When last seen on ShoBox: The New Generation, Vincent “Vinsanity” Arroyo scored an exciting upset majority decision over then-unbeaten welterweight prospect Willie Nelson.
On Friday, Sept. 9 at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) live on Showtime, Arroyo (11-1, 7 KOs), of South Bronx, N.Y., returns as the headliner in a high stakes, crossroads match against Puerto Rican amateur standout Hector “El Flaco” Sanchez (19-1, 9 KOs), of Rio Piedras, P.R.
The 143-pound max, 10-round clash will move one fighter a step closer to contender status while the other will take an equally impactful step back.
In the telecast’s co-feature, popular ShoBox alumnus and hard-hitting Nigerian cruiserweight Lateef Kayode (17-0, 14 KOs), of Hollywood, Calif., will risk his unblemished record and trajectory toward a world title shot against southpaw Felix “Bad News” Cora, Jr. (22-5-2, 12 KOs), of Galveston, Tex., in a 10-rounder from Grand Casino Hinckley in Hinckley, Minn.
The Gary Shaw Productions-promoted event is the first of five ShoBox telecasts in eight weeks. The other telecasts – all Friday nights – are Sept. 30, Oct. 7, Oct. 21 and Oct. 28.
The aggressive-minded Arroyo, 24, is in peak form coming off two consecutive wins over previously undefeated boxers. Before dropping the 6-foot-3 Nelson three times en route to winning by the scores of 75-73 twice and 74-74 on April 8, the 5-foot-8 boxer-brawler rallied from the brink of defeat to register a dramatic eighth-round knockout over Jeremy Bryan (then 13-0) on April 17, 2010.
Entering the final round against Bryan, Arroyo clearly needed a knockout to win. Through seven sessions, he’d won a total of one round on one of the three judges’ scorecards. But he came out charging and firing punches in the eighth and staggered Bryan with a left hook. With the former two-time National Golden Gloves champion slumped against the ropes, Arroyo scored a knockdown with a left hook and right-uppercut combination. Bryan, out cold, was counted out at 1:43.
“I learned to dig down in that fight,’’ said Arroyo, whose father was a Golden Gloves champion. “It was just a matter of me doing what I’m supposed to do. I know I’m never going to stop pushing.”
As for facing much taller opponents, Arroyo says, “Height doesn’t do anything. I’m a warrior. If I come to get you, height won’t save you. I always want to test my will. They call me ‘Vinsanity’ for a reason.”
Arroyo’s lone loss came on a six-round decision to Goossen Tutor prospect Mike Dallas, Jr. on Sept. 12, 2009. Though behind on points, Arroyo nearly had Dallas out in the final round.
After fighting in the amateurs and competing in the Golden Gloves -- Arroyo owns an amateurs win over Danny Jacobs -- he turned pro at the age of 18 on Aug. 17, 2005, in Rochester, N.Y., and won his initial nine starts. The Sanchez fight was originally scheduled for last June 11 on ShoBox, but Arroyo pulled out of the fight after injuring an ankle a week before the bout.
Sanchez, 25, a vaunted member of Team Puerto Rico, needs a victory to move forward and jump-start his career. This will be just his fourth start since December 2008 and first since winning by 2:09, first-round TKO over Nelson Sanchez on Aug. 21, 2010, in the Dominican Republic.
A four-time Puerto Rican national champ and 2000 Junior Olympic Bronze medalist, Sanchez compiled an amateur record of 97-10. He planned to try out for the 2004 Olympics, but opted to turn pro instead.
After going 18-0 at the outset of a career that began March 4, 2005, Sanchez suffered his only defeat on a startling fifth-round TKO to Cleotis Pendarvis two fights ago on April 2, 2010, in Las Vegas.
Sanchez scored two knockdowns in the first and dominated the initial three rounds, but veteran southpaw Pendarvis rallied in the fourth and scored a knockdown in the fifth. An unsteady Sanchez got up but the referee, Russell Mora, halted matters at 2:29 as Sanchez protested.
