Philly boxing 2008… overall it was another good year but in the same breath it has to mentioned that there was a significant drop off in the amount of action as only 17 professionally sanctioned cards happened in this year. Most nights were solid though we did have a few duds and also a few memorable barn burners. Through my eyes, there was no clear cut fight of the year winner in 2008 so I will not designate one particular match. Instead, I will highlight some of the best performances of the year. As always, it is open to discussion, feel free to comment if you agree, disagree, omissions etc. At some point in 2009, www.phillyboxinghistory.com will give out the Briscoe Awards which will recognize one fight as the best of ’08. Visit the site and cast a vote there if you wish.
Without further ado, I give you the Philly Keith Sports 2008 nominees for Fight of the Year!
Rasheem Brown vs. Jameel Wilson – 4/18/08 @ The National Guard Armory
This 10 round Super Middleweight fight capped off the most action packed boxing card in Philly for the year 2008. The state title was on the line and the then newly signed Rasheem Brown was thought to be put in prime position for a career push after recently returning from a lengthy layoff. Wilson on the other hand did not come to lay down. Brown started strong and it looked to be an easy night but Wilson came alive taking the middle rounds and both men went toe to toe down the stretch to cap off a non stop action bout. The only disappointment in this one came outside of the ring, as 3 blind judges scored only one round for Wilson on the offical cards while everyone in press row agreed that this fight was even money that could have gone either way. Regardless of the outcome, this fight proved once again that when you match two Philly fighters against each other, the fans are always in for a treat!
Ryan Belasco vs. Victor Vasquez 5/11/08 @ The New Alhambra
Coming into this fight, Delaware’s Ryan Belasco was looking to erase the stink of three consecutive sub par performances and Philly’s Victor Vasquez was taking his first real test against an area known fighter with a record above .500. While most thought it was a solid fight when it was announced, few expected to be treated to such an action packed rumble. It was give and take with Belasco carrying a slight lead as he was able to effectively box the non stop Vasquez. Belasco’s non stop jabbing caused Vasquez left eye to swell like a ballon, leaving the referee no option but to stop the fight and the commission no choice but to order a 6 month medical suspension. Vasquez is back, medically cleared to fight and wants a rematch “sooner, rather than later”. I have a feeling that Russell Peltz will be putting this together very soon.
Gee Cullmer vs. Jameel Wilson @ The Legendary Blue Horizon 9/16/08
When this one was signed, you just knew it would be a close fight. At the time, Gee recently pulled out a few tight majority decision wins while Wilson was on the wrong end of a quite a few razor thin decisions. In this one, Gee put on a boxing clinic early, Wilson showed his grit in the middle and final rounds were tooth and nail. Fittingly, this fight could have gone either way and ended in a majority decision for Cullmer who after the fight earned the designation of PA’s #1 Super Middleweight contender slot by the state athletic commission. Click the link to watch this fight in its entirety on Go Fight Live.
Mario Mina vs. Pedro Calla @ The Legendary Blue Horizon 4/11/08
Two fighters who learned their craft half a world away came to Philadelphia to make their pro debut and in the process put on a 4 round Blue Horizon classic. Mina of Ecquador was said to be a former amateur star and Peru’s Pedro Calla was no slouch either. This was a wild, two way leatherfest that ended with Calla splattered across the canvas mid way through the final round, much to the delight of the fans, who gave both men a standing ovation when the dust finally settled. Watch this fight in its entirety on Go Fight Live
On a national level, recognition goes to Steve “USS” Cunningham, who may have lost his IBF Cruiserweight title, but in the same breath won over millions of fight fans for his show of heart against Tomasz Adamek live on Versus. Cunningham won a lions share of the rounds but was also knocked down 3 times in this non stop slug fest between two of the worlds best. A rematch just has to be in order. The TV demand and money will be there you can be assured of that. The only liability here is if Adamek decided to hide.
