Before we talk about the local boxing happenings of today, October 16, 2009, take a walk with me I take a flash back to Philadelphia, circa 1999. It was a year of change for this great city with many tall tasks and lots of uncertainty ahead. One of the all time Philly greats, Ed Rendell, was stepping down from his big office at room 215 in City Hall wrapping up one of the most successful runs in the history of the country as mayor of a big city.
The people chose a 19 year veteran of City Council, John Street to lead the charge into the new millennium. The big building across from the street from the clothespin hasn’t been the same since. It was also a new day in Eagles country as 1999 marked the beginning of the Andy Reid- Donovan McNabb era whose goal was to give a fresh breath of life into a franchise that hit the bottom of the barrel. Say what you want about Big Red and his adopted son’s reign but five NFC Championship games later, the Birds as a well-respected and very lucrative franchise.
The Phillies were still light years away from becoming World F. Champions and Overbrook’s Will Smith was just putting down the mic to hit Hollywood for a career that saw him become one of the highest grossing actors of all-time.
Flying below the radar was Greg Robinson, a young ex-boxer with ambitions to stay in the game he loved. With family roots that ran deep into the heart of Philly boxing, he gave birth to his Power Productions promotional outfit in late 1999. In the one sport that is truly here today, gone tomorrow, Robinson has survived and even thrived in this landscape where only the strong, smart and crazy survive.
Ten years later, Power Productions has become a Philly boxing club show main stay, producing some of the best action fights this town has seen in the 21st century. For that I tip my cap to the man. Like Greg said at the press conference, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that make this a very tough business at times, but this is the sport we choose. For that we continue on doing what we love.
To celebrate 10 years behind the scenes, Robinson and Power Productions returned to the place where it all started – The Legendary Blue Horizon on North Broad Street with a seven fight card featuring some of the young and hungry fighters that help make this city the number one fight town on earth.
On top of the bill was a young Philly fighter currently taking the proper steps in a quest to become recognized as World F. Champion. One who has many tools but also few questions, which regularly lead to, heated discussions about if he can truly compete and succeed at the top-level of boxing.
The fighter is Derek “Pooh” Ennis, a 28-year-old Junior Middleweight from the Germantown section of Philly. Ennis, a six-year pro, also comes from a family with deep roots in the Philly boxing scene. Ennis father and trainer Bozy was competed as a pro during this city’s golden era of the 70’s. Derek’s brother Farah is an undefeated rising Super Middleweight who is worth keeping an eye on.
Ennis has been well-regarded for some time now but his career has been on the roller coaster at times. His skills and undeniable as he is one of the most well-rounded boxers living in this town. He has put on masterful performances against good competition but also has lost to opponents he should have easily handled.
He has missed out on opportunities due to freak occurrences such as opponents getting into car accidents before the fight and has also shot himself in the toe by not making weight for significant fights.
For a while, it seemed like he was getting by on talent alone without putting in the work of a true professional. But potential is an amazing thing and through out it all his management team of Moz Gonzalez, Eddie Woods and Mike Fingerman have stuck by his side, continuing to push for a break to come along.
Finally, after all the highs and lows, Ennis was to the opportunity of a lifetime on this card. In this evening’s main event, Pooh signed to fight a 12 round bout against two-time Olympian from Nigeria Eromosele Albert for the vacant USBA title. Though the USBA is not a world-recognized crown, but it will get your foot in the door as the title holder automatically receives a top 15 rating in the world and with a successful defense, become a mandatory challenger to the world champ.
Albert has faced world-class competition and has name value as he turned in many good performances on the ESPN Friday Night Fights Series over the past few years. In a nutshell, it was do or die for Pooh who has been itching for a chance to take on the big names and big money.
The co-feature also had significance, this time it was in true Power Productions fashion. This bout pitted the promoters nephew, Tyric “Too Sweet” Robinson against the boxing barber from North Philly Victor Vasquez for a scheduled 8 rounder. Robinson at one time ranked as high as number five on my Philly local top 10 pound for pound fighter list but since then has lost two in a row and was searching to get back the glory of when he was turning in fight of the year candidates.
