Dashon Johnson DeCarlo Perez 1

Dashon decisions DeCarlo over 8 rounds at the 2300 Arena

On June 3, 2016 Peltz & BAM Boxing returned to the 2300 Arena in South Philly for a night that featured some local talent and a couple of outsiders who are looking to make a name fighting in the City of Philadelphia.  This show was the follow-up to Peltz & Rogers wildly successful “Hart of the City” boxing collaboration from March of this year. It was a stark contrast of the show considered to be their best event as a team.

The previous promotion was a jam-packed sell out featuring a well-known fighter whose family name has been certified inside of the Philly boxing scene for over 40 years. This task was a much tougher ticket to move as both main event contestants are far from undefeated and are fairly new to the local boxing scene. The under card had a lot of unknown names and low-budget opponents.

To me, it was Go Fight Live (gfl.tv) rental type of night. 8 fights for $14.99 with the option to flip between other channels seemed to be my best bet. I was fresh off of a road trip to Chicago and wanted some rest after enjoying a week full of mob tour buses through the Windy City, architectural boat rides on the Chicago river and a bucket list trip to Wrigley Field to personally witness the hot start Phillies come crashing back down to Earth.

Wrigley Field is a must do for any baseball fan
Wrigley Field is a must do for any baseball fan

The quantity of action was a pretty good deal for the online stream though I thought overall quality of this card was lacking. The normally reliable broadcast audio was shaky too. There were only a couple of fights that held my attention for the duration of the bout.

The main event between Escondido, California’s Dashon Johnson and DeCarlo Perez of Atlantic City was by far the best fight of the show. This solid bout consisted of two middle of the pack fighters looking to break through to the TV level of the sport.

As many local fight fans know, Johnson was returning to Philadelphia after his Cinderella Man like performance against local contender Jesse Hart in the aforementioned #HOTC event in the spring.

For those who are not familiar with the story – Johnson was originally brought to town to serve as meat loaf for the rising young star. It was a homecoming built around the popularity and promise of a fighter on the verge of his first world title opportunity.

The anticipated public execution turned out to be a complete shocker. The “Fly Boy” walked into the 2300 Arena as an unknown with only his trainer, manager and a couple of bag men. When he left – he had the respect of everyone in the building and watching on Go Fight Live by coming within seconds of scoring a miraculous knockout over Top Rank Boxing’s prized prospect.

The end result was Hart winning the fight by unanimous decision but Johnson was the fighter many were talking about after the show.

Johnson’s back story reminds me of a long forgotten interview with Top Rank Boxing CEO Bob Arum, who currently serves as Jesse Hart’s promoter. I believe it was at a press conference to announce the 2010 bout between Yuriorkis Gamboa and Rogers Mtagwa. Bob went in front of the boxing media and told us that his adviser Carl Morreti suggested that he “looooose Russell’s number”.

It was said as a compliment.  Arum explained that every time that Top Rank went to the Fairmount Hall of Famer for an opponent to fight one of their prospects or contenders – he brings a guy who is in shape and ready to fight.

This statement came a couple of months after Bob watched the Peltz Boxing promoted Mtgawa come within seconds of knocking out then-uber prospect Juan Manuel Lopez. Mtagwa was an astronomical under dog in this fight.

On a side note, my girlfriend brought me to Madison Square Garden to catch the Gamboa – Mtagwa fight (which was supported on the under card by Garrett Wilson vs. Carlos Negron – a fighter Billy Briscoe dubbed “The Jolly Puerto Rican Giant”) for my 32nd birthday. The main event resulted in “The Tiger” from Philly via Tanzania getting absolutely smashed inside of two rounds but overall it was a great weekend in NYC. Shout out to Kansas heavyweight Damon Reed and former Maxboxing.com scribe Luis Cortes.

I digress….

While Peltz is usually sending under the radar fighters on the road to challenge fighters Top Rank has high hopes to moving to the top of the sport, this time he was bringing in an outsider who came within seconds of pulling a massive upset over a rare Top Rank prospect based out of Philadelphia.

Now here comes the 28-year-old Johnson (21-19-3, 6 ko’s) once again, proving his status as a journeyman of the purest variety by making the cross-country trip to Philadelphia to fight middleweight DeCarlo Perez, a fighter who has gotten a good promotional push by Peltz Boxing over the past couple of years.

This is nothing new for Johnson, he makes his living taking on contenders, local attractions and financially backed prospects in venues far away from his native town. His record is far from great but Johnson has proven to be very dangerous in recent bouts leading up to the Hart fight.

The theme of this show was “He’s Baaaaaaaaack” alluding to Johnson as a creeper who will spoil your boxing dreams in a heart beat.

Dashon Johnson vs DeCarlo Perez poster

The 25-year-old known as “3mendo” entered this fight at his own personal cross roads. Not long ago – he looked to be on the verge of breaking through to the next level. In three consecutive bouts, he bumped off 20+ win fighters Tyrone Brunson, Jesse Nicklow and Juan Cabrera.

In boxing – all it takes is one bad loss to send a fighter to the back of the line. In his most recent bout, Perez was stopped on national TV by an undefeated prospect named Rob Brant. This temporarily silenced talk of Perez as being a dark horse in the middleweight  division.