Bernard Hopkins vs. Kelly Pavlik
Last but certainly not least, recognition has to be given to Philly’s main representative in the sport of boxing, Bernard Hopkins for his one sided spanking of Kelly Pavlik over 12 rounds in a fight where next to no one was giving him a shot in hell to win. Once again, people were saying he was too old or he was slowing down just as they did before his fight against Antonio Tarver and even before that in his fight against Felix Trinidad. On this night, B-Hop reminded the world that it is a terrible mistake to under estimate the Germantown native.
It was a show that may go into the history books as Power Promotions finest hour. Promoter Greg Robinson and matchmaker Ty McNeil upped the anti with five, high-stakes fights at the National Guard Armory in North East Philadelphia. There was a nice mix of Philly vs. Philly fights, a 12 round main event with a world rating and legitimate regional title hanging in the balance to go along with fights featuring legitimate up-and-coming prospects. On paper the card looked really good. In the arena, it was even better as every fight on the card proved something memorable.
This is the type of boxing fans want to see – good tough fights that are even money. The stands were packed and new announcer Chad Beene was on the microphone for this highly anticipated night of pro boxing in Northeast Philly.
The main event matched two polar opposite fighters who were able to position themselves for a title fight in completely different manners.
North Philly’s Rashiem “Rich and Famous” Jefferson had a highly decorated amateur career. He won tournaments and traveled the globe while perfecting his craft.
Since transitioning to the pro game, the 25-year-old came equip with a team that carefully guided his every move. “Rell” quickly secured promotional deals and was given the right fights at the right time in hopes of making a push towards the divisions elite. Many in Philadelphia consider him one of the best pure boxers in the city.
In the other corner, it is safe to say that Jose Hernandez could have been accurately billed as “Broke and Unknown”. Hernandez was thrown to the wolves early and often during the course of his career. It is the brutal road of unheralded journeyman fighting for scraps and trying to make his way out of the ancient Aztec land of Cuernavaca Morelos, Mexico.
Hernandez never had an easy fight, earned his stripes in the professional ranks fighting only the up and comers with the potential to reach championship levels. One shouldn’t have been fooled by his lackluster record.
Sometimes he won, sometimes he lost. This night was a familiar scene in his young career, traveling into his opponents hometown to take on a fighter looking to become the divisions shining star. This time, the stakes were higher than any other fight either man had faced in their career, the USBA featherweight title was on the line and the winner was guaranteed a top 15 ranking in the world after this one.
Hernandez entered the ring first, with three men by his side, proudly holding their native Mexican flag. Coming in last was Jefferson who arrived with a deep entourage and heavy odds in his favor. It was obvious who the majority of the near sell out crowd was rooting for.
Once the opening bell sounded, a fight that was expected to be a boxing display broke down into a back alley punch fest. Hernandez, knowing his only shot of winning was to score a knockout, applied pressure from the get go. Jefferson, whose primary weapons are his pure boxing ability and ring generalship, decided to make this one a war. The fight was on from the early going and both men stood toe-to-toe exchanging combinations at close quarters, neither man allowing the other any time to breathe.
Hernandez applied pressure from a southpaw stance, walking forward and get right into the kitchen – firing off two, three and four punch combinations to his opponents body and head. Jefferson, showing he is not afraid of a good fight despite his background as the boxer / mover type, hung in the pocket, took Hernandez best shots and fire back in return.
This was the theme of the entire 12 rounds of the fight. While Jefferson showed he was game, Hernandez offense began to wear his opponent down as the fight drew longer. In the 6th, two straight lefts followed by a good push put Jefferson on the canvas for the 1st time as a pro. The Philly fighter beat the count, and continued to fire away but in return took more hard clean punches.
There were more spots where both men went toe to toe but it was evident that there was no stopping Hernandez in this one. He seemed hungier, more determined to get the win.
Behind on the scorecards, Jefferson continued to show the heart of a lion, taking good, clean punches and responding by throwing flurries of his own in the center of the ring.
