NEW YORK – SHOWTIME Sports® will close out a tremendous 2011 with a live New Year’s Eve world championship doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 31 (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast), featuring International Boxing Federation (IBF) light heavyweight world champion Tavoris Cloud defending his title against Zsolt Erdei and World Boxing Association (WBA) super bantamweight champion Rico Ramos facing WBA interim champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Just one day earlier on Friday, Dec. 30, former undisputed 160-pound world champion Jermain Taylor returns to the ring and the middleweight division when he faces 24-year-old Jesse “Beast” Nicklow of Baltimore, Md., in the main event of a special edition of ShoBox: The New Generation, live at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast of the New Year’s Eve event will feature four undefeated fighters with a combined record of 84-0 with 54 knockouts. Cloud (23-0, 19 KOs), of Tallahassee, Fla., will be making the fourth defense of the title he won via 12-round unanimous decision over former world champion Clinton Woods in August 2009. The hard-hitting, 29-year-old then successfully defended his title against Glen Johnson, Fulgencio Zuniga and Yusaf Mack.
The 37-year-old Erdei (33-0, 18 KOs), of Budapest, Hungary, is a former World Boxing Organization (WBO) light heavyweight champ. Erdei made 11 title defenses of the WBO crown before vacating his belt to campaign at cruiserweight in 2009. He won the World Boxing Council (WBC) cruiserweight title in his 200-pound debut with a victory over Giacobbe Fragomeni, but did not make any title defenses before returning to the 175-pound division.
Erdei, a popular fighter in both Germany and Hungary, is coming off a sixth-round knockout over former world champion Byron Mitchell this past June in Atlantic City. It was Erdei’s fourth fight in the United States.
A ShoBox alumnus, Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs), of Whittier, Calif., just outside of Los Angeles, won the WBA super bantamweight title with a seventh-round knockout over defending champ Akifumi Shimoda in his first world title fight this past July in Atlantic City. The slick and speedy 24-year-old holds victories over former world title challengers Alejandro Valdez and Heriberto Ruiz, but will be facing his toughest opponent to date in Rigondeaux.
The 31-year-old Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KOs), of Miami, Fla., by way of Cuba, is one of the sport’s fastest rising prospects. An amateur boxing legend in Cuba, Rigondeaux was the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games Gold Medalist in the bantamweight division. The hard-hitting southpaw defected from Cuba in 2009 and won the interim WBA super bantamweight title in only his seventh professional fight. He is coming off a first-round knockout over previously undefeated Willie Casey in March in Ireland.
The doubleheader will originate from the Anaheim Convention Center Arena in Anaheim, Calif. and is promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions, Don King Productions and DiBella Entertainment.
A night earlier, Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs), of Little Rock, Ark., will enter the ring for the first time following a 26-month layoff. He became the undisputed middleweight world champion – winning the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO world titles -- with a split-decision over Bernard Hopkins in 2005. Taylor dominated the division for the next three years before losing his belts in an upset to previously undefeated Kelly Pavlik in 2007.
Following another loss to Pavlik, Taylor moved up to super middleweight and defeated Jeff Lacy in a WBC title eliminator to earn a shot at champion Carl Froch. In just his second fight at 168 pounds, Taylor was on his way to a victory entering the 12th round but was knocked out with just 14 seconds left.
The 33-year-old Taylor entered the groundbreaking Super Six World Boxing Classic in 2009 and was knocked out in Group Stage 1 by former world champ Arthur Abraham. Following the loss, Taylor withdrew from the tournament and took a two-year hiatus from the sport.
Nicklow (22-2-3, 8 KOs) is unbeaten in his last four starts (3-0-1) and has won two in-a-row, including a unanimous decision over James Freeman in his last outing on May 21. A solid amateur before going pro in January ‘06, Nicklow won his initial nine fights. He was 19-0-1 before suffering his first loss. Nicklow’s other defeat came in his ShoBox debut against then-unbeaten Fernando Guerrero in December 2009.
The Dec. 30 event is promoted by DiBella Entertainment.