Friday, December 30, 2022

Philly’s Next Champ Gym Hosted Jerron “Boots” Ennis Media Workout

By Frank Bartolini

Philadelphia, PA: Philly’s Next Champ Gym in Northeast Philadelphia hosted Jerron “Boots” Ennis' media workout in preparation for his upcoming bout on January 7th at The Capitol One Arena in Washington D.C. Ennis will be squaring off against Karen Chukhadzhian for the interim IBF World Welterweight Title as the semi wind up of WBA World Lightweight king Gervonta Davis' title defense versus Hector Luis Garcia. 

Upon entering the gym, it is obvious Ennis is not a coddled fighter as he sat outside the ring on a stool and wrapped his own hands. After skipping rope and breaking a sweat, Boots took his sweatshirt off to reveal a sculpted physique that showed how physically mature he has become. Calling this workout impressive would be an understatement. Ennis' display of hand speed and punching power was spectacular. A thunderous noise, just a decibel below the sound of a shotgun blast, reverberated as Boots' gloved fists pounded the pads. When Bozy Ennis begins the chore of training his son, both men are focused and tend to the business at hand. At the conclusion of the session both were drenched in sweat. 

During the question-and-answer session, Boots indicated he expected a short night's work. Ennis also indicated that a bump up to junior welterweight for a title shot would not be out of the question.


Sunday, November 27, 2022

WWE Survivor Series War Games 2022

By Steve Ward

WWE returned to Boston’s TD Garden this evening for the latest installment of Survivor Series. This year a new spin was implemented as the Thanksgiving tradition would be fused with War Games, a throwback to WCW’s annual Fall Brawl that had most recently been revived on the NXT brand. Since Triple H has taken the reigns following Vince McMahon’s retirement, the programming has become noticeably more entertaining and several previously released talents have been brought back into the fold including: Bray Wyatt, Karrion Kross, Dexter Lumis, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, and Braun Strowman. This evening’s card featured five matches with two titles defended and was headlined by not one, but TWO, War Games ,matches. For those of you unfamiliar with a War Games match, two rings are encompassed by a massive steel cage as two teams are added to the match with participants alternating in entry. Once all combatants are in the cage, the match technically begins and a team is declared the winner by pinfall or submission.


Women’s War Games Match

Team Belair (Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Asuka, Mia Yim, & Bianca Belair) vs. Team Bayley (Rhea Ripley, Nikki Cross, Bayley, Io Sky, Dakota Kai)

Winners: Team Belair via pinfall


The opening contest on the card pit RAW Women’s Champion Bianca Belair’s team against Bayley’s team composed of her Damage Ctrl faction, Cross, and Ripley. Dakota Kai and Bianca Belair opened the match and from that point on a new woman entered the fray every three minutes with Team Bayley holding the advantage. 


Order of entry:

Dakota Kai

Bianca Belair

Io Sky

Asuka

Nikki Cross:

Alexa Bliss

Bayley

Mia Yim

Rhea Ripley

Becky Lynch


Following Becky Lynch’s entry into the cage, the match finally officially commenced and a winner would be determined by the first pinfall or submission. The closing moments of the match saw Io Sky and Dakota Kai positioned on a table in the corner of the ring. Becky Lynch then proceeded to scale the cage and delivered a leg drop to both women that decimated the table. Lynch proceeded to pin Kai to seal the victory for her team.


Finn Balor w/ Dominik Mysterio & Damian Priest vs. AJ Styles w/ Gallows & Anderson

Winner: AJ Styles via pinfall


This match pit two men with an extensive history dating back to New Japan Pro Wrestling as each man was a leader of the Bullet Club in their respective tenures. This bout legitimately came down to Styles and Balor only as The OC and Judgement Day proved to be non-factors after they brawled out of the arena. Styles and Balor were visibly battered from their vicious encounter and in the end, Styles delivered a Phenomenal Forearm to help him earn the pinfall.


Smackdown Women’s Championship

Ronda Rousey (c) w/ Shayna Baszler vs. Shotzi

Winner: Ronda Rousey via submission


Ronda Rousey’s latest contender came in the form of Shotzi tonight after she recently prevailed in a Six-Pack Challenge on Smackdown. Following a relatively sloppy match, Ronda finally overwhelmed Shotzi first with a Judo throw from the top turnbuckle, then the Piper’s Pit, and finally earned the submission victory with an armbar.


United States Championship Triple Threat Match

Seth Rollins (c) vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Austin Theory

Winner: Austin Theory via pinfall


Seth Rollins found himself in the crosshairs of both Bobby Lashley and Austin Theory. Lashley after he defeated him for the US Championship and Austin Theory after he became frustrated with his attempts at cashing in the Money In The Bank briefcase being repeatedly thwarted (before finally failing) and turned his attention to another champion. The end of the match saw Seth Rollins superplex Theory and then hold on and hoist him up for the Falcon Arrow. Before Rollins could execute the move, Lashley speared him and Rollins then collapsed with Theory on top of him long enough for a three count by dumb luck.


Men’s War Games Match

The Bloodline (Roman Reigns, Jimmy & Jey Uso, Solo Sikoa, & Sami Zayn) w/ Paul Heyman vs. The Brawling Brutes (Sheamus, Butch, and Ridge Holland), Drew McIntyre, & Kevin Owens

Winners: The Bloodline via pinfall


Roman Reigns still found himself in tonight’s main event, however, it was as a part of War Games rather than in defense of his title - which unless he makes a defense on WWE weekly programming means his next defense could theoretically be at the Royal Rumble on January 28. The first two participants in the main event were Butch and Jey Uso who battled for five minutes before Ridge Holland entered the ominous cage from which point a new participant would enter every three minutes until all ten men made their way into the chaos.