As the fight reached the championship rounds, Hernandez looked to have the same energy from when the fight started while Jefferson looked to gas out. That didn’t stop Jefferson from giving it his all.
Mid way through the 12th and final round, Jefferson, fighting out of desperation and throwing punches with everything he had, collapsed face first more from exhaustion than punishment.
He was unable to beat the 10 count.
Hernandez fell to his knees and wept tears of joy, realizing the moment he has worked so hard for has finally arrived. After all of the long journeys, lousy fight accommodations and crooked politics of the game, he has overcome the long odds and is now recognized by a known sanctioning body as a champion.
Even in loss, take nothing away from Rashiem Jefferson, he gave every last bit of energy he had in that ring. Hopefully, he will rebound and go on to fight another day.
Winner by 12th round knockout – Jose Hernandez who improves to 11 – 6, 5ko’s
Tri State Super Middleweight Title Fight!
Rasheem Brown…..vs…..Jameel Wilson
South Philly…………………..West Oak Lane,.Philly
18- 3, 16ko’s…………13 – 11- 3, 8ko’s
This was an interesting fight in its own right. In one corner was Rasheem “The Untouchable” Brown, a once highly regarded prospect who fell on hard times due to a management deal gone wrong. After sitting out the remainder of that suspect deal, Brown became a free agent and recently signed with the local duo of Moz Gonzalez and Eddie Woods. He has since become a featured attraction on recent Power Productions cards.
In January of this year, Brown came back to the ring after 2 years on the bench and quickly knocked out known tough guy Jose Medina at The Legendary Blue Horizon.
On the strength of that win, he earned a crack at the newly created “Tri-State” Super Middleweight title. The Philly “Insiders” placed heavy odds on a Brown KO win and predicted that this would be the start of a run towards bigger and better things in the boxing world.
His opponent in this contest was Jameel “Black Gold” Wilson from the West Oak Lane section of the city. “Goldie” is another Philly fighter who came out of the gate blazing early in his career, going 10 – 0 on the local circuit before taking his talents to the next level. But the good times never last and his record also fell on hard times.
On paper, it shows that Wilson hasn’t won a bout since 2004. What the ink doesn’t reflect is that Wilson has been part of some of the most legendary Philly fights over the past decade.
Most recently it was a debated draw against Delaware’s Richard Stewart, In 2005 he went to war with the world ranked LuJuan Simon only to lose a majority decision. There are others but the bottom line is, if Jameel Wilson is on the card you want to be in the crowd if you are a fight fan.
This fight started looking like it would be an easy night for “Sheem”. Through 3 rounds, he came in hard, attacked the body, threw powerful over hand rights upstairs, popped off a strong jab while
Wilson stayed on the retreat, trying to fend off his attacker to no avail. Brown was much faster and it seemed, much stronger too. But Wilson, the ever crafty veteran, was able to survive the attack. He took some good shots but still had the sense to do something that not a whole lot of fighters do – which is actually listen to his corner.
When backed into the turnbuckle his corner would yell “get tight”. Wilson would quickly cover up, absorb a few power shots with his gloves and elbows, then slip out of the dangerous position.
Going into the 4th, it looked like it was going to be a long night for Wilson, but towards the end of the round, he landed a big overhand right which rocked Brown. “The Untouchable” got touched and staggered back to the ropes. Wilson smelled the blood and wasted no time trying to seal the deal throwing big overhand rights, stepping back, giving himself space, placing lefts to the body followed by more rights, referee Ron Aurit was in the two point stance ready to jump in to stop it.
Though Brown was stunned, he dug deep and was able to fire back with a big right hand that brushed Wilson off, giving himself some breathing room and eventually allowing him to escape the round.
After that, the war was on and the hammers were flying. Unlike previous rounds, it was now Wilson in the role of attacker, coming forward as Brown circled but stopping to throw overhand rights with home run power. The action was back and forth, Brown would land heavy rights and lefts, Wilson would respond with an attack of his own.
