Friday, January 17, 2020

Erik Spring Interview

By Luis A. Cortes III

I caught up with Reading's Erik Spring (13-3-2, 1 KO) to discuss his upcoming middleweight bout on Saturday, January 18th at the Liacouras Center in North Philadelphia. Spring, who is signed by Kings Promotions, will fight Joey Spencer (9-0, 7 KOs) on the undercard of the Premier Boxing Champions' card on Fox featuring a main event between Julian Williams (27-1-1, 16 KOs) and Jeison Rosario (19-1-1, 13 KOs). 

You can stream our interview on both SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Marshall Kauffman Interview

I caught up with the "King of Kings Promotions" Marshall Kauffman to discuss his fighter Erik Spring (13-3-2, 1 KO), and his upcoming bout on Saturday, January 18th at the Liacouras Center in North Philadelphia. Spring will fight Joey Spencer (9-0, 7 KOs) on the undercard of the Premier Boxing Champions' card on Fox featuring a main event between Julian Williams (27-1-1, 16 KOs) and Jeison Rosario (19-1-1, 13 KOs). 

Kauffman also discussed his stable of fighters and upcoming shows in 2020. For more information on Kings Promotions and their fighters check out their official website.

You can stream our interview on both SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Frank's Take on Smith vs. Hart

By Frank Bartolini

When a professional athlete looks at the horizon sometimes he can see the end of the road. How he reacts could sometimes define his career. Long Island blue collar hero Joe Smith Jr drove through that road and continues to roll on after trouncing Jesse Hart of Philadelphia, PA over ten rounds. A loss by Smith would have regulated him to an “opponent,” a status no boxer craves. Inside the ring at the Mark G Etess Arena in Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel and Casino bouncing on his toes was Smith before the opening bell. Across the way, Jesse Hart of Philadelphia, PA must have seen Smith’s determined stare.

Both approached the center of the squared circle as referee Harvey Dock blah, blah, blah gave rules of engagement before the ritualistic tapping of the gloves between the parties, before returning to their corners. Once the ding to commensurate the action sounded, Smith methodical walked right at Hart, 175 lbs, swinging wildly. He went on to never stop swinging haymakers over the course of the next thirty minutes. Dancing on his toes, Hart’s efforts to create space were fruitless.

Both camps had brought many followers to the “City by the Sea”. A nearly sold out arena roared with their approval for every punch thrown.

Taking no aim firing his bombs, Smith, 174.6 lbs., unloaded his cannon in the general vicinity of Hart. Giving away too much strength, Hart could not fend off Smith. Moving straight forward, Smith had Hart backing up and fighting on his heels all night. Back peddling, Hart clinched when Smith drew near. This tactic did not prevent Smith from hurting Hart to the body in round two. Matters had gotten worse during the session when he was staggered by Smith chopping blows to the head.

During the first four rounds, all Hart could do was clinch and run to avoid a thrashing. During those first twelve minutes, Smith repeatedly buzzed Hart, scoring power punches to the top of the head.

Obvious to all by round five, this was a fight and boxing was not about to change the outcome. Hart began to better his position and stood his ground scoring solidly for the first time. Lacking the pop to fend off his foe, Hart still resorted to grabbing and holding.

Then the inevitable happened in round seven when Hart uncorked an overhand right that hit Hart on the chin. After absorbing the shot, Hart hit the deck. Getting to his feet Hart was still hurting when the session ended.

Smith never relented down the stretch. Both combatants were in tip top shape, slugging it out until the end. A headbutt in round nine spewed blood from Hart’s left eye.

No one doubted that Smith won except for inept Judge James Kinney, who scored it 95-94 for Hart, depriving Smith of the unanimous decision he earned. Joe Pasquale scored it 98-91 and Eugene Grant scored it 97-92 for Smith.

