By Keith Idec
Francisco Contreras came to Las Vegas this week as an unknown underdog, despite his glossy record.
The hard-hitting prospect from the Dominican Republic hopes to leave Las Vegas with legitimate lightweight championship aspirations. That transformation is dependent upon the 27-year-old Contreras (16-0, 13 KOs) upsetting Ugandan-born Sharif Bogere (20-0, 12 KOs) in the 10-round main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecast Friday night from Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel.
“I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to get this kind of fight,” Contreras said through his trainer/translator, Valentin Contreras (no relation). “Beating Bogere will be a step for me to climb into the top 10 in the world. I’m very positive about winning this fight.”
Contreras has built his record against pedestrian opposition since he turned pro in February 2007, but the Irvington, N.J., resident is eager to prove himself against Bogere.
“I want people to see that I’m a warrior,” Contreras said, “that I’m one of the best in the lightweight division and that I come to fight.”
The 22-year-old Bogere began creating buzz because of how he came to fight against Mexican veteran Raymundo Beltran in his last bout, May 13 in Primm, Nev. Bogere overcame a bad cut over his left eye and beat Beltran (25-5, 17 KOs) in a very competitive, entertaining 10-round fight.
Contreras isn’t impressed.
“I’ve never seen him fight and I don’t care about seeing him fight,” Contreras said. “That’s just the way I am. That’s what the ring is there for. I’m ready.”
Valentin Contreras is also anxious to watch his fighter face his most proven opponent.
“Francisco’s a strong guy, but he’s a better boxer than a puncher,” Valentin Contreras said. “I want people to consider him one of the best at 135 pounds and hopefully this will get him a world title fight.
“We know we’re a heavy underdog, but that’s what I like about this. We’re not going to let this opportunity get away from us. He knows that. There’s going to be a show [with Bogere] entering the ring, but it’s all going to even up once they’re in the ring.”
This “ShoBox” broadcast is scheduled to begin at 11 p.m. EDT/8 p.m. PDT on Showtime with an eight-round junior middleweight match in which Houston’s Jermell Charlo (15-0, 7 KOs) will face Francisco Santana (12-2-1, 6 KOs), of Santa Barbara, Calif.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.