Rounds 6 – 9 played out this way, Brown going for the kill, Wilson working the body in an attempt to set up his own finisher. Both were connecting at a high rate, the crowd was on their feet screaming for a knockout. At some point during the ruckus, Wilson hurt his ankle, he fought with a noticeable limp as each round passed.
Going into the 10th, many thought this one was up for grabs and both fighters came out with the same thoughts. Win this round and you win the fight. Brown gained the upper hand early landing some bombs on the steel chinned Wilson.
Shaken – but by no means done – Wilson returned the favor and both fighters went at it in a good tough round. It turned into a bit of a wrestling match in the final minute, Brown in a clinch bought himself much needed time by tripping a gimpy Wilson causing a tumble that took both fighters on the canvas. This tactic ran the clock down to about :20 ticks. The action resumed but both fighters were standing when it went to the scorecards.
As previously mentioned, many thought it was a close fight. Unfortunately, the three people who really matter when it comes to a boxing decision saw it completely different. All three judges outrageously scored the bout 99 – 91 in favor of Rasheem “the Untouchable” Brown. I saw it closer to a draw with a coupel rounds that could have gone either way.
Wilson left the ring with a stoic look, replaying a scenario that has been the recent theme of his career, hard work with no reward.
Like true warriors, both embraced after the match with no hard feeling – it was a matter of respect, Philly boxing style! Now let’s talk about a rematch…
Winner by unanimous decision – “The Untouchable” Rasheem Brown who improves to 19 – 3, 16ko’s. Brown currently ranks #2 on my latest Philly top 10 “pound-for-pound” list of local fighters competing in small venues around our area.
Due to circumstances outside of the ring with previous scheduled fights falling out, matchmaker Ty McNeil pulled one off the Philly Keith dream card and signed a fight pitting two of the more action packed local fighters against each other.
Lenny “The Hitman” DeVictoria recently resurrecting a staggering career, winning his last two fights in action packed fashion.
The first of win is regarded as the 2007 Philly Fight of the Year when he stopped previously undefeated Elad Schmuel at the Legendary Blue Horizon.
Prior to the Schmuel fight, Lenny spent a lot of time taking short notice bouts in other prospects hometowns. Quick money to feed the family, but it always left him with the short end of the stick.
Now-a-days, Lenny’s team said they rededicated themselves to the sport. After a coupel of wins, he is inching back into position to earn bigger paydays and possibly move their way into the world rankings.
His opponent, Tyric “Too Sweet” Robinson has come to be known as a fighter with a bit of a split ring personality. When faced with a legitimate challenge, he puts out a 110% effort and can steal a show. Late last year going against the toughest opponent of his career, Too Sweet went to war and came out on top in a thrilling slug fest over Utah’s Chris Fernandez.
But in his follow up performance, he dropped the ball and lost a rather lazy decision to the very non-descript Jason Jordan. After that fight, Too Sweet was quoted as saying “I’m tired of fighting these bums”. It has always been my opinion that Too Sweet fights to the level of his competitor, and on this night he would need to bring his A game because he was in with a guy who has seen and done a lot in the game and with the title on the line, was ready to put it all out there.
Prior to this fight, it was safe to say that it was a do-or-die situation in the young career of Too Sweet. Another loss would drop him out of the conversation of being a legitimate threat.
The locals who knew both fighters were predicting an all out war. When the bell sounded, the fans were treated to a very good, technically sound boxing match.
“Too Sweet” took the lead through three, jabbing, being the ring general and firing off well placed body shots in varieties of two, three and four punch combinations.
Lenny was like an old Voltswagon in the winter. It took a little while to get warmed up, but once the engine started to sweat, it was ready to run all night.
