A short time after the fighters took to the scales on Thursday, Showtime Boxing released an expected statement on the current COVID-19 situation.
It read: In light of the ongoing developments surrounding the spread of COVID-19, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Department of Athletic Regulation and Grand Casino Hinckley have decided to move forward with Friday’s boxing event without a live audience.
The ShoBox: The New Generation quadruple-header will be televised as planned, live on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Prior to the announcement, boxers went through the pre-fight formalities.
Talented undefeated super lightweight prospect Brandun Lee and his opponent in the ShoBox: The New Generation 10-round main event, Camilo Prieto, both made weight a day before their showdown tomorrow night, March 13, live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT) from the Grand Casino Hinckley in Hinckley, Minn.
The knockout artist Lee (18-0, 16 KOs) from La Quinta, Calif., who will be making his second ShoBox appearance and first as the headline attraction, has KO’d all but two of his opponents (88.89 percent). The 33-year-old Prieto (15-2, 10 KOs) is riding a seven-fight win streak with his last loss coming in February 2017.
Friday’s four fights include five boxers who have yet to taste defeat with a total record of 107 wins to just four defeats and two draws. In the co-featured bout, undefeated Brian Norman Jr. (16-0, 14 KOs) puts his perfect record on the line as he takes on Flavio Rodriguez (9-1-1, 7 KOs) in an eight-round welterweight matchup. Undefeated Alejandro Guerrero (11-0, 9 KOs) meets Jose Angulo (12-1, 5 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight scrap while yet another unbeaten fighter Aram Avagyan (9-0-1, 4 KOs) takes on fellow undefeated Dagoberto Aguero (17-0, 11 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight fight.
Barry Tompkins will call the action from ringside with boxing historian Steve Farhood and former world champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
The event is promoted by Salita Promotions in association with D&D Boxing and Rapacz Boxing.
Super Lightweight 10-Round Bout
Brandun Lee – 141 ¾ lbs.
Camilo Prieto – 141 ½ lbs.
Referee: Mark Nelson; Judges: Pat Morley (Ill.), Mike Fitzgerald (Wisc.), John Mariano (Minn.)
Welterweight 8-Round Bout
Brian Norman, Jr. – 146 ½ lbs.
Flavio Rodriguez – 146 ¼ lbs.
Referee: Gary Miezwa; Judges: John Mariano (Minn.), Patrick Morley (Ill.), Tim Taggart (Minn.)
Lightweight 8-Round Bout
Alejandro Guerrero – 135 ¼ lbs.
Jose Angulo – 135 ½ lbs.
Referee: Mark Nelson; Judges: John Mariano (Minn.), Eli Staples (Minn.), Tim Taggart (Minn.)
Featherweight 8-Round Bout
Aram Avagyan – 125 ¾ lbs.
Dagoberto Aguero – 125 ½ lbs.
Referee: Gary Ritter; Judges: Mike Fitzgerald (Wisc.), Eli Staples (Minn.), Tim Taggart (Minn.)
“This is a huge step-up, a huge opportunity. I just want the world to see me perform and the fact that I am headlining on SHOWTIME is great for my career. I’m looking forward to more opportunities like this and fighting better and better competition each time.
“Every fight, we go back to the drawing board. Each fight, we are continuing to correct. Last fight, when I hurt my opponent, I came in too recklessly. I wasted all my energy and didn’t even get him out. So, we always have things to work on and always have things to learn from each fight.
“You can’t overlook anybody. This is boxing. All it takes is one punch to change everything. I respect every fighter I get in the ring with. Anything can happen.
“I’m a boxer because I love the sport. I love the attention. I love the crowd. I love everything about it. I study and go to school because you always need a Plan B. Boxing won’t last forever.
“I know that my opponent has a Cuban background. Cubans dominate at the Olympics. He’s a natural 147 so I think he’s going to be bigger and stronger than me. But the game plan will be the same. I just want to have fun, work the jab and wait for the right shot. I’m okay with taking my time. I need the rounds but at the end of the day, I’m a fighter. If I have a chance to take the guy out, I’m going to go for it.”
“Growing up, every weekend we would watch boxing at home. With both my parents being Cuban, it was a culture thing. But I started boxing on my own because I wanted to learn how to defend myself. Once I stepped in a boxing gym, I just fell in love with the sport.
“Making it to SHOWTIME is a huge deal for me. Nobody believed in me. I did all of this on my own. I flew myself all around the world with nothing but my gloves. It’s been a long road for me. I didn’t turn pro until the age of 27. I’ve just been hustling, relying on my friends and family. This is a dream for me. I’ve watched SHOWTIME boxing since I was a kid so to have this opportunity on Friday night, it’s a dream. I’m ready. I’m going to leave it all in the ring.
“I’ve been grinding my career out. I’ve been self-managed. I’ve just been training, learning the sport on my own. It’s hard to find fights in the U.S. so I’ve had to travel to different countries and get experience in the ring any way I can.
“Ever since I’ve been with Glen [Johnson], I’ve gotten so much better. He’s the best coach I’ve ever had. He’s really helped me starting with just the fundamentals. He’s helped me mentally. I’ve always been confident and since I’ve been with him my confidence is at another level. My mental strength has built. I feel ready for this mentally, physically and emotionally.
“This is just the beginning for me. Even though I’m 33, this is my first television opportunity. There’s a lot of fighters fighting until they are 40. I believe I have five or six years. This is my time. I feel young and I believe I can, so I will. I’m only as good as I believe I am and I’m only going to accomplish what I believe I can accomplish. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s a blessing.”
