J.R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Devoid of the extra baggage of Al Haymon fighters with paid-for opponents, Marshall Kauffman (Kings Prom’ns) put on a fine local club show on Friday at Philadelphia’s 2300 Arena. As usual, the show drew an SRO crowd and presented competitive bouts with some mild upsets, but no stunning shockers. Marc Abrams was publicist, with live streaming on Kings Boxing Facebook Page.
The top bout was an eight in which local favorite Brandon Robinson, 167 ¼, Phila., 10-1 (7), was able to win about as he pleased over a clowning Oscar Riojas, 168 ¾, Monterrey, MX, 16-9-1 (5). At the start of the contest, the southpaw visitor missed a wild right swing and stumbled into a left that pushed hi m over. It didn’t have to be called a knockdown, but referee Eric Dali did so. That was about it for Riojas. A winner in Mexico but nowhere else, Oscar was much too crude to offer a threat to the reasonably skilled favorite. He mugged, talked, complained of low blows and butts, and at times held both hands out to one side in the pose of a matador flagging a bull. In the fifth, the frustrated Robinson missed a haymaker and fell, with Riojas toppling onto him as their feet tangled. Robinson did put some punches together in a volley that brought up the crowd in the sixth. Oscar just smirked. Brandon tried for a big finish in the eighth and did have Oscar scrambling, but Riojas survived. It wasn’t a good gym session for the winner, as it’s hard to learn much against such unorthodoxy. George Hill scored 80-71, while Steve Weisfeld and John Poturaj gave Oscar a sympathy round, 79-72.
By contrast, the co-feature eight between two out-of-towners, Ra’eese Aleem, 122, LV, 11-0 (5), and Marcus Bates, 123, Wash., DC, 8-1-1 (7), was a crackling good contest. Action was close and tight, with not a lot of classic boxing or prolonged exchanges. Rather, both having quick hands, the two played a game of chicken, circling while facing each other down, waiting to lure one another into a trap. A sudden left hook nearly worked in the opening round, dropping Bates along the ropes. But it was a flash knockdown and he arose unhurt. Later in the round, a long right spun Marcus halfway around, more hurt that the knockdown had been, but he stayed on his feet. The contest followed the pattern for the rest of the way, the tension holding the crowd’s interest. Perhaps the secret to victory for Aleem was that he was slightly bigger, enabling him to set the pace and beat Marcus to the punch. In the fifth, Aleem tried to take greater control by forcing Bates to the ropes and working him over. But a big counter right by Marcus brought up the crowd. Ra’eese had a strong sixth, letting both hands go. But Marcus rebounded in the seventh when a big left hook spun Ra’eese off balance and again roused the fans. Every time one of Marcus’ big punches caused Aleem to change direction, the crowd got up. But it was Aleem who was applying the steadier attack and controlling the contest despite many close rounds. Poturaj scored 80-71, Weisfeld and Lindsey Page 79-72, all for Aleem. Bates asked announcer Alex Barbosa for the mic and demanded a rematch, which would be in order despite the seemingly one-sided scores. Shawn Clark refereed.
A terrible contest, but one which nonetheless held some peculiar drama, was a six between Colby Madison, 248, Owings Mills, MD, 6-0-2 (4), and notable underdog Guillermo Del Rio, 198 ¾, S. Houston, TX, 2-2-1 (2). At first bell, it looked like a human sacrifice, with the gigantic Madison towering over the squat victim. Everyone expected the fight to end on the next punch. But after Del Rio survived the opening round, he gained confidence and began coming in low out of a crouch and finally having his giant foe backing up, possibly Scappoosing the round. There was a lot more maneuvering than scoring in the mismatch of sizes, with the standup favorite having difficulty punching down at the crowding target. Guillermo landed one big clobber right in the third. Colby gave it back in the fourth and put a few punches together. Madison started fast in the fifth and tried to end it with a prolonged workover. But Del Rio threw counters and fought his way out. Madison was puffing by round’s end, but had his best round in the sixth. At last, Colby did some boxing behind the jab, and then dug a left hook to the ribs that doubled Guillermo over and had him hurt. It looked like the favorite might finally end it, but Del Rio scrambled and hung in to the bell. Page’s card of 58-56 for Madison seemed like the best score, despite Colby’s poor overall performance. But Weisfeld and Hill made it a majority draw, both 57-57. Dali refereed.
In a battle of southpaws that was nearly a street fight, Poindexter Knight, 149 ¼, Phila., 3-0 (2), won a hard-fought unanimous verdict over Vincent Floyd, 148 ¼, Phila., 3-5-1 (2), four. It was a wild melee from first bell, both bailing out, missing and scoring with roundhouse punches, falling into clinches and wrestling. Late in round one, Knight dropped Floyd with a hesitation left. That seemed to set the tone, with Poindexter picking solid shots in round two and having Vincent bloody. The game and willing Floyd was following him around in the third, but Poindexter was doing the punching. Hill, Weisfeld and Poturaj all 40-35.
Denis Okoth, 144, Siaya, Kenya, 2-0-1 (1), took a deserved split decision over Rasheed Johnson, 147 ¼, Willow Grove, PA, 3-2 (1), in a good and heartily contested four. The rangy Johnson used his reach and had it all his own in the first. But Okoth adjusted, began to cut down the range by lunging behind left hooks and then crossing the right, edging round two. The third was close, but Johnson couldn’t hold Okoth off. With it on the line in the fourth, the Kenyan went all out and had Johnson just trying to fend him off. Okoth deserved the decision, although Page gave style points to Rasheed, 39-37. Fortunately, Weisfeld had 40-36 and Poturaj 39-37, saving it for Okoth.
Joshafat Ortiz (a variance of “Jehoshaphat”?), 131 ½, Reading, 3-0 (1), looked good in a lively contest with tough and willing Evgueny Metchenov, 130 ¾, Sofia, Bulgaria, via Gaithersburg, MD, 0-2, four. Joshafat established immediate control with the jab, movement and snappy combinations against the pressing Bulgarian. Ortiz began to bang the body and hurt Metchenov in the second, but Evgueny gamely fought his way out of it. Action switched to banging inside in round three, with Joshafat coming on and bloodying Metchenov by round’s end. Evgueny tried to pull out all stops in a rugged fourth and did land some jarring shots, but not enough. All scores (Hill, Page, Poturaj) 40-36 for Ortiz.
Kendall Cannida, 178 ¼, Phila., 2-0, won a unanimous decision over debuting Carlos Villanueva, 173 ¼, Phila., in a four that was tame until the last ten seconds and then erupted! Cannida forced the contest throughout, but his offense was highlighted by the tendency to try to steal rounds with all-out flurries at timekeeper J. P. Mina’s tap. With the final round close and inconclusive, Cannida again exploded, and with Villanueva on the ropes, brought up a stunning inside left hook that buckled Carlos’ knees. The ropes held him up, but referee Dali gave a justified count while the dazed fighter, out on his feet, tried to walk to his opponent. Dali waved action on, but the bell ended the contest. Villanueva was still wobbly and looked dazed. All scores 39-36.