Order of entry:

Butch

Jey Uso

Ridge Holland

Sami Zayn

Drew McIntyre

Jimmy Uso

Kevin Owens

Solo Sikoa

Sheamus

Roman Reigns


After Roman Reigns, the final participant to enter the match, made his into the cage, the bell rang officially marking the start of the bout. In the closing moments, Sami Zayn affirmed his allegiance to the Bloodline as he first delivered a low blow to Kevin Ownes and then put him down again with a Helluva Kick. Zayn then positioned Owens for a splash by Jey Uso that was immediately transitioned into a pinfall that solidified the win for The Bloodline.


Sunday, October 9, 2022

WWE Extreme Rules 2022

By Steve Ward

WWE returned to the birthplace of extreme, Philadelphia, PA, for Extreme Rules live from the Wells Fargo Center. While the Undisputed Universal Champion, Roman Reigns was noticeably absent from the card, the show was loaded with several “extreme” matches including two of the six contested for championship gold. One would have to wonder if the show would bend the rules of the PG rating with Vince McMahon no longer at the helm on a night where WWE claims to go extreme. Another glaring question for the evening was whether the “white rabbit” (presumed to be Bray Wyatt) would make his debut/return.

Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook Match

Imperium (Gunther, Giovanni Vinci, &Ludwig Kaiser) vs. The Brawling Brutes (Sheamus, Ridge Holland, & Butch)

Winners: The Brawling Brutes via pinfall

The bitter feud that has continued to escalate since Walter and Sheamus battled for the Intercontinental Championship at Clash at the Castle last month, came to a head tonight. Both men rallied their factions together for a “Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook Match” which was essentially a free-for-all brawl. Before the chaos of this match ensued, it should be noted that The Brawling Brutes entrance was interrupted by a brief video featuring the enigmatic “white rabbit.” Following a hard-hitting brawl that exceeded 20 minutes, Gunther received a devastating shot with a shalalee at the hands of Sheamus that subsequently allowed him to seal the victory.

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Extreme Rules Match

Liv Morgan (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

Winner: Ronda Rousey via submission

Ronda Rousey found herself in a position to try and regain her Smackdown Women’s Championship that she lost at Money In The Bank when Morgan cashed in her briefcase on Rousey after she was injured in her title defense. Rousey looked out of place in this match as soon as weapons were introduced and unfortunately Liv Morgan didn’t look much more comfortable as her most significant highlight was a well-executed senton from the top rope that put Rousey through a table. Moments after that thunderous blow, Morgan found herself tied up on the mat in the most unique submission hold I’ve seen her unleash that lead to Morgan losing consciousness.

Strap Match

Karrion Kross w/ Scarlett vs. Drew McIntyre

Winner: Karrion Kross via pinfall

Karrion Kross made his shocking return to RAW (following a very dismal and poorly booked first run on the main roster) just before Clash at the Castle. Upon his return, Kross immediately placed McIntyre in his crosshairs. The two combatants were bound together by a 13-foot leather strap in this bout with the winner to be declared by scoring a pinfall or submission. The closing moments of the match saw McIntyre seemingly poised for a potential victory as he sized up Kross for The Claymore. Scarlett intercepted McIntyre and sprayed him in the eyes with pepper spray leaving him vulnerable as he was blindsided with the Kross Hammer allowing Karrion Kross to seal the victory with a pinfall.

RAW Women’s Championship Ladder Match

Bianca Belair (c) vs. Bayley

Winner: Bianca Belair

Bayley made her return at Summerslam with her new running mates Io Sky and Dakota Kai, collectively called Damage Ctrl, as they confronted Belair following her successful title defense over Becky Lynch. Fast forward to tonight where they meet head-to-head in a Ladder Match where the first competitor to scale the ladder and retrieve the title suspended above the ring would be the victor. Belair was able to overcome a spirited effort by the former champ and interference by Damage Ctrl as she hit the KOD on Bayley clearing a path for her to ascend to the top of the ladder and retrieve her title.

“I Quit” Match

Edge vs. Finn Balor 

Winner: Finn Balor

This bitter feud ignited after Edge was unceremoniously booted from the faction he created, Judgment Day, when he thought he was introducing Finn Balor as the newest member only to have him supplant him as leader. Tonight, this feud came to a head in an “I Quit” Match where one wins by making his opponent mutter the words, “I Quit.” Edge was seemingly moments from forcing Balor to quit as he had him in a crossface with the aid of a hockey stick until the rest of the Judgement Day came to his aid. The odds were then evened as Rey Mysterio and Beth Phoenix came to The Rated R Superstars aid. The Judgement Day was able to regain the advantage once again after disposing of Rey Mysterio and Ripley delivering a vicious blow with brass knuckles to the back of Beth Phoenix’s head. With Edge being held down, Ripley positioned Phoenix’s head on a chair for the con-chair-to. Edge was forced to say, “I Quit” and still watched as Ripley delivered the crushing chair shot to his wife’s head.

Following the match, The Miz was again confronted by the Flyer’s mascot Gritty backstage and was offered a t-shirt. This time The Miz attacked Gritty and as he stood over the mascot berating him, he was attacked from behind by Dexter Lumis who subsequently choked him out and walked away with Gritty.

Fight Pit Match w/ Special Guest Referee Daniel Cormier

Seth Rollins vs. Matt Riddle

Winner: Matt Riddle via submission

These two men decided to take their personal rivalry into the Fight Pit, a doorless steel cage with shelves on top that would be lowered over the ring with the ropes removed. Additionally, a winner would only be crowned by pinfall or submission meaning escape would not be an option. Late in the contest, Riddle landed a senton from the top of the Fight Pit and moments later cinched in a triangle choke to solidify the victory.

As Riddle exited the arena, the lights faded to black as a creepy rendition of “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” echoed through the arena. After people dressed as characters from the Firefly Funhouse were illuminated around the arena, Bray Wyatt made his long-awaited debut/return to WWE to close the show.



