On April 24, 2009 – two aspiring Philadelphia prospects took their talents on the road to participate in fights that could bump them into the next level if they were good enough to win. It was also a show where losses could knock them far down the pecking order.
The boxing event held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey was built around Irish Middleweight John Duddy (who won a disputed decision) – but it was the under card that caught our eye.
The evening’s co-feature pitted North Philly road warrior “King” Gabriel Rosado (11 wins – 3 losses) against Kassim “The Dream” Ouma, a one-time Ugandan child solider who escaped and eventually fought his way to become a world champion in pro boxing’s 154 pound weight class.
Make no mistake about it – the promoters thought they had a very winnable fight on their hands for Ouma, (26 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw) whose vast experience competing on a national level blows away Rosado’s limited professional and amateur resume.
Coming into the fight, The Dream was looking for a second bounce back victory after a tough stretch where he lost three straight fights to top talent. A few more wins and the team could likely cash with a big TV pay day.
Rosado is no stranger to the hard knock road of professional boxing. With only 14 professional fights on his account, the self managed fighter has believed in himself so much that the past 12 months were spent travelling into the hometowns of prospects and contenders. It is the hardest way to make a buck in boxing – but if the plan works – big money could be found at the end of the tunnel.
When the opening bell sounds, you can throw away all of the pre game write ups and predictions.
In this bout, it was Gabriel Rosado’s fighting spirit that showed as he clearly outfought his brand name opponent in the final rounds of an otherwise closely contested battle that went the 10 round distance.
The final tallies were split. The first scorecard read 96-94 in favor of Ouma. That was over ridden when the final two scores read 96 – 94 & 97 – 93 in favor of Rosado who gets the split decision victory.
The young King once again grabs the bull by the horns and is starting to establish an identity as a threat in the 154 lb division.
Expect to see Rosado receive another opportunity to fight under the big lights of a major network soon.
It is back to the drawing board for Ouma, who seems to be entering the back nine of his career. It has been a miraculous run – let’s hope he gets while the getting is still good.
On the under card – we saw two well regarded prospects with undefeated records face off. That is a rarity in this sport where just about everything else goes.
Most ring side observers felt that the Jr. Welterweight showdown between South Philly’s “Hammerin'” Hank Lundy (12 wins, 0 losses 1 draw) and Jason Cintron (10 wins – 0 losses) was a true pick ’em bout
Lundy begged to differ from the moment this match was signed. While Cintron has come up carefully, being the younger brother of former world welterweight champion Kermit Cintron – Lundy had to take the hard road, similar to that of Gabriel Rosado.
With success comes confidence, and “Hammerin’ Hank” sure talks a big game which gets on a lot of peoples nerves. Every time in the ring the Hammer backs those words up.
On this evening, Hank was right again – putting in the work to score a one sided 5 round knockout win – pinning the first loss on Cintron’s resume.
It is amazing that Lundy taken on so many road assignments against undefeated opponents and still has his “0” still in tact.
It won’t be long before Hammer Time returns to TV soon taking on the name fighters in the 135 – 140 lb division.
“King” Gabriel Rosado once again steps up to the plate for another big fight, this time signing on to battle former Jr. Middleweight champion Kassim Ouma in a 10 round co-feature in Newark NJ April 24th. If there is ever a such thing as a cross roads fight for a 22 year old, this is it. Rosado has spent the last year traveling the East Coast taking on some of the best in the business. He recently won a tune up by knockout and now will put himself right back into the thick of the 154 lb division.
Ouma, whose documentary Kassim the Dream is gaining rave reviews at film fests across the country as it details his life from a child solider in Uganda to boxing champion in the USA, also finds himself in a must win situation. A one time shining star of the business now finds himself on the outside looking in as younger, hungrier fights have moved ahead. Recent losses on the big stage have bumped his value back a bit but he is climbing the ladder again, most recently with a knockout win over Martinus Clay in Philly. The winner should receive another opportunity to fight under the big lights of a major network.
The card is highlighted by Ireland’s John Duddy who will take on Billy Lyell in a 10 round Jr. Middleweight bout. For those who haven’t been to Newark for a fight card, let me tell you this, they produce a rockin’ fight crowd! If you are feeling up for a road trip this could be one to check out. for tickets call 937-200-7050 (Main Events)
Two boxing movies with strong Philly ties are playing this week at the Philly Cinefest which is a 12 day film festival of internationally acclaimed dramas, comedies, documentaries and shorts.
