In what was to be a showcase night for Randy Caballero and Omar Figueroa on ShoBox: The New Generation from the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, only the latter displayed what the public expected to see.
Figueroa easily dispatched of Ramon Ayala in the second round of the main event of the evening, crippling him with a barrage of punches that began with a left hand to the liver.
The Weslaco, Texas native came in overweight for the bout, ultimately forfeiting 20 per cent of his purse, but he looked every bit his energetic self from the get go. If anything, the extra pounds helped him as he pushed Ayala to the ropes almost instantly, firing hard punches from both the orthodox and southpaw stance. By the end of the first round, Ayala, 23, of Tlaxcala, Mexico, was already looking disoriented and stumbling toward Figueroa’s corner.
Ayala (23-3, 11 knockouts) would have a similar look at 2:53 of the second, after getting off the canvas following a Figueroa flurry, and referee Lou Moret decided he’d seen enough. At that point, he was eating 54 percent of the punches Figueroa threw, according to Showtime statistics, and there was no sign of that just being a small sample size. It was certainly going to continue, as simply couldn’t keep the bigger man off him.
At 22, Figueroa (15-0, 12 KOs) has established himself as a desirable commodity on television broadcasts, but having weight issues in two consecutive bouts might qualify as a problem at this point. That he was 155 pounds within three weeks of the bout indicates that, like Brandon Rios, he has a large frame for the lightweight division. Nonetheless, it may also mean it’s going to be a struggle on the scales every time he’s set to fight.
In the night’s opener, Randy Caballero had struggles of his own, scoring an underwhelming victory over Jose Luis Araiza by scores of 98-92 (twice) and 97-93, although the action was a lot more competitive than those numbers indicate.
Caballero (14-0, 7 KOs), the highly touted bantamweight prospect, was expected by most to run Araiza (32-5-1, 23 KOs) over. In the second round, it looked like he might, as he stung the veteran with a pair of short counter right hands.
Following that however, the Mexican began to tighten up defensively, and Caballero wasn’t comfortable forcing the fight. For the next two rounds, he flicked jabs and tried to be busy enough to win the rounds on the scorecards.
In the sixth round, Araiza, 33, stepped on the gas and started to uncork a wide overhand right to counter Caballero’s apathetic jabs, and it worked. In round seven, the prospect made it clear that he’d taken notice of what was landing, and switched southpaw. Unfortunately, Araiza was clever enough to straighten his right hand out, and began scoring with that as well.
While the eighth and ninth rounds were close, the final round undeniably belonged to the underdog. Doing what he was expected to all along, Caballero began to pressure Araiza and open up, but he seemed anxious and sloppy, getting countered with right uppercuts and short right hooks down to the final bell.
It definitely wasn’t the display Team Caballero wanted, but it is probably best their charge encountered this kind of tricky veteran now, before he became too accustomed to flattening helpless opponents.
Photos / Tom Casino-SHOWTIME
Corey Erdman is also the host of RingTV Radio. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman