California lightweight hopeful Rolando Reyes contends for the vacant NABO title tonight, drawing a tough assignment in the form of former belt-holder Courtney Burton of Michigan. The two square off as the main event on Showtime's ShoBox broadcast tonight and the fireworks are expected to be fierce with Reyes engaging in his first title fight while Burton just may be looking at his last chance to climb to world class level. Last December, Burton, 21-3 (11), lost the NABO crown in the twelfth round to a bleeding and battered Ebo Elder. It was a desperate drive by Elder that paid off but for Burton, it was another disappointment, marking the second time in three fights that he was stopped in the later rounds. To make matters worse, the only fight Burton won in that stretch was a highly controversial decision over Emmanuel Augustus.
Reyes, 24-3-2 (15), was thrown in the deep end early in his career as he faced such tough opposition as Eleazar Contreras and Ernesto Zavala en route to posting a 7-2-2 record. The man from Oxnard then reeled off thirteen straight under the watchful eye of manager Cameron Dunkin before dropping a split decision to Miguel Huerta a year ago. Since then Reyes has won three in a row and will likely have the edge in confidence over Burton.
One thing Burton does well however is fight in the trenches and if he can draw the taller Reyes into a slugfest as he did Angel Manfredy two years ago, it could be lights out for the Mexican-American's dreams of a world title shot. Burton has also faced a better level of competition than his adversary, but wasn't able to turn the corner against the higher caliber. For Reyes to prevail he'll have to wear down and tire Burton while avoiding the stronger fighter's offense. If it goes to the later rounds, we could see Burton hit the canvas should Reyes still have the pop in his punches after what will likely be a grueling contest.
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