On March 30, 2016, business brought me to “The Crossroads of the World” – Times Square, New York City. It just so happened that while I was in town, DiBella Entertainment was hosting a special Wednesday night boxing event that had North Philly Jr. Lightweight contender Tevin Farmer in a featured bout. The venue was B.B. King Blues Club on W 42nd street in midtown Manhattan, a short cab ride away from where I was staying on the Upper East Side. With a last minute media pass secured and a suite already checked-in, I was making an impromptu trip to Broadway to watch a hometown fighter get his feet wet on the big stage.
On this evening, the only thing standing between Farmer and a top ten in the world rating and NABF gold was a Mexican journeyman named Gamaliel Diaz. Farmer won 13 consecutive fights coming into this one. Number 14 would likely springboard him into a new tax bracket.
With business for the day wrapped up, I arrived at the venue around 8:30 PM. I immediately noticed that the place was stuffed, maybe a crowd of 800 or so in these tight quarters. Some people went as far as to sit on top of the bar to get a view of the action!
Upon arrival, I immediately ran into my favorite New York based boxing outfit & trunk designer Ann Daryl who filled me in on the two fights I missed. Soon after, I spotted a few fellow Philadelphians in the crowd. Farmer’s manager Mark Cipparone was in the house rockin’ a feather in his cap. Trainer Rashiem Jefferson was looking “Rich and Famous” in his freshly designed green Team Farmer jacket. Camden contender Jason Sosa was in the building. When Farmer’s fight went live, he had some neighborhood guys offering loud vocal support, giving great Philly style commentary for my home fan-cam videos. 50 Cent and Lou DiBella had the best ringside seats in the house to watch the fights.
The capacity crowd made for a good boxing environment. While some were here for Farmer, there was a very strong contingent waiting for the walk-out bout which was a NY State Middleweight title fight billed as Brooklyn vs. the Bronx.
The first full fight I saw was a woman’s battle. I do not believe I’ve seen a female boxing match since the night in 2010 when Liz Sherman got a win in South Philly – R.I.P. Warrior.
The A side was Cindy Serrano (24-5-3, 10 KO’s), a very highly regarded woman boxer who once went to war with Marion Anderson’s Lakeysha Williams in a 2007 barn burner at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philly. Serrano won that fight but I thought the decision should have gone the other way.
Now 33-years-old, the Brooklyn native still looks sharp. Very clean, crisp and effective in her approach. She won every minute of a six round unanimous decision over Renata Domsodi (13-9, 6 ko’s) of Romania. Domsodi tried her best and looked like she was having the time of her life in that ring. She danced between rounds and played to the crowd. A little known fact is that she twice fought Heather Hardy, the woman who recently shocked the world when she whooped Ronda Rousey in an MMA bout. One fight ended in no-contest due to a cut, the second was a KO loss.
Soon after ring announcer David Diamonte announced Serrano the winner, it was time for Tevin “Successful” Farmer to take center stage.
This fight went pretty much according to the script. Farmer outworked a determined Diaz over the course of the ten rounds to win the NABF title for his junior lightweight division. Diaz was dropped three times (rounds 1, 6 and 10) in the match yet fought hard enough to make it to the final bell.
Farmer started strong with a quick knockdown and came fairly close to closing the show early on a couple occasions. I saw some hints of Emmanuel Augustus in the repertoire. Farmer was slipping and sliding, throwing and landing punches from awkward angles. Check the video for the beautiful one punch, clean jab knockdown Farmer scored in round six.
settle a dispute in the crowd – was it a knockdown or slip at the 2:08 mark of this video?
He hit and did not get hit in return though the two were close enough to smell each others lunch breath for most of the fight.
While Farmer was never stunned or hurt, Diaz was a game challenger for someone who was so outgunned in the skill department. The experienced Mexican continued to fight through punishment that would have made many others pack it in. He is the type of fighter who may sneak up on a prospect lacking Farmer’s cat-like reflexes.
The final scores were 97-90 twice and an interesting 95-92 for Farmer (21-4-1, 5 ko’s) who is now riding a 14 fight winning streak. The win will likely vault him into the top 10 of the WBC ratings. He was ranked #14 coming into the fight.
After the fight I thought back to the summer of 2015 when I was invited to Las Vegas as a guest of Planet Hollywood to attend the 2015 Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony. On a night where greats such as Floyd Mayweather and Marvin Hagler were being enshrined, I found out that one of the “pioneer” inductees of this class was Farmer’s great grand uncle, Joe Gans.
It is ironic how Farmer may remind us new school guys of fighters from recent eras – but it really can be traced way back to the “Old Master” from Baltimore, the first African-American World Boxing Champion of the 20th century when he reigned over the Lightweights from 1902- 1908. Check the video I cut when he was being announced into the club.
With the loss, the well-traveled Diaz falls to 39-14-3, 18 ko’s. I won’t be surprised to see him pop up against another fighter looking to get their foot in the door of the divisions upper crust.
Check the photo gallery from my time in NYC here. Best viewed in full screen.
The walkout bout was the one most of the people came to see. It was one of those old school Bronx vs. Queens showdowns. This was a fight KRS-One and MC Shan would have been proud of.
The only disappointment was in the person responsible for tallying the final score cards. Originally the bout was called a draw which caused every remaining person in the building to boo when the decision was announced. Coincidentally I ran into Long Island Middleweight Tommy Rainone as the scores were announced. We both kind of shook our heads at the initial verdict. I think he would give a stiff challenge to either fighter shall he move up a little bit in weight.
Sometime long after I left, someone noticed an error in the scoring calculation. Thursday morning there was an email saying the verdict was changed to a split decision victory for Devaun Lee (7-2, 3 KO’s) over Chris Galeano (10-1, 1 KO). Lee is now the NY Middleweight champion.
Neither fighter had major power but both were willing to hang in the pocket and give the other their best shots. I wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch as I thought every round was a close one.
As for B.B. King’s – it is an excellent venue, I’ll make it back to see some live music here soon. You can check them out on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/BBKingBluesNYC – see a show you like? Make a recommendation in the comments!
In closing – I say “bravo” after my first club show in New York City. I’ve covered a fair share of big fights at the Garden and Barclays over the years. It reminded me of how special a smaller show that packs them in can be. Hopefully they bring back Farmer for an encore performance. It will be the perfect excuse to make a return trip to New York, because overall this visit was a classic…