Hart’s record falls to 26-3 (21 ko’s). A win or two down the road and he will be back on track. Smith had more to lose going into the match. A loss would have sent Smith back to his day job as a union laborer with a fading dream of pugilistic glory. Instead of being a one hit wonder or the lottery winner who defeated a faded Bernard Hopkins, Smith is now 25-3 (20 Ko’s) and a world ranked light heavyweight.

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Impact Wrestling Hard to Kill

By Steve Ward

Impact Wrestling’s first pay per view of 2019 emanated from The Bomb Factory in Dallas, Texas. After their change of networks (again) to AXS TV the show was appropriately titled Hard To Kill as that personifies the spirit of Impact. This company has overcome adversity time after time but has stuck around because they try to give fans what they want - innovative matches, storylines reminiscent of the Attitude Era, and bouts featuring veteran stars who are well beyond their prime but can certainly still go. There was no shortage of that this evening as the eight bout card featured all of the Impact titles contested, showcased ring veterans such as Rob Van Dam, Ken Shamrock, and Rhino, and included the history making main event that pit Sami Callihan defending the Impact World Championship against Tessa Blanchard. 

Ken Shamrock vs. Madman Fulton
Winner: Ken Shamrock via submission

The opening contest of the show immediately got the raucous crowd engaged as it featured a 55-yr old, absolutely shredded, UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock against former NXT Superstar Madman Fulton. Ken Shamrock systematically dismantled the much larger Fulton’s shoulder until he finally earned an impressive submission victory.

X-Division Championship
Ace Austin (c) vs. Trey Miguel
Winner: Ace Austin via pinfall

After weeks of taunting Trey by making advances towards his “mother” each time she appeared on Impact programming, tensions came to a head this evening as Atlantic City’s own Ace Austin defended his title again the Rascalz member. While this match presented some impressive displays of acrobatics, it seemed as if it lasted a few minutes too long. Overall, Austin put on a strong performance and finalized the defense of his title with The Fold which put Trey away for the 1-2-3.

Impact Knockouts Championship Triple Threat Match
Taya Valkyrie (c) w/ John E. Bravo vs. ODB vs. Jordynne Grace
Winner: Taya Valkyrie via pinfall

Taya Valkyrie entered this match riding a 370 day streak as Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion as she entered a dire situation where she needed to defend her title against the upstart (and native Texan) Jordynne Grace and 4-time Knockouts (or as she puts it “Knocked Up”) Champion ODB. Taya has maintained her standing as a bona fide champion, even after the departure of her husband Johnny Impact several months ago, by withstanding all oppostion.  After these three powerhouses brutalized each other in a very physical contest, it appeared Grace was in a prime position to win her first title after she executed the Grace Driver on ODB. Before the referee could count the pinfall, John E. Bravo distracted him also drawing Grace’s attention. This allowed an opening for Taya to slip in and steal a pinfall to retain her title.

Rob Van Dam w/ Katie Forbes vs. Brian Cage/Daga
Winner: Rob Van Dam via pinfall

This bout materialized after RVD, who’s undertaken a bit of a metamorphosis to a heel, accused Cage of stealing all of his moves - something The Machine took exception to. Cage who had already entered the match with his left bicep heavily covered in KT Tape, was surprisingly overwhelmed to the point where RVD, with an assist from Forbes holding a steel chair to Cage‘s face, executed the Vanterminator. RVD attempted to pin Cage but the referee refused to count saying The Machine was injured. This presented an opening for Konnan’s protégé Daga to make his way to ringside and step into the match. Daga presented more of a challenge for RVD but in the end, he also met his demise as the recipient of an impressive Five Star Frog Splash.

Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards
Winner: Eddie Edwards

The stakes were high in this contest as the Call Your Shot Trophy hung in the balance. The trophy, which is essentially the equivalent to WWE’s Money in the Bank briefcase except that it applies to any title, landed in Elgin’s possession after he stole it from Edwards’  belongs recently on Impact - this bout was essentially Edwards’ opportunity to try and reclaim it. Michael Elgin brought a heavy dose of striking and power moves as he put on an outstanding display for the fans in attendance. One of the highlights of the match was a beautifully executed German Suplex from the top turnbuckle that propelled Edwards across the ring. After Elgin thought he had earned a submission victory following an STF, he tried to close the deal with a buckle bomb. Following the first successful buckle bomb, Edwards reversed Elgin’s second attempt into a rollup pinfall.

No Disqualification Match
Moose vs. Rhino
Winner: Moose via pinfall

This bout culminated after weeks of jawing back and forth and exchanges of Rhino’s Gore and Moose’s Spear. It appeared Rhino was going to walk out victorious from this brutal encounter when he had Moose propped up against a table in the corner in prime position to receive a Gore. Rhino successfully landed the Gore, however, it was not before Moose pulled the referee in front of him. This left the referee incapacitated so there was no one to count the pinfall. By the time another referee made his way to ringside, Moose had recovered enough to land the spear and earn the victory.

Impact Tag Team Championship
The North (Josh Alexander & Ethan Page) (c) vs. Willie Mack
Winners: The North

Following an injury sustained at Bash at the Brewery, Rich Swann was ruled unable to compete in this match. Rather than elect not to compete or find a substitute, Willie Mack proceeded to go forward in a handicap match. Willie Mack brought his A-game but the numbers game was simply too much for the South Central L.A. native to overcome. Mack landed a phenomenal Canadian Destroyer that witnessed him launch from the top turnbuckle to take Alexander off the shoulders of his own partner and drive his skull into the canvas. In the end, it wasn’t enough as The North finished Mack with their patented tandem Death Valley Driver to retain their titles.

Impact World Heavyweight Championship
Sami Callihan (c) vs. Tessa Blanchard
Winner: Tessa Blanchard via pinfall

The long-standing rivalry between Tessa and Sami Callihan reached it’s climax this evening as she aimed to make history by taking the World Heavyweight Championship from him. This match finally came to fruition after Callihan defeated Brian Cage in a steel cage match and had his celebration cut short by Tessa making her way to the ring - something Callihan took great exception to. Callihan jumped the opening bell tonight as he delivered a pump kick followed by the Cactus Special 97 piledriver but Tessa quickly kicked out of his pinfall attempt. Tessa answered with Magnum (a code breaker delivered from the top rope) but Callihan also kicked out promptly. This set the tempo for what became a ferocious encounter. The closing moments of this contest were insane. Tessa withstood a sit-down power bomb and yet another Cactus Special 97 to deliver consecutive Canadian Destroyers and a hammerlock DDT to send the crowd into complete pandemonium as she made history and became the first female to win the top men’s title in a major pro wrestling company!!!

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Smith Dominates Hart; Nelson Remains Undefeated

By Matt Ward, Ringside

Top Rank Boxing returned to Atlantic City this evening with a night full of fisticuffs action, headlined by an entertaining fight between Philly’s Jesse Hart (24-4, 20 KOs) and Long Island’s Joe Smith Jr. (27-2, 21 KOs) for the NABO Light Heavyweight Title. The eight fight card was featured before a near capacity filled Etess Arena at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The card was televised on ESPN and streamed on the ESPN+ App.

Tonight’s action was the second straight night of boxing in a city that appears to be in the early stages of a boxing renaissance. Last night, Claressa Shields (10-0, 2 KOs) captured her third world title in a different weight class with a victory over Ivana Habazin (20-4, 7 KOs) at the Ocean Resort Casino.

Jesse Hart stepped into the ring looking to not only get back into world title contention, but to avenge fellow Philadelphian Bernard Hopkins' 2016 loss to Joe Smith Jr. Hart was coming off a unanimous decision victory over Sullivan Barrera, while Smith last fought and was defeated by Dmitry Bivol last March.

