
“I’m lefthanded and can switch if I have to. I’m not technically comfortable with it, but if I have to do it, I can.
“I’m from San Antonio but moved to Pennsylvania at age 10. I’ve always wanted to go back and bring my family, but I haven’t been able to do that yet.”