On June 20, 2015 – boxing returns to the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia with the areas premier casino resort featuring a main event that is a true pick ’em fight. The 10 round feature attraction will pit two “hungry for a win” local boxers against each other. The man who leaves victorious will be crowned the Pennsylvania State Cruiserweight champion.
There have been many parallels in the careers of Philadelphia’s Garrett Wilson (13-9-1, 7 ko’s) and Anthony Caputo Smith (15-4, 10 ko’s) of Kennet Square. Both fighters have a solid local following. Both have scored quality upset victories early in their careers. Both have spent the past two years on the road, accepting assignments which led them everywhere from Romania, to Madison Square Garden to the MGM Grande in Las Vegas. Both have tested the deep waters of the sport against competition that borders on the world-class level. Both came up short when the odds were heavily stacked against them.
This homecoming is a nice change of pace for two of the areas most traveled fighters. For the first time in a long time, these guys will have people coming to the fights to cheer them on during the battle. Instead of accepting a challenge on short notice for fast money, both fighters have ample time to prepare for their opponent. For once, the promoter involved in their match seems more interested in making a fan-friendly fight rather than carrying the responsibility of protecting an investment at all costs. Most important, this beautiful new resort serves as a neutral battle ground. No excuses are available, may the best man win. Ah, the benefits of being able to box close to home!
Say what you will about their records and recent fights, stylistically this should result in the type of fight that will make even the average fan happy they came. Both fighters have one gear – forward! Expect them to meet in the middle of the ring with the intentions of not giving an inch. Two tough guys presented with the task of taking the heart from the other man.
When Wilson is in a groove, he is known to drop bombs which leave opponents flat on their back in need of the smelling salts. Caputo operates a little more quietly. He sees your pace and one-up’s you as the going gets tougher. He’ll gladly exchange leather then switch it up, smother you to death and frustrate the hell out of a fighter.
Wilson, a 32 years old originally from the Abbottsford section of East Falls, holds a slight advantage in the experience department. His career spans 7 year as a professional with 23 fights under his belt. It is also fair to say that Wilson’s conditioning and stamina is better. Mr. “GQ” aka The Ultimate Warrior has seen the twelfth round four times in his career. To make that stat more impressive, he has two 12th round knockout wins on his resume. His run from 2011 – 2012 put him on the edge of a top 15 ranking, starting when he upset former world title challenger Omar Sheika to win the USBA title, followed with a come-from-behind knockout win over Jersey favorite Chuckie Mussachio and concluding with another buzzer beater when he blasted out Andres Taylor in the final seconds of their fight at Bally’s Casino in Atlantic City. The Taylor knockout was one for the ages, it also marks Wilson’s last victory in the ring.
The 30-year-old Caputo Smith has done some solid work of his own over the years. He knows what it takes to win a local showdown and isn’t afraid to bring it to a fighter who may have better name recognition. Like Wilson, he has a history of being the one digging a little deeper when the fight is on the line. During the time Wilson was busy building a name in now defunct venues like The New Alhambra and The Legendary Blue Horizon, the fan-favorite Smith was making his bones competing as a Steady Eddie at Dover Downs in Delaware. Around the time Wilson began moving on to fights nationally, Smith slid over to the outskirts of Philadelphia and scored two impressive wins at Harrah’s Casino in Chester, pulling the rug from under the feet of the renowned spoiler Dhafir Smith, and followed up by stealing a close one from Tony Ferrante to win the title that is on the line June 20. At the time, Ferrante was a hot fighter riding the wave of a big upset win at Madison Square Garden.
In this fight, the winner gets local bragging rights and a piece of hardware. The loser must think long and hard about continuing to compete in this thankless sport.
It is fitting that two fighters known for heart and perseverance meet in the place that is considered to be the turning point of the Revolutionary War. 200+ years ago, George Washington was also at a career crossroads when he came to Valley Forge. At that time, his Continental Army was on the ropes and close to being knocked out by King George III’s British forces. On the brink of collapse, GW retooled and replenished his troops. Long story short – he helped run the Redcoats out-of-town to earn a huge upset win in the American Revolutionary War.
Maybe a win is what it will take for one of these fighters to recharge the batteries, get back out on the national scene and make some real noise this time around. Ideally, it shouldn’t have to be that way. Instead of promoters pimping out local talent on the promise of a couple quick bucks and a little bit of name recognition, there will be more local events like this. Maybe one of these days even our fringe-contenders can compete in competitive matches for a good payday with the home field advantage on their side.
Right now that is a pipe-dream. Not even the local elite can level can draw more than a few thousand people to an event in this town. Then again they probably would laugh if they were asked to run around and sell their own tickets. They shouldn’t have to.
Philadelphia is on the cusp of being recognized as a world-class city. The five county region is a world-class destination. There is no reason to believe that if the local boxing sect got its act together, the sport could offer world-class events that could lead to an interesting boost as a tourism attraction. Local fights have been sparse since the Great Philly Boxing Recession of 2009. Even before that the action wasn’t of top quality. It is a great opportunity to bring about change. A fight like Wilson vs. Smith may not grab the attention of the top industry hacks, but it is a throwback to the type of fights that put Philly on the map as a great boxing town.
Tickets are priced at $100, $75 and $50 and can purchased directly from the fighters. This evening of boxing is presented by Marshall Kaufmann’s King’s Promotions. The undercard will feature rising young pro Milton Santiago and other locals competing in separate bouts.