At 6-foot-1, Sanchez is two inches shorter than Nelson but still tall for a welterweight. A solid puncher, his most noteworthy triumph came on an eight-round decision over former world champion DeMarcus “Chop Chop’’ Corley on April 10, 2009. It was the sole ring appearance of the year for Sanchez, who also had a noteworthy KO2 win over Mexican standout Albert Rodriguez (8-0-1) on Oct. 8, 2008.
Sanchez, who began to box at the age of 13 and went pro at 18, is at his best when he can utilize his long arms and box from the outside. Like many young Puerto Ricans, his idol is Felix “Tito’’ Trinidad.
Kayode is the only cruiserweight contender in the world ranked in the top five by all four major boxing organizations. He is No. 1 in the World Boxing Association (WBA), No. 3 in the World Boxing Organization (WBO), No. 4 in the World Boxing Council (WBC) and No. 5 in the IBF. If triumphant against Cora, Kayode could be next up to challenge WBA champion Guillermo Jones.
“I already believe I’m the best cruiserweight in the world. I’m just waiting for my chance to prove it,’’ said Kayode, who has developed and honed his skills on Shobox. This will be his fifth appearance.
The Freddie Roach-trained Kayode, 28, will try to resume his knockout-winning ways after going the 10-round distance in his last two starts, both on ShoBox in Santa Ynez, Calif., first by Nicholas Iannuzzi on Feb. 4, 2011, and in his last start by Matt Godfrey on June 10. Before Iannuzzi, the 6-foot-2 Kayode’s previous 13 fights, all won by knockout, lasted a total of 43 rounds.
“Going the distance is fine as long as I win,’’ said Kayode, who won a four-round decision in his pro debut on Aug. 15, 2008. “The experience I get going 10 rounds and knowing I can go 10 is invaluable. I learn from them so when my time comes, I’ll be ready. I never go in looking for a knockout anyway.’’
While the 6-foot-2 Kayode will be favored and would prefer to win explosively, Cora is anything but a gimme. The record of the five fighters who defeated him was 98-3-1 entering their respective fights.
The 6-foot-tall Cora, 31, is a durable boxer with decent skills. A former contestant on The Contender television series, he’s hung tough with much tougher than Kayode. He’s gone 12 rounds in his last two outings, losing to unbeaten local favorite Pawel Kolodziej in a bout in Poland for the WBA International title last March 5 and to German Enad Licina in an IBF elimination bout on Nov. 13, 2010, in England.
Cora has won a couple minor titles at cruiserweight. He outpointed Michael Simms to capture the United States Boxing Association (USBA) crown in June 2004 and registered a ninth-round TKO over Arthur Williams to garner the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) belt in October 2005.
Bernardo Osuna will call the ShoBox action from ringside with Steve Farhood and Antonio Tarver serving as expert analysts. Gordon Hall is the executive producer of ShoBox with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
Future Book: A glimpse at the upcoming four ShoBox fight cards after Sept.
A WBC welterweight elimination fight between undefeated, No. 1-ranked Ajose Olusegun (29-0, 14 KOs) of Nigeria and No. 6 Ali Chebah (35-1, 28 KOs) of France will highlight a Sept. 30 card at Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez. The 12th-ranked lightweight in the WBO, Colombia’s exciting, hard-hitting Darley Perez (22-0, 17 KOs) will make his ShoBox debut against southpaw Marvin Quintero (22-3, 18 KOs) of Mexico in the co-feature co-promoted by Shaw and DiBella Entertainment.
In a quintessential ShoBox main event on Oct. 7, Ugandan Sharif Bogere (20-0, 12 KOs) of Las Vegas takes on Dominican Francisco Contreras (16-0, 13 KOs) of Irvington, N.J., in a clash of unbeaten lightweights presented by Golden Boy Promotions.
Arguably the No. 1 super middle prospect in the world, Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez (19-0, 14 KOs) of Worcester, Mass., will face an opponent to be announced in the DiBella-promoted Oct. 21 main event.
On Oct. 28, Goossen Tutor Promotions will promote a ShoBox card on the eve of the Super Six World Boxing Classic culminating bout: The Final between WBA Super Middleweight titlist Andre Ward and his WBC counterpart Carl Froch.
All matchups and venues for the aforementioned fight cards will be formally announced soon.