Shobox super middleweight tourney semi's right around the corner!


Shobox super middleweight tourney semi's right around the corner!

One match-up features former roommates who used to spar together, while the other pits undefeated fighters from different sides of the globe.  What all four fighters have in common, however, is a goal to reach the top of the super middleweight division.  That journey will continue when SHOWTIME televises the semi-finals of the “ShoBox: The New Generation” super middleweight tournament on Friday, Oct. 6, as part of a FREE PREVIEW WEEKEND.

The SHOWTIME broadcast from the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif., will open with American Henry Buchanan (14-0, 11 KOs) of Capital Heights, Md., squaring off against France’s Jean Paul Mendy (22-0, 12 KOs). The second bout of the evening will pit LaFarrell Bunting (16-1-1, 16 KOs) of Las Vegas, Nev., against former sparring partner Tony Hanshaw (20-0, 13 KOs) of Warren, Ohio.

The winners of the two 10-round bouts on SHOWTIME (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast) will advance to the Jan. 5, 2007, final.  The last man standing will walk away with the International Boxing Organization (IBO) 168-pound title and will be one big step closer to a top world ranking. Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, is promoting the event, which also offers two boxers from the original field of eight the rare opportunity to appear on national television three times in only six months.

In first-round action on July 28, 2006, Mendy registered an opening-round TKO over Dallas Vargas of Toledo, Ohio, while Buchanan slugged his way to a 10-round unanimous decision over Lucas Green-Arias on SHOWTIME.

Making his third United States start, Mendy stunned Vargas with a combination, then continued to land seemingly every punch he threw until the referee halted matters 1:45 after the opening bell.

“There was no way that I expected to win that early, but I knew I hurt him and was not surprised the referee stopped it,” said the southpaw after his fifth victory inside of the distance in his last six outings. “I was just in there analyzing things when I nailed him with a good body shot.’’

The flashy Buchanan was too quick and fast-handed for Green-Arias of Costa Rica. Much of the damage inflicted came from his injured right hand.

“I broke my hand in the first round,” said Buchanan, who won by the scores 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94. “I fought with one hand and did not give any excuses.  I did not tell my trainer and finished the fight.  I am a lot better now, and you will get to see my power in the next fight against Mendy.’’


One week later on Aug. 4, 2006, Hanshaw cruised to a 10-round unanimous decision shutout over Esteban Camou of Navojoa, Mexico. In a battle of knockout specialists, late substitute Bunting opened the SHOWTIME telecast by scoring a fifth-round TKO over Jose Luis Herrera of San Onofre, Colombia.

Favored by many insiders to win the super middleweight tournament, Hanshaw recorded his second consecutive victory by decision and remained undefeated following a nearly two-year layoff.  Each of the judges scored the contest 100-90.

 Hanshaw sees no roadblocks en route to capturing the IBO title in early January.

  “I was over anxious and tried to get Camou out of there,” Hanshaw said. “I rushed it.  I tried to get him on the ropes and set him up with combinations. I needed the rounds because of my layoff, but now I am back. I am not worried about any fighter in the tournament.  I am in tip-top shape. This is my time.”

Replacing the injured Sakio Bika, Bunting took the fight on four day’s notice and cancelled a fishing trip with his grandfather.  The decision turned out to be a good one as “Memphis Fairway” knocked out his 11th consecutive opponent.

 Following a barrage of more than 20 unanswered punches against the ropes, referee Kenny Bayless gave Herrera a standing-eight count and decided to stop the contest at 1:20 of the fifth round.

“I expected more out of Herrera,” Bunting said.  “I was prepared to be versatile and use all my abilities.  I was expecting more pressure.  He let me do whatever I wanted to.  You cannot wait around for me.  One big shot and I can get you up and out of there.  I was not sharp like I wanted to be, but when you get a stoppage like that, how much more can you ask for?” 

No stranger to one another, Bunting and Hanshaw used to live together and spar in Mansfield, Ohio.   

“I have not seen Bunting fight in a while, but, in his last fight, he looked tough,” Hanshaw said.  “He is a tough guy, but I am tougher.”