Both men entered the ring to the roars of their fans. Smith, a blue collar hero to Long Island boxing fans, immediately set his aggressive tone for the fight in the opening frame, a style that Hart, the son of Philly boxing legend Cyclone Hart, would have difficulty adjusting to throughout the ten round bout. Smith struck Hart's head with a hard left hand, and then opened up on his opponent to the delight of the Smith faithful, who chanted "Joe Smith." Hart wrapped up Smith to halt this offensive onslaught. In the second round, Smith stalked Hart around the ring, initially having difficulty cutting off the ring against his opponent. Smith adjusted to this challenge by clobbering Hart with hooks to the head. Smith later hurt Hart with a big right hand to his head.

In the third round, Hart came out swinging, landing a powerful combo highlighted with a big uppercut. Despite this offensive flash, Hart continued to have issues with Smith's aggressive, "in your face" style. Hart responded with good body work. In round four, both men fought hard in the blue corner, as Smith kept coming forward on Hart. Smith landed a series of big hooks to the head and body that put Hart on wobbly legs. Hart answered with a straight right to Smith's jaw that snapped his head back.

During the fifth round, Smith appeared to slow his fighting tempo down. This would change in the final 30 seconds of the round, when Smith hit Hart with a right hook to the head. Hart, in survival mode, wrapped Smith up. In the sixth round, Hart attempted to push the overly aggressive Smith back with hard jabs. Smith responded by putting his head down and abusing Hart's body with a variety of punches. Smith landed a hard right uppercut to Hart's jaw as the round neared its end.

Smith hammered Hart with big overhand rights during the seventh round. As the round neared its end, Smith knocked Hart down with a big right hand. Smith, smelling blood in the water, pressed the attack but was unable to finish off the tough Philly fighter. The eighth round showcased more of the same action, as Smith continued to walk down Hart around the ring.

In the ninth round, Smith punished Hart with a barrage of punches that lifted his opponent up on his toes. An accidental headbutt during the round provided Hart with a brief break in the action. In the tenth round, it should have been of no surprise to those in attendance that the two men did not touch gloves at the beginning of the round. A Smith right hook to the head sprayed sweat off of the head of Hart before the conclusion of action.

In what appeared to be a clear cut victory for Joe Smith, Jr. on national television, a poor scorecard by veteran boxing judge James Kinney provided the sport with yet another public black eye, and unnecessary negative attention to the scoring system. Two of the officials scored the bout 97-92 and 98-91 respectively for Smith, with Kinney scoring the bout 95-94 for Hart. This writer has a lot of strong opinions regarding the perceived recent surge in the poor quality of judging, especially in nationally televised fights. That being stated, these opinions will be reserved for another time and forum. It should be noted that New Jersey Athletic Commissioner Larry Hazzard Sr. needs to perform a thorough and fair review of this judges' scorecard before allowing him to judge another professional bout.

Nelson Remains Undefeated

The fun began when Steven Nelson (16-0, 12 KOs) walked to the ring in a "The Grinch" mask and matching green furry shorts for his ten round bout for the NABO Super Middleweight Title match against Cem Kilic (14-1, 9 KOs). Both men entered the ring not only looking to preserve their undefeated streaks, but continue a knockout streak that was at two for both fighters. The opening round was highly competitive, as both men, appearing to be evenly matched, exchanged big shots. In the second round, Nelson landed a series of effective body shots, followed by a series of big punches that Kilic had no answer for.

In the third round, Nelson picked apart Kilic with laser precision jabs. In the fourth round, Nelson punished his opponent with a left hook to the head. Later in the round, a Nelson left uppercut snapped Kilic's head back as the round ended.

Nelson tee'd off on Kilic with multiple straight right hands to the head in the fifth round. Nelson proceeded to bully Kilic with solid inside fighting throughout the sixth round.