First is Kassim the Dream, a documentary on the life Kassim Ouma a former child solider in Uganda who snuck into the USA and became a Peltz Boxing promoted world champion. Kassim the Dream plays only on Thursday 4/2/09 9:30pm @ The International House (3701 Chestnut St.) & Friday 4:45 pm The Prince Theater (1413 Chestnut street). Get tickets here http://phillycinefest.com/film-details.cfm?c=219&id=8663
Next is The Nail – The Story of Joey Nardone. This movie has been granted a third showing as a favorite of the festival. This movie was filmed in Philadelphia with many scenes out of the Front Street Gym. Movie stars William Forsythe, Tony Danza & Tony Luke Jr and also has many apprenaces from local boxers, trainers and managers such as Joey Eye and Vin LaManna. Get tickets here. http://phillycinefest.com/film-details.cfm?c=220&id=8669
Philly Worldwide came to The National Guard Armory with fresh ideas and a new look which resulted in a very entertaining debut card for the city’s newest promotional outfit. The theme was Irish boxing and the atmosphere was festive, bringing out a large group of fans who don’t usually attend the fights but came out to support their ethnic relatives anyway.
On a whole, this card which was put together by Pete Suski and longtime manager Tom Moran featured a former world champion, two international champions who hailed from Dublin, Ireland and some local fighters who needed an opportunity to make a name for themselves.
It was also the return of Ganway Irelands “Slick” Simon O’Donnell, a fighter who made his bones as a pro in Philly fighting at The Blue Horizon & New Alhambra and also training down at Shuler’s Gym in West Philly. O’Donnell wanted to make a big statement as his last fight in his town turned out to be a disastrous night for the young Irish slugger that many have tabbed for great things. His assignment, South Carolina’s Antonio Baker a Philly spoiler whose resume includes wins over Tommie Speller and Richie Stewart in the career accomplishments section.
West Philly Middleweight Jamaal “Da Truth” Davis returned to a Philly ring after 2 years on the road to take his former Champ’s Gym workout partner Chris Hall, another fighter who has merit as a local tough guy.
Brothers from Dublin Paddy & Paul Hyland were making their debut on US soil. Paddy’s assignment came at the last second in the form of the very under rated Lucian Gonzalez.
In the opener, Philly’s Julias Edmonds signed on to fight the son of a world champion in Tim Witherspoon Jr and more than held his own in a fight that had a controversial ending.
Kassim Ouma…vs…Martinus Clay
In the main event featured former 154 lb world titlist Kassim Ouma (26-5, 16ko’s) of Florida via Uganda taking on the well travelled journeyman Martinus Clay (13-18, 5ko’s) of Philly via South Carolina for a scheduled 10 rounder. Ouma has been on a skid as of late was in need of a win but he is no stranger to the tough times. As a former child solder of the Ugandan Army, Ouma overcame a youth filled with bloodshed and explosives, forced to commit unspeakable acts in order to stay alive.
At the age of 19, Ouma escaped his homeland and arrived in the USA only to find more struggle ahead. Soon after his arrival, Ouma was homeless and lacking in employment due to speaking very little English. Though surviving though the first 19 years of his life in Uganda without being shot or physically injured, Ouma was shot twice in Florida within his first two months in the states.
He was ready to pack it up and head back to his homeland, and then he found a boxing gym which changed his life completely.
Ouma, who picked up the sport while still a child solider began to perfect his craft and soon after became a regular on ESPN & HBO boxing shows. His high punch volume and nonstop work rate made him one of televisions more entertaining fighters to watch.
After winning a streak of fights against tough known contenders, Ouma was signed by Golden Boy Promotions & J. Russell Peltz. Soon after he got his big break he faced and defeated Verno Phillips to become the IBF Jr Middleweight Champion in 2004.
After a surprise loss to Roman Karmazan in the summer of 2005, it was back to the drawing board and Ouma responded by blowing through a short list of good but unspectacular fighters.
He eventually positioned himself back into the national mix and was rewarded with a shot at the middleweight champ Jermain Taylors titles. It wasn’t meant to be as Ouma showed a lot of heart but came up well short on the scorecards of this 12 round fight.
Since that night, it has been a downward slide in his professional career. Two close losses to fringe contenders K9 Bundridge & Saul Roman have many insiders wondering how much Ouma has left in the tank.
