Category Archives: Top Rank Boxing

Jason Sosa knocks out Fortuna in the 11th to win the WBA featherweight title in China

Despite long odds – and an even longer plane ride – Camden, New Jersey native Jason Sosa used a lethal left hook to defy the critics and non believers, knocking out world champion Javier Fortuna in round 11 to win the WBA featherweight title at the Capital Gym in Beijing, China.

The betting line was as high as 17-to-1 in favor of the Premier Boxing Champions signee Fortuna before bell time. Sensing a worthwhile long shot, savvy gamblers put a lot of late money on Sosa which dropped the line near 7-to-1 when the fight began.

The fight was so remote that there was no TV broadcast or internet streams for this show which happened at 10 AM Eastern Time. It was the perfect setting for a modern day boxing upset.

Multiple reports suggest that it was a come from behind knockout for Sosa, a fighter who was developed in the Peltz boxing fold.  The New Jersey native was knocked to the canvas in round five and was likely down on all scorecards as the fight headed into the championship rounds.

Sources say a late Sosa adjustment turned the tide. Kicking up the intensity, “Canito” knocked Fortuna down in round 10, and then finished the job less than three minutes later, closing the show at the 0:45 mark of round 11.

With the victory Sosa improves to 19-1-4, 15 KOs while the former champ Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna suffers his first career loss, falling to 29-1-1, 21 KOs.

Congrats to Team Sosa, Peltz Boxing and Top Rank Boxing  on the outstanding victory on the other side of the globe. This win ends a long losing streak for local fighters competing at the championship level of the sport.

Team Sosa


Hank Lundy to face Bud Crawford at MSG on February 27, 2016

On February 27, 2016 –  Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc and HBO Boxing return to the Mecca of Boxing with a show designed to introduce 140 pound WBO Champion Terence Crawford (27-0, 19 ko’s) to the East Coast fight fans. This is a big step in catapulting the popular fighters into PPV status. Standing in his way is long-time prospect / contender Hank Lundy (26-5-1, 13 ko’s) of Philadelphia. Many experts around the country feel that this will be easy work for the fighter known as “Bud”.  To put it in perspective – Vegas odds makers list Crawford a whopping 34-to-1 favorite.

Someone forgot to send Lundy the memo that he is the opponent. The 32-year-old switch hitter couldn’t care less about what the public thinks. He is on the record saying how he fully intends to leave New York City with Crawford’s title, rankings and manhood.

Hank Lundy vs Terence Crawford HBO promo 2016

At a recent press conference, Lundy took the stage and told everyone in attendance that is going to “break his will” and flat out predicted a KO in a fight the could fulfill his lifelong quest of becoming a world champion. Love him or hate him – there aren’t many who can hype up a fight like this guy can.

Nebraska’s Crawford was up for the verbal challenge, saying he is going to “take Lundy to the streets” and “shut this dude up once and for all”. The 28-year-old ranks as #6 overall pound-for-pound fighter according to Ring Magazine.

Who’s telling the truth? Will Bud the Stud take over New York City or is Hammerin’ Hank going to turn the Garden out ?

For this fight Lundy reunited with his original trainer Charles Ramey who practices out of the Marion Anderson Gym in South Philadelphia.

Hank Lundy vs Terence Crawford MSG promo 2016


Jesse Hart will fight on the under card of Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao May 2, 2015.

Shout out to Philly’s Jesse Hard Work Hart (16-0, 13 ko’s) who will fight on the under card of Floyd Mayweather vs.Manny Pacquiao. Opponent to be announced shortly. With pay-per-view prices expected to be around $100 a buy – I expect this to be a stiff challenge for Top Rank Boxing‘s #1 super middle weight prospect. The fight will take place on May 2, 2015 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Mike Jones gets the nod in a war with Soto-Karass

In the final preliminary fight on the November 13, 2010 Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito HBO pay-per-view from Cowboy Stadium – Philly welterweight contender Mike Jones (23-0, 18ko’s) was scheduled to take on registered ruffian Jesus Soto-Karass (24-5-3, 16 ko’s). It was a prime opportunity with literally millions of people tuned in from around the globe. Many felt that Soto- Karass was tailor made for Jones style and a full scale showcase would be the result. It turned out to be a 10-round war that could have gone either way.

This match had it all. It offered a strong candidate for round of the year (round 2), a strong comeback from a fighter who seemed to be out of his feet and will also dubiously be nominated for robbery of the year in some other  publications. The Philly fight fans also got to see another thing – how Mike Jones would hold up when given a stiff challenge.

For the opening five minutes, everything was going according to the script. Jones was clearly out boxing and out banging his more experienced foe. Midway through round 2, Jones wobbled Soto-Karass and like a vulture – he swooped in to unleash something along the lines of 40 consecutive non-stop power punches on his stunned opponent. Karass covered for dear life on the ropes but still absorbed tremendous punishment. It was truly amazing display of killer instinct.