Kilic hit Nelson with a nice left hand to the head in the seventh round. After a good start in the round, Kilic slowed down as the round progressed. In the eighth round, Kilic, realizing he was behind on the cards, fought well landing a straight left hand that snapped Nelson's head back. Despite a valiant effort, Kilic's corner had seen enough of the damage their fighter was taking over the course of the contest and threw in the towel at the 1:44 mark of the eighth round.

Magic Hands Adorno Sweeps Ibarra

Jeremy Adorno (4-0, 1 KO) secured the lone victory for the Adorno clan this evening with a unanimous decision victory over Fernando Ibarra (2-3). The two super bantamweight warriors put their speed on display in the opening round. In the second round, Adorno landed a big left hook to Ibarra's head that sent him crashing to the canvas. Ibarra pulled himself up from the canvas, dazed, but survived a barrage of punches from his opponent as time expired in the round.

Adorno put his speed on display in the third round, peppering Ibarra with a variety of shots to the head and body. Ibarra could not get anything going offensively because Adorno danced away from all pressure aimed in his direction. At one point, Adorno yelled at the ESPN commentators, "you like that?"

In the fourth and final round, Ibarra connected with an effective multi-punch combo that pushed Adorno into a neutral corner. Adorno looking to end Ibarra's offensive rally, wrapped him up. Adorno again went to his effective left hook in this round, connecting to the head and body. Adorno, confident he was ahead on the cards, cruised through the second half of the round. All three judges scored the bout 40-35 in favor of the undefeated Jeremy Adorno.

The Bronco Runs Over Head

Sonny Conto (6-0, 5 KOs) cruised by Curtis Head (5-5, 3 KOs) in a heavyweight contest that was scheduled for four rounds. Conto, the Philadelphia fan favorite, dropped Head to one knee with a left-right hand combo. Seconds later, Conto dropped Head again with a left hook that barely grazed his head. After pulling himself up to his feet for the third time in the round, Conto connected with a right hand to the body that again sent Head to his knee. By this point of the fight, referee David Franciosi had seen enough and called an end to the action at the 2:08 mark of the opening frame. Conto has now won five of his six professional fights by knockout.

Times Runs Out on Barbosa in Loss to Sandman

Chris "Sandman" Thomas (14-1-1, 9 KOs), Toms River, New Jersey, made quick work of Samir dos Santos Barbosa (37-17-3, 26 KOs), a veteran of 56 professional fights, in the first round of a fight scheduled for six rounds in the super middleweight division. Thomas crushed Barbosa with a big right hand to the face, that he followed up with a big multi-punch combo that sent his opponent stumbling back into the neutral corner. Despite appearing to still have some fight left in him, referee Sparkle Lee stepped in and stopped the fight at the 47 second mark of the opening frame. As the final decision was announced, the crowd expressed their dissatisfaction with the premature stoppage by booing loudly.

Adorno and Garcia Battle to Split Decision Draw

The elder Adorno was the first one of the Allentown, Pennsylvania-based brothers to walk to the ring this evening. He, like his younger brother Jeremy, entered the ring to the roar of an approving fan base. In the opening round, Joseph Adorno (14-0-1, 12 KOs) rocked Hector Garcia (14-7-4, 8 KOs) with big shots to the head and body, highlighted by big hooks to the body that made Garcia wince under the pressure. The two fighters had an excellent exchange midway through the round. Garcia absorbed a big left hook to the head and waived on Adorno for more.

Adorno fought more cautiously in the third round. Garcia tried to press the attack during this round, but Adorno responded with outstanding defense. In the fourth round, Adorno shook Garcia's head with two big left hands. In close combat, Garcia threw hard uppercuts, most of which were absorbed by Adorno's gloves.

In the fifth round, Garcia chased Adorno around the ring, desperately trying to land an effective shot through the guard with little to no success. In the sixth round, Garcia banged at Adorno's body with multi-hand uppercuts and hooks, shots that Adorno responded to with a big smile.

