Eight talented up-and-coming boxers with a combined record of 116-2-4, 71 KOs will compete on a compelling ShoBox on April 15 from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y.
In a clash of unbeaten bantamweights in the main event, undefeated world-ranked Nikolay Potapov (14-0, 6 KOs), of Podolsk, Russia, faces Stephon Young (14-0-2, 6 KOs), of St. Louis, Miss. in a 10-round bout. Eudy Bernardo (21-0, 15 KOs) of the Dominican Republic faces Mason “Rock Hard Mighty” Menard (30-1-0, 22 KOs), of Rayne, La., in an eight/10-round battle of hard-hitting lightweights in the co-feature.
Promising Russian cruiserweight Alexey Zubov (10-0, 6 KOs) measures against Constantin Bejenaru (10-0, 4 KOs, WSB: 0-1-1) of Mandilesti, Moldova, in one of the eight-round bouts.
The two ShoBox returnees will box in the eight-round telecast opener when Kazakhstan’s devastating junior welterweight Bakhtiyar “Bakha Bullet” Eyubov (10-0, 10 KOs), of Brooklyn, N.Y., takes on Liberia-born Samuel Teah (7-1-1, 2 KOs), of Philadelphia, Pa.
Six of the fighters, all seeking to establish their credibility and make a name for themselves, are newcomers to the network and will be making their ShoBox debuts on a four-fight telecast that has a distinct international flavor (two Americans, two Russians, one Romanian, one from Kazakhstan, one Dominican and one from Liberia).
Tickets for the event presented by Salita Promotions in association with AASHA Record Breakers are currently on sale and can be purchased at the Turning Stone Resort Casino Box Office, by calling 877.833.SHOW, or online at Ticketmaster.com. Tickets are priced at $60 for ringside seats, $35 and $25.
The fast-rising Potapov, of Potolsk, Russia, is ranked 10th in the IBF. Extremely rare for a fighter at this point in his career, he’s already gone 10 rounds five times and 12 rounds once against good opposition. This is his second start in the United States since signing with Salita Promotions in June 2015. The 5-foot-4, 26-year-old is coming off a shutout 10-round decision over Pedro Melo last Oct. 29 in Brooklyn.
An outstanding amateur with international success, Potapov had around 200 fights before he turned pro in March 2010. He went 13-0 as a pro in Russia. In his outing before last – and last in his homeland — he produced perhaps a career-best performance while winning a unanimous 12-round decision over then-IBF No. 10-ranked Jasoin Canoy, on Nov. 8, 2015.
“I’ve been training very hard to make my ShoBox debut a spectacular one,’’ Potapov said. “This will be my second fight in New York against a very skilled boxer in Stephon Young, who is undefeated like me. I look forward to a great competitive fight and I’m putting in my work to come out on top.’’
Young is a talented, lightning-fast-handed southpaw who’s done more than enough to deserve his standing as a rising star in the Midwest. He’s making his 2016 and 10-round debut.
Like Potapov, Young was a top-notch amateur. He compiled a record of 86-13 while representing the United States in many tournaments. In the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2011, he lost to the No. 1-rated amateur, Rau’shee Warren.
His pedigree solid and after years of having “celebrated amateur” permanently affixed to his name, Young turned pro in August 2011. The 5-foot-5, 27-year-old has gone eight rounds once and six rounds on four occasions. He’s coming off a third-round TKO over Terrance Roy last Aug. 8 and by far his toughest task, Young boxed unbeaten Antonio Nieves to an eight-round draw on June 20, 2015.
Young hasn’t fought near the caliber of fighters as Potapov but he’s excited and optimistic about April 15. “This is a great opportunity for me, going up against another undefeated fighter in front of the world on ShoBox,’’ Young said. “You can’t pass up an opportunity like that. Training is going great. I’m training with some of the top notch fighters in the world like Juan Carlos Payano, Claudio Marrero and Yenifel Vicente.
“I know little about my opponent, but what I know makes me feel like we are the perfect match. We both have good records and we are both good fighters, but once I bring my A game, he’d be helpless. I will be watching all my P’s and Q’s. Once you get me in that zone I have no doubt I will win.’’
Bernardo, a 29-year-old with a million-dollar smile – and a punch to match — has registered knockouts in nine of his last 10 fights. In Menard, he’s facing unquestionably the most seasoned foe of his career. This is Bernardo’s fourth U.S. start and second in a row. He’s coming off a clinically ruthless second-round demolition of Ben Odametey last Feb. 6 in Detroit, Mich.
Born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Bernardo had an extensive amateur career (128 fights) before turning pro in October 2009. He captured the Dominican Republic Lightweight Title in his fourth start. Tall for his division at 5-foot-10½, Bernardo is aggressive, technically sound and possesses two-fisted power.
“With him being 30-1, beating Mason Menard will take me to the next level, exactly where I want to go,’’ said Bernardo, who trains in Houston with former world champion Frank Tate. “I’m excited about this fight on ShoBox because it’s a good opportunity for America to get to know me. Training is going very well. Every day I am learning. My diet is terrific. My whole team is with me, pushing me to get better.’’
Menard, former Louisiana State and UBO All-Americas Lightweight Champion, is a pressure and hard-punching fighter who’s won 28 in a row.