Lenny began to cut into the lead in the 4th, and in the 5th, he began to make Robinson miss. At the end of the round, Lenny connected with a crackling overhand right which sent Robinson wobbling into a corner. Tasting the win, Lenny wasted no time following up with lefts and rights to the head. Referee Shawn Clarke was in position and had the hawk-eye on Too Sweet, itching to make a leap and call a halt to the bout.
Fortunately for Robinson,the bell sounded to end the round as Lenny went back to his corner to a big greeting from his corner man Billy Briscoe.
The Hitman was like a wolf in the 6th, firing off power shots trying to recapture his advantage of the previous round. Towards the end of the round “Too Sweet” was able to rebound but it wasn’t enough to capture this round.
It was a dead even through 6 round, but as the fight wore on “Too Sweet” was able to retake the lead, reestablishing his role as initiator moving, jabbing, ripping off combinations. When the opportunity was right, he played the role of bully forcing the fight to the ropes.
By the 9th, Lenny was wearing the Crimson Mask of blood courtesy of a Robinson right hook to the nose. Bloodied but not battered, he continued to make a fight out of it and both men went toe to toe. Too Sweet threw in volume, Lenny looked for the one big head shot to close the show.
The 10th and final round was a very good one, Lenny, knowing he was behind on the cards looked for the knockout but Too Sweet wasn’t having it. He would neutralize the Hitman’s attack by forcing him to the ropes, working the body and not letting him breath.
It eventually went to the score cards with all three judges seeing it 98 – 92, 97-93 & 96 – 94, proclaiming Tyric “Too Sweet” Robinson as the new USBA regional Jr. Welterweight Champion. Welcome back to the top 10 pound for pound list Too Sweet! A hard fought win in a very steady contest, proving their worthy of dream card status.
Winner by unanimous decision – Tyric “Too Sweet” Robinson who improves to 9-2, 3 ko’s
Light Heavyweight Division
Tony Ferrante….vs….Ray Ruiz
Philly Keith Sports has inched its way to the top by being the voice of the boxing people, giving anyone and everyone involved an place to air it all out. For months, Ray Ruiz was calling out for an opportunity to fight an young up-and-comer from Mayfair, making claims of one sided sparring sessions and how it would all carry over once to the big stage if ever given the chance.
On this night, Ruiz aka “The 40-year-old Phenom” got what he asked for and big price for calling someone out. A single Tony “Boom-Boom” Ferrante right hand most likely ended Ruiz career as a paid professional.
After a solid first round, Boom-Boom landed the money shot early in the second round, knocking Ruiz straight back to the canvas. He was went down and his head bounced off the canvas like a basketball. This created a scary scene which kept the fighter down for more than 5 minutes, in need of a stretcher ride out.
In all seriousness, we hope the best for the man who is also known as “The Superstar” and have some work for him in the Philly Keith media stable if he ever wants to help generate fight hype. Fortunately he was not seriously injured.
Jr. Welterweight Division
Ray Robinson…vs…Jason Jordan
This fight was intended to be a showcase for a prospect who is regarded as having potential to really go places in his career. Jordan on the other hand, pays the rent by keeping his bags packed and traveling from town to town facing rising prospects and usually going home with an L.
BUT, last time in Philly, Jordan pulled off a shocker, taking a unanimous decision from Tyric Robinson. Would lightening strike twice? Absolutely not. Robinson came out of the gate blazing, scoring three knockdowns in the first round – all courtesy of left hands to the head.
To Jordan’s credit, he fought his way out of trouble, and instead of getting hit with a long medical suspension that comes with a knockout loss, he hung on to finish the bout on his feet and even managed to win the last round as Robinson grew more disinterested.
“The New” Ray Robinson showed he does have a good skill package but must learn to stay focused. Jordan, keeps his rep as a durable fighter who will give a guy rounds intact and will probably be fighting again in some small arena in parts unknown two or three weeks from now.
Winner – “The New” Ray Robinson who improves to 8 -0, 3 ko’s