Undefeated Cruiserweights Constantin Bejenaru & Stivens Bujaj Meet In Co-feature; Nephew of Former World Champion Popo Freitas, Vitor Jones Freitas Faces Manuel Mendez
NEW YORK (Oct. 13, 2016) – Undefeated 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist Taras “Real Deal” Shelestyuk (14-0, 9 KOs) will face upset-minded Jaime Herrera in the 10-round welterweight main event of a ShoBox: The New Generation tripleheader on Friday, Nov. 4, live on SHOWTIME at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) from Omega Products International Event Center in Corona, Calif.
Shelestyuk (14-0, 9 KOs), of Los Angeles by way of the Ukraine, was a member of a 2012 Ukrainian Olympic team that included featherweight gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko and heavyweight gold medalist Oleksandr Usyk. Jaime Herrera (15-3-1, 8 KOs), of Chicago, Ill., has defeated unbeaten prospects in four of last nine fights and is 8-1-1 overall since July 2012.
In the co-feature, undefeated cruiserweights Constantin Bejenaru (11-0, 4 KOs, 0-1-1 in World Series of Boxing), of Catskill, N.Y. by way of Moldova, and Stivens “Superman” Bujaj (16-0-1, 11 KOs), of New York, will collide in a 10-rounder for the vacant WBC International and WBC Continental Americas titles.
In the opening bout of the telecast, undefeated lightweight Vitor Jones Freitas (12-0, 1 ND, 6 KOs), of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, will be opposed by local fan favorite Manuel Mendez (12-1-2, 8 KOs), of Indio, Calif., in an eight-round bout. The 23-year-old Freitas is the nephew of popular former two-time lightweight world champion Acelino “Popo” Freitas.
Four of the six fighters on the distinctly international tripleheader will risk their unbeaten records against what likely will be their toughest assignments to date. Shelestyuk and Bejanaru will be making their second ShoBox starts. It’s also the second time ShoBox has aired from Omega. The first took place Oct. 5, 2007, and featured victories by Yonnhy Perez and Mickey Bey Jr., who would both go on to become world champions, two of the 67 boxers on ShoBox to do so.
Tickets for the event promoted by Banner Promotions are priced at $100 (ringside), $70 (reserved) and $50 (general admission) and can be purchased by calling (714) 935-0900.
Taras Shelestyuk (pronounced “TARE-as SHELL-es-took) averaged 85 punches per round in his ShoBox debut last November, winning an impressive 10-round unanimous decision over Aslanbek Kozaev. In his most recent start and lone outing this year last May 20, the 5-foot-10, 30-year-old Shelestyuk knocked out Erick Martinez in the third round at Ontario, Calif.
“My training is going great, I am more powerful and my speed is better,” said the former international standout. “Herrera is a rough fighter, but it doesn’t matter to me because I am looking to step up and get into championship level fights.”
Shelestyuk, who is trained by Eric Brown at Wild Card West, possesses solid skills, movement and punching power. Since turning pro in March 2013 he has exclusively campaigned in the United States. Many from the outstanding 2012 Ukrainian Olympic team became immediate prospects as professionals, including Lomachenko, who won a featherweight world championship in just his third fight on SHOWTIME. Now, it’s Shelestyuk’s turn to step up to the plate.
“I follow the 2012 Ukrainian Olympic team, and all the guys are doing very well and I’m happy for them,” said Shelestyuk, who went 300-15 in the amateurs. “But I do not compare my results with anybody else because I have my own career and my own path to a championship belt, and I am enjoying this journey.”
Herrera, a pro since December 2009, seems to be a legitimate test for Shelestyuk. Herrera has won three straight, defeated undefeated prospects in four of last nine fights, and is 8-1-1 overall since dropping a decision to Adrian Granados in 2012. One of those wins was an upset knockout of one-time highly ranked welterweight and world title challenger Mike “Machine Gun” Jones on Aug. 23, 2014.”Taras is a great fighter and I know I’m the underdog, but I’ve surprised some fighters before and I’m confident and ready to give it my best and win again,” said Herrera. “I’m coming into this fight with the same mentality I had in those fights against the other unbeaten guys. The way I see it, Taras has everything to lose and I fight as I have nothing to lose.”
“I’ve been training very seriously and I’m excited to be able to showcase my skills on television. I grew up watching ShoBox. There will be more eyes on me and they will see my ability to fight. Getting a win will increase my ranking and open up more doors for my career.”
Bejenaru (pronounced “bay-zhin-nah-ROO”) was an accomplished amateur. The southpaw boxed on the Romanian national team for 10 years and was a nine-time national champion.
In his ShoBox premiere last April 15, the active and athletic native of Ungheni, Moldova, scored a unanimous eight-round decision over previously unbeaten Alexey Zubov (10-0), a former Russian amateur champion and seven-time European amateur champion.
Bejenaru is anxious to return to ShoBox and continue his winning ways. “Bujaj is a great boxer, we are both undefeated but there can only be one victor, and I do not plan on losing this fight,” he said. “I entered this fight with the intention of winning. That is what I train to do, that is what I am going to do.
“As a man who has been boxing for over 22 years, I feel extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity. In my previous ShoBox fight, I was labeled as the underdog. Those who doubted me quickly changed their opinions once they saw me fight, and even more so once the referee raised my hand in victory.”
Bujaj (pronounced “Boo-ha”) was born in Kelmend, Albania, but relocated to the Bronx, New York at an early age. The unbeaten prospect was a two-time New York Golden Gloves Champion at heavyweight who’s made for good fights every time out and mostly made it look easy. This is Bujaj’s third scheduled 10-round start, while Bejenaru will be making his 10-round debut.
The 26-year-old has won his last four in a row, including his last two by knockout, since boxing a split 10-round draw in a slugfest with then-undefeated three-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion Junior Wright (10-0) in May 2014.
“I’m getting prepared,” said Bujah who’s coming off a first-round TKO over previously undefeated beaten Sergio Ramirez (11-0) on June 11. “I’m training like this is a world title fight, and I’m totally ready to win. I know my opponent is undefeated and I can’t overlook him. The way I feel, I’m on my ‘A’ Game. I was training in Las Vegas and now I am back in New York with Sharif Younan and I am ready to do everything I can to win this fight.
“This is the exposure and opportunity I’ve been waiting for. I just want to pick up these WBC titles that we are fighting for and be bumped up the rankings. Once I pick up these belts, I will be in the top 10 and anything is possible.”
The nephew of popular former two-time lightweight world champion Acelino “Popo” Freitas has been victorious in 12 consecutive bouts since fighting a No-Contest in his pro debut in July 2012. He’s coming off a fifth-round TKO over Rodolfo Franz last May 21.
Two outings ago, Freitas captured the Brazilian lightweight crown with a 10-round decision over Sidney Siquiera. This will Freitas’ sixth U.S. start; his last five fights were in Brazil.
“My uncle had many great fights on SHOWTIME and on Nov. 4, I am looking to carry on his legacy,” Freitas said. “This will be another step in following in his footsteps to become a world champion.”
Mendez, who is trained by the respected Joel Diaz, is coming off a fourth-round knockout over Erick Martinez this past Sept. 23 in Ontario. Mendez used a strong, bruising style in which he mixed his punches well to punish Martinez. The 5-foot-8, 26-year-old Mendez has gone 12-0-2 since getting stopped in his pro debut in October 2010.
“I am excited about this opportunity to fight on ShoBox,” said Mendez who is a sparring partner for Ruslan Provodnikov and Timothy Bradley. “I know with a win, my career will escalate to a new level. I am looking to knock out Vitor.”
Barry Tompkins will call the ShoBox action from ringside with Steve Farhood and former world champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is Gordon Hall with Rich Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
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About ShoBox: The New GenerationSince 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. Some of the growing list of the 67 fighters who have appeared on ShoBox and advanced to garner world titles includes: Andre Ward, Deontay Wilder, Erislandy Lara, Shawn Porter, Gary Russell Jr., Lamont Peterson, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Omar Figueroa, Nonito Donaire, Devon Alexander, Carl Froch, Robert Guerrero, Timothy Bradley, Jessie Vargas, Juan Manuel Lopez, Chad Dawson, Paulie Malignaggi, Ricky Hatton, Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams and more.
CONTACTS: Banner Promotions, Marc Abrams: (215) 670-2220
Pierre Kascinta, Thompson Boxing (818) 720-8721
Chris DeBlasio, Showtime Networks Inc.: (212) 708-1633
Matt Donovan, Showtime Networks Inc.: (212) 708-1663
Flo Jocou, Showtime Networks Inc.: (212) 708-7319
John Beyrooty/BZA/Showtime: (562) 233-7477
Bernie Bahrmasel, Double B Publicity (Shelestyuk) (773) 592-2986