Taras Shelestyuk vs Herrera, Bejenaru vs Bujaj, Freitas vs Mendez
BY KID HERSH
From Corona, California, came an excellent Shobox: The New Generation fight card chocked full of prospects on Showtime the night before the big PPV event in Las Vegas. First up was Vitor Jones Freitas (12-0, 6KO's) vs Manuel Mendez (12-1-2, 8KO's). Freitas was looking sharp in the first round by sticking from the outside but then we got a bit of a shocker when with less than a minute to go in the first round Mendez nailed Freitas to the liver and the fight was over just like that, as Freitas crumpled to the canvas and was paralyzed with pain.
Next up was Steve Bujaj (16-0-1, 11KO's) vs Constantin Bejenaru (11-0-1, 4KO's). Bejenaru is a 200 amateur fight veteran from Moldova that is always in supreme shape and a pest of a fighter. The first round was pretty sloppy fighting by Bejenaru, who was swarming but had his hands down and was throwing wild, looping punches. Bujaj caught Bejenaru a couple times with flush shots but his power was not enough at this point. Despite that, you got the feeling that Bujaj could potentially put him out cold at any given point due to Bejenaru's severely leaky defense. In the second round Bejenaru showed his supreme conditioning and frantic energy but all of his jumping around caused an accidental clash of heads that gave him a cut on his forehead that blood flowed from. Bejenaru was completely confusing and frustrating Bujaj until suddenly with less than a minute left in the fifth round Bujaj landed a left hook that dropped Bejenaru. Finally - it seemed like it took far too long for this to happen because Bejenaru constantly has his guard down while jumping in and out and even while staying in the pocket. He recovered pretty well for the sixth round though. He seems like the type of guy that you have to completely separate from his senses to take out though because he is so highly trained and such a good athlete. It is possible though - Bujaj has the punch but he has to not be so frustrated and unload more shots. Easier said than done though as Bejenaru was jumping around and not a stationary target at any point in time. The ninth round was an extremely weird one with both fighters getting frustrated at the other from fouling. Bujaj was annoyed with headbutts and Bejenaru claimed he got bit! In any case the referee took a point from Bujaj for hitting on the break. It's hard to say if it was warranted or not simply because it was a dirty fight at this point but Bujaj did appear to be the one that was not complying with the referee. Bejenaru was definitely causing headbutts and the fight would end with him having a huge lump due to them. Bejenaru would win the UD in a fight where he showed impressive stamina but really I am not so sure that his style will translate to success at the top level because he is very easy to hit and, dare I say, TOO ACTIVE! He has the stamina to go with the energy but this is an odd case where he needs to relax and pick his punches and I'm not so sure he has it in him at this point in the game where he has fought over 200 times.
Main event time featuring Jimmy Herrera (15-3-1, 8KO's) vs Taras Shelestyuk (14-0, 9KO's). Shelestyuk was boxing very well in the first round, leading his man and giving ground but turning any time his back was at the ropes. Herrera looked confused and was even buzzed at the end of the round from a couple of snappy left hands. Really though, Shelestyuk is still showing serious flaws in his game to my eyes despite the 300+ amateur bouts and all the praise lauded thus far in his professional fights. He always drops his guard after unloading and in fact backs up with his guard down and chin held high - completely exposed and just begging for a power punch to smack it clean. Herrera was getting closer to his man in the second round but still having trouble with Shelestyuks excellent footwork. Herrera got closer yet in the third round and may haave even won the round as he backed Shelestyuk into the ropes and had him holding instead of turning like he was in the first couple rounds. Herrera looked very confident now, landing lefts to the body and then rights to the head. He was even landing uppercuts that Shelestyuk could not do anything about. Herrera seemed to have his man figured out rather easily in the fourth round as he basically chased Shelestyuk around the ring and trapped him and unloaded. Shelestyuk was still throwing but he was definitely getting the worse of the exchanges and had no authority on his shots anymore and his confidence seemed to be all but gone. In the fifth round Shelestyuk got deducted a point for holding which was not too hard to believe considering that is all he has done the last couple of rounds. Shelestyuk got some momentum going in the next round, likely knowing that it was now or never as the fight was slowly slipping away from him. Herrera's output slowed and Shelestyuk countered effectively for the first time since the second round. Both men fought for the momentum in the seventh round, with Shelestyuk carrying the success from the sixth at first but Herrera fighting hard to change it back in his favor. The rounds were very close going down the stretch with perhaps the slight edge going to Shelestyuk who got some of his ring generalship back. In the tenth and final round Shelestyuk dug deep and out threw Herrera, who had a left eye swelling and looked very weary. Shelestyuk would get the narrow UD via scores 96-93 X2 and 95-94 but he showed serious weakness. At 30 years old and hundreds of amateur fights and now three years as a professional I don't think he is going to change his ways.