On February 27, 2016 – it was a hostile city showdown at Madison Square Garden where boxing fans from all walks of life formed one of the most malicious boxing environments I ever been apart of.
I have to admit – this was one of my best trips of covering fights at The Mecca of Boxing! This is how a world title fight should feel. At the end of the day, security did a very good job at keeping the loud crowd in check and the fans themselves kept it at a certain level, not resorting to non-sense that could ruin a good event.
This hot-ticket event was centered around a long winded showdown between WBC Jr. Welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford and long-time fringe contender Hammerin’ Hank Lundy. But the two main attractions can’t take all of the credit for this sell out crowd. A strong contingent of Puerto Rican and Irish fans also put their money down to join the surprising number of Nebraska based fans who came to show that people from their city are “about that life”.
The Philly fans were also definitely in the house though seemingly scattered across the 5,000 seat theater as opposed to united in large flocks.
This past Saturday night, Wladimir Klitschko and Bryant “By-By” Jennings had the attention of the boxing world. Over 1.7 million people tuned in to HBO, making it the highest rated TV boxing event in the past three years. People from around the globe came out for a Heavyweight title fight at Madison Square Garden, creating an atmosphere that was nothing short of electric when it came time for the main event. For some, it was an opportunity to see Klitschko fight on US soil for the first time in over seven years. For others, it was a night to see if Jennings could become Philly’s first Heavyweight champion in 30 years.
The Philly Keith Sports crew made the 90-mile trek to Midtown Manhattan to cover one of the more anticipated Heavyweight fights in years. The ring walks alone made it a night to remember. While the action in the ring fell a little short of expectations, it did give surprising glimpse into the future of both contestants. Before I get into specifics, treat yourself to this eight minute video of the introductions to get a feel for how lively MSG was for this title bout.
It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Jennings who becomes only the 4th local born Heavyweight to challenge for the most important crown in boxing. Out of all who tried, “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon is the only Philadelphia born Heavyweight to bring home the belt.
This is a tall challenge, figuratively and literally for the 30-year-old Jennings. Despite a 3 inch height and 20+ pound weight disadvantage, Jennings is very confident that he will leave the Garden victorious. Vegas isn’t so sure, putting long odds on “BY-BY” pegging him in the neighborhood of a 10-1 underdog. Regardless of the odds, you must give kudos to a fighter who entered the sport at age 24 with no amateur experience. It took him less than 20 pro fights to make it to make it to the top of the boxing world.
The reigning champ Wladimir Klitschko, of Kiev Ukraine, is on a whole other level from what Jennings has faced in the past. “Dr. Steel Hammer” stands in the line of boxing’s All-Time Great Heavyweight Champions. Klitschko’s 14+ year professional career has seen great highs along and rebounds from epic setbacks. He currently rides the wave of a 10 year winning streak which equates to the longest reign as a heavyweight champion (17 wins and counting) since the great Joe Louis set the record with 25 wins in-a-row in 1950.
On the flip side – Klitschko has suffered three knockout losses to fighters who rate below the elite level. His liable chin and early career stamina issues led to a change in style that is considered less-than-appealing for some fans of the sport. Since linking up with Emmanuel Stewart in 2005, he made stylistic adjustments which led to this tremendous run.
The major question is can a smaller Heavyweight withstand Wladimir’s distinguishable size, strength and experience advantages? Can the thinking fighter Jennings step it up to be more aggressive – a strategy many feel is necessary to blow through Klitschko’s cautious, calculated approach?
A big turnout is expected for this event. Jennings has a loyal following planning bus trips for the 90 mile trek to MSG. American and European fans will definitely turn out for Klitschko’s first appearance in the USA since 2008.
This event is presented by K2 Promotions and Klitschko Management Group in association with Gary Shaw Productions, tickets priced at $1000, $600, $300, $200 and $100 can be purchased through the Madison Square Garden Box Office, www.TheGarden.com and www.Ticketmaster.com.
Take a few minutes to check a video I created back in 2009. This is the first interview of Bryant Jennings career.
Rogers Mtagwa tried his hardest but in the end Yuriorkis Gamboa’s speed led to a 2nd round TKO at Madison Square Garden. Garrett Wilson gave a game effort in his fight against the 6’6″ Carlos Negron but the scorecards did not read in his favor when it was all said and done. We’ll get ’em next time…
South Philly’s Rogers “The Tiger” Mtagwa (26-13-2, 18ko’s) has reached the top of the mountain, now there is only one thing left to do…. and that is WIN! After years of crawling and scrapping, Mtagwa gets the fight of a lifetime as he is set to do battle with the darling of the sport, Yuriorkis Gamboa (16-0, 14ko’s) of Cuba over a scheduled 12 rounds for the WBA World Featherweight title. This contest will be held at Madison Square Garden in NYC and will also be broadcast live around the world on HBO on Jan 23, 2010.