He has fought all but one of his fights in Louisiana and this will be his second start in 21 months. In his most recent effort, he stopped Jesus Lule-Raya in the first round on Aug. 8, 2015.
While inactivity could pose a problem, Menard is primed for Bernardo. Nobody, he says, is going to deter him from his aspirations of making it to the top.
“It’s blessing to me to be able to fight and showcase my talent on SHOWTIME,’’ said Menard, who has weighed at or around 135 pounds throughout a pro career that began in October 2007. “It’s been a part of a dream of mine to do so and to one day fight for a major world title. On April 15, Bernardo stands between me and my dreams. It’s all or nothing. It’s rise or lay down. April 15 is the day I’ll be able to be known as a real legit fighter. I WILL NOT let this guy stop me from accomplishing any of those things. Quote me, I will give it my all, I will rise, I will be known and I will be world champion.’’
Zubov, a sensational former international amateur standout and seven-time cruiserweight tournament champion in Russia and Europe, turned pro in April 2014. His first five fights were in the U.S. – four in California and one in Brooklyn. He won all but one inside the distance.
The 6-foot-1½-inch 30-year-old will be making his 2016 debut after fighting four times in 2015 and six times in 2014. Zubov’s last five fights were in Russia; he is coming off a first-round TKO over Rihards Bigis last Nov. 29.
Zubov was born and raised in Magnitogorsk, a city which isn’t exactly a fistic hotbed. Getting into boxing was hardly common for his corner of the world. He didn’t grow up in a nasty neighborhood or fighting in the streets. In fact, he has a profound mathematical background, having attended a special school that concentrated on physics and mathematics. But while his first sport was hockey, he took to boxing.
Regarding his upcoming skirmish, Zubov said, “I spent several weeks training at the Kronk Boxing Gym with Javan ‘Sugar’ Hill in Detroit for my ShoBox debut. I learn every day in the gym and look forward to putting my knowledge to use April 15 on ShoBox. I want to follow in the footsteps of all the great Kronk fighters.’’
Bejenaru a Moldovan-born fighting out of Catskill, N.Y., is making his 2016 debut. Since moving to the U.S., the 5-foot-10, 31-year-old southpaw is 10-0 with 1 No Contest dating to September 2012. In his last outing, he won a unanimous eight-round decision over Joel Shojgreen on Oct. 14, 2015.
“I know Zubov is a good fighter. I am training very hard and have been waiting for an opportunity like this so people can see just what I can do,’’ said Bejenaru, who was born in a Moldovia, a small land-locked country in Eastern Europe. “I am ready to go and very excited about this fight.’’
As an amateur, Bejenaru won a bronze medal at the 2006 European Amateur Boxing Championships, multiple medals at the European Union Amateur Boxing Championships and the Gold Medal at the 2010 World Combat Games.
Eyubov, 29, of Astana, Kazahstan, has fought a total of 16 rounds in his 10 fights since going pro in February 2012. A one-main offensive juggernaut, he’s scored six first-round knockouts, two second-round knockouts and two third-round knockouts. This will be his ninth fight in the U.S.
In his ShoBox debut in his last start this past Jan. 22, Eyubov dropped Jared Robinson, three times en route to a third-round TKO (0:56).
“I’m honored to be back on ShoBox,’’ said the 5-foot-6 Eyubov who’s promoted by Salita Promotions. “I went back home to Kazakhstan after my last fight and came back with more inspiration and motivation to be the best fighter in the world. I am training very hard every day in New York City and look forward to putting on a show April 15. My gratitude to ShoBox for giving a young upcoming fighter like me the opportunity to showcase his skills against the best possible opponents on national TV in the U.S. It’s just amazing.’’
Eyubov got into boxing the hard way. “I used to live in a very bad neighborhood and would constantly get into street fights. I’m not a big guy so I started boxing to learn to defend myself,’’ he said. “I had over 150 amateur fights. I won about 125-130, most were by knockout. I beat Olympic champions and international champions, but I was not allowed to travel. It might have been because of where I come from – they didn’t have political connections. They’d tell me, ‘Win by knockout, or you’re not going to win.’ I had to fight heavier guys sometimes. But I was so rough and hit so hard, I’d ruin some of their best fighters at my weight.’’
Teah, a 5-7, 28-year-old, won his ShoBox and eight-round debut last Nov. 6 with an upset, unanimous decision over previously undefeated O’Shanique Foster. Teah outpointed Foster, who would go on to win his ensuring start on ShoBox.
“It’s a privilege and honor to be facing Eyubov on SHOWTIME,’’ said Teah, who’s coming off an eight-round draw against Demond Brock last Jan. 22. “I don’t know much about him. I know he’s from Kazakhstan with a perfect record. He fought last time I fought on the same card, but I didn’t get to see him and he didn’t get to see me. Now we get to fight each other. When I got the call I was in the gym already, just not in a fight mindset. Now it’s just matter of turning up the intensity and getting ready for an aggressive opponent and getting my fight mindset going.’’
Teah, who was born in Liberia, fled with his family to Ghana, where his father’s from, to escape the civil war when Sam was a youngster. The family’s been in the U.S. since he was 10.