Broadcasters called it “Antoine Douglas Graduation Night” from the opening moments of the ShoBox telecast Friday night. Douglas responded with a rousing valedictorian (at least on this night) speech in the form of a 4th round TKO of Les Sherrington.
Douglas (19-0-1, 13 KOs) began his systematic breakdown of Sherrington (35-8, 30 KOs) in the 1st, feeling him out for one minute before flooring him with a well-timed counter right.
Douglas again knocked down Sherrington in the 2nd with a hook, before dropping him two more times in the 3rd, each time with short hooks. The rising prospect continued his onslaught in the 4th, pinning his Australian adversary against the ropes and bludgeoning him with body shots until Sherrington hit the canvas once more. Referee Kenny Bayless mercifully stepped in to wave off the fight,
This was Douglas’ fifth appearance on ShoBox and it was one of his most impressive. He flashed a variety of skills in the three+ short rounds – perhaps most important of which was patience. Sherrington wasn’t ever dazed. He just couldn’t take Douglas’s shots and keep his legs. Even as the young contender battered his foe around the ring, he didn’t get ahead of himself. Douglas boxed with poise, capitalizing on opportunities and applying pressure strategically without ever leaving himself exposed.
TV appearances alone a champion does not make. The list of fighters with five or more ShoBox appearances is a mixed bag. While each and every one of them went on to at least challenge for a world title, members such as Andre Ward and Robert Guerrero are joined by Ishe Smith, Chris Avalos and Sechew Powell.
Douglas is equally talented and dedicated to his craft. But is this the end of his education, or the beginning of a new journey amongst a higher tier of middleweight opposition? The answer to that question might dictate just how far he can climb.
From The Undercard
The telecast opened with a mild upset, as Sam Teah (7-1, 2 KOs) defeated O’Shanquie Foster (8-1, 5 KOs) by unanimous decision in a lightweight tilt.
Foster, a celebrated U.S. amateur who has been largely inactive and unchallenged this far as a professional, looked timid and tight all fight. He never found a rhythm, nor seemed particularly interested in ever throwing punches. Teah was hardly active himself, but worked behind a solid jab to eke out enough rounds to win the uneventful fight. Official scores read 79-73 and 77-75 twice, all in favor of Teah. Queensberry Rules scored the fight 78-74 in favor of Teah in between naps.
What the opener lacked in activity, welterweights Keenan Smith (9-0, 3 KOs) and Benjamin Whitaker (10-2, 2 KOs) made up for with sloppiness as Smith uglied his way to a unanimous decision victory to remain undefeated.
A former National Golden Glove champ, Smith used a herky-jerky, inside-out style to take the first three rounds of the fight. In the 4th, Whitaker began to assert himself, landing power shots and roughing up Smith with clinches and work in close quarters. The bout became chippy in the 6th. Shortly after Smith was cut on the eyelid by a head butt, both fighters exchanged takedowns in the corner and were warned by referee Robert Byrd.
Smith dropped Whitaker early in the 7th, but was stunned twice later in the round, resulting in a 10-9 scoring. At the time, the difference between the one- and two-point swing resulted in the fight still being up for grabs (Smith holding a single-round advantage) on Queensberry Rules’ scorecard entering the 8th and final round. Both fighters showed urgency in the eighth, continuing to rough-house but exchanging until the final bell.
Official scorecards read 79-73, 78-74, 78-74, all in favor of Smith. Queensberry Rules scored the fight 77-75 in favor of Smith. While he’s only 25 years old, it remains to be seen if Smith will develop into a legitimate prospect. Neither his abbreviated resume, two year layoff between 2013-2015, nor his tepid showing tonight inspired huge confidence.
In the co-feature, Taras Shelestyuk (13-0, 8 KOs) cruised to an impressive unanimous decision over Aslanbek Kozaev (26-2-1, 7 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight bout.
The Robert Garcia-trained Kozaev was game, but outclassed from the start. He was determined to get inside in the early rounds, but Shelestyuk was too slick, using great lateral movement and an array of counter-punches to keep his opponent at range.
Shelestyuk appeared to be wearing down Kozaev in the middle rounds, pounding on him with jabs and power punches at will. Kozaev had no answers, breathing heavily through his mouth while his work rate ground to a halt.
After warnings from his corner to throw more punches, Kozaev resumed chasing Shelestyuk around the ring in the later rounds. While he continued to absorb punches at a high rate, he at least showed the heart, hustle and toughness needed to make it to the final bell.
The official scores read 100-90, 100-90, 99-91, while Queensberry Rules had it 99-91. While the fight was lopsided, it was nonetheless entertaining – perhaps because the previous fights were bad, but also likely because Shelestyuk flashed an impressive range of skills.
Shelestyuk worked the ring well. He landed at range, from the inside, and even on the move as he thwarted Kozaev’s offensive attempts. Final Compubox numbers recorded 408 of 854 (48 percent) total punches landing, including 249 of 404 (62 percent) power shots. Compared to the 98 of 452 (22 percent) total punches by Kozaev, the numbers backed up the skill discrepancy.
A 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, Shelestyuk has the pedigree to succeed as a prospect. In the meantime, he took a moderate step up in competition tonight while saving an otherwise underwhelming undercard.