Boxing at 2300 Arena
By Jeff Jowett at ringside
Promoting his brains out, Marshall Kauffman ran yet another show, this time at Philadelphia’s premiere club location, the 2300 Arena, on 12/6/19. Lacking a local attraction on top, the show drew only a small crowd, maybe 300. But Russell Peltz was there!
Action didn’t sparkle, and neither did the performances of the young hopefuls. There was one upset, a failed audition, two notably lackluster efforts, and one outright gift. But these kinds of contests separate the chaff while helping the prospects develop against difficult assignments. The show was telecast on Facebook Fight Night Live. Marc Abrams was publicist, Mark Fratto was ring announcer, and Fred Blumstein kept time.
The top bout was an eight between Mykal [sic] Fox, 142 ½, Upper Marlboro, MD, 22-1 (6), and John Arellano, 143, Conroe, TX, 10-2 (9). The underdog’s career has been sporadic and so was his performance this night. He applied pressure to move in on the lanky southpaw favorite to take the first and last, and sleepwalked through the middle six. The tall Fox used his long right jab to keep the listless Arellano at bay and occasionally mixed in a right hook to keep it honest. Mykal got his feet tangled and stumbled early in the third to excite the crowd but nothing much happened thereafter. The underdog took a specious knockdown to liven the fifth. Fox poked out a long right, Arellano tried an ambitious right counter but was too short, missed completely, spun around and went down from what referee Eric Dali ruled a knockdown. The favorite boxed judiciously through the next two and a half rounds before somebody woke up Arellano in time for the eighth. Kevin Morgan scored 78-73, Justin Rubenstein and Lindsey Page 79-72.
This was preceded by the robbery. Genc “The Sexy Albanian” Pllana, 168 ¼, Hagerstown, MD, 7-1-1 (4), despite a good record, was figured to lose against Kalvin Henderson, 167 ½, Fayetteville, AR, 12-0-1 (8).
Somebody forgot to tell Pllana. Genc came out with a loose and lackadaisical style, hands down and throwing junk punches. But throw them he did! And Henderson couldn’t hit him, even though he was right there. Everyone was waiting for Pllana to fold, especially as the muscular favorite looked quite menacing. Henderson landed one jolting left hook late in the first, but Pllana fought right back.
Again in the second, a wild exchange raged to the bell, with Kalvin landing some jolting shots that only ignited Pllana to throw even more and take Henderson’s edge right back. In third, Henderson at last began to include some punches with his trudging forward and appeared to possibly be gaining control. But no, Genc mounted a wild two-handed rally to the bell that put the round up for grabs.
The next two consisted entirely of Genc circling away and popping reckless sidearm punches while Henderson was unable to mount any offense to speak of. Pllana became more aggressive in an action sixth while Kalvin tried to stop the peppering of blows with some serious one-twos, but most missed. The crowd was up early in the seventh after one good straight right by Henderson appeared to have Pllana hurt.
But instead of a defensive shell, Pllana only opened up more and Kalvin’s offense all but disappeared in a hail of blows. Genc circled and popped to take the final round while Henderson seemed confused and dejected. Then came the horrible decision. Morgan nailed it precisely, 79-73 Pllana. But Page and Adam Friscia let down the fans and the sport with 76-76 scores, making the verdict a majority draw. Fellas, boxing should be scored on punches landed and the effects thereof and nothing else! You don’t give style points or credit for ineffectively coming forward. Football isn’t scored by yardage, or baseball by hits, or basketball by rebounds. And boxing should be scored only on punches. Shawn Clark refereed.
Although he’s a good fighter, Marcus Bates, 121 ¾, Wash., DC, 11-1-1 (8), looked anything but in a dull unanimous decision over Francisco Pedroza, 122 ¼, Tijuana, 13-10-2 (7), eight. The compact and solid favorite just followed the underdog around, never putting punches together and just taking what Pedroza gave him instead of making it happen. Pedroza tried a razzle-dazzle attack but merely missed punches against the compact target.
