Pham impoves to 12-2, 5 KOs
By Jeff Jowett at ringside
Philly’s Hard Hitting Promotions (Manny Rivera & Will Ruiz) established a foothold in the once torrid and still simmering Atlantic City scene with a show at Bally’s Resort Casino on 3/7/20.
The ballroom of some 1500 was about two-thirds full to see a good main event with an upset. The red corner swept the undercard. Kurt Wolfheimer was publicist, Julius Proenza kept time, and Mark Fratto ring announced.
The main event was an excellent local showdown between two prospects coming off defeats and battling Father Time to boot. Having lost his last bout a year ago, 37-year-old Derrick Webster, 168 ¼, Glassboro, 28-3 (14), took on Gabriel Pham, 164 ½, Pleasantville, 12-2 (5).
Like Webster, Pham lost his last bout, but only six months ago, and while no youngster, enjoyed a seven-year advantage in age. That wasn’t Gabriel’s only advantage, as became evident at first bell. He was taller than Webster and with a longer reach. Accustomed to having a sizable reach advantage and the ability to hold opponents at bay, Derrick was lost without it and immediately let Pham take control.
Both southpaws, the two were jabbing away and finding range until late in the first when Pham threw a long jab and followed with a sneak inside left that spun Derrick to the floor. Webster was not hurt but the crown was stunned at the sudden turn of events and the emergence of the underdog.
Round two was again a cautious jabbing session but Webster was backing away and Pham was controlling the action. Action was never sustained, but the contest had a riveting tension as the star was being well contained by the underdog. Long lefts dominated a close third. It seemed Webster may have been starting to find his groove until the stunning fourth. Pham landed a long right and as Webster tried to move to the side to keep from being cornered, Gabriel kept right in step and then buried him with a long, spearing left. The favorite crashed to the canvas, nothing fluky about it as there had been in the first. This time it was for real and Pham was in solid control. The rest of the round produced little, but it was a different fight. Action was a bit more crisp in the fifth, but with no change in direction.
Late in the seventh, Gabriel put together four punches that had Derrick shaking his head in mock defiance. The favorite tried desperately to salvage it in the final round and had Pham yielding ground for the first time in the fight. But most of the long shots were misses and the attempted rally fizzled. A good fight; Webster fought gamely but Pham had a tightly controlled and smart offense that took the unanimous decision. Eugene (Henry) Grant scored 77-73, Lawrence Layton and Allen Rubenstein 78-72. Ricky Vera refereed.
Jeremy Cuevas, 140 ½, Phila., 13-1 (10), was far too big and strong for compact Nestor Paniagua, 137 ½, Santa Fe, Arg., 26-10-2 (17), in a scheduled six. The southpaw favorite clobbered the hapless import at will, as running and crouching provided no respite for Nestor. In the second, there was nothing left for Paniagua but to escape as a left hook to the head and solid right to the body sent him down. He was then in full flight when a swiping left to the head had him flopping on the canvas and rolling over face down to signal referee Eric Dali that he was through, a KO at 2:55.
Christian Tapia, 131, Coamo, PR, 11-0 (10), did a nice job of breaking down fleet-footed Carlos Colon, 129, Hatillo, PR, 5-3 (3), in a scheduled six. Colon circled away and worked the jab in controlled but serious boxing, while Tapia calmly walked him down and worked in telling body shots. Finally Carlos sank to the canvas under the body punishment and looked through late in the second, but got up and made it to the bell. The visitor gutted his way back into the contest in the third with sharp and contained boxing, but Christian was making him pay. In the fourth, a left hook to the liver sank the game underdog to the floor and referee Vera counted him out at 2:02.
It was just shooting fish in a barrel as Thomas Velasquez, 133 ½, Phila., 10-0-1 (6), romped over posturing but ineffective Gustavo “Gusano” Molina, 134, Tlaxcala, MX, 24-2 (9), in a scheduled six. The fans loved it as their favorite did about as he pleased while the underdog made it into the third round. Velasquez opened up full tilt in the first, flailing away out of a squared stance but digging some nice rights to the body. He settled back into more conventional boxing behind the jab in the second, but jolted Molina with a long left hook as the bell sounded. In the third, Gustavo was getting the daylights beaten out of him yet kept motioning Thomas to “come on and fight.” He did. Body shots had the Mexican bent over as if to protect his apparently soft belly. Trapped in a neutral corner, “The Worm” was blistered and crumbled to the canvas as referee Eddie Claudio was stopping it, at 2:48. A right to the body was the payoff.
Erratic Isiah Seldon, 159 ½, Somers Point, 14-3-1 (5), impressed against a decent local opponent, Darryl Bunting, 162 ½, Asbury Park, 4-7-2 (2), in a scheduled six. Blistering trading started at first bell, with Bunting letting both hands go but throwing long, sidearm punches while the slightly more conservative Seldon held off for straighter, more solid blows. A portent of what was to come ended the first round as a left hook stunned Darryl just as the bell sounded. In round two, Bunting was again opening up with both hands as Isiah drilled him with a beauty of a straight right lead down the pike, spreading him on the canvas. Darryl got up and gamely tried to regroup but was battered and rocked, a left hook the payoff as ref Dali stopped it at 0:34.
Benny Sinakin, 173 ½, Phila., 6-0 (3), opened the show with a laugher over Leroy Jones, 174 ¼, St. Louis, 3-8 (2), in a mauling four.
The favorite clobbered freely with both hands while the underdog tried to reduce the beating by grabbing and clinching. Sinakin tried to open up the trading by mocking Jones with coital pelvic gyrations. It didn’t help. Referee Claudio penalized Leroy in both the third and fourth for holding. Sinakin tried his best and did have Jones hurt in a pounding to the bell in the third. All three judges scored the fight 40-34.