Though he only has nine knockouts in his 18 wins, the chief sparring partners for lightweight prospect Mickey Bey both agree in their assessment that Bey will stop John Molina on Friday in their ShoBox main event.
British welterweight contender Ashley Theophane and welterweight prospect Chase Corbin gave Bey most of his work in preparation for this fight, a ten-round bout that will be Bey’s toughest test by far.
“John’s been at a higher level and fought for the title, but Mickey is the one coming up,” said Theophane to RingTV on Wednesday when asked about the fight.
“I think Mickey is gonna stop him. I expect him to outclass him and I don’t think it is going the distance.”
Theophane has been training at the Mayweather Boxing Club on-and-off for a few years, flying back to the UK intermittently. He hasn’t had a fight in 2013, though he says there have been offers.
“I’ve been offered a couple ESPN fights, as well as a couple fights back home, but I’m waiting on something bigger,” said Theophane.
“I beat Delvin Rodriguez and he’s got a fight coming with Miguel Cotto. A lot of people think I beat Danny Garcia and he’s got Lucas Matthysse coming up, so I am hopeful my turn is coming, and until then, I’ll be ready in the gym.”
Corbin came to Las Vegas about four years ago to train with Jeff Mayweather, and says Bey was his welcoming party in the gym after moving from Philadelphia.
“Mickey is actually the first guy I ever sparred when I got here,” said Corbin, a 7-0 prospect with a fight against Francisco Rios Gil in Pomona, Calif., on July 27.
“Mickey is a pure boxer that makes you pay for your mistakes. Being that he fights at a smaller weight than me and some of the shots he has hit me with, I think there’s a 95 percent chance John is getting stopped.”
Corbin is an interesting character to speak to. He’s very open about a crazy past life. At 27 years old, he’s a bit up there in age to be just 7-0, but there is reason for that.
“I’ve been incarcerated for most of my prime years,” shared Corbin. “I just came out of jail in March and I’m more relaxed and focused on the sport.”
His perspective on boxing is an interesting one, given his past life.
“When you’ve been through some of the things I’ve been through, boxing is easy. When you’re facing potentially 25-to-life, a 30-minute fight is nothing.”
Bey’s opponent on Friday has only been knocked out once, when last September Antonio DeMarco stopped Molina in the first round of their championship fight.
It was Molina’s first appearance on the big stage, and after he was hurt, he froze and took a bunch of flush shots until referee Jack Reiss had no choice but to stop it. Outside of that loss, Molina has shown a pretty good chin, which would make a stoppage win for Bey a calling card for big fights in the future.
Top amateur makes pro debut on undercard
If it weren’t for Olympian Michael Hunter, Andrew Tabiti was the No. 1 amateur heavyweight in Nevada. Tabiti was #2 behind Hunter, losing to him in the finals of the U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials in 2011.
Tabiti makes his professional debut Friday on the undercard to Bey-Molina, which takes place in his home of Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino at The Joint.
Tabiti is part of the Mayweather Promotions stable, and one of the few, if only fighter to turn pro under them.
“I believe I’m the youngest on the team, so I look up to all these guys,” said the 23-year old Tabiti. “I think I’ll be better as a pro because you can be more patient. Hopefully I adjust to it.”
Tabiti will fight as a cruiserweight, and meets Andrew Howk (0-1) of Kalispell, Mont.
Bay Area trainer brings stable to Las Vegas
Trainer Ben Bautista has been a large presence in the Northern California amateur and professional boxing scene for almost two decades. His Straight Forward Boxing Club in San Francisco bred a lot of top fighters in both versions of the sport.
With the boxing scene in the Bay Area beginning to water down a bit, Bautista saw it as an opportunity to move camp to Las Vegas, where it has evolved into a bit of a hotbed.
“I’ve been coming back and forth to Las Vegas since 1994 but started checking out the boxing scene a few years ago,” said Bautista on Wednesday.
“I figured that, once my mom had passed away, all signs pointed towards coming here. This is the mecca of boxing and I truly believe being around the best brings the best out of you. It is an ideal situation, you’ve got a lot of great fighters and trainers.”
Bautista has been in Las Vegas for about a month, along with top welterweight prospect Aaron Coley, of Hayward, Calif.
“Out here, there is more competition than back home,” shared the 22-year old Coley.
“Back him, it is just about getting work and keeping sharp. Here in Las Vegas, it is much more competitive and it helps you improve.”
Coley (6-0, 4 KOs) has a fight in Roseville, Calif., on Saturday against Saul Benitez (2-3) of Mesa, Ariz.
With only three cards in northern California up until this point, Coley doesn’t get an opportunity to fight in front of his hometown fans, but still brings a solid base of supporters an hour and a half north to Sacramento.
The fighter and his team have gotten creative in keeping him busy, as twice Coley has gone to Mexico to fight on the undercards of women’s world champion Ava Knight, who is also trained by Bautista.
“The first time we were in the building, the Mexicans will boo you,” recalled Coley. “But once you show them a good show, and that you can fight, they have no problem giving you applause.”
Coley is a regular sparring partner of junior welterweight contender Karim Mayfield, who also will be coming to Las Vegas in a few weeks to start working in the gym, according to Bautista.
It is a logical next step for a fighter who is trying to make the climb from contender to champion, and perhaps the move will serve as a climb for everyone involved.
Photo: Tom Casino
Mark E. Ortega is a contributing writer to RingTV.com and has been featured in boxing publications RING Magazine and Boxing Monthly. He is a member of the Boxing Writers Assoc. of America and can be reached via e-mail or followed on Twitter.