PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                          March 13, 2009


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Ryan Belasco and Jesus Barbosa mauled each other for the full six rounds of their welterweight main event at the South Philly Arena Friday night (03/13/09). It was quite an intimate encounter for the two fighters - one from Delaware and one from Philly - with just about every moment of the bout fought at extremely close quarters. Belasco tried to use his height and rangier frame to his advantage. He showed his left jab and some outside punching, but his North Philly foe forced the infighting and did his best to turn the match into the brawl that it became. Barbosa was effective in doing this, and it seemed he had no choice. Belasco clearly had the edge from the perimeter, and probably would have had a much easier time of it had he not been brought into such a battle by the shorter and stockier Barbosa.

Every round of the fight was close and difficult to score. Belasco's punches were a bit cleaner, but Barbosa was forcing the action. Over the course of the grueling bout, both men scored to the head and body, and neither ran away with a single round. The rounds they each won were earned with a slight advantage at best. After each round, the judges must have been secretly flipping coins to determine the winner of the session they had just watched. It was the same at ringside where most observers instantly polled each other as soon as the bell ended each round. There was disagreement everywhere - except with the common opinion that this fight was a toss-up.

Both fighters were busy throughout. Both were scoring. And both were getting tired. So who was winning? The one clue that surfaced could be read on their faces. Neither came out ready to pose for a picture, but Barbosa's face was showing some real signs of punishment. By the end, his left eye was swelling and closing up. He also had a mouse under his right eye and a nasty knot on the right side of his forehead. He really looked like he was in a fight. To be fair, Belasco was red and pulpy around the right eye, and had a slight cut over his left eye. You can't judge a fight on facial damage. There is a long list of fight winners who looked like losers at the end. And who knows whether punches, heads or elbows caused most of the damage. Belasco and Barbosa were throwing everything in there. But in a fight as close and questionable as this one, I have a hunch that the heavy marks on Barbosa'a face it played a part in the official call. 

After six rounds, all three judges saw the fight exactly the same, 58-56 for Belasco. That translates to 4-2 in rounds. That doesn't sound particularly close, but it's one round away from being a draw.

With the win, Belasco's fifth straight, he improved his record to 10-2-3 with 3 KOs. Barbosa dropped to 4-2-1 with 3 KOs.

In the semi-final bout, Tony Ferrante's opponent, Chris Archer of Tarentum, PA, didn't look like he was going to be very tough, but he proved otherwise. Ferrante jumped out to an early lead and maintained his edge all the way. But Archer was game and able to hang in there for quite a while. Archer even raised a nasty egg-shaped swelling on Ferrante's left temple early in the fight. It must have come from an elbow or a head butt. However, Ferrante had super-cutman Joey Eye in his corner who brought the swelling down with his handy meat tenderizing hammer. He didn't whack Ferrante with the kitchen instrument. He just chilled it and applied as much pressure as his Popeye arms could manage. The swelling went down immediately and only slightly inflated here and there during the rest of the fight, but it was nothing that Joey Eye couldn't handle.

The fight belonged to Ferrante. He was the better pro and he led Archer into deep water as the bout went on. By round four, Archer looked tired and a little worse for wear. In the fifth round, Ferrante bullied Archer into the red corner and hurt him with an uppercut. He then beat him across the ring and hurt Archer again in the red corner. A volley of punches landed, especially a stiff right hand, but it was the cumulative affect of all the shots, this round and prior, that finally dropped Archer to his knees. He bravely rose, and his left eye was swollen shut. Ferrante resumed his attack, but the bell ending round five interrupted him.

Immediately after the end of the round, the fight was stopped in Archer's corner by referee Steve Smoger. It looked like Archer shook his head "No" when Smoger asked him if he was okay. After a brief discussion, the fight was halted.

It was Ferrante's sixth career win and his third by KO. Archer fell to 10-7, with 6 KOs.

The evening started with a four round light-heavyweight bout between Khalil Farah of the Allegheny Recreation Center in North Philly and Gonzalez Jones of Akron, OH. Southpaw Farah, up from super-middleweight in his last two fights, struggled with his stamina during the fight. He tired rather quickly, but had enough right jabs and movement to keep the hard-charging Jones off of him. In the end, Farah won the contest by a narrow margin on the judges cards. The scores were 40-35 for Farah, 40-37 for Jones, and 39-37 for Farah. The win brought Farah's record to a winning 4-3, with one knockout. Jones' record dropped to a 1-13. Immediately after the fight, Farah told the crowd that he thought he had broken his left hand in the fight, and apologized for his sluggish performance. A little while later, Farah resurfaced at ringside with his left wrist wrapped in tape, but said that he thought his best weapon would be okay. Farah

The remaining four bouts matched young professionals with four fighters making their pro debut. And this Friday the 13th turned out to be unlucky for three of the four.

Upper Darby cruiserweight Kamarah Pasley continued his winning ways with a unanimous points win over first-time pro John Burgos of North Philly. Southpaw Pasley dropped his foe with a boomingleft hand in round three and cruised to a unanimous shutout victory of 40-35 on all three official cards. It was his third straight win after beginning his career with three straight losses. So Pasley is now 3-3 with one KO. Burgos goes back to the drawing board 0-1.

Bethlehem's Ronald Cruz continued to impress, but it came at the hands of first-timer Russell Cloak of Kensington. Cruz dropped Cloak three times in the very first round and won the bout in just 2:41. Cloak fell from the third knockdown in a frightening way, and had to be attended to by EMS staff. After a prolonged period, Cloak stood up and eventually left the ring on his own power. It was a fine win for welterweight Cruz, now 3-0 with 2 KOs, but poor matchmaking helped him.

Philly's Wahib Raheem spoiled the debut of Philadelphian Gabriel Diaz, but the scores were close, and both junior lightweight southpaws came away marked. Raheem bled from his nose throughout the fight, while Diaz left lumpy around the left eye. Raheem got the slim nod with his flashier skills and walked away with a four round majority decision. Judge Dave Greer had the fight even at 38-38, but the 39-37 scores of judges Alan Runbenstein & Frank Cappuccino overruled. Raheem improved to 3-0 (1 KO), while Diaz barely dropped to 0-1.

The lone pro debut that ended with a victory belonged to welterweight Jackie Davis of North Philly. She battered Natoya Ervin, Akron, OH, in their scheduled  four rounder and came away with a TKO at one second of round three. All the damage was done in the first two rounds. Ervin was marked and exhausted after two and failed to come out for round three when the ringside doctor suggested the bout should end. Ervin fell to 0-3. Davis, with Former Philly star Ivan Robinson in her corner, marked her pro debut with a TKO win and left 1-0.

Former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe watched the fights at ringside and joined Salem, NJ's heavyweight Mark 'Oak Tree' Brown in the ring. Unlike Oak Tree, Bowe left his shirt on. It was a well-attended card with a large walkup crowd. The total attendance was about 1,000, including active Philly fighters Mike Jones, Rasheem Jefferson, Dave Brunelli, Hank Lundy, Olivia Fonseca, and Chucky T.




John DiSanto - South Philadelphia - March 13, 2009