Monday, August 8, 2022

Garcia Victorious in Return

By Frank BartoliniRingside

No other region on this earth is as ethnically diverse as the five boroughs that encompass New York City. The population of Brooklyn represents that fact. This was truly the case on the evening of July 30 at the Barclays Center when Danny “Swift” Garcia, a Philadelphian who is proud of his Puerto Rican heritage, faced Mexican American Jose Benavidez Jr. in the twelve round junior middleweight main event. The heavyweight semi-windup pitted Polish native Adam Kownacki against Ali Eren Demirezen of German-based Turk. Cuban junior welterweight Rances Barthelemy and Ukrainian middleweight Sergiy Derevyanchenko competed in separate contests on the undercard. All these combatants were well represented in the audience with either flags or shirts displaying national colors.  

Danny Garcia returned to his home away from home, the Barclays Center, to face contender Jose Benavidez of Phoenix. This was the former two-weight division world champion Garcia’s first venture into the junior middleweight ranks. He weighed 152 ¾ lbs. Leading up to the fight, many questions were asked about Garcia, who was coming off a nineteen-month layoff (L12 Errol Spence). Have Garcia's skills faded? Can he still pack a punch in a higher weight class? Will Garcia shake off the rust accumulated during his long layoff? This was Garcia's ninth time fighting in The Barclays Center and the crowd of approximately 9,500 fans exhibited its appreciation by roaring upon his entry into the arena.  

From the onset, Garcia started fast and maintained a good pace throughout. Benavidez,153 ¾ lbs., could not match Garcia’s punch rate. During the second round, Garcia darted in and out as Benavidez became more aggressive trying to stunt Danny’s offense. However, beyond this point it was all Garcia as he moved well to avoid being hit while scoring counter right hands. Garcia took full control of the action and began landing combinations to both the head and body while the house cheered “DANNY, DANNY, DANNY” in round five.  

Trying to change the momentum, Benavidez pressed the action during the ninth stanza and it was the only session he clearly won. Closing out the fight, Garcia looked sensational in the final three minutes throwing beautiful, fast flurries. At the end, everyone in the building believed beyond a doubt that Danny had won. That is, everyone except for the official judges. Garcia, who is now 37-3, 21 KOs, won a majority decision by scores of 114-114 (Waleska Roldan), 116-112 (Glen Feldman), and 117-111 (Tony Paolillo). This writer had it 119-110 for Garcia, ten rounds to one with one even. Benavidez slipped to 27-2-1, 18 KOs.

This grand performance by Garcia not only extended his career it catapulted him into the junior middleweight rankings. In the days following the romp, Keith Thurman went on social media calling for Garcia to face him in a rematch. Garcia lost a close twelve round nod to Thurman in March of 2017 in a world welterweight unification tilt staged at The Barclays Center. One promoter said he finds Garcia vs. Connor Benn an intriguing match up and would like to promote it. Whispers of Garcia challenging WBA world middleweight champion Erislandy Lara, at a catch weight, are also circulating. Others have said Garcia is in line to meet physical anomaly 6’ 5 ½” Sebastian Fundora. With all these options, Garcia would be wise to enter the ring by year's end while he is still a hot commodity.

DEMIREZEN BEATS KOWNACKI

It was not long ago that Polish-born heavyweight Adam Kownacki, Brooklyn, NY, was a world rated contender in line for a chance to battle for the world heavyweight championship. But after losing his third straight against Ali Eren Demirezen, Hamburg, Germany, Kownacki's days as a world ranked fighter seem to be over. Nearly half of Kownacki's, 251¼ lbs., professional boxing career has taken place at the same venue. Polish fans came in droves and Kownacki admirers had plenty to root for following the first two rounds. Kownacki slowed down in the third and Demirezen got the better of the action from this point forward.

Both boxers threw plenty of punches, and combined, unleashed almost eighteen hundred blows over ten rounds. A humongous tally for heavyweights. By throwing and scoring more power shots Demirezen had the left side of Kownacki's face looking horrible. Demirezen, 272 ¾ lbs., got off first and landed a straight right that opened a gash over Kownacki’s left eye. Brawling and rough housing kept Kownacki in the fight and many felt the fan-favorite might receive a hometown nod. However, judges Steve Weisfeld and Martha Tremblay (97-93) and Mark Consentino (96-94) all scored the fight in favor of Demirezen, 17-1, 12 KOs. Kownacki, 203, 15 KOs, must re-evaluate his career. It will be a long road back for Kownacki.

RUSSELL STOPS BARTHELEMY

Competing for the first time in his life without his late father in his corner, Gary Antuanne Russell, Capitol Heights, MD, 137 ¾ lbs., kept his knockout streak alive with a controversial stoppage of Cuban native Frances Barthelemy, Las Vegas, NV. Gary Russell Sr. passed away suddenly in May, and his son, former WBC world featherweight king Gary Russell Jr. took over his duties of training and working in his younger brother's corner. An even battle until round six, southpaw Russell setup right hook to the jaw of Barthelemy, 139 ½ lbs., by dipping low before unleashing the bomb. Barthelemy fell to the deck and rose quickly, walking himself to a neutral corner. For reasons unknown to anyone, referee Shada Murdaugh called off the match. A cognitive and stable Barthelemy looked perfectly fine to continue the scheduled ten-rounder. The time of the stoppage was 50 seconds of round six. Russell's record remains unblemished at 16-0, 16 KOs. Barthelemy must rebuild with a slate of 29-2-1, 15 KOs.

DEREVYANCHENKO SCORES WIN

On the undercard, Ukrainian Sergiy Derevyanchenko. 159½ lbs., obtained his first victory in three years. Derevyanchenko out-punched journeyman Joshua Conley, San Bernardino, CA, over ten rounds. Conley, 160 lbs., gave a game effort but fell to 17-4-1, 11 KOs. All three judges gave the fight to Derevyanchenko, now 14-4, 10 KOs, by wide margins: Allen Nace and Don Trella had it 99-91, while John Basile scored it 98-92.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Philly Prospects Headline Hard Hitting Promotions Show

By Frank BartoliniRingside

Philadelphia: This past Saturday Hard Hitting Promotions delivered a seven bout fight card filled with young Philadelphia prospects. 

