-Undefeated Cuban Phenom and 2004 Olympian Luis Franco Meets Once-Beaten Wilton Hilario in Co-Feature-
After registering the strongest victory of his career, world-ranked welterweight Freddy “El Riel’’ Hernandez (28-1, 1 NC, 19 KOs) of Lynwood, Calif., returns to the ring when he meets former world champion Mike Anchondo (30-2, 19 KOs) of La Puente, Calif., in the main event on ShoBox: The New Generation LIVE on Friday, Sept. 17, on SHOWTIME®
One of the most talented amateurs to come out of Cuba in the past decade, 2004 Olympian Luis Franco (6-0, 5 KOs), puts his unbeaten record on the line against Wilton “Pretty Warrior’’ Hilario (12-1-1, 9 KOs), of Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, in an eight-round super featherweight bout in the co-feature at Buffalo Bills Resort & Casino in Primm, Nev.
This will be the second consecutive main event against a former world champion and third appearance on ShoBox for the 5-foot-10-inch, 31-year-old Hernandez, a nine-year pro who hasn’t lost since February 2005.
“I’m moving up the ladder and making a name for myself but at this point of my career I know I can’t afford to lose,’’ Hernandez said. “I need to earn respect and the only way to do that is to keep winning, crack the top 10 and prove I can defeat the elite fighters at 147 pounds. I want to fight for a world title.’’
Last Feb. 5 on ShoBox, the World Boxing Council (WBC) No. 11-ranked contender scored a brutal fifth-round knockout over ex-world champion DeMarcus “Chop Chop’’ Corley in Santa Ynez, Calif. In the most difficult assignment of his career, Hernandez broke open a close fight with one booming, dramatic right hand that left Corley flat on his back at 1:48.
“That was definitely my biggest victory,” said Hernandez, who was born in Mexico City. “To knock out an experienced former champion who never gets knocked out was great.’’
In his ShoBox debut Oct. 23, 2009, Hernandez survived a 10th-round rally to take a unanimous 10-round decision and snap a 12-fight winning streak over southpaw Damian Frias. Hernandez collected the World Boxing Council (WBC) Latino crown by three scores of 98-92.
Anchondo, a former World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior lightweight belt-holder, has steadily moved up in weight in recent years. The 5-foot-5, 28-year-old tipped the scale at 144 pounds or more for each of his three fights in 2009, all of which he won.
In his most recent outing, he eked out an eight-round split decision over previously unbeaten Mauricio Herrera last Dec. 4 at Santa Ynez on ShoBox.
“I’m looking forward to this fight because I know Hernandez is a tough fighter, just like Herrera was,’’ said Anchondo, who got the narrow nod over Herrera by the scores of 77-75 twice and 73-79. “He’s going to come to fight, which is exactly what I want and need.
“My whole career, there hasn’t been the right opposition in front of me. When I don’t see any challenges, I don’t challenge myself. But I’m excited and will be ready to go.”
Anchondo, who turned pro on May 6, 2000, captured the vacant WBO 130-pound with a unanimous 12-round decision over Julio Chacon on July 15, 2004, in Dallas.
Franco was a standout Cuban amateur, winning the majority of his 400 bouts. In 2000, at the age of 14, he won a junior world championship. Early on some of his toughest fights came against teammates, all of whom are off to fine starts as pros: Guillermo Rigondeaux is 6-0, Erislandy Lara is 13-0 and current World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa, whom he defeated twice in four amateur fights, is 19-0.
Franco retired from amateur boxing in January 2008 and defected from the island nation known for its boxing and baseball in 2009, leaving his wife and child behind in Havana. He turned pro on July 31, 2009.
As Franco’s career has advanced, so has the length of his fights. His first three bouts ended inside one round. The fourth fight went to the third, the fifth to the fourth. The furthest he’s gone – and the most difficult fight he’s had — came in his last start when he had to rally from a knockdown to score a fifth-round TKO over Yogli Herrera on Aug. 13 in Tampa, Fla.
The 5-foot-8 Franco got dropped from a left hook in the third. But he rebounded to deck Herrera in the fourth with a right hand to the temple. In the fifth, Franco dropped Herrera again, this time with a counter left hook, and the match was stopped at 2:52.
Given his past success, it is not surprising that Franco feels he’s prepared for the division’s upper echelon. “I’m ready to take on all the top guys,” he said. “I want to fight Juan Manuel Lopez and Gamboa again. I fought Gamboa as an amateur. I fought Lara and Rigondeaux as an amateur. I can fight anybody right now. I came here to rip heads and I’d like to fight for a world title before my 10th fight.”
Hilario, a boxer-puncher who doesn’t mind mixing it up, went 8-0 after going pro in September 2005, boxed an eight-round draw and then manufactured a four-fight winning streak before suffering his first defeat on a 12-round decision to heavily favored Martin Honorio last March 5 in Temecula, Calif.
A resident of Saint Louis Park, Minn., Hilario has competed consistently well in Minnesota and in the Midwest. Two of his finest performances came in back-to-back fights before Honorio. Hilario secured a dominant eight-round decision over southpaw Leon Bobo in a pleasingly aggressive performance on Nov. 13, 2009, in Hinckley, Minn. He scored a fifth-round TKO over Allen Litzeau in an All-Minnesota showdown the previous April 18 in Minneapolis.
The 5-foot-10, 27-year-old Hilario came up short in his first step-up but the experience he got from going the distance with Honorio, unquestionably the most seasoned and talented opponent he’s faced, could prove invaluable against a virtually untested Franco.
“I learned so much from that fight and I’m confident I’ll put it to use in my next fight,’’ Hilario said. “This is a great opportunity I’m getting. I look forward to fighting on SHOWTIME and giving Franco his first loss. A win puts me right back to where I need to be.’’
Doors of Star of the Desert Arena will open at 5:30 p.m. PT with the first bout at 6. Tickets are $10 and $50. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit www.primmvalleyresorts.com . The event is promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC.