With the show sold out a week in advance, why did they have a press conference? But they did. And it was good. Will Ruiz & Manny Rivera’s Hard Hitting Prom’ns run on Friday, Dec. 1 at their familiar location, Sugarhouse Casino. But the boxing community is in a dither and the writers dazed and confused over the unprecedented and highly unwelcome scheduling of a rival show by Marshall Kauffman’s Kings Prom’ns the same night at the city’s other active venue, the 2300 Arena. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see who produces the better card!
The press conference was held 11/29 at the Sugarhouse. PR man Kurt Wolfheimer, who did a fine job conducting the event, opened with the promise that it would be “…the best fight card we’ve ever had.” Indeed!
Heavy – Joey Dawejko, Phila., 18-4 (11) vs Kelvin Nunez, Carolina, PR, 15-0 (13), 8
Bantam – Christian Carto, Phila., 12-0 (11), vs Luis Saavedra, San Luis Potosi, MX, 7-3 (3), 8
Light – Sam Teah, Phila., 11-1 (5), vs Maynard Allison, Phila., 9-2 (6), 6
Heavy – Darmani Rock, Phila., 9-0 (5), vs Carlos Cotto, San Juan, 8-1 (5), 6
Branden Pizarro, Phila., 8-0 (4), vs Christian Rivera, Bayamon, PR, 6-0 (5), 6
Jeremy Cuevas, Phila., 5-0 (4), vs Jose Miguel Castro, Carolina, PR, 5-9 (3), 6
Gadwin Rosa, Ocala, FL, 4-0 (3), vs Jesus Lule, Ft Myers, 11-24, 4
Hard-punching Jeremy Cuevas, moving up to a six, paid his respects to “what a lot of fighters have to go through just to get to this point.” His opponent, Jose Castro, a traveling underdog, concurred, through an interpreter, “I’ve been in this position before. It’s nothing new to me.”
Smiling and relaxed almost to the max, Darmani Rock, a highly accomplished amateur, just laughed it off stating he had “…not really much to say. I’m ready to work.” With this his first fight at home and asked why he had been so long out of town, Darmani coyly responded, “It was ‘when I’m ready to come to Philly,’ and I’m ready.” The succinct answer backhandedly said volumes about the contractual manipulation of modern fighters that has undermined much of local support while reducing boxing to largely a TV sport; a trend which Rivera & Ruiz are trying to buck. Rock’s opponent, Carlos Cotto, declared he’s “…thankful to my opponent for bringing me and allowing me to show my skills.” He stated that in the hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico he had lost his house, but that didn’t prevent him from going to the gym.
Confident almost to a fault, the youthful Branden Pizarro declared simply, “I let my team do the looking [studying the opponent]. It don’t matter to me.” Branden’s opponent, bringing an unbeaten record from Puerto Rico, underscored his preparation against fit opposition by declaring, “I don’t believe in being set up to win a fight.” Against the aggressive and free-swinging Pizarro, he won’t have to worry about THAT!
Headlining in the co-feature, the dour Carto, while one of the most popular attractions on the card, said simply, “I want to thank everybody for coming out. I don’t have much to say. I’m ready to fight.”
And the top bout, a heavyweight battle between popular local Joey Dawejko and Puerto Rico’s Kelvin Nunez, shapes up as a dramatic crowd-pleaser. The visitor forthrightly observed through an interpreter, “He’s fought better opponents. Some of it is that he’s had a better platform than me in Puerto Rico.” Kelvin sees this dangerous matchup as a door into a more lucrative and opportune market.
Meanwhile, Dawejko is looking to spring to new heights off a career that was highly promising as an amateur, initially successful as a pro, stalled in a few years of spinning wheels, and revived under the management of Mark Ciparone and training by the renowned Freddie Roach and Justin Fortune. “A few years ago, I was a good prospect, and my career turned around,” Joey explained, elaborating that he took fights on short notice with little consideration and insufficient preparation while working a construction job. “This is what’s gonna decide my future right now,” he stated of Friday’s fight. The affable Dawejko held his own in jocular verbal sparring with a wiseacre reporter, and then provided some insight into what he sees as his opportunities against the top of the division. “Guys 6-5, 6-6, they’re not used to fighting guys 5-10,” he smartly observed of his future against the top of the heavyweight division…starting from this Friday night.
Manny Rivera concluded, “Come out and support the local shows and you will fall in love with boxing again.”