But – like the boxing lifer once told me “You can hit a Mexican boxers head all day and they will keep coming. You need to hit the body for them to fall”. Unfortunately for the Philadelphian – Karass did not go down. Somehow he weathered the storm and Jones was absolutely spent. Karass, marked with two leaky eyes, would go on to hammer a tired Jones in the middle rounds. To Jones credit – there was no quit in him – even though there were times when it looked like his legs were going to fail him.

The long awaited second wind came back somewhere near round 7 and Jones began to get himself back into the contest against an ever pressuring Karass. With the fight hanging in to balance – with trainer Vaughn Jackson in his ear telling him to “Come on man!” Jones responded like a champion – convincingly winning the final two rounds as he stood on steady legs – getting the better of hard two way exchanges with Karass.

The bout went to the scorecards which first read draw at 94-94 but was overruled by scores of 95-94 & 97 – 93 in favor of Jones. Over all it was a very good, very close fight that could have gone either way. I personally scored it a draw.

While many will argue what they thought of the decision and what they think of these guys against top fighters – it must be mentioned that this is what a pay-per-view fight should be like. The opening two bouts were a shade short of stinkers – this match had the fans (and many crowds at home) yelling and cheering at the TV. We also learned a lot about Mike Jones. He took some very hard shots, he was behind in a fight, he was dead tired at one point yet still found a way to win. I am sure he will learn from his mistake in round two – he likely won’t be let off the hook for an error like this when facing a top opponent.

With the win, Jones retains his two regional titles and picks up a third in the process. He is widely expected to compete for the WBO title in his next bout against England’s Kell Brook.


In the main event, Manny Pacquiao laid a whoppin’ for the ages of Margarito. Instead of cement gloves, I think he wore cement shoes as he couldn’t touch – or get out of the way – from anything Pac Man offered.

Enough is enough, we want Mayweather vs. Pacquiao!

MJ to open the show for Pacquiao vs. Margarito PPV at Cowboy Stadium

Mike Jones / Philly Keith Sports

On November 13th, 2010 North Philly’s Mike Jones (22-0, 18ko’s) will get the long awaited opportunity to showcase his skills to millions of boxing fans around the globe. The assignment is to open the televised portion of the highly anticipated Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito pay-per-view which will be broadcast live from Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas. His challenger is Jesus Soto Karass (24-4-3, 16ko’s) of Los Mochis, Mexico – a streaky yet dangerous foe who holds wins over a list of notable fringe contenders in the 147 lb division. Continue reading MJ to open the show for Pacquiao vs. Margarito PPV at Cowboy Stadium

Outsider Raul Martinez wins the NABF title, Victor Vasquez returns with a bang, Kennedy, Flores & Hasson stay unbeaten at The New Alhambra

photos by Mike “Teek” McGuigan

The streets of Philly were soggy on November 14th, but that didn’t stop the fight fans from once again packing into the New Alhambra for a J. Russell Peltz / Top Rank boxing collaboration which was carried live by the soon to be defunct Solo Boxeo series.

The main event pitted two undefeated outsiders who traveled east for their big chance in a division where the well of opportunity is bone dry.

The co-feature gave us a glimpse of a prospect on the rebound and the under card showcased the skills of quite a few young hopefuls from our area who are making their way through the local ranks. Some are still in the early stages of their career while others or on the cusp on making the leap to the next level.

There were a lot of knockouts on a night where a new NABF super flyweight champion was crowned, a boxing barber quickly faded out a competitor and a young prospect inches his way closer to a world ranking. All this and more from the South Philly fight hall, scroll down to see how it all went down. Continue reading Outsider Raul Martinez wins the NABF title, Victor Vasquez returns with a bang, Kennedy, Flores & Hasson stay unbeaten at The New Alhambra

Top Rank brings TV to Philly where “The Messenger” gives notice to the 154 pound division, Eric Hunter handed his first career loss, Teon Kennedy wins his pro debut 01-11-07

Photos by Mike McGuigan

The 2007 Philly boxing season kicked off on a national stage as world renowned promoter Bob Arum and his Top Rank Boxing outfit came to our city for a special edition of  “Thursday Fight Night” at the New Alhambra in South Philadelphia. The show was televised around the country on the Versus network and was promoted  in association with Peltz Boxing Promotions.

The TV main event featured fringe contender Almazbek Raiymkulov, better known as Kid Diamond, taking on journeyman Emmanuel Augustus (34-27-6), who was taking the bout on less than 48-hours notice, filling in for Antonio Pitalua.

The 29-year-old Diamond (23-1-1, 14 ko’s) of Osh, Kyrgyzstan currently holds the NABF lightweight title and seems to be on the verge of cracking the top 10, but he has yet to add a recognizable name to his resume. His first title defense was originally supposed to be Philly native Zahir Raheem. Then there was a change to fight the hard punching Antonio Pitalua.

At the zero hour, we enter Augustus, showboating yet the long in tooth veteran who has given the sport many great fights during his prime days. The “Drunken Master” has a resume that include giving a tough night to Floyd Mayweather and the 2001 Ring Magazine Fight of the Year with Mickey Ward. Unfortunately many feel that Augustus’ best days are behind him, but it was the best Top Rank could do on such short notice.  You never really know with the 32-year-old Chicago native. This fight was reduced to non-title and 10 rounds.