Headlining the main event, Avery Sparrow, Philadelphia, dropped a very close eight round decision to William Foster III, New Haven, CT. The tides of momentum changed throughout this battle, due to Sparrow's ability to adapt. 

Foster's four inch height advantage made it hard for the usually counter punching Sparrow,129.1 lbs., to score. Utilizing his natural physical assets, Foster, 128.7 lbs., pumped his left jab while moving forward and snaking in right hands. After three rounds, Foster seemed to be in full control and was able to slip Sparrow’s attempts at counterpunching. Unable to close the gap, Avery did not get frustrated. Instead, Sparrow implored a new fight style by moving his head and being aggressive to get inside. Once Sparrow found himself inside Foster’s wheel house, he was more effective landing overhand rights to the head and blows to the body. Several times, Foster found himself in a corner or back to the ropes and could do nothing but grab his foe. 

Getting caught with punches moving inside, Sparrow did not relent and fought every second of the remainder of the contest, including very strong efforts in rounds six and seven when he snapped back Foster’s head with right hands. 

During the final three minutes, Foster committed to staying away from the shorter Sparrow and moved non-stop. Darting in scoring shots and running away, Foster won the last round and the fight on all three judges' scorecards 77-75. 

Foster remains undefeated 15-0, 9 KOs, while Sparrow drops to 10-4, 4 KOs. 

Sparrow had Foster figured out, but ran out of time. If a rematch was scheduled for ten rounds, this scribe would wager heavily on Sparrow. 

The semi windup matched two junior lightweights, Christain Tapia, Coamo, Puerto Rico, with completely outclassed late replacement Mario Sayal Lozano, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Possessing too much talent and skill, Tapia,131.5 lbs., nearly pitched a shutout. Lozano, 132 lbs., was a tough opponent who never quit trying. 

The final tally favored Tapia 78-73 across the board. Tapia rises to 15-0, 12 KOs. Lozano is now 18-8-1, 9 KOs.

Stepping into the ring for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic, Jeremy Cuevas, Philadelphia, did not miss a beat. Showing zero effects of being laid off for two years, Cuevas knocked the tar out of Nicolas Pablo Demario, Buenos Aires, Argentina, over six rounds. Punctuating a solid performance, Cuevas, 144 lbs., dropped Demario,143 lbs., with a right to the chin in round five. All scorekeepers saw it 60-53 for Cuevas. Cuevas is now 14-1, 10 KOs. Demario's heads home with a record 16-7, 10 KOs. 

Interestingly, Demario entered the ring to the theme of the movie The Godfather. In all my years around the sport, I have never heard that melody used by a boxer. Veteran cutman and mob historian, Joey Eye, also stated it was also a first for him. 

The event was held at The Fillmore Theater. The Fillmore is a small venue that has a balcony and two bars serving booze ringside. Roughly just over six hundred spectators wet their beaks and enjoyed the night’s festivities.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Allen Loses Controversial Decision in Comeback

By Frank BartoliniRingside

Questionable scoring by the judges dampened Philadelphian Damon Allen’s comeback at the 2300 Arena last Saturday night (7/09). It was Allen’s first fight since the COVID pandemic struck; he had not been in the ring since October of 2019. Tough Oscar Barajas, Zamora, Mexico, fought hard but did not appear to earn the six-round decision.  

Looking a bit rusty, Allen, 131.5 lbs., still came out fast and managed to stay on his toes and moved well while landing blows to Barajas' head during round one. Although Allen’s timing may have been off, this pattern continued and he clearly swept the first three stanzas.  

Granted, the southpaw Barajas,136.2 lbs., pressed forward, fighting out of a half-crouch, and managed to score a few hard shots to the head and body during the first nine minutes.  

However, matters took a different course in the fourth and fifth rounds when Barajas’ awkward punches began to find their mark. Barajas tattooed Allen with combinations to the chin and had him buzzed during round five.  

Determined to win, Allen returned to life and stormed off his stool when the bell chimed to start the final session. Standing toe to toe both combatants unloaded bombs. It was give-and-take until the final gong, and Allen got the better of every exchange. The entire crowd of over nine hundred spectators were excited, and on their feet cheering the native Philadelphian.  

Following the fight's conclusion, the Philly boxing fans were smiling, shaking hands, and high-fiving, believing Allen’s heart and big finish had secured the victory. So, there was a collective gasp when ring announcer “Discombobulating '' Jones read the official scores: 57-57 and 58-56 twice, giving Barajas a majority decision win.

This was the second straight win for Barajas against a Philadelphia prizefighter at the 2300 Arena. In February, Barajas upset Philly fan favorite Jerome Conquest in the very same ring. Barajas' mark rose to 6-8-1, 2 KOs. Allen lost for the second time and is now 16-2-1, 5 KOs.

Allen vs. Barajas was the co-feature to an eight-round main event that pitted featherweights Edward Vazquez, Fort Worth, TX, against Jose Argel, Carolina, PR in a scheduled eight-rounder. Neither Vazquez,128.8 lbs., or Argel 127.2 lbs., packed a punch, yet both adhered to a slugger's fighting style. This made for a pitty-pat war for all eight heats. Vazquez won by shutout, 80-72 on all three cards, and improved his respectable record of 12-1, 3 KOs. Argel dipped to 8-4, 2 KOs.

OTHER RESULTS

Isaiah Johnson, 141.6 lbs., Sicklerville, NJ., winner TKO1 (1:57) over Rondale Hubbert,145.7 lbs., Duluth, MN. Johnson: 5-0, 5 KOs. Hubbert 14-23-3, 8 KOs.

