Wednesday, March 13, 2019

When Irish Eyes Smile on Philadelphia

By Luis A. Cortes III

This Friday night from the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University marks the return of big-time boxing to the city of Brotherly Love.  Last April, Top Rank Promotions and ESPN put on a big show at Liacouras Center that featured plenty of hometown fighters in key matchups.  This year, while there have already been some compelling local shows that have all had great attendance, it’s time for Matchroom Boxing USA and DAZN to host a show in the city. The upstart streaming application that has taken the boxing world by storm, will broadcast their first show from Philadelphia on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.  Granted the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has come and went in the city, this Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, which means that the city will be a buzz with plenty of festivities for Philly to indulge in.  A Friday night at the fights is the perfect way to kick things off.

Since signing a promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing USA, IBF Junior Lightweight Champion Tevin Farmer (28-4-1)(6 KO’s)(1 NC) has gotten what he has asked for, an active schedule.  Eddie Hearn has made good on his promise to Farmer that if he did sign with Matchroom, barring any injuries, he would constantly get him fights.  Which means that when he defends his championship in the main event on Friday night, it will be his fourth fight in seven months and his third title defense.  What makes this title defense interesting for Farmer is not only will he be fighting for the first time as champion in his hometown, he will be facing the tough and rugged challenge of undefeated Irishman Jono Carroll (16-0)(3 KO’s).  On a weekend like the one approaching, it’s the perfect sell for a main event.  Hometown champion versus the tough challenge of a native Irishman during the city’s celebration of the latter’s heritage.

This is a huge fight for Farmer, even though it may seem that Carroll may not have the same experience to really test Farmer.  Carroll is in fact a durable fighter that has had to fight his way from the bottom to reach this opportunity.  Both fighters have exchanged barbs over social media, calling each other everything in the book.  Farmer has stated his pleasure with fighting under the Matchroom banner and has also let it be known that after this fight he would love the chance to unify the division titles in a fight against the WBA champion Gervonta Davis.  This is the fight that most hardcore fight fans have been asking for a couple of years already from a stylistic standpoint would be fun to witness.  Although the future looks bright for Farmer with a victory on Friday night, nothing by any means is guaranteed in terms of a victory.  Carroll for his part is planning to spoil those future plans as well as reach a point in his career that he has admitted only he dreamed could happen.

In the co-main event, WBA and IBF unified featherweight queen Katie Taylor (12-0)(5 KO’s), looks to add the WBO title to her growing collection when she battles Brazilian Rose Volante (14-0)(8 KO's).  Taylor, an Olympic Champion from the 2012 London Games, is quickly working her way up the pound-for-pound rankings in women’s boxing.  She already retains celebrity status in her native Ireland, and having fought already in Boston and New York, adding Philadelphia to her resume will continue to add to her rising popularity.  If she were to get by Volante, she already has stated that she would love to battle Amanda Serrano, a fellow pound-for-pound ranked fighter in a super fight.  Taylor is open to fighting the best in the world and along with Carroll, her fellow countrymen, adds yet another Celtic flavor to the fight card.

On the undercard two matchups look to shine a spotlight on the world of Philadelphia boxing.  Middleweights Gabriel Rosado (24-11-1)(14 KO’s) of Philadelphia and Maciej Sulecki (27-1)(11 KO’s) will battle in a pivotal matchup for both men.  Earlier this week, Eddie Hearn went on the record and stated that the winner of this matchup would be in line for a world title shot against WBO Middleweight Champion Demetrius Andrade.  That statement put an added incentive to the already motivated mind of Rosado, who will be fighting in front of his hometown crowd for the first time in several years.  During the pre-fight promotion, Rosado’s trainer Billy Briscoe stated that he was indeed impressed with the skills of Sulecki and in no way was Rosado going to take this fight with anything but a serious approach.  This is a solid fight that should please both the crowd in attendance and the fans watching at home.

Lightweight Hank Lundy (29-7-1)(14 KO’s) will take on his fellow Philadelphian Avery Sparrow (9-1)(3 KO’s).  Although both fighters are from Philadelphia, believe me when I tell you there is no love lost between these two fighters.  Both are no stranger to speaking their minds, which was the case during the kick-off press conference.  Lundy told TWI that he expects to capture his 30th victory of his veteran professional career and feels that a win on this type of show and platform in his hometown could launch his career towards at least one more run towards a world championship at lightweight.  With a career that has seen Lundy face some of the best fighters of the past generation at both lightweight and super lightweight, it is this experience that he believes will be the difference maker in the fight.  Sparrow is looking to use a victory of Lundy to jumpstart his career and put in on a path towards championship glory.  Sparrow is the younger fighter, that has shown glimpses of raw natural talent that has made him a fighter that not many lightweights want to risk their padded records against.  Both hometown fighters are coming to fight, and it should be interesting while it lasts.

A pair of former Olympians round out the undercard.  John Joe Nevin (10-0)(4 KO’s) is a thirty year old super featherweight from Ireland.  He captured the Silver medal at the 2012 Olympic games in London.  Over the past seven years, his career has not taken off the way some of the other Olympians from that year have.  But Neven, who has fought in Philadelphia before, would like to use this chance to start being more active.  Luke Campbell (19-2)(15 KO’s) is a lightweight fighter from England, that won the Gold medal for his home country during the 2012 games.  Like his fellow 2012 Olympian, Nevin, Campbell is trying to gear his career towards the next level that has so far eluded him in the professional ranks.  Also, Raymond Ford an amateur standout from across the river from Philadelphia, Camden, New Jersey will make his professional debut. 

Tickets for this great night at the fights in Philadelphia are still available. You can purchase them by visiting  Of course, if you can’t make it out to the fights, which I suggest you do,  DAZN will begin their broadcast at 7pm.    

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