Click here to read my interview Augustus at the Hampton Inn on 13th & Race a couple of days before the fight. 

The evening’s co-feature showcased local Jr. Middleweight Anthony “The Messenger” Thompson (22-1, 16 KOs) who was scheduled to fight once upon a time world title challenger Robert “Push Up” Frazier (37-7-4, 1 ND, 15 KOs) of Rochester, NY in a 10 round bout.

Thompson, a long time member of the Top Rank stable, seems to be on the verge of finally fulfilling the promise shown as a top flight amateur. This marked the 25-year-old’s second appearance on the Versus network.

The under card was highlighted by a tough Philly vs. Philly battle pitting Omar Pittman and Dhafir Smith against each other in a 6 Super Middleweight bout. Pittman entered the fight on a nice winning streak but Dhafir Smith showed his is no Lemon street chump despite his 15 – 14 record.

West Philly prospect Eric “Outlaw” Hunter (5-0, 3 ko’s) had a prime opportunity on this show, fighting in front of a major league promoter in the swing bout that made the TV airwaves. His assignment was the always upset minded Carlos Vinan of North Jersey via Ecuador.

Hunter had a strong showing in his rookie year of 2005. But then he fell off the radar as this fight marked his first bout in over a full calendar year.

To cap off the show, the fans were treated to a little Joe Christy action. The bar room brawler was set to  face  Vance Garvey of Indiana.

To open the show, former amateur star Teon Kennedy was set to make his pro debut. Many local insiders feel that the young bantamweight could have a long career ahead of him. One even went as far as to compare him to all-time great “Joltin'” Jeff Chandler.

Continue reading Top Rank brings TV to Philly where “The Messenger” gives notice to the 154 pound division, Eric Hunter handed his first career loss, Teon Kennedy wins his pro debut 01-11-07

Miguel Cotto crushes Quintana to win the WBA Welterweight title, Antonio Margarito handles Clottey in Atlantic City

Photos by Mike McGuigan

On December 2, 2006 – Top Rank Boxing and the Showtime network  came to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City to treat the fans to a night of Welterweight fights, offering four of the divisions very best squaring off against each other in the primary bouts of the evening.

The Main Event was a battle between two highly rated, undefeated Puerto Rican contenders with Miguel Cotto (27-0, 22 KOs) making his 147 pound debut against the highly regarded Carlos Quintana (22-0, 18 KOs) for the vacant WBA title which was recently vacated by Ricky Hatton.

This fight was thought to be a stern test for Cotto to see if he can hang with the big boys in this division. When the bell sounded, this one turned out to be a one-sided shellacking where Cotto branded himself as an elite fighter.

Things started out as expected with the traditionally slick Quintana playing the role of the boxer while the banging Cotto pushed forward, looking to quickly get on the inside.

Quintana would fire off the jabs as his younger opponent approached. His accuracy was decent though the power was not enough to stop the incoming charge.

Miguel Cotto vs Carlos Quintana 2006 (30)

Continue reading Miguel Cotto crushes Quintana to win the WBA Welterweight title, Antonio Margarito handles Clottey in Atlantic City

Atlantic City Road Trip! Wladimir Klitschko squeaks past Sam Peter & Miguel Cotto stops Torres in a Fight of the Year candidate at Boardwalk Hall

With just one professional boxing show under our belt – Philly Keith Sports got a call to the big time. Two floor press passes to cover an HBO / Top Rank boxing event at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey!

The main event was a battle between Kiev, Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko and Nigeria’s Samuel “The Nightmare” Peter to see who would be named the #1 contender in the Heavyweight division.  A big puncher against a guy with a tremendous boxing skill and a suspect chin. This one was bound to be interesting.

In the co-feature, Top Rank up-and-comer Miguel Cotto faced unknown WBO Jr. Welterweight champion Ricardo Torres of Columbia. Many say Cotto has the potential to be boxing’s next big Puerto Rican star. This fight certainly helped his cause as it turned out to be a classic.

Also on deck was North Jersey native  Kendall Holt taking on Vladimir Khodokovski.
Wladimir Klitschko vs. Samuel Peter

This was a make or break night for the career of Wladimir Klitschko. His glass jaw is well documented but his boxing skills are under estimated. His opponent Samuel Peter is a guy who is known strictly for his power, comes in with a record of 24 -0 and hopes of becoming king of the division.

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Sam Peter (1)

Peter is widely considered one of the up and coming heavyweights in the circuit but lacks a big name to add to the list of taxi drivers and other unknowns on his resume. The steaks are high as the winner becomes the mandatory to fight Chris Byrd for the IBF Heavyweight Title.

Before both fighters are announced, Michael Buffer asks for a moment of silence and tolls the bell 10 times for fallen warrior and Atlantic City native Leavander Johnson, who tragically died after defending his IBF title last week. Continue reading Atlantic City Road Trip! Wladimir Klitschko squeaks past Sam Peter & Miguel Cotto stops Torres in a Fight of the Year candidate at Boardwalk Hall