DeAundre Pettus, 160.5 lbs, Columbia, SC won by unanimous four-round decision over Chukka Willis, 163 lbs., Emporia, KS. All three judges scored 40-36. Pettus, 7-1, 3 KOs. Willis: 4-17, 2 KOs.

Famous Wilson, pro debut, 160.5 lbs., Deer Park, NY, won by unanimous decision versus Vincent Randall, 157.9 lbs., Valparaiso, IN. The scores were 40-36 twice and 39-37. Wilson: 1-0, Randall: 0-2.

Boimah Karmo, 152.7 lbs., Sharon Hill, PA, won a unanimous four-round nod against Daniel Jiles, 151 lbs., Philadelphia, by scores of 40-36 and 39-37 twice. Karmo: 3-0-1, Jiles: 0-2.  

The night started with a battle of junior welterweight debutantes. Najeem Johns, 141 lbs., Philadelphia, cold cocked Darryl Chamberlain with the second punch of his pro career. The punch rocked Chamberlain to the core, and had him on queer street. John's follow up shot had Chamberlain falling face-first onto the ring apron. The fight ended after just 16 seconds into the action when referee Shawn Clark waved it off and the ring physician climbed through the ropes to provide medical care. Chamberlain was up on his feet one minute later and deemed in good physical condition. Johns: 1-0, 1 KO, Chamberlain: 0-1.

(Photo - BoxRec.com)

Sunday, July 3, 2022

WWE Money In The Bank 2022

By Steve Ward

WWE made their return to Las Vegas this evening as Money In The Bank emanated from the MGM Grand Garden Arena. One could make the argument that this has evolved into one of the most significant pay per views of the year simply for the massive ramifications it can have on the world championship landscape. For those unfamiliar with the long running event, the respective winners of each Money In The Bank Ladder Match (who are crowned by retrieving the briefcase suspended above the ring) are awarded a world title shot at any point for one calendar year. One note of interest was that the event was originally scheduled to be held at Allegiant Stadium, home of the Raiders, however, sub-par ticket sales lead to the venue change. This evening’s loaded card featured six scheduled matches including two Money In The Bank Ladder Matches, as well as, three title bouts.

Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match

Becky Lynch vs. Asuka vs. Liv Morgan vs. Raquel Rodriguez vs. Lacey Evans vs. Shotzi vs. Alexa Bliss

Winner: Liv Morgan


The women’s match offered a well rounded field of competitors as it combined many established contenders and former champions, as well as, a few dark horse participants with the winner in position to potentially take a shot at the winner of the Ronda Rousey versus Natalya Neidhart title showdown also featured on the card. In the final moments of the match, we witnessed Becky Lynch seemingly moments from retrieving the briefcase as she ascended a ladder in the center of the ring, however, Liv Morgan came out of nowhere and climbed another ladder right next to her. Morgan was able to dispatch of Lynch and transitioned over to her ladder with a clear path to the briefcase. Morgan retrieved the briefcase and will now be able to cash in an opportunity at the Women’s Champion for one year.


United States Championship

Bobby Lashley vs. Austin Theory (c)

Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission


After imposing his dominant strength upon Theory for much of the match, Lashley appeared in dire straits in the closing moments as Theory raked his eyes and executed a spear on The Almighty. Theory then hoisted Lashley up on his shoulders for the A-Town Down, however, Lashley used his speed and tact to slip out and promptly cinched in The Hurt Lock for the submission victory.


RAW Women’s Championship

Carmella vs. Bianca Belair (c)

Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall


Belair was originally slated to defend her title against Rhea Ripley until an injury left her unable to compete. Carmella was subsequently able to insert herself in the match after she won a five-way match recently on RAW. By championship bout standards, this was a relative squash match as Belair had an answer to every ounce of offense Carmella attempted to mount. In the end, Belair retained her title after she put Carmella down with the KOD.


WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championship

The Usos (c) vs. The Street Profits

Winners: The Usos via pinfall


The Usos put their historic 348 day title reign on the line this evening as they stood toe-to-toe with Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins, The Street Profits, with the Undisputed Tag Team Championship on the line. The Usos frustrated The Street Profits for the majority of this match as they couldn’t put away the champs regardless of the level of risk associated with their offense. In the closing moments, Dawkins was disposed of into the timekeeper’s area leaving Ford to fall victim to some heavy tandem offense at the hands of The Usos. First, he took duel super kicks on the chin and then fell victim to the 1D as The Usos retained their titles. Controversy surfaced after the conclusion of the match as the replay showed that Ford’s shoulder was never down on the canvas as the referee commenced with his three count - there certainly will be more to come of this in the coming days.


Smackdown Women’s Championship

Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Natalya

Winner: Ronda Rousey via submission


Ronda Rousey returned to the ring tonight to defend her championship against another technical wrestler in Natalya. There were not many highlights in the match although the key moment came when Rousey was propelled from the ring and “tweaked” her knee on the landing. Rousey was still able to overcome this and a Sharpshooter attempt from Natalya to lock in an impressive armbar for the submission victory.


Following the match, Liv Morgan rushed to the ring to immediately cash in her Money In The Bank contract as Rousey was hobbled.


Smackdown Women’s Championship

Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Liv Morgan

Winner: Liv Morgan via pinfall


Rousey was able to immediately cinch in the ankle lock, however, Morgan escaped as she targeted Ronda’s knee. Morgan then rolled up Rousey for the pinfall to become the new Smackdown Women’s Champion.


Men’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match

Riddle vs. Seth Rollins vs. Omos w/ MVP vs. Madcap Moss vs. Sami Zayn vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Theory

Winner: Theory


After all seven competitors entered the ring, WWE executive Adam Pearce made his way out to announce there would be an eighth competitor and he proceeded to introduce Theory who lost the United States Championship earlier. In the closing moments, Riddle disposed of Rollins as he executed an RKO from the top of the ladder before scaling it once again. With the briefcase at his fingertips, Theory met Riddle at the top of the ladder. The two combatants proceeded to exchange blows as Riddle was knocked off of the ladder leaving Theory alone to retrieve the briefcase in possibly the worst Money In The Bank Ladder Match I’ve ever witnessed.


