most photos by: Tony Gargano / www.pixgargano.com
For the first time in 2009, it was fight night in Philly. After almost 6 weeks of inactivity in this town, it was finally time to watch the pros throw down. The venue was the fabled fight hall on the corner of Swanson & Ritner, the one and only New Alhambra. But this particular event had a mysterious air about it for weeks. On a typical fight night here, fans would come to see a card by the Fairmount Hall of Fame boxing promoter, J. Russell Peltz. This time around, I knew that I wouldn’t be greeted by a smiley lady with the cool hat or a witty comment contradicting a statement made on this site. That was a given.
On this night, it was Greg Robinson and his newly formed Xtreme Productions running the show. That’s cool, he is a known promoter in these parts, but people were asking, why him? why here? why now? Those were the burning questions asked by those who cough up their hard earned cash to pay the steep ticket fees. Something was up but nobody was talking. Omerta…Philly boxing style… Gotta love it.
After a long wait in the frigid wind, I finally made it to the box office window. I made my acquaintance with two new pleasant ladies handing out the media bracelets. So far, so good and was sent inside. After a being on the wrong end of an extensive security search that would have snagged a jailhouse balloon runner red-handed, I was eventually granted full access and free to roam my longtime favorite venue.
Immediately I noticed the naked walls. The life sized banners displaying images of yester-years Philly boxing fight icons were nowhere to be seen. Instead of Bennie Briscoe and Joey Giardello, all that remained were a few flags carrying on the legacies of former ECW Arena icons like Terry Funk and “Flyboy” Rocco Rock. Once I found my seat in press row, word around the ring was that the gym is the back was just about empty. Then it all came together in one fell swoop. It was announced that Xtreme Production (formerly known as Power Productions) is moving in for good.
No more Oaks, no more Armory, this is home and they plan on being here to stay…exclusively. The plot thickens and the saga continues so stay tuned. It is bound to get deeper.
Overall it was a solid kick off to a new year as promoter Greg Robinson and matchmaker Ty McNeil collaborated for a 5 fight card in their new home.
Jr. Middleweight Division
Derek “Pooh” Ennis…vs…Clarence “Sonny Bono” Taylor
Philadelphia, PA…………..Wilmington, DE
16-2, 12ko’s……………………12-19, 6ko’s
The housewarming party was highlighted by PA State & USBA regional Jr. middleweight title holder Derek Ennis (17-2, 12ko’s) who continued his resurrection towards national Jr. Middleweight status with a clear cut 8 round unanimous decision over late replacement journeyman Clarence “Sonny Bono” Taylor (12-20, 6ko’s) in the main event.
Before the fight some were saying that if Bono didn’t give a good showing, it was a strong possibility that State Athletic Director Greg Sirb might pull his boxing card. Ennis won every round from the 3rd on but Bono lives to fight another day as he kept it competitive through out as he kept his promise to fight for the memory of his trainer who was tragically murdered just last week .
The determination was there and he was an aggressive initiator, it wasn’t enough to handle the speed and slickness of Ennis who consistently used Bono’s awkwardness against him, setting up traps along the ropes, counter punching effectively and using the ring to his advantage. Bono did have his moments and occasionally landed some good punches, in particular the 6th when he got Ennis attention with a hard right hook.
Overall, Ennis skill set was too tall a task to overcome. The fight eventually went the distance and the scorecards read 79 – 73 & 78 – 74 x 2. Look for Ennis to step it up significantly soon.
Jr. Welterweight Division
Lenny DeVictoria…vs…Ryan Belasco
Philadelphia, PA…………Wilmington, DE
11-12-1, 3KO’s……………8-2-3, 3KO’s
The co-feature was thought it be a nice piece of competitive match making. Instead it turned out to be the last hurrah of a proven Philly ring warrior as Delaware’s Ryan Belasco (9-2-3, 3ko’s) saw little resistance in his fight against Lenny DeVictoria (11-13-1, 3ko’s), ending things midway through the second round with a few body shots followed by a single right hand which surprisingly kept his opponent on a knee for the full 10 count.
Some say it was a very good right hand, some say it was a long list of ring wars catching up. Soon after the bout, it was announced that this was to be the last time Lenny will lace up the gloves as his team noticed a steady decline in performance over the past few fights.
One chapter of Lenny’s life closes and another opens as he plans on getting his CDL license for a new career in the trucking industry. Congrats and thanks for Lenny for making the right move and giving us so many good fights.
Also, Congrats to Belasco on a very good win. Speculation of an 8 – 10 round Belasco – Tyric Robinson fight were swarming soon after. That could arguably be a state title fight…..
Lou Rodriguez…vs…Ray Ellis
Philadelphia, PA……Philadelphia, PA
PRO DEBUT…………PRO DEBUT
Philly Rumbler Lou Rodriguez (1-0) grinded out a majority decision win in his pro debut against a fellow ring rookie Ray Ellis (0-1) in a very entertaining 4 round welterweight contest. Rodriguez sported an ankle bracelet, a fast set of hands a pretty good chin. Ellis, an aspiring chef and student at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, showed a big heart and applied a lot of pressure as these two went at it for all four rounds.
Rodriguez was in control early, winning the first two rounds with a nice blend of combinations to the head and ability to avoid trouble as Ellis pressed forward. The tide changed in the 3rd as Ellis consistent pressure allowed him to storm back in the fight, having a big round as he found a way to break through Rodriguez defense and land some good punches of his own upstairs.
It was anyone’s fight down the stretch and both fought for the win in a 4th round that saw good moments for both fighters as Ellis fought through a leaking mouth and Rodriguez overcoming early fight jitters.
It went to the cards which read 39 – 37 x 2 for Rodriguez with the final judge saying it was even at 38-38. Let’s see both of these guys again against different foes!
Ronald Cruz……….vs………Joel Rios
Phoenixville,PA…………….Philly via Puerto Rico
Jimmy DeOria’s latest charge Ronald Cruz (1-0) showed some spark in his 4 rounder against a tough Joel Rios (1-5) in a 4 round welterweight battle. Cruz looked very sharp when he fought on the outside, putting strings of combos together. Rios did leave some marks too, especially when they fought in the inside. Activity was the difference here as Cruz was the one who threw most and overall was the sharper of the two.
If any young fighter is looking for a test early in their career, give Rios a call, he showed he can last under heavy fire and keep on coming. But, at 32 years old, his team feels it may be in his best interest to leave this sport to the young guys.
On the other hand, Cruz, if he calms down a bit a lets the fight start coming to him, he could be a guy to watch out for in the future.
Kamarah Pasley….vs…Cullen Rogers
Philadelphia, PA………..Akron, Ohio
In Cruiserweight action, Kamarah Pasley (1-3, 1ko) got that elusive first win with a second round knockout over Cullen Rogers (9-23-2, 5ko’s) . Pasley was able to land good leather and dig deep hooks into the awkward Rogers all night. Pasley dropped Rogers with a left early in round 2, then continued the assault when his opponent got up. Rogers didn’t go back down but offered nothing in return leaving referee Shawn Clark no option but to stop it.
Congrats to Pasley, a guy who never gave up on his dream of getting that W! Keep your eyes open because word is that Pasley is signed up to fight again on January 31st against Pedro Martinez at South Philly high school! Can he make it 2 in a row? We will see!
Comments or suggestions you can email Philly Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to www.phillykeith.com for up to the minute info on the Philly boxing scene