By J.R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Promoters/matchmakers Manny Alvarez and Will Ruiz (Hard Hitting Prom’ns) ran a star-crossed show Saturday night at the 2300 Arena in S. Philadelphia.
The same old “no ambulance” nonsense that regularly plagues these small local shows delayed the start for hours. A full house sat there in the August heat while ring announcer Patrick Michael Fattore periodically informed them of nothing at all, blaming it on thunder storms flooding the roads, merely to calm the frazzling nerves. What was up? Greg Sirb was there. The commission was there. The fighters were there. The promotion was there. The press was there. Publicist Kurt Wolfheimer was there. And the fans were all there. Why couldn’t the ambulance have gotten there?
The show at long last opened with former world title contender Prince Badi Ajamu, 198 ¾, Camden, still active but not active enough in falling to 29-5-1 (15) against Kenny Cruz Carasquillo, 200 ½, Bayamon, PR, 3-2-1 (2), by unanimous decision in a rugged but monotonous six. The bigger Cruz physically pushed Badi around the ring in the opening round, as if to test the waters. The rest of the contest was fought at close quarters without footwork and in slo-mo, with Prince Badi hanging tough but pushing his punches while Kenny had snap on his. Steve Weisfeld and Ron McNair scored 59-55 while Mark Werlinsky had 58-56. The bout was noteworthy in that it marked the return of whom some would call the Best Referee in Boxing, “The Sextuple S”, “Sweet, Super-Smooth, Strawberry Steve” Smoger.
The main event was a scheduled 10 between local favorite Derrick Webster, 167 ¾, Glassboro, 27-1 (14), and Australian Les “Lock Load” Sherrington, 166 ¾, Broadbeach, Queensland, 37-11 (21). For the second night in a row in Philly, scrappy undercard bouts were topped by a dull main event. That’s nothing new with Webster, whose notable height, long arms and southpaw stance make him hard to reach, hard to hit, and easy to loaf. One press row smart aleck described it as watching wall paper dry. The Aussie may be a very tough guy in a phone booth, but he hadn’t a clue on how to penetrate against Webster’s perimeter defense. Pawing with a jab that doesn’t come within two feet doesn’t get it. Sherrington was shaken by a right hook just before the bell ended an otherwise tame first round, and then Webster opted to throw just enough to win every succeeding round. Les lunged, but Derrick found it easy to roll away from the hips and let the attacks fizzle in air. The seventh saw a slight increase in action, with Sherrington actually landing a few, but it may have been his ultimate undoing. Webster came to life in the eight, as if making an Ali-like prediction come true. A long right rocketed Sherrington back against the ropes, where Webster stepped in with a short left to send him to the canvas. Les got up and tried gamely to hang in but was again on the ropes where a short left had him sagging to the floor as referee Gary Rosato was stopping it, TKO at 1:32.
In a scheduled six, Sam Teah, 136 ½, Phila., 14-2-1 (7), certainly wowed his fans, but opponent Zack Ramsey, 139, Springfield, MA, 8-4 (4), didn’t leave much for the boxing analyst. After some sparring, Sam herded Zack into a neutral corner and unloaded a combo, left to head and right that appeared to be barely above the hip, and Ramsey folded to his knees and made no great attempt to rise as Rosato counted him out at 2:49.
Popular Branden Pizarro, 138, Phila., 11-1 (5), did likewise but took a bit longer against game Hector Marengo, 136 ¾, Arecibo, PR, 7-13-4 (4), in a scheduled six. The flashy favorite dominated from the start, with crisp, clean punches and nice combinations. Marengo scrambled but didn’t have an answer, until a surprise overhand right and left hook combo rocked him to the ropes and a left hook dropped him to a knee. It was late in the round and Hector scrambled out. But in round two, Marengo seemed to have had enough. Pizarro pounded him on the ropes, with Hector seeming to signal to Sextuple that he’d been rabbit punched, and while he tried to clamp the offending left, Branden pounded him down with the right. Marengo got up and shook his head, walking away in surrender, at 1:32.
