By J.R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Boxing in Philadelphia has been in a slight lull, but leave it to one of the most active promoter/matchmakers in the world, Marshall Kauffman (Kings Prom’ns) to break the trend. On 11/9/18, Kauffman returned to the popular Sugarhouse Casino and pulled in another SRO crowd of about 1200 despite a miserable night of crummy weather. And praise be to his professionalism; he ran a six-bout card that gave young hopefuls good work while fans had plenty of time left for the tables and the bars. Fred Blumstein kept time, Alex Barbosa was ring announcer and Marc Abrams publicist.
In the six-round main event, popular Christian Carto, 118 ½, Phila., 17-0 (11), faced well-traveled Antonio Rodriguez, 119, Durango, MX, 13-23-2 (6). The contest was a lively scrap that pleased the heavily pro-Carto crowd, who booed Rodriguez when he was introduced! But it was all Carto, despite a game effort by the visitor. Regardless of the underdog’s size advantage, Carto, no longer looking like Gorgeous George and now with a full beard, smartly positioned himself just inside the Mexican’s punching range and battered him with straight punches that frequently drove Antonio’s head back. In a heated second, the two mixed constantly, with Carto having the sharper punches and jarring rights that had Antonio unraveling. Just before the bell, the battered underdog slumped to the canvas, getting a count from referee Eric Dali, who worked all bouts.
At this point, it looked like the third would be the end, but Rodriguez, despite a battering, hung tough. The last three saw Christian less dominant, though still clearly in control, with the game Mexican refusing to yield. Rodriguez even tried switching southpaw. The two had an exchange of rabbit punches in the fifth as action became a little less slick and a bit more rugged. Steve Weisfeld, Allen Rubenstein and Anthony Lundy all scored 60-53.
In a co-feature six, between southpaws, Poindexter Knight, 147 ¼, Phila., 6-0 (3), quickly got rid of dangerous-on-paper Travis Castellon, 149, Ft. Lauderdale, 16-3-1 (12). Despite the snazzy record and a clear willingness to fight, the visitor was blown out summarily. The two immediately launched into open warfare, trading non-stop at close range. But the rangy Castellon leaned forward and looped his punches, allowing the stocky local favorite to time his lunges with jarring short, inside punches. Travis unraveled under punishment, finally falling back to the ropes with arms on the strands, where Poindexter drilled him with a short right hook. Travis sagged, the ropes holding him up, but clearly in trouble, where Dali stopped the fight, at 1:33. Castellon protested bitterly.
Seldom-seen Frankie Trader, 133, Phila., 11-2-1 (3), once one of the more storied amateurs in a city that’s festooned with them, made a rare appearance in a scheduled six with a known visitor here, Pablo Cupul, 130 ¼, San Diego, 10-28 (5). The short, stocky Cupul waded right in from a squared stance with both hands pumping. But he was just recklessly walking straight into the bigger favorite’s fire power. Action was wide open from first bell, but the underdog was being rapidly ground down and taking punishment before the end of the opening round. Pablo tried to turn it around with a vigorous attack in the second, but Frankie was timing him with pinpoint shots that were rapidly taking a toll. Dali spotted the inevitable trend and stopped the bout at 1:45, with Cupul protesting.
Sadly, the most competitive contest on the bill ended with a questionable call. Out-of-towners can win in Philly and often do. So this wasn’t a homer in a four between James Martin, 147, Phila., 3-0, and Denis Okoth, 146, Siaya, Kenya, 2-1-1 (1). The two squared off from the start with good, sharp boxing at mid range. Martin was getting off short, sharp punches and late in the round caught Okoth out of position as he tried to turn, popping a snappy left hook that dumped Denis onto his seat. But Okoth wasn’t badly hurt and fought back vigorously. In the second, Denis applied a controlled pressure, bobbing and weaving as he came forward. In the third, the already solid action ratcheted up a notch as Martin mounted a comeback, beating Okoth to the punch as Denis moved in. Martin was rallying to the bell when the contest pivoted on its heels! A sharp, straight right nailed James as he came in and dropped him just before the bell! The final round was all Okoth, as Martin yielded and fought in retreat, although he tried to steal the round…and unfortunately perhaps did…with a late spurt. The correct scoring was 38-36 Okoth. Yes, all the judges (Rubenstein, Lundy and Mark Constantino) had that same score, but for Martin!!! How they arrived at this is hard to speculate. Still starry-eyed in the second over Martin’s good first round? Only gave Okoth a one point margin in the third as Martin was winning until dropped? And what about the fourth, which Martin nearly conceded? There hasn’t been a bad decision in Philly in a while…in fact, some very good ones…so perhaps they decided it was time.
Mark Dawson, 149 ½, Phila., 5-0 (3), won a unanimous decision in a relatively tame six over Chukka Willis, 150 ½, Emporia, KS, 3-7 (2). The southpaw favorite circled away and picked his punches carefully. Action picked up a bit in the third as the underdog tried southpaw. Willis became more aggressive in fourth and extended his punches to force Dawson back and take the round. Mark answered back in the fifth and then opened the final round with a vigorous body attack that had Willis doubling over. Rubenstein and Constantino scored a shutout while Steve Weisfeld had the best score at 59-55.
Debuting Maurice Burke, 160, Phila., got a unanimous shutout over Brandon Bey, 160, Bronx, 0-1-0-1, in a decent four. Action was brisk, with Maurice sharply placing his punches around and through Brandon’s high guard. A long right behind the ear shook Bey in the first. Burke continued to set the pace while Bey played catchup, but the rounds were close and the decision fair.