Brian Norman, Jr.
“I turned pro at 17 so I had to fight a lot of my early fights in Mexico. That gave me great confidence. If you keep knocking guys out in the first round, you’re going to gain confidence. But my last fight where I couldn’t stop him was good for me too. It shows that there are some guys that are just tough to knock out so you need to find another way to win the fight.
“I know I’m on a card with some other good prospects, but I want to be the one to steal the show. I don’t care if I’m co-main event, I want people to say it was my show when the night is over. There are certain qualities that I want to show off in this fight. I know that people know I have power and agility, but I want to show off my footwork and my ring IQ too.
“My last fight was a really good learning experience for me. I thought I was pacing myself. It was good to go the full six rounds and that will help me for this eight-rounder. I was a little frustrated that I didn’t stop the guy. I came out really hard in the first round and I saw that he wasn’t falling, and I realized he would be tough to get out of there. That’s when I switched it up and just out boxed him. It’s about adjusting.
“I’m really excited. This is my first TV fight, so I need to put on a show. This will be my first impression on national boxing fans, so I want them to leave really impressed.”
“I’ve had a long road to get here. I’ve fallen in and out of love with the sport of boxing, I stopped fighting for a long time. I gained a ton of weight and went all the way up to 230 pounds. I lost the weight. I’ve been injured. There’s just been so many things that have happened along the way and I am now so grateful and excited for this opportunity. I’m not worried about ring rust at all.
“I think my brain is my biggest weapon. I think I’m smarter than my opponents. I can box. I can slug it out. I assess the way my opponent fights in the first round, and then I adjust from there.
“My opponent looks good. He’s fast. He’s strong. It looks like he has some power. But I believe that I have knockout power too. I know that I’m here because I’m the older guy and I’m the steppingstone fight for him. I know how the game goes; I’ve been around for a while. They expect me to lose but I really feel that I have what it takes to beat him. I don’t think they did their homework right.
“My one loss could have gone either way I think. To be honest. I was headbutted and the blood kept getting in my eye. But he was a tough, good fighter.”
“This is a little bit of a step-up fight for me. Fighting on TV is a big deal, and I’m trying to get my name out there. I don’t feel any pressure with this being a TV fight, I’m prepared to do my thing and put on a show. This is a good start but we’re nowhere near where we want to be.
“I work a full time job. I have a really busy day. I leave at four a.m. and don’t get back until 8 o’clock at night. I train in the morning, I go to work a full day, and then I train after work as well.
“I had a lot of ring rust in my last fight. Once I got to the second round, I felt much more comfortable and I made it look easy from there. I just had to get used to the lights again.
“With the style that I have, I think I’m going to rise through the rankings quickly. I bring an aggressiveness and excitement, and I think that’s going to open some eyes. People love to watch the type of fighter I am. I’m willing to go in there and put my life on the line. I like blood. I don’t mind if it’s my own blood. I’m a crowd-pleaser. It’s boring to watch boxers who just go in there and try not to get hit. Boxing to me is about who has more balls in the ring. It’s about who is going to be the last man standing. But I also listen to my coaches and I’m learning to be a smart fighter as well.
“I always want to steal the show. That’s always my goal. I’ve put in a great training camp and I’m excited to face some better, more experienced opponents. That brings out the best in me. I look like a better fighter against guys that can actually fight as opposed to guys that are just trying to survive in there.”
“There is a big difference between training in San Jose [Calif.] and training in Ecuador. The intensity has been a lot different. The sparring, the training, the conditioning, is more professional and intense here. There are a lot of good boxers around and I get really good sparring. It has helped my game tremendously and I am in the best shape I have been in.
“There are a lot of people underestimating me as a fighter because the competition back in Ecuador is not strong. Everybody is going to be in for a real surprise on Friday night. I feel the training I have been doing has really sharpened my skills and allowed me to rise to a level I wasn’t able to reach before.
“This is a really big opportunity for me to show everybody what I am able to do. The next step is to sign with a promoter, and this is a showcase for me. I’m not here to just be an opponent for the up-and-coming prospect. I am here to make a name for myself.”
“I have worked my whole life for this. I had a great training camp, I’m dedicated, so nothing can stop me.
“I saw two of his fights on YouTube. He has experience and he was a good amateur fighter. In the ring, we will find out everything. I have a game plan for him. I will listen to my coaches and my corner and do what they tell me.
“This will be my first time on television. It’s great exposure for me. I hope that this fight opens new opportunities.
“When I first started boxing, I wasn’t very good. I was getting hit so much. But I stuck with it, I’m a dedicated person and I’m a warrior so I wanted to keep going and figure it out. There was no way I was going to quit. I love boxing, I love training, and I am here to stay.”
“I have fought at bantamweight before and I can still make that weight if it’s necessary, but I feel really comfortable at featherweight right now. I am on weight and feeling really strong.
“I am really prepared for this fight. I don’t necessarily see my opponent as a step-up, I just see him as another opponent. I am always prepared to fight the best talent out there, and this will be no different.
“I’ve been a pro for seven years and it’s a little frustrating that I’m not a little more advanced. There have been some things outside the ring that have slowed me down and not allowed me to fight as much as I wanted to, but I believe my time is now. This is my time to really start advancing and making a name for myself.
“I had an extensive amateur career, and I have fought some really good opponents, including two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Robeisy Ramirez. He is the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced, and I have yet to face that type of competitor as a pro.”