Vasquez is the Arturo Gatti of our local scene. Win or lose, he is always in the fight of the night. Caution goes to the wind and defense goes out the window leading to two-way action brawls.
Robinson was the natural Junior Welterweight but Vasquez brings the heat, it was the fight that could possibly steal the show. These two matches plus the return of Tommie “Big Poppa” Speller and more. Scroll down to see how it all went down at The Blue on Greg Robinson’s 10th anniversary card!
Overall the show was a winner as the main event turned out to be one of the years most competitive two-way fights. Derek “Pooh” Ennis boxed and countered the extremely aggressive Eromosele Albert over 12 rounds to win a close but clear unanimous decision to become the 154 lb USBA champion.
It was a see-saw battle that had a lot of tight rounds with Albert winning most of the rounds early with his pressure and brute strength but Ennis was able to turn the tide mid way through as he consistently fought his way out of trouble with multiple flurries in the middle of the ring and swift movement when pressed into a corner.
Take nothing away from Albert, he was in Ennis face all night and fought desperately to win, he just didn’t have enough down the stretch as Ennis came in tip-top shape (151.5 lbs) and had plenty of gas left in the championship rounds. It went to the scorecards which read 116 – 112 & 115 – 113 x 2 for Ennis who stamps his ticket into the top 15 of the IBF ratings. I also had it scored 115 – 113 for Ennis
In the co-feature “The Boxing Barber” Victor Vasquez put together the most complete performance of his young career scoring two hard knockdowns en route to a unanimous decision win over Tyric “Too Sweet” Robinson in their 6 round Jr. Welterweight bout. As always the case with Vasquez, it was high intensity from the start, but this time it wasn’t balls to the wall.
He showed patience, poise and actually slipped a few punches! Robinson, to his credit got off the floor and continued to fight hard after going down early in the 2nd and late in the 6th from big right hands. Very good fight as is usually the case when two Philly guys meet in the ring.
Super Middleweights Mario Mina and Tommie “Big Poppa” Speller were put together in an impromptu matchup after both had opponents fall out at the last second. Poppa vowed “to send his ass back to Ecuador” at the weigh in. Mina fought like it was personal in the 1st, hammering Poppa early who was more than willing to stand and trade.
The 2nd round was close then out of nowhere Speller almost delivered on his pre-fight promise early in the 3rd round after a good body took all of the steam out of Mina. Speller followed up with a hard right that jellied Mina’s legs. If Speller had more gas it might have been curtains. But this was not the case and Mina was able to survive the round.
The fight slowed a bit in the final round as both seemed to tire in their first fight in over a year. It went to the card which somehow read 40 – 36 for Mina. Maybe I need new contacts, but I saw it a draw.
South Philly Heavyweight John Mercurio did it Passyunk Ave. style as he mauled, tossed and battered James North for a little over :90 seconds before finishing the job with a huge right that flattened his out gunned opponent.
Nice turn out in the crowd for the big heavyweight as there were a good number of black Team Mercurio T-Shirts scattered across the arena. Expect to see him again soon.
Super Middleweight Derek Webster wasted little time dispatching a severely overmatched guy from West Virigina. At 6’4″, Webster could become a problem for fighters at this weight.
Super Featherweight Coy Evans turned in a very solid 4 round performance winning a unanimous decision over grizzled veteran Carlos Diaz. Evans showed good speed and surprising ring generalship against a 31 fight vet.
He doesn’t knock down walls but his pop is not to be under estimated either. Good, fan friendly fight as both were willing to sit in the pocket and exchange shots at time. In other spots Evans would box and create openings on his slower foe.
In woman’s action Rachel Clark was clearly the better fighter in her 4 rounder. Out of her southpaw stance, she landed a lot of straight lefts upstairs. After 2 rounds, her opponent made the right choice not to answer the bell.