The barn burner of the evening was a sensational battle between popular Jeremy Cuevas, 135 ¼, Phila., 10-0 (8), and too-game-for-his-own-good Deo Kizito, 133 ¼, Dubai via Wash., DC, 3-4 (2), scheduled six. This was a wide open slugfest in nearly every round, with fans going crazy! Kizito made the mistake of mixing freely with a guy with a heavier punch, and he got beat up for it, but would not fold despite heavy pounding that had the fans in high gear. The southpaw Cuevas sent Deo reeling from a right hook in round one and already it looked like curtains for the underdog. But loose and on his toes, Kizito rolled just enough with the punches to stay on his feet although he was being hammered in an extended volley by the favorite. Round two was constant trading, with the heavier hands of Cuevas getting the better of it. In the third, the roof blew off! Kizito tried a lead right but Cuevas nailed him with a right hook and again sent him spinning across the ring, nearly out on his feet. Jeremy chased him to a neutral corner and seemed to end it, when a prolonged pounding drew Smoger in as if about to stop it. Cuevas thought so too and looked at the referee, but was motioned to continue, and Deo scrambled out of the round. Round four was pure mayhem, with Kizito appearing to be dropped along the ropes, but ruled a slip. Round five they finally tamed down and took a breather, but it only set up the big finale. In the sixth, Kizito twice hit Jeremy with low blows, drawing a caution from Smoger. It angered Cuevas and he redoubled his attack, clobbering Kizito along the ropes until a right-left at last sent Deo crashing to canvas as Smoger called an immediate KO, at 2:02.
Stark contrast was a scheduled six between Gadwin Rosa, 130 ¼, Ocala, FL, 7-0 (6), and lefty Angel Albelo, 129 ¼, Kissimmee, FL, 4-10-3 (1). The contest was a sparring session, with Rosa doing all the sparring. By round three, the visitor was in full flight, seeming intent only on survival. He didn’t make it. In the fifth, Rosa finally caught him on the ropes and speared him with a straight right. Albelo tried to escape catty-corner to the next rope, but caught a couple glancing blows in the process. And when he froze against the ropes, Gadwin drilled a left hook to the ribs, Albelo took a knee, and then got up and quit, as Rosato called the TKO at 2:05.
Popular Christian Tapia, 133 ¼, Coamo, PR, 5-0 (4), needed only to come forward and press the action in order to win over lanky southpaw Israel Suarez, 134 ½, Luquillo, PR, 4-6-2 (1), in a one-sided four. Tapia finally caught up to him in round three and worked him over on the ropes, bringing up the fans. The final round was a tour de force for the favorite, with Tapia showing off and fans cheering every time he landed a punch. But if the underdog wanted to spoil the favorite’s KO record, he succeeded. Weisfeld scored 40-36, McNair and Lindsey Page 39-37, unanimous for Tapia.
And a four between favorite Romuel Cruz, 122, Phila., 2-0-1 (1), and debuting Jose Lopez, 119 ¾, NYC, was a crowd pleaser with a controversial and dramatic finish. Romuel seemed to have a formidable size advantage over the diminutive foe, but the first was fought as a chess match and close, with Cruz seeming to edge on his reach advantage. Action picked up in the second, with Cruz scoring from outside while Lopez tried to compensate by stepping in and bailing out. Romuel dug under Jose’s looping punches and took the round. Both went all out in toe-to-toe trading in the third, bringing up the fans. Lopez was bailing out again and a sweeping right uppercut stunned Cruz early, losing his mouthpiece. Hard trading continued, with Lopez forging ahead. In the fateful final round, Cruz looked leery of trading and backed away, seemingly conceding the round. But late in the session, a wild haymaker right buckled Jose’s knees and had him on the verge. Romuel tried to close in but Lopez grabbed desperately and they wrestled to the canvas, just enough time spent to get Jose out of the round. The whole decision hinged on whether staggering an opponent but not officially knocking him down should win a round. Otherwise, it looked 2-2. Werlinsky agreed and scored 39-37 Cruz. But Page and McNair didn’t, rendering it a majority draw, 38-38.