Bates jolted him with a left hook to close the third, then followed him around without finding him in the fourth. Marcus landed some good rights in the fifth. Francisco tried a flurry in the seventh but was jolted by a left hook. Finally in the last round, when Francisco again tried to get something going, Marcus nailed him with a left hook counter but this one was a beauty to the point of the chin and knocked Pedroza onto the seat of his pants. Francisco ran out the round. Page scored 78-73, Rubenstein and Friscia 80-71.
With Peltz watching his new charge at ringside, Shinard Bunch, 147 ¼, Trenton, 5-1 (4), did not impress with a unanimous decision over Vincente Morales, 150 ½, Matamoros, MX, 3-5-2 (2), six. The contest started slowly and failed to gain momentum. Bunch has impressed in previous contests but against the short, squat Mexican, failed to get anything going and just boxed over-cautiously. Morales seemed concerned with his immediate future in the early rounds and just survived. But when he was still there in the third, he began to attack, albeit not very effectively.
This continued into the fourth, until one good left hook discouraged Vincente from any further adventuring. Morales was back on attack in fifth, but hurtling his body and telegraphing the punches, not an effective tactic. Shinard was sharper with short punches. The two tried to make a fight of it in the final round, but there were mostly big misses. Shinard did work the jab and won the round. Friscia scored 58-56, Rubenstein 59-55, and Page 60-54. Peltz left.
In a contest of southpaws, Tyrome Jones, 134 ¼, South Bend, IN, 5-6-1 (2), scored the only official upset when he stopped Shamar Fulton, 134 ½, the only Philly fighter on the show, 4-1-1 (3), in 2:10 of the second of a scheduled six. After a feel-out first, they began to exchange wide open in the second. Fulton was beaten to the punch by a straight left and dropped. He got up ready to fight, but wild swarming followed with Fulton battered down along the ropes. He struggled up shaky and argued vigorously when ref Clark stopped it.
Popular lefty Martino Jules, 129 ¾, Allentown, 8-0 (1), pounded out a one-sided verdict over game Eric Manriquez, 129 ¼, Houston, 7-10-1 (3), six. The hopelessly small underdog hadn’t a clue against the tall, standup favorite in the opening round and was almost boxed to a standstill. By the third, Manriquez was starting to try an attack. Martino squared his deep stance which allowed Eric to move in, but then dropped Manriquez with a sharp left hook. The embarrassed underdog tried to get into the fight with an attack for the rest of the round but was only vigorous, not effective.
The fourth got off to a wild start, Manriquez seemingly trapped in a neutral corner but Jules, a boxer, not a slugger, bailing out wild and sloppy. Action calmed in the fifth, but late, Jules looped the right behind Eric’s neck and brought over a straight left to drop him again, just before the bell. The final round was wild and sloppy, neither effective while tying up and wrestling each other to the canvas. Morgan scored 59-53, Rubenstein and Friscia 60-52. Clark refereed.
Devar Ferhadi, 170 ¼, a Kurdistani fighting out of Frederick, MD, 8-0 (7), opened the show with a TKO of Vincent Baccus, 167 ¼, Okmulgee, OK, 4-1-1 (3), at 1:45 of the fifth of six. The tall, standup Ferhadi established the jab in a feel-out first and had the shorter though physically fit Baccus moving away. A burst of exchanging in the second saw Ferhadi getting the better of it. Baccus began to land some counters and had a better third. Ferhadi tried to regain control with a late rally. Devar had a better fourth, landing a big right at start and then left hooks off decoy rights. In fateful fifth, Baccus went to a knee in a neutral corner for a knockdown although the punches, a poking left and glancing right, didn’t look like much. But Ferhadi coolly and calmly worked him over at length until Baccus was merely surviving and not fighting back. A solid right drilled him and Dali took the signal to stop the fight.