PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                       February 06, 2009


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These Israeli boxers really know what they are doing - both in the ring and on the way into it. On Friday night at the Blue Horizon, the headliners of the evening, Ran Nakash and Elad Shmouel, both of Israel, won their separate ring battles with a minimal amount of effort against their out-gunned rivals. Both won by TKO in the second round, that's less than six minutes of action for each. The fireworks they produced in the ring delighted the crowd, for everyone loves a knockout. But these two guys did their best to win over the more than 1,000 fans that came out to the Blue before the bell ever even rang.

To ensure they had the crowd on their side, both Shmouel and Nakash entered the ring wearing Philadelphia Phillies baseball caps. To take it further, while one member of their entourage waved a large flag of Israel, another one waved an even larger Phillies World Series banner. Nakash took it a step better by donning a Phillies jersey instead of a boxing robe. The crowd ate it up. Are we Philadelphians that easy to please?  Are we so hungry to share our loyalties with even the most obvious of bandwagon jumpers? I think the answer is 'yes', but the full truth is that in the past couple of years the Blue Horizon has become a second home for both fighters. Ran has made eight appearances at the North Philly venue, Elad seven. So maybe their Philly gear should be interpreted as a tribute to their adopted pugilistic home. Whatever the case, it worked.

Ran Nakash of Haifa, Israel, raised his record to 17-0 with 13 KOs by beating down Ryan Carrol of Delaware, OH, now 8-2 with 4 KOs. Carrol used a decent left jab in the early moments of the scheduled 8-round bout. But the weapon was not good enough to keep Nakash off him. The Israeli pressed hard through Carrol's jab, through any jet lag he might have been feeling, and through the shock he must have felt from Philly's recent heavy snowfall. After Carrol connected with a jab, Nakash grabbed and held him when he could, and effectively reset his forward motion each time. Nakash whacked his foe with a left hook, which moved him to the ropes. Then a hard left to the body deposited Carrol on the canvas. He got up, but it was late in the round. So he survived.

Round two started and Nakash plowed his way in. He tested Carrol to the body again and with it seemed to find the key to his win. It must be some sight to see Nakash charging after you. It's not a crazy storming in. It's a low to the ground, determined pursuit. It has intensity but it is calm and steady, almost in slow motion. Let's say one or two notches above a steamroller. Ryan Carrol got to see what this looked like Friday night, and although I'd love to see it from that perspective myself, I have to say I'm glad it was Carrol and not me.

So Carrol saw Nakash coming at him, and his jab went out the window. Nakash backed him to the ropes with some good head shots, but he didn't forget about the body attack, which eventually dropped Carrol to his knees. He got up, but he looked tired. On the ropes, Nakash stood Carrol straight up with a hard left hook to the chin. Carrol's arms dropped to his sides, but it was a vicious flurry to the body that eventually put him down again. Referee Steve Smoger stepped right in and stopped the fight without a count. The time of the stoppage was 2:06 of round two.

Elad Shmouel had an even easier time in his fight. His opponent was Khristian Garaci of Pittsburgh, who entered with a 4-5-1 (3 KOs) record. Elad, 18-2 (9 KOs), was understandably matched a little light for this his first start since his classic brawl with Lenny DeVictoria fourteen months ago. That fight, won by DeVictoria, took the Briscoe Award as the 2007 Philly Fight of the Year, and Shmouel received his Briscoe after winning Friday night.

The biggest drama of this match came at the weigh-in. Shmouel came in at 143.25, but Garaci tipped the scales at a whopping 151.5, way over the jr. welterweight limit. But instead of watching the fight implode, Shmouel and his manager Ran Tal, allowed the opponent's extra weight in return for an additional undisclosed financial consideration.

With this in mind, assuming the extra weight indicated a lack of conditioning, Elad went right to the body in round one. Shmouel was all over Garaci. Elad landed to the head and body, but it was the attack downstairs that seemed to be working best. One of the body shots strayed low, and Garaci complained to referee Steve Smoger.

In round two, it was more of the same. Elad kept punching and Garaci had no answers. Finally, Shmouel trapped Garaci in his own corner and pounded away. A swift right-left combination hurt Garaci, and as he turned away from the attack, Smoger jumped in to stop it at 1:23. Shmouel was back and looked happy and relieved with the victory.

The rest of the card was filled with a number of young hopefuls in the early stages of their pro careers.

The show opened with an impressive second start by welterweight Ronald Cruz of Bethlehem, PA, (above left, in white trunks) who spoiled the pro debut of Philadelphian Adam Duncan (at left) with a third round TKO. After dropping Duncan twice in round one, Cruz swept the second and ended the bout by trapping Duncan in the blue corner and dishing out enough punishment to make referee Vic DeWysocki stop it at 2:52 of the third round. Cruz left the ring 2-0 with 1 KO.

Ardick Butler (at left) got his career on track after losing his debut nine months ago. Butler won a four-round split decision over Anthony Abrams, who fell to 1-6. Both junior middleweights are from Philadelphia. The official scores were 39-37 Abrams, and 39-38 & 40-36 for Butler.

In a four round match of undefeated middleweights with just one fight each to their credit,
Marcus Bianconi (at right) of Houston, stopped John Turner of Philly, after two rounds. Turner was hurt repeatedly in the fight, but rallied back with his own shots. It was a good action fight. At the end of round two, Bianconi bloodied Turner's nose (below, left) and dropped him along the ropes. Turner arose. Then in a moment of confusion referee DeWysocki temporarily stopped the fight to allow the ringside doctor to have a look. Once the fight was resumed, the bell immediately rang to end the round. In the corner the match was halted before the third round began.

Elad Shmouel came next. Between the two main bouts, Julius Edmonds of Philadelphia (left) beat Atlantic City's Linwood Hurd by unanimous decision over six rounds. The Hurd camp disagreed with the verdict. With the win, Edmonds improved to 4-3 (no KOs), while Hurd dropped to 2-1-3 (no KOs).

In between bouts, retired referee Frank Cappuccino was honored by the Blue Horizon for his lengthy career, and Blue Horizon promoter & CEO Vernoca Michael was given a plaque by Sloan Harrison and the Kingsessing Rec Center for her service to the sport.

Cappuccino addresses the crowd.

Shmouel with his Briscoe Award.




John DiSanto - North Philadelphia - February 06, 2009