By Jeff Jowett at ringside
The Parx Casino in Bensalem has earned a place in the regular rotation of local shows in the Philadelphia area. On 9/20/19, Joe Hand Promotions and Brittany Rogers (BAM Boxing) put on a reduced but exciting card. With the usual pullouts and drop-offs, the eight-bout card was reduced to five.
But with J. Russell Peltz matchmaking, there’s never a bad show! Unfortunately, the fans dropped off a bit too, and only a couple hundred were in attendance. Those who were got their money’s worth and then some. Alex Barbosa did his usual fine job as ring announcer and Alice Grady kept time.
In the eight-round main event, Stevie Ortiz, 132 ½, Phila., 11-0 (3), faced dangerous spoiler Alejandro Salinas, 131, Youngstown, 10-3 (9). The first was cautious, with Salinas stalking while the much bigger favorite used his size to beat Alejandro to the punch. Action became more open in the second, as Ortiz began trying to force the fight and bailed out with his punches. Again, a greater reach helped, until late in the round when Salinas caught him with a short right counter and spilled him to the canvas. Stevie didn’t appear badly hurt and made it to the bell. But that set up a wild and tense third, with the crowd going crazy. Salinas was looking for the payoff and Ortiz trying to turn the tide and gain control when he missed a left, dropped his arm, and got floored again when Salinas fired a short right counter. Again it was late in the round and Stevie held on to get to the bell. The fourth was virtually a street fight with both throwing payoff punches over and over but Ortiz beginning to take control while his fans went bozo.
The second half was a bit of a different fight, a bit more controlled. Salinas had wilted some under the pressure of trading while Stevie moved around and picked his shots, making him harder to counter. The rest of the fight was characterized by this pattern, but the explosive tension was still there. In the seventh, Ortiz missed with two successive big rights and fell in behind the missed punch to get tagged by a short right counter. His knees buckled and he had to grab, but fortunately fell into the ropes which got in the way of Alejandro’s attempts to follow up. It was a narrow escape, but enough to gain Ortiz the decision. Lindsey Page scored 75-75, but John Poturaj and Robert Rubnitz each had 76-74 for Stevie. This was not a bad call, despite the two knockdowns against him. He clearly won the second half of the fight plus the first round, with the fourth close.
Joshafat Ortiz, 128 ½, Reading, 7-0 (4), didn’t have the scare of coming off the canvas, but otherwise had his hands full in a good six with Andrew Bentley, 126 ½, Jersey City, 5-4 (1). Bentley is a standup southpaw and a tough guy to fight. Ortiz set the pace and forced the action throughout, relying on the stock method to beat a southpaw, the right lead. Josh showed good poise and picked his punches smartly, while the difficult underdog played ‘possum and tended to lunge in with a surprise attack. By the third, Ortiz was putting left-right combos together. But in the fourth, his nose started to bleed while he again nailed Bentley with lead rights. In the fifth, Ortiz suffered a cut left eye, which his corner loudly blamed on head collisions when Bentley lunged in. Combined with the bloody nose, anyone walking in at this point might have taken Joshafat for the loser, but he was actually controlling the fight and outscoring the tough Bentley. The final round was wild and sloppy, with Joshafat getting the unanimous decision, a shutout from Lynne Carter and 59-55 from Page and Poturaj.
One round knockouts for the favorite look like crap fights on paper, but not on a Peltz show! Latorie Woodberry, 142 ¼, Roanoke, 2-10-2, didn’t bring a threatening record but came to fight against Daiyaan Butt, 140 ¾, Phila., 5-0 (3), in a scheduled six. The underdog came out aggressively and the contest immediately exploded. Both let fire continuously with both hands in a wild blur of punches, but Butt was mixing in body shots and that was critical. Both hands were flying by both fighters, but it was a crushing right under the ribs that collapsed the visitor onto all fours the first time. Adding to the injury, Woodberry was penalized by referee Shawn Clark for spitting out his mouthpiece. Again they mixed all out in a shootout and again Daiyaan finished the job with a crushing right to the body. The TKO came at 2:45 of round one, but fans weren’t cheated on this one.
Genc Pllana, 165 ¾, Hagerstown, MD, 6-1 (3), stopped Jamaal Davis, 164 ¾, a Philly veteran fighting now out of Charlotte, 18-16-1 (7), in 2:28 of the fourth of six. Davis was tough and willing but provided a sparring workout for the “Sexy Albanian”, as Pllana likes to be known. The stocky Davis, a good fighter whose career could have gone better, plodded steadily forward willing to fight. But the years of tough fights have slowed him down and he could never work inside effectively. The loose-limbed and casual Albanian just took target practice, then shut him down on the inside by tying him up. Pllana fought out of a nearly squared and mobile stance, holding hands low and firing at will. Jamaal was repeatedly rocked by both hands but refused to yield. Late in the third, Genc may have been getting frustrated that Jamaal was still there and began living up to his nickname with pelvic gyrations. In the next round, ref Gary Rosato aided Genc’s cause by stopping the fight. Jamaal wasn’t particularly hurt, but just taking cumulative punishment and it was a good stop. After coming out of a clinch and getting popped with a right, the ref pulled the plug. After dressing, Jamaal came back to the ring later in the show, took the mike and in a dignified manner announced his retirement.
Debuting Afunwa King, 173 ¾, a Nigerian fighting out of The Bronx, scored a mild upset belting out Jan Czerklewicz, 173 ½, Warsaw via Berlin…NJ, that is…2-1, at 1:23 of the second of four. Czerklewicz started out trying to make it a boxing match with the jab, but once the muscular Nigerian began bailing out with overhand rights, he took over the contest. Jan was driven back, bombed again and again, and dropped by a short, straight right just inside the 10-second tap. In round two, a sweeping left hook sent Czerklewicz down again, and when he arose, still wanting to fight, referee Clark had a different idea.