His opponent Martinus Clay was brought in to do just that, to find out what was left of the onetime highly rated fighter. Clay is a solid veteran who has taken on some of the best names in the business.
At times, he has even pulled off the victory in fights which usually come up on short notice without proper preparation. Times have chances because now, Clay finds himself to be a promotionally backed fighters, boxing under the guidance of Hall of Famer J. Russell Peltz and being trained by Billy Briscoe in Philadelphia.
One the fight got underway, Clay seemed to win a few early rounds by smartly boxing Ouma as Ouma looked to walk inside and put pressure on his opponent. Around the third round, Ouma, kept the same approach but now was staying inside and landing light two and three punch combinations as Clay attempted to move around the ring.
Through 5 rounds it was still competitive and probably very close on the official scorecards but it didn’t matter as Ouma scored two knockdowns in the 6th round, the second of which a body shot that Clay was unable to recover from.
So Ouma gets his first win in 2 years but the question still remains, is he back to his world class form? Some think it is still possible, but he will need a few more fights on this level before he is ready to jump back into the big time. Time will tell.
Until that day comes be sure to keep an eye out for “Kassim the Dream” a soon to be released documentary on the life, times, struggles and success of Kassim Ouma with exclusive footage of Ouma’s return to his homeland of Uganda after 10 years, his training for the Jermain Taylor fight and much more. Watch the trailer below.
Simon O’Donnell …vs…. Antonio Baker
Originally the co-feature was supposed to involve New York ticket seller James Moore but that fight was scarped after Moore hurt his hand in training. To fill the void, the 22 year old “Slick” Simon O’Donnell (7-1, 4ko’s) of Galway, Ireland was promoted and got the job done against the always tough Andre “Shake- N-Bake” Baker (6-11, 3ko’s) of South Carolina.
O’Donnell comes from a fighting family which includes 13 pro fighters back home and also has his own extensive amateur background which includes a win over 2008 English gold medalist James Degale. After starting his pro career off strong with 4 straight wins, the Slick fighting Irishman got caught cold at The New Alhambra and suffered his first loss in August of ’07.
He has since rebounded to win 2 straight and the fight tonight he was facing someone who could arguably been called his toughest fighter to date in South Carolina’s Antonio Baker.
While O’Donnell has the boxing lineage and team to guide him properly, Baker is the polar opposite. Hailing from South Carolina, Baker was thrown to the wolves early in his career. Through his first 7 professional fights, he was served up to Jermain Taylor, Chad Dawson, Peter Manfredo & Joe Spina twice and actually lasting the distance with Taylor and Spina.
After briefly hanging up the gloves, he returned in 2007 to once again be the guy who challenges the hometown tough guy. Things were a little different this time around as he scored upsets or took the local fighter into deep waters only to get robbed on the scorecards. He came to our town last year and pinned the first career loss on Tommie “Big Poppa” Speller and also hung an L on Richie Stewart in Stewart’s hometown of Delaware.
On this night, Simon O’Donnell was the promotionally backed fighter and Baker once again looked to play spoiler. Baker looked to pull off the shocker once again. After a close 1st round full of rough house tactics, Baker was deducted a point for hitting during the break. O’Donnell was willing to trade with Baker for most of the fight though O’Donnell fought smart, moving around and using angles while Baker threw bombs.
In the 5th, O’Donnell landed a big counter right dead on the chin as Baker looked to go on a big assault. Baker dropped to the canvas and the fight was immediately waved off.
Paul Hyland…vs…Lucian Gonzalez
Reading’s Lucian Gonzalez (8-4-1, 1ko) pulled off a shocker, accepting the assignment on less than 8 hours notice and defeated Irelands super bantamweight champion Paul Hyland (12-1, 4ko’s) by unanimous decision in a very exciting 4 round fight. Both fighters went balls out from the opening bell but a Gonzalez straight right in the 3rd put his opponent on the canvas which turned out to be the difference maker in the scorecards.
Hyland was rocked badly in that round but sucked it up and stormed back fighting in the final round. The crowd was on their feet when it went to the scorecards which read 39 – 36 & 38 – 37 x2 for Gonzalez.
Patrick Hyland…vs…Elvis Martinez
Ireland featherweight Patrick Hylan (15-0, 8ko’s) showed a lot of fire in the ring and completely outclassed the Dominican Republic’s Elvis Martinez (11-27-2, 5ko’s) in this short, one sided fight. Hyland went to work early in the 1st with an in-your-chest approach, and before long he was rocking Martinez with lefts and rights to the head and body.
