April 2, 2010 – It’s been an interesting week in the City that Loves you Back. Nationally, Philly was put on the hot seat – again. This time the city was in focus due to internet phenomenon branded as a “flash mob”. In a nut shell, a flash mob is when a group of people get together, usually kids planning through social media, and wild out in public. A couple days ago a bunch of kids blew through South Street like a batch of wild turkeys, knocking people over, disrupting stores and such. No one was seriously hurt, probably because I wasn’t there. If someone would knocked into me they would have gotten hit with a Nikita Koloff style Russian sickle! There were also more peaceful, but still as odd, flash mobs at 30th street station. This one involved a bunch of random people joining together to stand still for a whole three minutes, kind of acting as if time were frozen. All of this was taped and posted on YouTube – people from all spectrums of the arena couldn’t wait to chime in on what they thought were the possible reasons behind these pointless acts.
Locally, Mayor Nutter and city technology head Allan Frank officially entered the city into the running as a potential testing grounds for Google’s upcoming high-speed gigabit network project. In an attempt to lure the internet giant to our turf – Philly has been temporarily rebranded as “The City of Googley Love”. If selected, Philadelphia would take on a unique project that intended to offer unheard of bandwidth capabilities that in theory could make Philly the Silicon valley of the east coast. This would attract businesses, create jobs, improve schools and give unprecedented internet access to anyone with a laptop.
Under the radar of mainstream media, Germantown native Derek “Pooh” Ennis (21-2-1, 13ko’s) turned in another Fight of the Year candidate at The Legendary Blue Horizon. Coming into the night, just about everyone in the know thought that the he reigning 154 lb USBA Jr. Middleweight champion would be involved in a “stay busy” fight – one that would keep him fresh until his first official defense of the title that he won in this same building in November of last year.
Friday nights main event was originally scheduled to be the night of this first defense. But USBA rules state that a certified opponent must be ranked within that organizations top 15 fighters. While the Blue Horizon has a legendary reputation – it is no secret that the fighters purses are usually small change in the grand scope of things. With no TV exposure, little money to offer and other top 15 fighters already locked into to previous engagements – no quality opponent worthy of a USBA approval could be found for this evening.
So with about 72 hours until bell time, Ennis managerial team of Moz Gonzalez & Eddie Woods found the unheralded Jose Adelaydo Gonzalez (13-7, 11ko’s) of Kansas to fill in a late sub instead of cancelling the fight. This would be a non-title fight but would be scheduled for 10 rounds of action. The die-hard fans and industry business know-it-alls were very disappointed in this turn of events, believing that it would be a uncompetitve night for a fighter who should be ready to test himself against the best in the world.
Even during the pre-fight entrances – it had all the makings of a blow out. Ennis was escorted to the ring with an entourage of around 10 people. His stable mates were in front holding up his local and regional title belts. His promoter Mike Fingerman and other associates were not far behind. It was a flash mob of its own right on Broad and Thompson!
In the other corner, Jose Gonzalez had the look of a grizzled journeyman loner. Shipped in on short notice – his corner consisted of one person from his camp and a local cut-man for hire who probably earned something in the neighborhood of $10 per round.
But like the wise man once said ” that’s why they fight the fights!” Instead of a lopsided blowout – the fans were pleasantly surprised by a very game late replacement as Jose Gonzalez came out of his corner like a man on fire in the early going – bringing the fight right to the local favorite – in his own ring – in his hometown – in front of all his fans!
While the Kansas filled in admirably – Ennis responded in part and willingly waged a 10 round war where both fighters gave it everything they had. The slick moving Ennis I know was nowhere to be found on this night – this one was a grittier version. The two men fought like they were locked in a freezer, huddled closely together on the inside to trade short and effective rights and lefts to every organ of the body.
Notable moments from the fight include Ennis looked to be buzzed by a solid Gonzalez early in the 2nd round – only to shake it off and fire back with a three punch combo upstairs. Pooh suffered a cut over the left eye somewhere around round 5 – a cut that was kept reasonably under control but did leak from time to time. Ennis became more authoritative as the match wore on – not budging an inch as Gonzalez tried to bully his way forward. Pooh would usually take a good shot to land a three or four punch combo. The crowd was extremely vocal for this one – usually on their feet cheer at the end of every round in a building where they won;t think twice about booing you out the front door.
In the end – conditioning proved to be the deciding factor as Ennis kept his fast pace down the stretch while Gonzalez was getting by on pure heart. It went to the scorecards which read 98 – 92 x2 with a third judge seeing it a draw at 95-95, giving the majority decision win to Ennis.
Good win for Ennis – but in typical Pooh fashion this fight leaves some question remaining to be answered. Some were left wondering why he was in a life-or-death war with an anonymous journeyman? After the fight his manager Moz Gonzalez was impressed – stating that “this fight showed me that Pooh has the cojones to be world champion”. Some were concerned that Ennis weighed in at 157 lbs (the contracted weight was a limit of 156 1/2 lbs, in turn costing his purse to be docked a few bucks for being over). Others were saying that they are very interested to see how Ennis performs in a fight out-of-town and away from the pressures of having to please his local fan base with war after war. After a few false starts in his career, one thing is for certain – Derek “Pooh” Ennis has earned the rite to complete against the best 154 lb fighters in the world.
In a division loaded with mid level prospects but short on championship caliber material – Ennis has a very good shot of making some noise and ending up on a prime TV broadcast in the near future.
In the co-feature, Pooh’s brother – rising Super Middleweight prospect Farah Ennis (13-0, 7ko’s) put a 2 round pounding on Puerto Rico’s Frankie Santos (17-9-4, 8ko’s). Originally, Santos was scheduled to take on Derek in the main event but weight issues and inability to find an opponent led Santos to taking this match two weight classes higher.
Big mistake on his part. From the first punch of the opening bell it was evident that Farah’s punching power would be way too much. The first solid jab of the night pushed the veteran a quarter of the way across the ring.
Ennis probably could have ended things :30 into the fight but instead he opted to be patient with the old veteran, taking his time with hard three and four punch combos before sealing the deal with a vicious upper cut at the very end of round 2.
A Philly vs Camden Junior Welterweight bout between two newbies to the pro ranks turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Clement Bethea (2-0) grinded out a clear decision win over Jason Sia (0-2) in a four round preliminary. Sia had a very good first round and put Bethea down to the canvas with a three punch body combo. Bethea got up, eventually returned the favor with a straight right hand upstairs and simply applied non stop pressure to Sia. Both men fought to win but in the end all three judges scored it 38-36 for Bethea.
North Philly Heavyweight Bryant Jennings (2-0, 1ko) chalk lined John Boldin (1-1, 1ko) at the end of round 3 with a thunderous upper cut. Jennings is a work in progress but he did a nice job of figuring out his opponent and turning the tide – going from boxer / mover to all out aggressor before putting his foe away. Boldin was on the canvas for close to five-minute until being able to leave under his own power.
In the opener – Jersey City’s Jose Ortiz (2-2) won a unanimous decision over Luis “Smurf” Esquillan (1-3). The fight had some good moments which riled up the crowd early on. Ortiz pressure seemed to dictate the direction of the fight and Smurf was a little too slick for his own good. There were times where both hung on the inside to trade flurries. There were times where Ortiz called for Smurf to stay inside and fight. There were times where Smurf was able to spin Ortiz around in circles. In the end it went to the cards which read 40 – 36×2 & 39 – 37 for Ortiz.