Friday, June 17, 2022

Carlos Ortiz, the Last of a Breed

By Gene Pantalone, NJBHOF (Class of 2022) Writer/Historian

For me, the death of Carlos Ortiz on June 13, 2022, represents the end of an era. An era when many boxers trained with other boxers in remote training camps. Carlos Ortiz was the last in a long line of champions that trained at a boxing camp in the small, idyllic town of Chatham Township, New Jersey. It was a camp that was started by a woman, Madame Bey, in 1923, and continued by Ehsan Karadag after her death in 1942. There is no telling how many champions passed through this camp; however, we do know that there were no fewer than 14 heavyweight champions and 80 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees that came to this camp from 1923 to 1969.

When Ortiz first came to the camp, he was following in the footsteps of a pantheon of great boxers. From the first to train here in 1923, middleweight world champion Johnny Wilson, to the last, Carlos Ortiz. Others in the forty-seven-year history that trained here were Gene Tunney, Max Schmeling, Mickey Walker, Henry Armstrong, Lou Ambers, Tony Canzoneri, Floyd Patterson (the last heavyweight champion to train here in 1959), and many other world champions. Other greats that had retired just came to the camp to watch their successors. Greats like Rocky Marciano, James J. Corbett, Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Benny Leonard, James Braddock, were among them. Along with the fighters, many great trainers, managers, and promoters accompanied them, like Cus D’Amato, Ray Arcel, Whitey Bimstein, Chris Dundee, Joe Jacobs, Mike Jacobs, Jimmy Jacobs (Mike Tyson’s co-manager), etc.

In 1966 and 1967, the last world champion came to use Ehsan’s camp as a base for his training. Like Freddie Welsh, who had brought boxing to Chatham Township in 1917, he held the world lightweight championship. His name was Carlos Ortiz, born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on September 9, 1936. He came to mainland America in 1947. Ortiz had eyes that lit his face, even white teeth, tightly curling brown hair, and thick eyebrows dominating his tiny features. His face remained unmarked after eighteen years of fighting as an amateur and professional. 

Ortiz held the world junior welterweight championship from 1959 to 1962, followed by two reigns as the world lightweight champion, from 1962 to 1965 and from 1965 to 1968. Most champions were training elsewhere. Some were in hotels like those in the Catskill Mountains. Muhammad Ali, world heavyweight champion, preferred to do his work in a midtown gymnasium, where the “people can come to see me,” thought later is his career he, too, would train in a remote camp in Pennsylvania.

“The Garden wanted to put me up there somewhere, too,” Ortiz said, “but there’s too many people there. I don’t like to be bothered when I’m training.” 

Ortiz was to defend his world lightweight title against Gabriel “Flash” Elorde from the Philippines at Madison Square Garden. It would be the first lightweight title bout at the Garden in almost thirteen years—since Paddy DeMarco, the Brooklyn Billy Goat, dethroned Jimmy Carter on March 5, 1954. 

The camp owner, Ehsan, was seventy-seven years old. He used to have many fighters training, sometimes over thirty, but now he was lucky to have three—Ortiz and two sparring partners. Ortiz also spent a few weeks at Ehsan’s earlier that year prior to his title bouts with Sugar Ramos and Johnny Bizzarro. Other than that, Ehsan’s Camp had been quiet.

The white, clapboard farmhouse at the camp that had housed a great many champions was weather-beaten. Inside, you could find Carlos Ortiz playing cards, which had been a tradition through the years. It was time to relax and forget about boxing for a while. Their game of choice that day was Hearts.

“Carlos is leading,” said Teddy Bentham, his trainer, looking up from the score pad.

“You've got to lead the spades to me,” Roger Gerson, a friend of Ortiz, said across the table to Willie Munoz, one of the sparring partners. “Then I can lead the spades to Carlos, and he can’t get off the hook.”

“I'm a good counter puncher,” Ortiz said, seriously, referring to the card game and not his boxing skills.

“Carlos wins a ten-dollar,” Bentham said, after the game concluded.

“Another big purse,” Carlos said, smiling.

At the conclusion of the game, Ortiz’s manager reminded him it was time to get back to work.

“I love this place,” Ortiz said. “I don’t want to train at those resorts. Too many people. That’s like going to Coney Island.”

Ortiz dominated the fight against Elorde at the Garden on November 28, 1966. He scored a knockout at two minutes, one second in round fourteen of fifteen. All scorecards showed Ortiz ahead before the knockout. Referee Jimmy Devlin eleven to two, Judge Joe Armstrong thirteen to zero, and Judge Artie Aidala twelve to one. The unofficial Associated Press scorecard was twelve to one, and the unofficial United Press International scorecard was eleven to zero with two even.

Arriving back at Ehsan’s in 1967, Ortiz came to prepare for another lightweight title defense. He would defend against the tall Panamanian, Ismael Laguna, a future lightweight champion.

“When I was a kid,” Carlos Ortiz said, “I promised myself I would make this title worth more money than it ever was worth before.”

With this fight, Ortiz would be able to fulfill his promise to himself. He was to fight for a guarantee of $83,000. When added to his lifetime earnings, it would eclipse by $500 the record for money earned by a lightweight, still held by Lou Ambers, who frequently used the camp to train for his fights thirty years before.

“But the money hasn’t changed Ortiz, said journalist Dave Anderson who was at the camp. “He trains the way champions used to, in seclusion and in simplicity. Other champions like their luxury these days.”

When asked what he would do with his purse, Ortiz said he would buy Ehsan’s Camp, and appeared serious.

“… I got to like it. I enjoy walking around here and the little town down the road, New Providence, is a nice place.”