Martinez was almost gone in the first but made it out of the round. His luck wouldn’t last much longer as Hyland scored a knockout at the 1:24 mark of round 2, sealing the deal with a hard, straight left hand.
Jamaal Davis…vs…Chris Hall
Philly middleweight Jamaal “Da Truth” Davis (8-4, 6ko’s) was finally given a chance to fight at home again and made the most of it with a one sided unanimous decision win over Chris Hall (3-5-1, 2ko’s) .
Through all four rounds, Davis was in control and showed the toughness which makes him an avoided fighter amongst many more protected fighters in his weight class. Davis dedicated this win to women around the world who are fighting against breast cancer.
Julias Edmunds…vs…Tim Witherspoon Jr
In the opener, many ticket paying fans made a point to find me in the crowd to tell me their extreme displeasure with the decision in the opening fight. The consensus was that Julias Edmounds (2-3) clearly won three of the four rounds against Tim Witherspoon Jr (1-1), only to lose by majority decision on the scorecards.
Edmunds spent most of the night inside, neutralizing Witherspoon’s longer reach but at the tail end of the fight did get nailed with a shot that made the crowd go ooooooh.
The final scored tallied up at 39 – 37 x 2 for Witherspoon with judge Richie Hopkins seeing it even at 38-38. A draw is at worst what Edmunds should have received.
Just last week, Hall of Fame boxing promoter J. Russell Peltz came out blazing to the boxing press about how his fighter former Light Middleweight Champion Kassim Ouma can’t get a big money fight. The rant went on to include how the boxing business is in shambles because of how everyone is working on the old buddy system.
Now after Peltz airs the dirty laundry, all of a sudden there is serious discussion of Ouma challenging Jermain Taylor for the Middleweight crown live on HBO. While I am very happy that Ouma is on the verge of getting a shot and firmly believe he poses a serious threat to the title, the situation does raise a few eyebrows and a few questions. Continue reading Kassim Ouma to fight Jermain Taylor? What a difference a week makes!→
Hall-of-Fame promoter J Russell Peltz says name recognition and relationships with rankings organizations and television networks is what makes the boxing business go.
“Never in the history of boxing has a fighter’s ability meant less than it does today,” says Peltz, who began promoting in Philadelphia in 1969. “It does not seem to matter if fighter B is better than fighter A so long as Fighter A’s management has a better working relationship with the ratings organizations or with the television networks.
Peltz is frustrated over the inability of junior middleweight Kassim Ouma, the star of his stable, to obtain a high profile, big-money fight with the so-called “names” like Floyd Mayweather, Winky Wright, Shane Mosley, Ike Quartey or Vernon Forrest.
“Ouma may be the best junior middleweight in the world, but he is treated as an afterthought when it comes to making the big fights,” says Peltz. “Networks would rather recycle old ‘names’ like Ike Quartery, Fernando Vargas, Cory Spinks, Vernon Forrest than to breathe some fresh air into boxing.
It was a night of the knockout as Golden Boy East, Peltz Boxing Promotions and HBO Latino collaborated to put on a good show in Atlantic City New Jersey. Kassim Ouma punched his way towards a rematch for the Light Heavyweight Title and Philly fighters Rock Allen, Demetrius Hopkins and Phillip McCants all put on impressive displays of their talent. Tonight proved that the Golden Boy East roster is one of the better stables of young talent in the business.
Junior Middleweight Kassim Ouma (21-2-1 13ko’s) vs. Alfredo Cuevas (25-7-1 17ko’s) Kampala, Uganda……………………….. Chicago, IL
In his first bout since losing the IBF Light Middleweight Title, Kassim Ouma stepped into the ring with something to prove. He wasted no time disposing Alfredo Cuevas, who until tonight, has never been knocked down in 33 professional fights which earned him recognition as one of the toughest men in the sport.
Round 1 – Ouma comes out blazing against Cuevas who shows he is willing to bang. It doesn’t take long before Ouma catches his opponent with a blistering left which sends Cuevas skidding across the canvas. Cuevas beats the 10 count but continues to eat the lightening fast left of Ouma over and over again. As round 1 nears the end, Ouma keeps firing the left and follows up with a straight right with puts Cuevas on his back once again. Cuevas gets to his feet and wisely avoids any more action until the bell sounds.