They’ve been waiting and watching. Now six young and hungry super middleweights with a combined record of 109-3 will get their chance to showcase their talent Friday, April 30 on ShoBox: The New Generation at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast) live on Showtime.
Unbeaten Marcus “Too Much” Johnson (18-0, 14 KOs) battles Derek “The Black Lion” Edwards (25-0, 13 KOs ) in the 10-round main event of the exciting tripleheader being billed “The Next Generation of Super Middleweights”. The fights will take place at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
Don “Da Bomb” George (19-0, 17 KOs) will face Osumanu Adama (17-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round co-feature tilt and Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez (13-0, 9 KOs) will take on Kevin Engel (17-2, 14 KOs ) in an eight-round affair to open the telecast.
“You could call us the Baby Super Six,” said George. “None of us are really established but I’m familiar with all the others and think it’s a great idea to showcase the next group of upcoming super middleweights. It’s great for boxing. The division is so stacked. I’m so fortunate to be in this weight class because there are so many good fights for me once I get my name out there.”
Johnson, 24, of Houston, Texas, is currently the No. 10-ranked super middleweight in the WBC and No. 13 in the WBA. “I don’t have any worries about Derek Edwards,” Johnson said. “I haven’t seen any of his fights. There is no way I will not get this victory.”
Like George, Johnson has been tuning into the Super Six World Boxing Classic on Showtime. “I’ve been watching it, of course,” Johnson said. “The action has really been picking up. I wish I was in it but I’ll just have to sit back and wait and run through the guys who are not in the tournament and then when my time comes I will go after the winner.”
Johnson last appeared on ShoBox on Oct. 2, 2009, recording a unanimous decision (80-71) against Victor Villareal. Johnson is a former U.S. National Amateur champion who has fought Andre Ward twice, losing a decision in the final of the 2004 Olympic Trials and again in a box-off.
Johnson had a stellar amateur career that included a win over Anthony Dirrell, brother to Super Six World Boxing Classic participant Andre Dirrell as well as a gold medal performance at the 2003 U.S. Under 19 National Championships at 178 pounds. In 2001 he won the National Silver Gloves titles at 165 pounds.
“They call me ‘Too Much,’ “said Johnson, whose father boxed in the Army but never turned pro. “It’s just from my style – the way I fight, the pressure I put on people. They started calling me that after about my third pro fight.”
Edwards, 30, is from Winston-Salem , N.C. , and is No. 15 in the WBC. He is known for his ambidextrous style of fighting and has never faced anyone in the ring the caliber of Johnson.
In his last fight in August, 2009, he knocked out former world title challenger Carl Daniels in the sixth round in Winston-Salem to keep his record perfect. He won the NABA super middleweight title with a 10-round decision over Anthony Greenridge a little over a year ago.
“There’s not a lot known about me publicly so I think I‘m going to be able to go in there and surprise everyone,” Edwards said. “I know Marcus was on Showtime and fought Andre Ward but I’ve been a pro longer and am undefeated. I want people to know my name and they will after April 30.”
The hometown favorite on the night will be Chicago ’s George (19-0, 17 KOs ), the 2001, 2002 and 2003 Chicago Golden Gloves amateur champion at 147, 178 and 165 pounds, respectively. The 25-year-old George’s last two fights have taken place at UIC Pavilion.
In January he notched a third-round knockout against Phil Williams and in November he brutally knocked out Jason Naugler in the fourth round.
“I know I’m the bigger and stronger fighter,” George said. “This is my toughest fight on paper. I’m pretty much all action, all the time. I go for the win, of course, but I want the knockout badly, and I’ll be willing to do just about whatever it takes to get that knockout.”
After every win, George does a back-flip in the ring. He said, “I knocked some guy out with a brutal haymaker, and then all of a sudden, I did a back-flip. It just came out of nowhere and ever since then, the crowd went crazy and it stuck. Now, I’m forced to do it after every knockout. It’s definitely a trademark. All my fans in Chicago , they wait for it. They like the knockout, but they wait for that back-flip, too.”
His opponent Adama from Ghana suffered his only defeat in August of last year, a six-round decision against Allan Green’s sparring partner Dyah Davis, the son of 1976 Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr., in August, 2009. He has won his last four fights, all by knockout and is making just his second appearance in the United States .
The evening’s first televised bout pits Dominican Republic native Rodriguez of Worcester, Mass., against St. Louis-based fighter Engel. Rodriguez is coming off a crushing first-round knockout of George Armenta on March 19.
Engel stopped Tyler Seever and David Robinson in the second half of 2009 prior to facing Julius Fogle in August in a bout which was declared a no-contest due to an accidental headbutt.
Presented by DiBella Entertainment, Warriors Boxing and Chicago’s 8 Count Productions, advance tickets for “The Next Generation of Super Middleweights” starting at $31 can be purchased through Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com), by phone (800) 745-3000 and the 8 Count Productions Office, (312-226-5800). Doors will open at 7 p.m. with the first bell at 7:30 p.m.
Nick Charles will call the action from ringside with Steve Farhood and Antonio Tarver serving as expert analysts. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.