Bunting, on the other hand, believes that his personal knowledge of Hanshaw’s fighting style will help land him a spot in the finals.

“I already know how Hanshaw fights, and nothing changed, so I am ready,” Bunting said.  “He will be slick.  But, when I take his advantages away, then what?  I am just a much bigger puncher.”

The following are thumbnail biographies on the Oct. 6 “ShoBox” tournament participants:

HENRY “SUGAR POO” BUCHANAN (14-0, 11 KOs): Why Sugar Poo, you ask?  Buchanan’s mother called him “Poo” as a child. His former trainer, Barry Hunter, put the “Sugar” on it, likening the young fighter to Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson.

The aggressive-minded prospect turned pro on March 27, 2004.  He won his initial 10 starts by knockout (each inside of six rounds, and eight inside of three) before taking back-to-back eight-round unanimous decisions in July and November of 2005. 

The supremely confident boxer-puncher displays impressive movement and hand speed.  Buchanan continues to impress industry experts with his power, a good uppercut from the inside and an ability to slip punches.  He prefers to enter the ring to the sound of rap music, donning his trademark shades that give him the look of a superstar and adorning trunks emblazoned with the word, “Poo.”

JEAN PAUL MENDY (22-0, 12 KOs): At 32 years old, Jean Paul Mendy is the oldest of the tournament participants and a five-and-one-half-year professional. The undefeated southpaw recently relocated to Las Vegas and will make his fourth professional U.S. start on Oct. 6. Mendy turned pro on Dec. 22, 2000, in his current residence of Bondy, France. 

In February, 2002, Mendy captured the French super middleweight belt with a 10-round majority decision, and has made four successful title defenses.  He has TKO’d five out of his last six opponents.  Prior to turning pro, Mendy notched a 102-25 record and represented his homeland of France at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

LAFARRELL BUNTING (16-1-1, 16 KOs): Has won 11 consecutive bouts by knockout. In his last start before the tournament, the six-foot-one-inch, 25 year old registered a first-round knockout over Carlos Bates to capture the vacant International Boxing Association (IBA) International light heavyweight title in San Marcos, Texas, on July 15, 2006. 

The 1997 National Junior Olympics champion at 165 pounds, Bunting, who will turn 26 five days before his semi-final showdown against Hanshaw, started boxing at age 10 when his stepfather took him to a gym. He turned pro three days after his 21st birthday on Oct. 4, 2001. Bunting boxed to a draw in his third outing and suffered his lone defeat in his seventh. 

TONY HANSHAW (20-0, 13 KOs): Had more than 300 amateur bouts since he first stepped into the ring for the first time at age five. As an amateur, Hanshaw registered impressive victories over some of today’s top contenders, including Sechew Powell, Kelly Pavlik and Sergio Mora. Hanshaw was introduced to boxing by his late father, Henry Russell, a professional light heavyweight, who died when he was electrocuted by a power line while trimming trees on a landscaping job. “I thought about giving up,” Hanshaw said. “My dad meant everything to me. I could not imagine going back to my corner and him not being there.”

Shortly after his father’s death, Hanshaw lost a decision loss to future world champion Jermain Taylor in a 2000 U.S. Olympic team trials box off at 156-pounds. As a result, Hanshaw was named as an alternate, but chose to forego the Sydney Games. As a pro, Hanshaw won his first five bouts inside of the distance, and fought nine times during his first pro year.  The Ohio native has won each of his 2006 starts and stopped three of his last five opponents.

Blow-by-blow announcer Nick Charles will call the action from ringside with expert analyst and boxing historian Steve Farhood at his side. The executive producer of “ShoBox” is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing.

For information on “ShoBox: The New Generation” and SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecasts, including complete fighter bios, records, related stories and more, please go the SHOWTIME website at

About ShoBox: The New Generation
Since its inception in July 2001, the critically-acclaimed SHOWTIME boxing series, “ShoBox: The New Generation” has featured young talent matched tough. The “ShoBox” philosophy is to televise exciting, crowd-pleasing and competitive matches while providing a proving ground for willing prospects determined to fight for a world title.