Mtagwa comes into this fight as a 14 – 1 betting underdog according to the Vegas line. The network is using him as a steppingstone towards a unification bout between Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez, a fighter whom Mtagwa took to the limit in a losing effort back in October of ’09. Mtagwa has been in war after war after war and can always be counted on to give the crowd it value. He will need everything in his arsenal to pull off this victory. While Gamboa has a skill set as good an anyone in the game, he is hittable and has been on the canvas on multiple occasions. Mtagwa can ill afford to wait until round 7 to warm up, he must attack early and often. If he does, Philly could have a new world champion in their midst!
On the untelevised undercard, North Philly based road warrior Garrett Wilson (7-2, 2ko’s) again goes into enemy territory. His foe is undefeated Cruiserweight Carlos Negron (6-0, 5ko’s), a former Olympian for Puerto Rico. In Wilson’s last bout he upset the 2006 US Amateur Champion Adam Willett.
The final result said the winner was Juan Manuel Lopez (27-0, 24 KOs) , but it is the rally Rogers Mtagwa (25-13-2, 18 KOs) staged down the stretch that has the boxing world buzzing, with many calling him “true Philly fighter” for almost pulling off the upset of the century multiple times during the 12 round WBO Super Featherweight title match at Madison Square Garden on October 10, 2009. Mtagwa gave away all of the early rounds as Lopez boxed but JML made the fatal mistake of fighting on the inside with The Tiger and almost paid dearly. Mtagwa’s missile like right hands had Lopez was out on his feet at one point and JML was beaten around the ring in the 12th as Mtagwa looked to seal the deal. To Lopez credit, he hung on under heavy fire to reach the final bell. All judges saw the fight for Lopez, judge Kevin Morgan scored it 114-113 but gave the final six rounds to Mtagwa. The difference coming in a 10-8 fifth round in which Mtagwa went down from a right hand. Carlos Ortiz (116-111) gave Mtagwa four of the final five rounds, and Steve Weisfeld (115-111) gave Mtagwa the last three rounds, including a 10-8 margin in the 12th.
In a losing effort, Rogers Mtagwa finally gets the world wide respect that he deserves. At the same time, he walloped a lot of luster off the name of Juan Manuel Lopez. If these TV execs have any brains, they will showcase Mtagwa on PPV cards on a regular basis
It is official, South Philly’s Rogers “The Tiger” Mtagwa finally gets his shot at a world title when he takes on red hot prospect Juan Manuel Lopez for the WBO 122lb belt on Oct10 at Madison Square Garden in NYC. In a career filled with wild brawls, upset wins, bad losses and robberies, Rog has seen, hit and been hit even more. He throws caution to the wind and defense out the window which makes him on of the most TV friendly fighters in the business.
Though Mtagwa has been in some classics and ranks in a few sanctioning bodies top 15 lists, Lopez promoter Top Rank seems to think of The Tiger just as a showcase to set up a really big fight with Lopez & Gamboa.
Does the Tiger have a shot in this one? Could be a good action fight but I def think someone is getting KO’d in this one. This will be televised as part of a Latin Fury pay-per-view. More info to come.
New York City! There is nowhere in the world like it. On November 11, 2006, I took a weekend trip to the Big Apple for one last getaway of the year. The primary focus was a Heavyweight title fight at “The Mecca of Boxing” between IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko (46-3, 41 KOs) of Kiev, Ukraine taking on undefeated contender Calvin Brock (28-0)of Charlotte, North Carolina.
This fight would mark the younger Klitschko’s first defense of a title he won in April of this year when he administered a one-sided beating to then-champion Chris Byrd.
It was a highly anticipated contest and many fans in the near capacity crowd were waving the flag of the Ukraine inside of Madison Square Garden.
Boxing fans ans celebrities took turns making chants of “Klitschko, Klitschko” to “USA! USA!” throughout the evening.
Longtime promoter Don King kicked off the 2006 fight season at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden, with a 10 bout card built around Ring Magazine’s 147 lb champion Zab Judah in the Main Event. His assignment was – no lie – a feather duster salesman from Santa Fe, Argentina. A fight that was designed to be a showcase turned into a disaster for the undisputed champ.
Instead of getting blown out early as most “experts” predicted, the unknown Carlos Baldomir shocked the world by earning a unanimous 12 round decision victory over the champion in front of a very pro Judah crowd. The Brooklyn native entered the fight a 16 – 1 favorite and in line for a mega bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. He left without his titles, a bruised reputation and a thin bank account. It was obvious from the beginning that Judah completely underestimated the lightly regarded Baldomir. The end result was turning in the worst performance of his career. Continue reading 16-to-1 underdog Carlos Baldomir shocks Zab Judah at Madison Square Garden to become Welterweight champion→