On August 16th, Ortiz won a unanimous fifteen-round decision over Laguna at Shea Stadium in New York City, retaining his world lightweight title.

Ortiz would lose his title in his next fight against Carlos Teo Cruz in a fifteen-round split decision. He did not train at Ehsan’s for it. It took place on June 28, 1968, in Estadio Quisqueya, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Ortiz would go on to win his next ten fights after that loss. In 1972, he was scheduled to fight Roberto Duran, who was the lightweight champion, but Duran withdrew ten days before the fight. Ortiz fought Ken Buchanan instead.

“I had trained for a completely different fighter and was very frustrated. I felt I had nothing to gain and everything to lose,” Ortiz said.

On September 20, 1972, thirty-five-year-old Ortiz fought Buchanan at Madison Square Garden. Ortiz did not get up from his stool after the sixth round. He lost by a technical knockout. For the first time in his career, he did not finish a fight.

“I knew this was going to be my last fight,” Ortiz said. 

It would be his last fight. One month later, Ehsan Karadag died at the age of eighty-two. 

Carlos Ortiz finished his career with a record of 61-7-1 and one no contest. Ortiz is considered among the best Puerto Rican boxers of all time by sports journalists and analysts. He holds the record for the most wins in unified lightweight title bouts in boxing history at ten. In 1991, Ortiz was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. In 2002, Ortiz was voted by The Ring magazine as the 60th greatest fighter of the last 80 years. He held 21st place in BoxRec ranking of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of all time.

In 1969, Willie Ratner, the journalist who coaxed Madame Bey into assuming Freddie Welsh’s business forty-six years before, came to visit the camp. Where the sign that used to hang for a passerby to read “Training To-Day” was a new sign— “For Sale.” 

During its existence, the camp was the best known in the world. Time, economics, suburban sprawl, and a changed world of boxing took their toll. Its past popularity was undeniable. The once sparsely populated farmland was now surrounded by suburban homes and a large apartment complex down the street.

In 1972, the farmhouse on the grounds was razed, and the gymnasium was remodeled into a ranch-style house to blend with the surroundings. The extraordinary events that occurred at the camp live on because of fighters and sportswriters of the past, like Carlos Ortiz.


Gene Pantalone and his three brothers visited the historic camp in the mid-60s to see the likes of boxers Carlos Ortiz, Rubin Hurricane Carter, Jose Torres, Benny Kid Paret (he trained for his fatal fight there), Issac Logart, and Doug Jones. His books include Madame Bey’s: Home to Boxing Legends and From Boxing Ring to Battlefield: The Life off War Hero Lew Jenkins.

Gene Pantalone has compiled the following alphabetical list of known boxers, trainers, managers, promoters, and celebrities that attended the camp based on photograph and newspaper archival evidence. The following is an alphabetic list of people associated with boxing that were in Chatham Township, New Jersey, where Madame Bey's camp resided:

Georgie Abrams, Lou Ambers, Fred Apostoli, Red Applegate, Ray Arcel, Freddie Archer, Henry Armstrong, Buddy Baer, Max Baer, Joe Baksi, Sam Baroudi, Billy Beauhuld, Tommy Bell, Steve Belloise, Paul Berlenbach, Melio Bettina, Carmine Bilotti, Whitey Bimstein, Jimmy Bivins, James Braddock, Jorge Brescia, Jack Britton, Freddy Brown, Al Buck, Red Burman, Mushy Callahan, Victor Campolo, Tony Canzoneri, Primo Carnera, Georges Carpentier, Jimmy Carter, Rubin Carter, Ezzard Charles, Kid Chocolate, Gil Clancy, Freddie Cochrane, Jimmy Carrollo, James J. Corbett, Lulu Costantino, Cus D’Amato, Jack Delaney, Al Davis, Red Top Davis, James P. Dawson, Jack Dempsey, Gus Dorazio, Carl Duane, Chris Dundee, Johnny Dundee, Vince Dundee, Sixto Escobar, Tommy Farr, Abe Feldman, Freddie Fiducia, Jackie Fields, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Billy Fox, Humbert Fugazy, Charley Fusari , Tony Galento, Kid Gavil├ín, Frankie Genaro, Billy Gibson, Joey Giardello, George Godfrey, Arturo Godoy, Charley Goldman, Ruby Goldstein, Bud Gorman, Billy Graham, Frank Graham, Rocky Graziano, Abe Greene, Gus Greenlee, Emile Griffith, Babe Herman, Steve Hostak, Ace Hudkins, Herbert Hype Igoe, Beau Jack, Tommy Hurricane Jackson, Jimmy Jacobs, Joe Jacobs, Mike Jacobs, Joe Jeanette, Ben Jeby, Lew Jenkins, Jack Johnson, James Johnston, Doug Jones, Ralph Tiger Jones, Phil Kaplan, Jack Kearns, Frankie Klick, Johnny Kilbane, Solly Krieger, Jake LaMotta, Tippy Larkin, Benny Leonard, Gus Lesnevich, King Levinsky, John Henry Lewis, Isaac Logart, Tommy Loughran, Joe Louis, Joe Lynch, Eddie Mader, Nathan Mann, Rocky Marciano, Lloyd Marshall, Eddie Martin, Bat Masterson, Joey Maxim, Jimmy McLarnin, Mike McTigue, Jack Miley, Bob Montgomery, Archie Moore, Tod Morgan, Dan Morgan, Walter Neusel, Kid Norfolk, Lou Nova, Jack O’Brien, Bob Olin, Lee Oma, Carlos Ortiz, Ken Overlin, Benny Kid Paret, Floyd Patterson, Willie Pep, Billy Petrolle, Willie Ratner, Grantland Rice, Gilbert Rogin, Maxie Rosenbloom, Al Roth, Andre Routis, Irving Rudd, Bobby Ruffin, Damon Runyon, Sandy Saddler, Lou Salica, Johnny Saxton, Max Schmeling, Flashy Sebastian, Marty Servo, Jack Sharkey, Battling Siki, Eric Seelig, Freddie Steele, Allie Stolz, Young Stribling, Herman Taylor, Lew Tendler, Sid Terris, Young Terry, Jack Thompson, Jose Torres, Gene Tunney, Pancho Villa, Mickey Walker, Max Waxman, Al Weill, Charlie Weinert, Freddie Welsh, Harry Wills, Charley White, Johnny Wilson, Chalky Wright, Paulino Uzcudun, Jersey Joe Walcott, Ike Williams, Teddy Yarosz.


