NEW YORK (Aug. 21, 2006) – Since its inception in July 2001, the critically-acclaimed SHOWTIME boxing series, “ShoBox: The New Generation,” has been about making exciting, crowd-pleasing and competitive matches while providing a proving ground for willing up-and-comers determined to fight for and win a world title. When former “ShoBox” fighters Eric Aiken and Robert Guerrero meet for Aiken’s IBF featherweight world title, Saturday, Sept. 2, on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, it will mark the first time that “ShoBox” graduates have advanced to the network’s championship series to face each other for a world title..
Aiken is one of the latest “ShoBox” alumni to garner a world title. He joins a list of fighters that includes Leonard Dorin, Scott Harrison, Juan Diaz, Jeff Lacy, Ricky Hatton and, more recently, Juan Urango and David Diaz (interim).
In a shocking upset on May 13, 2006, Aiken won the IBF featherweight belt when previously unbeaten champion Valdemir Pereira was disqualified at 1:37 of the eighth round for repeated low blows.
“It is always great to see fighters who have appeared on ‘ShoBox’ go on to win a major title,” said “ShoBox” Executive Producer Gordon Hall. “I hope the opportunities that are given to young fighters in tough match-ups help make them better fighters in the long run. This is an example where it has.”
The Aiken-Guerrero 12-rounder will open the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). In the main event, three-time world champion James “Lights Out” Toney will oppose Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter in a World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight eliminator. It is an ultimate crossroads bout, one neither boxer can afford to lose.
“The Guerrero-Aiken championship bout is a great fight to add at STAPLES Center,” said Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions, which is promoting the scrap in association with Art Pellulo’s Banner Promotions. “Both Robert and Eric possess aggressive styles and are among the hardest hitters in the lighter weight divisions.”
“STAPLES Center will not need a 20-foot ring for this one,” Goossen continued, “These guys could put on a great fight in a phone booth with a referee inside. The Ghost versus Mighty Mouse should be a real treat for the fans at STAPLES and those watching on SHOWTIME.”
Aiken and Guerrero have both lost fights on “ShoBox,” testament perhaps to the quality of fights consistently offered on SHOWTIME’s popular Friday night fistic series. Aiken dropped an eight-round decision to Al Seeger on Sept. 16, 2004. Guerrero is 3-1 in his “ShoBox” appearances, having avenged his lone loss to Gamaliel Diaz with an impressive sixth-round knockout on June 23, 2006.
The 26-year-old Aiken is a remarkable story. On March 18, 2006, his record dipped to an unimposing 14-4 – and 3-2 since the Seeger setback – when he dropped a decision to Johnnie Edwards (5-0 going in).
Undeterred from the recent setbacks, the amazing Aiken has rebounded with major upsets in his last two starts. In a bout in which he was thought to be little more than a tune-up for Tim Austin, Aiken scored a sixth-round TKO over the former world bantamweight champion on April 1, 2006, in Cleveland. Then, six weeks later, in Boston, Aiken wrested the title from the heavily favored Pereira despite taking the match on short notice.
The referee’s decision to disqualify Pereira (24-0 going in) was not a popular one with the fans. However, at the time the highly entertaining fight was stopped, Aiken had twice knocked down the defending champ and had a three-point lead on one of the scorecards. The fight was even on the other two. Three low blows by the Brazilian, two of which resulted in point deductions, led to the disqualification.
“We knew Pereira was a dirty fighter,” said Aiken, of Marysville, Ohio, who accepted the assignment after challenger Esham Pickering withdrew with an injury nine days before the fight. “I had to compose myself because emotions can take over in a fight like that.”
Aiken maintained his poise enough to drop Pereira in the fourth round with a wicked left hook and in the fifth from a strong right to the body.
The loss to Seeger snapped Aiken’s 10-fight winning streak. Despite dropping his counterpart in the opening seconds of the bout, Aiken fell short by the scores 75-73 and 76-72 twice.
“Ghosts do not scare me,” said Aiken, who is aching to get Guerrero in the ring. “I am looking forward to defending my title against Robert Guerrero in front of his fans. I plan to be aggressive, fight like a champion and exit the ring with a victory.”
Guerrero, the pride of Gilroy, Calif., will make “history” for the second consecutive time on SHOWTIME. His resounding victory over Diaz came in the first “ShoBox” rematch.
“I wanted to prove that my loss to Diaz was a fluke, and I did,” said Guerrero after dumping Diaz twice in the first and once more in the sixth that ended matters at 2:33. “I put a hole in his body and broke him in half. I went out and attacked. When I am focused, I am a hard man to conquer.”
Guerrero, who thought his next start might be for the WBC belt, is itching to get to Aiken.
“My focus now is on Eric Aiken and his IBF title belt,” Guerrero said. “He may think he can hit a ghost, but I can absorb anything he throws at me. The punishment I can hand out is downright scary, and, as Diaz would tell you, impossible to absorb. Aiken does not stand a ghost of a chance.”
Unusually tall and rangy for a featherweight, the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) 126-pound champion is known for tremendous defense and speed. In his first outing after losing the action-packed slugfest to Diaz, Guerrero scored a third-round TKO over Sandro Marcos on May 18, 2006, in San Jose, Calif.
In a sharp and overpowering performance, Guerrero bloodied Marcos’ nose in the second round and scored a knockdown in the third. Marcos made it to his feet, but was staggered again from a series of punches. He was falling to the canvas when the referee stopped it.
The “No Risk, No Reward” Toney-Peter WBC heavyweight title elimination bout will be promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions, Don King Productions and Duva Boxing.
Tickets priced at $300, $150, $75, and $50 are available at STAPLES CENTER box office or www.Ticketmaster.com.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING’s Steve Albert and Al Bernstein will call the action from ringside with Jim Gray serving as roving reporter. The executive producer of the SHOWTIME telecast will be David Dinkins Jr. with Bob Dunphy directing.
For information on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecasts, including complete fighter bios and records, related stories and more, please go to the SHOWTIME website at http://www.sho.com/boxing.