During the seventh round, Garcia broke down Adorno's guard with big hooks and uppercuts to the head and body. Adorno returned to his corner with blood streaming from his nose. By the eighth and final round, it was no evident to anyone watching that Garcia had come to fight. The round began with a big exchange of shots as both men let their hands go. Adorno popped Garcia's head back with a hard right hook. Adorno was on shaky legs as both fighters went shot-for-shot as time expired. The fight ended in a split decision draw with the judges scoring the contest 77-75 for Adorno, 77-75 for Garcia, and 76-76 a draw.

Bunch Wins No. Six by TKO

Trenton’s Shinard Bunch (6-1, 4 KOs) halted Dennis Okoth’s (4-3-1, 2 KOs) two fight winning streak with a unanimous decision victory over the Kenyan. The first round of the welterweight contest was a limited action affair, as both men felt each other out. With little success, the fighters tried to pick up the speed of the action in the opening seconds of the second frame.

To the displeasure of those in attendance, the third round was another slow round for the men. The fourth showed promise as Okoth answered the bell swinging wildly at Bunch, looking for a quick knockout. Unfortunately, that was the extent of the action in the round.

Okoth moved forward aggressively in the fifth round, but Bunch answered by wrapping him up. Halfway through the round, there was a good exchange between the two fighters near the center of the ring. In the final ten seconds of the round, Okoth slipped into Bunch, almost knocking him out of the ring into the timekeeper’s table. In the sixth round, after a brief exchange, Okoth walked to his corner and hung on the ropes. Referee David Franciosi looked bewildered at the exhausted fighter, and waived off the fight as the trainer, towel in hand, jumped up onto the canvas to attend to his fighter. The action, or lack thereof, was halted at the 2:40 mark of the sixth and final round.

Zayas Beats a Champion

In the opening bout of the evening, Xander Zayas (3-0, 2 KOs) defeated Corey Champion (1-2, 1 KO) by unanimous decision in a four round welterweight bout. Zayas, a high school senior, controlled the bout through all four rounds. In the first round, Zayas landed multiple right hands to Champion’s head, as Champion looked intimidated by his taller opponent. Champion answered the second round bell looking like a beat up man. Zayas stalked him around the ring and worked his opponent’s body to slow down his efforts to avoid him. As the round neared its end, Champion’s nose gushed blood.

In the third round, Zayas pinned Champion up against the ropes with a multi-punch combo. Champion squirmed out from under the pressure, but was visibly shaken from the onslaught. This round went on to be a shooting gallery for Zayas as he landed shots at will, all while smiling from ear to ear. The right hand was especially effective for Zayas during this round. At rounds end, Champion walked back to his corner with a crimson lower face. In the opening seconds of the fourth round, Champion ate a hard right hand to the face. Champion was on shaky legs throughout the round, and held on for dear life as the final bell rang. The judges scored the contest 40-36 twice and 40-35 all in favor of Zayas.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Philadelphia Boxing Round Up

The tremendous year of boxing in the “City of Brotherly Love” came to an end on Friday December 6th at The 2300 Arena.  Washington DC native, junior welterweight, Mykel Fox had his hand raised after winning a ten round unanimous decision over John Arellano of Texas signaling the end of a fabulous year of pro prizefighting. Fittingly the area’s most prolific promoter Marshall Kauffman’s Kings Promotions delivered the action.

Kauffman once again was the most prolific promoter locally. In October, Kauffman in conjunction with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), brought world class talent to the area showcasing Robert Easter Jr.’s win over Adrian Granados, and top ranked junior middleweight Erickson Lubin in his hometown Reading, PA. Without Kauffman promoting close to a dozen shows in and around the Delaware River Valley, the area’s fight scene would hardly survive, yet alone thrive.

The excitement all started back in February when Michelle Rosado’s Raging Babe kicked the year off promoting her first event in Philly at the 2300 Arena. A solid fight card became mythological when flaming hot prospect, Christian Carto was poleaxed and laid out on the canvas by Mexican tumbler Victor Ruiz in round 2. Leaving the venue on a stretcher, Carto’s future was in doubt, meanwhile Rosado cemented her credentials as a promoter within the municipality.