Sources:

Anderson, Dave. Ortiz Prefers Simple and Secluded Training. New York Times. November 27, 1966.

Hissner, Ken. Carlos Ortiz the Hall of Fame Junior Welterweight and Lightweight Champion! Doghouse Boxing. April 28, 2009.

Ratner, Willie. Ehsan’s Training Camp on the Ropes. Newark Evening News. April 23, 1969.

Norton, Mark. Letter to the Summit Historical Society. Summit: 2008.

Smith, Red. Carlos Comes High. Binghamton Press. August 11, 1967.

Monday, June 6, 2022

WWE Hell In A Cell 2022

By Steve Ward

WWE Hell In A Cell emanated from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois and would have a lot to live up to after AEW put forth an incredible show in Las Vegas last weekend with Double Or Nothing. This evening’s card featured only two title bouts and was headlined by Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins waging war inside the visceral Hell In A Cell, however, it was notable that many major names were not present on the card including, Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre, Charlotte Flair, Ronda Rousey, and The Usos - to name a few.


RAW Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match

Asuka vs. Becky Lynch vs. Bianca Belair (c)

Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall

Bianca Belair found herself in the crosshairs of not only the woman whose title she took at Wrestlemania, Becky Lynch, but also the returning Asuka. Belair was originally set to square of with the Empress of Tomorrow one on one until Lynch pinned Asuka recently on Monday Night RAW to insert herself into the bout. In a surprisingly fast-paced and entertaining opening contest, the closing moments saw Lynch execute the Manhandle Slam seemingly leaving her poised to win the title. Belair then reemerged from the arena floor and dragged Lynch from the ring stealing the pinfall on the stunned Asuka to retain her title.


2-on-1 Handicap Match

Bobby Lashley vs. Omos & MVP

Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission

Tonight offered a continuation in the ongoing rivalry between Lashley and Omos that began at Wrestlemania and was further ignited as MVP betrayed Lashley upon his return from injury.  In the closing moments of the contest, Cedric Alexander provided just enough of a distraction to allow Lashley to spear Omos leaving MVP alone with The Almighty who cinched in the Hurt Lock to earn the submission victory.


Ezekiel vs. Kevin Owens

Winner: Kevin Owens via pinfall

Since the night following Wrestlemania, the wrestler once know as Elias,  has been monopolizing his time with convincing Kevin Owens that he is Elias’ younger brother Ezekiel - even though it’s clearly the same wrestler with no beard, no guitar, a haircut, and different ring attire. Ezekiel showed some flashes of offense early but a cannonball delivered to a vulnerable Ezekiel followed by the Stunner was too much for him to overcome as Owens easily pinned him for the three count.


A.J. Styles, Finn Balor, & Liv Morgan vs. The Judgement Day (Edge, Damian Priest, & Rhea Ripley)

Winners: The Judgement Day via pinfall

This bout held several underlying plot lines heading into this evening. Edge and Styles have had their ongoing rivalry since prior to Wrestlemania, Morgan and Ripley were former tag team partners, and Styles and Balor are both Bullet Club alumni from their time in New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor which brings us to the tag team affair tonight. In the final moments of the bout, Edge appeared to be in dire straits as Balor ascended to the top rope to attempt the Coup de Grace. Ripley then stood in his way thwarting the attempt and as Balor came back down to the canvas, he was greeted with a devastating spear from Edge to seal the victory for The Judgement Day.


No Hold Barred Match

Happy Corbin vs. Madcap Moss

Winner: Madcap Moss via pinfall

The rivalry between Moss and Corbin, one time friends turned bitter enemies, that was sparked out of jealousy following Moss’ win in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal and Corbin’s loss on The Showcase of the Immortals, continued this evening in a No Holds Barred match. In what essentially evolved into a watered down hardcore match, Moss finally earned a measure of revenge on Corbin as he wrapped a steel chair around his head and dropped the steel ring stairs on him before covering Happy for the pinfall


United States Championship

Austin Theory (c) vs. Mustafa Ali

Winner: Austin Theory via pinfall

The youngest United States Champion in history stood toe to toe with Chicago’s own Mustafa Ali with his championship gold on the line in a match that came to fruition on Monday night. Mr. McMahon had Adam Pearce establish the bout after Theory gave Ali a “title shot” following his match with Ciampa in the interest of fairness. Late in the match, Ali missed a 450 attempt that allowed Theory to capitalize and retain his title after he put Ali away with the A-Town Down.


Hell In A Cell Match

Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins

Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall

Seth Rollins obsession over his loss to Cody Rhodes at Wrestlemania has continued to linger while seemingly plunging him deeper into self-manifested madness. Tonight could be the final chapter in this rivalry as the two stepped into the ominous Hell In A Cell. Prior to the match, it was reported that Cody had sustained a torn pectoral muscle while training earlier in the week and needless to say, it was accurate. After Cody removed his ring jacket, the crowd was left in utter silence as his right pectoral and bicep were grotesquely black and blue. To add to the drama of this encounter, Rollins elected to don black ring attire with yellow polka dots - a jab at Cody’s father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Give Cody Rhodes a lot of credit as he was clearly limited in his arsenal tonight yet still managed to put forth the best match of the evening with Seth Rollins. In the closing moments, Rhodes executed multiple Cross Rhodes before he put Rollins down with a sledgehammer shot to the head.