PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                     October 02, 2009


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Israeli bull, Ran Nakash won his 21st fight without a loss Friday night at the Blue Horizon, but he had to settle for a tactical 8-round decision against the extremely sturdy-chinned Gary Gomez of Salt Lake City. The fight was the main event of a seven-bout card at the legendary venue promoted by Vernoca Michaels of Blue Horizon Boxing Promotions. The evening's theme was "Breast Cancer Awareness Night" and both fighters wore pink Everlast gloves in commemoration. It was Nakash's tenth visit to Philadelphia, and like the others, he went home with another win on his budding career record (21-0 / 15 KO). But he had to work to do it.

They started the fight very carefully, eyeing each other with a lot of respect. In the second things heated up a bit when Gomez landed a good right uppercut that snapped Nakash's head upward. Ran responded with a hard right of his own. But the action was not sustained. They circled and pawed and mixed it up conservatively. After six rounds, the bout was even. Nakash suffered a nick under his right eye in the fifth, though he took the round. Gomez won the sixth with his body work. On our scorecard, Nakash grabbed the last two rounds to secure the bout 77-75. The official cards saw it for Nakash by a wider margin,  79-73, 78-74, 79-74. The pre-fight talks of matching Nakash with Adamek (the only man ever to stop the 18-10-1 Gomez) look very premature after this bout. Nakash won it without question, but struggled in the bout. He struggled with his stamina and he was repeatedly brought to attention with stiff shots from Gomez. Before Nakash (who weighted 208 lbs.) is matched for the cruiserweight title, he should both prove that he can make the 200-pound weight limit, as well as get used to fighting there. In his ten starts at the Blue Horizon over the past three years, Nakash has weighed under 200 pounds just once, and has come in as high as 211.

In the semi-windup, Jeremiah "Rocky" Graziano, a cruiserweight visiting from Kansas City, MO, scored the seventh straight knockout of his career when he swarmed Philly's Andre Hemphill in the very first round. The quick stoppage was no surprise to anyone who read Graziano's press release. His six prior fights all ended quickly - five in the first round and one in the second. He even posted a 6-second KO in his pro debut last year. At Wednesday's press conference, Graziano's opponent was still not determined. Hemphill, a local warhorse, answered the call in the final 48 hours before the fight. Going in, Hemphill figured to put up a bit more resistance than the usual Graziano foe. But in the end, he fell just like the others. Graziano rushed out of his corner at the bell with the obvious intention of winning ASAP. He loaded up with every shot and finally hurt Hemphill with a left, near the blue corner. Graziano followed up and Andre slumped into the ropes. Referee Hurley McCall jumped in to stop it as Hemphill sagged to the canvas. The total time elapsed in the scheduled four rounder was 2:35.

Lightweight Mondre Pope returned to the Blue Horizon to take a six round split decision against Gerardo Robles of Kansas City, MO. Robles pressed the action, but Pope ran the table. He won every round on our card. Two of the judges saw it for Pope (60-54 & 58-56), while judge Dave Greer had Robles winning 58-56. Pope, of Norfolk, VA, improved to 3-0-1, Robles left 9-7.

In the best on-paper-matchup of the night, Darrell Jones won a four rounder unanimously over Israeli Achmad Tuba in a jr. middleweight contest. Tuba was wildly aggressive and it seemed to rattle Jones at the beginning of the fight. But as they fought on, Jones found his groove and started to handle Tuba's rushes effectively. In round four, slightly behind on the scores, Tuba was penalized a point for hitting behind the head. The costly fine, made it clear even before the bell that Jones would get the decision in this tough, close fight that may have been heading toward a draw. The scores came in 38-37, 38-37 & 40-35. Jones, of North Philly, went to 2-0 (1 KO), and Tuba dropped to 1-1. Tuba's stablemate Oz Goldberg, 1-0, was scheduled to fight on this night also, and made the trip to Philadelphia. His four round fight was scratched however, when his opponent, Willie Davis, fell out. It was to have been Davis' pro debut. Also scratched on this night was a jr. middleweight bout featuring 3-1 Ardrick Butler. His opponent also fell out as the bout neared.

West Philly's Vaughn Anderson made his pro debut against Joe Alonso of Bellmawr, NJ, in a four round jr. middleweight bout. In an entertaining fight, Anderson sporadically used a good jab, but Alonso managed to fight through it and forced the fight on the inside. When not jabbing, Anderson has trouble scoring and keeping his opponent away. The rounds were close, but Alonso was the clear winner - perhaps of all four. One judge agreed, scoring it 40-36 for Alonso. Another gave it to him 39-37. Judge Dave Greer was again the dissenter, seeing it 39-37 for Anderson. Anderson starts his career 0-1, while Alonso raises to 2-0.

Norristown's Ryan Carson pounded out a four round decision over an out-gunned Jonathan Ocassio in their jr. lightweight fight. In round four, Ocassio was exhausted and seemed on the brink of quitting. At one point, he lost his mouthpiece. His corner did their best to extend the brief rest period. In addition to rinsing the mouthpiece, they also tied his shoelace. The crowd did not like it one bit. When he returned to the action, he was met by a swarming Carson. More from fatigue than any particular punch, Ocassio went to one knee on the canvas. It was clear that he had had enough, but he bravely got up gritted it out until the final bell. All the judges gave the round to Carson 10-8 and turned in overall scores of 40-35. Carson's win made him 2-0. He looks forward to fighting again on Peltz Boxing's November 20th card at the Blue. Ocassio, Philadelphia, lost for the fifth time in a row (0-5).

The opening fight of the night saw North Philly's Paul Fernandez (5-2-1, 3 KO) pitched a shutout over Cincinnati's Quincy Johnson (0-4-1). Both fighters came out swinging in the all-action first round. Fernandez landed several hard right hands to establish the fight's pattern, and cruised through the remaining rounds. He had an especially good fourth, as Johnson tired badly. All three judges scored the bout 40-36.

A smallish crowd of about 500 came out for this card, just 21 days since the last Blue Horizon show.




John DiSanto - North Philly - October 02, 2009