“A night at the opera” - It appeared that Hard Hitting Promotions was going to a have a phenomenal year when close to 3,500 spectators packed into the newly refurbished Metropolitan Opera House (The Met) on North Broad Street. That night a couple of hometown undefeated participants of Puerto Rican extraction squared off in the main event for more than a victory. On the line for combatants Steven Ortiz and Jeremy Cuevas was neighbor and ethnic bragging rights. Ortiz won easily over eight rounds. Hard Hitting returned to “The Met” a few more times but nothing compared to the virgin experience in the opera house.

TOP RANK BOXING! Bob Arum is committed to bringing world renowned talent to Philadelphia. Checking the temperature of the water, Arum dipped his toe in last march when he promoted Oleksandr Gvozdyk’s successful WBC Light Heavyweight title defense against Doudou Ngumbu. Also seeing action that night, Philly native “the New” Ray Robinson drew with highly rank and touted Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas. Many of those ringside believed Robinson deserved the nod. Other spectators felt if Robinson turned it up just a notch he would have clearly been victorious. Egidijus went on to give a good account of himself in his next fight, before getting kayoed in nine rounds versus WBO Welterweight King Terence Crawford in December at Madison Square Garden.

The show must go on - A freak accident had Carl Frampton pulling out of his fight at the Liacouras Center in August, less than two weeks beforehand. No one would blame Top Rank for cutting their losses and canceling the festivities altogether. Instead, former junior lightweight champ Jason Sosa was bumped up to main event status and pitted against unheralded Haskell Lydell Rhodes. Sosa kayoed Rhodes in seven. With no time to promote the change in the main event, the show drew poorly.  A few months later, Sosa went on to unsuccessfully challenge WBC Super Featherweight Champion Miguel Berchelt, getting finished off in four rounds.

Now the coup de grace occurred when Top Rank chose to come back to the Liacouras Center to pit two undefeated knockout artists in a light heavyweight unification match between WBC King Oleksandr Gvozdyk and IBF Monarch Artur Beterbiev. This pairing would have sold out major arenas in Las Vegas, Manhattan or Chicago. By choosing Philadelphia, Top Rank made a statement that it plans on being a major part of this city’s professional pugilism. Beterbiev stopped Gvozdyk in the tenth. Quality over quantity is why Top Rank should be considered for The Briscoe Award Promoter of the Year.

Once again the British invaded Philadelphia. Contrary to the American Revolution, this time the City of Brotherly Love welcomed the red coats with open rams as Matchroom USA promoted Tevin Farmer’s homecoming at the Liacouras Center, in what turned out to be the best night of fights for 2019. Jono Carroll of Ireland put forth a spirited and gallant effort in trying to wrest the crown from IBF Super Featherweight king Farmer.  The undercard showcased two potential Briscoe Award Fights of the Year. Philly resident Gabriel Rosado’s late round come back against Polish Maciej Sulecki was epic. Rosado lost a ten round unanimous decision but showed he is still a threat in the middleweight division. Unbelievable, unless you were in the arena early to witness Hank Lundy vs. Avery Sparrow, you missed one of the best pairings of two rival Philly boxers in a long time. DAZN cameras had not started rolling when this fight was occurring. Close to 1,500 of Katie Taylor’s faithful fans flew into Philly from the Emerald Isle to see her easily defend her undisputed lightweight laurels.

I went down to DC metro area to see Philly fighters showcase impressive skills in May where the scraps took place on the abandoned campus of George Mason University. Classes ended the day prior to Julian Williams shocking upset of Jarred Hurd. Not only did Williams ruin Hurd’s homecoming, he walked away with his IBF and WBA Super Welterweights belts. West Philly had proud moments when Stephen Fulton put on a flawless performance on the undercard.

Happy New Year! Keep Punching!

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