Sunday, February 24, 2019

Hard Hitting Promotions Presents Boxing on Broad: The Successful Return of Prizefighting to the Met

By Matt Ward, Ringside

Professional boxing made its highly successful return to the Metropolitan Opera House (The Met) in Philadelphia last night. For the first time since 1954, Hard Hitting Promotions brought a ten fight card to the beloved and historic venue on North Broad Street.

The main event pitted two Philadelphia fan-favorites against one another for the Pennsylvania State Lightweight Title. Steven Ortiz (10-0, 3 KOs) and Jeremy Cuevas (11-1, 8 KOs) did not just suit up for their first state title shot as professionals, the two gladiators also put their undefeated records on the line in front of a capacity crowd in North Philly.

Both men put their speed on display in the opening round, as they felt one another out during this round. Following this round, Cuevas returned to his corner with blood trickling out of his nose and mouth. Ortiz rocked Cuevas with a nice left hook that slowed Cuevas down in the second round. Ortiz sent Cuevas crashing to the canvas in the second round with a right hand to the body, followed by a left hook to the head. The two fighters exchanged big shots in the third round, which were at time punch-for-punch. The pace of the fight slowed in the fourth and fifth rounds as both men appeared to tire. 

In the sixth round, Cuevas got caught with a left hand to the jaw that reminded him he was still in a fight. Ortiz scored a second knockdown with a right hand to the side of Cuevas' head as time expired in the seventh round. In the eighth round, Cuevas, knowing he was behind on the cards, desperately tried to apply pressure on his opponent. Half way through the eighth round, Cuevas cracked Ortiz with a big left hand to the head. Unfortunately for Cuevas, that was too little, too late as he lost on all three judges scorecards by scores of 78-72, twice, and 79-71. 

Welterweights, Malik Hawkins (14-0, 9 KOs), Baltimore, and Gledwin Ortiz (6-3, 5 KOs), the Bronx, fought in an eight round contest. Both men engaged in a nice opening frame in which they exchanged big shots in the center of the ring. Hawkins utilized his strong defense and body work in the second round to effectively control the tempo of the round. The pro-Hawkins' crowd were on their feet in the third round as Hawkins put pressure on Ortiz by moving forward, and letting his hands go on his game opponent. During this offensive onslaught, Hawkins snapped Ortiz's head back with a straight right. Ortiz responded to this attack with a big combination of his own that caught the attention of Hawkins. 

The fourth round was a real crowd-pleaser, filled with outstanding action. Ortiz connected with a solid left-right hand combo during this round. Hawkins, not wanting to be outdone by the Bronx native, responded with a series of hard body shots that pushed Ortiz into the ropes. The tempo of the fifth and sixth rounds slowed down, understandably so, after what both men had gone through in earlier frames. Heated exchanges in the seventh round led to both men wrapping one another up. The intensity of the battle could not be contained by this clinch, as both men went crashing to the canvas. Ortiz landed a big right hand to the head that pushed Hawkins into the neutral corner. Ortiz followed up on this shot with several hard shots to the head and body. This abuse continued until Hawkins was able to squirm out of the neutral corner. Ortiz again snapped Hawkins' head back with a straight left in the final round. Hawkins landed a big left hook to Ortiz's jaw as time expired. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Malik Hawkins, 77-75, 78-74, and 79-73. 

Philadelphia's Samuel Teah (15-3-1, 7 KOs) fought Tre'Sean Wiggins (11-4-1, 6 KOs) in an eight round contest for the Pennsylvania State Super Lightweight Title. The first two rounds of the contest were evenly matched, until Teah's head was snapped back as the final bell in the second round rang. Wiggins put his foot on the gas in round three as he landed several nice right and left straights to Teah's head and body. The crowd became energized in the fifth round as both men exchanged big, clean shots. Wiggins snapped Teah's head back in the seventh with a hard left hand. Teah entered round eight a man down on the cards. He fought valiantly, looking for a knockout, but in the end lost by unanimous decision by scores of 78-74, 79-73, and 80-72. 

Philadelphia super lightweight boxing prospect, Brandon Pizarro (14-1, 7 KOs) continued his return to his winning ways last night as he stopped Springfield, Massachusetts's Zack Ramsey (8-6, 4 KOs) in the opening frame of a scheduled six round contest. Pizarro's sole career blemish was on December 1, 2017 against Christian Rivera at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. Pizarro dropped Ramsey with a left to the body in the first round. Ramsey pulled himself up from the canvas only to be finished off by a Pizarro left uppercut. The end came at the 1:15 mark of the first round. 

Gadwin Rosa (10-0, 8 KOs) won his fourth straight victory in front of a Philadelphia crowd over Jorge Luis Santos (5-3-1, 2 KOs). Rosa, the NBA Intercontinental Super Featherweight Champion, controlled the opening round of the contest by repeatedly backing Santos into the ropes with straight right and left hands to the head and body. Santos, looking to catch Rosa with a knockout punch in the first, missed his mark on several big shots. Rosa dropped Santos with a left hook to the body in the second round. Santos recovered from the knockdown only to be be beaten down with viscous shots to the head and body. Referee Eric Dali saw enough of the massacre at the 1:28 mark of the second round of a scheduled six, and waived off the fight. 

Christian Tapia (8-0, 7 KOs) continued his winning ways against David Veras Pena (0-2-1). Despite punching upwards at his taller opponent for a bulk of the first round, Tapia, a Puerto Rican super featherweight, pummeled his opponent with hard lefts and rights to the head and body. In the second round, Tapia punished Pena with multi-punch combos, highlighted by consecutive straight right hands to the head. Referee David Franciosi saw enough of the beat down in the second round of four when he stopped the fight at the 1:28 mark. 

In an all Philadelphia light heavyweight contest, Benny "The Jewish Bulldog" Sinakin (3-0, 2 KOs) made quick work of his opponent Ronald Lawrence (0-4). Both men answered the bell swinging for the fences. Sinakin landed crushing right and left hooks to the head and body in the opening frame. The end came at the 2:42 mark of the first round when Sinakin brutally beat his opponent into the ropes with a right-left hand combo.

Female featherweights, Karen Dulin (3-16-1, 1 KO) and Tamar Israeli (2-0-1, 2 KOs) competed in a four round bout. Israeli struggled to land clean punches on her 43-year-old opponent throughout the contest. Israeli, who became more and more frustrated as the bout went on, looked sloppy against Dulin, and allowed her to dodge clubbing right and left hands throughout the contest. The judges scored the bout 39-37 for Israeli, and 38-38, twice, a majority draw.

Philadelphia bantamweight, Josue Rosa (1-0, 1 KO), making his professional debut, fought and defeated his win less opponent, Willie Anderson (0-4). Anderson, who had a clear height and reach advantage over his opponent, cracked Rosa with a straight right hand to the head that sent his opponent stumbling backwards in the first round. Rosa, despite appearing to be hurt, stayed on his feet. Despite winning the first round, and not appearing to be hurt by his inexperienced and unpolished opponent, Anderson quit on the stool after the first round of a scheduled four rounds.

Emanuel Rodriguez (4-0), Newark, NJ, defeated Jose Lopez (0-1-1), New York, by unanimous decision in a four round, bantamweight contest. The judges scored the bout 38-37, 39-37, and 39-36.

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