A potential win over Johnson marked the perfect shot at a quick redemption. Perez seemed to be taking this seriously as it was said that he resigned from a solid full-time job as a pharmacy technician to focus solely on winning this bout.

Outside parties interested in this bout seemed split on who was favored to win.

Some felt that Jesse Hart was far better than Perez, which in turn meant that Johnson would have a field day with a lesser experienced foe, right?

Others felt that Johnson was brought in to “do the job”, to be competitive but ultimately lose to the hometown fighter, something he has done many times in the past.

Tensions were running high between camps in a win-now situation. At the weigh-in, a mini fight broke out though some suggested it was more stunt to beef up last-minute interest in the fight which didn’t exactly catch fire with the locals. It looked like a legit beef to me.

Speaking of fire – when the opening bell rang – Dashon Johnson fought like his pants were ablaze. Before the opening round ended, he had Perez on the canvas courtesy of a hard flurry where nearly every power punch connected.

I was surprised that Perez made it out of the round, he took a right cross to the temple as he was going down. It is the type of shot that can leave a fighter in need of the smelling salts.

To Perez credit, he rebounded strong enough to make this an interesting fight. Now boxing instead of brawling, he arguably built a slight lead as the middle rounds passed. There were spots when he landed flush combination though they didn’t seem to hurt Johnson who continued to press and try to make it a street fight.  Dashon Johnson DeCarlo Perez 3

Perez gave a heavy output where as Johnson took time in search of an opening to crack him in the chin with a wide winging bomb.

It was a close one as the fight came down the stretch. The outsider left nothing to chance, looking to make a strong closing statement in the final round. He did just that midway through the round, connecting with another strong flurry which was capped off by a picture perfect uppercut that sent Perez back to the canvas.

Dashon Johnson DeCarlo Perez 2

Perez rose to his feet and fended off Johnson who went for the kill. The final bell sounded and the crowd gave an applause of approval.

All three judges scored in favor of Johnson 78-72, 77-73 & 76-74. 77-73 is probably the most accurate of the bunch.

After the bout, Johnson’s manager Terry Strawson indicated to me that he would love a shot at “King” Gabriel Rosado in the near future. That is a ticket I would come out-of-pocket to buy in Philly or even make a road trip as both now reside in Southern California – my favorite place on Earth!

Congrats to the road warrior for earning another W while traveling the toughest road a professional fighter can take. Perez (15-5-1, 5 ko’s) has some soul-searching to do. This is by no means a career ender but maybe some changes need to be made in order to make this boxing thing pay off long-term.

On the under card

Philly lightweight Jerome Conquest (6-1, 1 KO) had nice fight against fellow Philadelphian Korey Sloane (2-10-2) in the early portion of the show. The two kept a steady pace throughout with Conquest’s generalship and work rate being the determining factor.

The fight went the four round distance with scores of 40-36 and 39 – 37 twice in favor or The Conqueror, who has now reeled off five straight wins.

North Philly Jr. Welterweight Steve Ortiz (4-0) easily handled longtime local fight veteran Osnel Charles (10-15-1, 1 KO) who is now a far cry from the guy who reeled 8 straight wins from 2010 – 2011. Even though Charles has been through the wars, I was surprised a fighter with only three pro fights was able to work so well against a fighter with such experience.

Coram, NY based Middleweight LeShawn Rodriguez (3-0, 2 KOs) hammered Atlanta’s Phil LeGrand (1-3, 1 KO), scoring two knockdowns-  the second of which ended the fight as the fourth and final round was set to expire. Nice showing from this kid.

Heavyweight Cassius Chaney (7-0, 4 ko’s) of Washington D.C. won a 4 round decision over Holland, MI native Ray Lopez (4-13, 2 KOs) in a fight that can be best described as mundane. Lopez tried his best but didn’t have much to offer yet Chaney never attempted to go for the kill against a severely limited opponent.

For as much as I had to hear about him on social media last week – I expected more. Maybe next time…. We can expect to see him again as he reportedly moved to West Philly.

Super middleweight Kaba Khositashvili (12-3, 1 KO) of Philly via Georgia received little resistance over six rounds from Henry Beckford ( 3-5, 1 KO) of Roosevelt, NY. Koba scored a late knockdown and didn’t lose a second of this fight.

Bronx super flyweight Chayanne Rivera had an easy go of it in his pro debut against Texan Gene Gonzales. Rivera scored a knockdown and won the fight 40-35 on all three score cards.

In the opener – Philly’s Isaiah Wise (2-0, 2 ko’s) didn’t need a full round to polish off a duck who is winless in 8 pro fights.

Local phenom Jaron Ennis fight was cancelled by PA State Athletic Director Greg Sirb at the last-minute as “Boots” opponent failed his medicals. Multiple sources say that this fighter on a long losing streak came to the weigh-in drunk.  Ennis has been rescheduled to box again on June 11th in Virginia.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can email Philly Keith at keith@phillykeith.com

Go to www.phillykeith.com for up to the minute info on the Philly boxing scene

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