PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                        October 16, 2009


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Derek Ennis, 19-2-1 (12 KO), scored the toughest and most mature victory of his boxing career last night at the Blue Horizon when he came out on top after 12 bristling rounds against Eromosele Albert, 22-4-1 (10 KO). The nip-and-tuck tussle was extremely close all the way down the stretch. Both boxers landed their shots, which included a two-way clinic on the lost art of body punching, but Ennis took the decision by the unanimous vote of the three judges (116-112, 115-113 & 115-113). The win earned "Pooh" the vacant USBA junior middleweight title, and should land him somewhere in the world rankings.

Ennis has faced a handful of decent foes in his seven years as a pro, but his opponent this time out was in a different class. Albert has been around the block a few times and had lasted the 12-round distance twice before. Going in, he figured to be Derek's toughest test, and the actual bout proved it to be true. The pair seemed perfectly matched for action. Albert fired his jab, making the best of his reach and height advantages. Ennis kept back, studied the opposing style, and timed well-executed counter punches. When his counters didn't get the ball rolling enough for Derek, he attacked the body. His success underneath must have sent a message to Albert that it was a smart strategy, because the Miami resident began to return the favor. For almost the entire bout, shots to the body were showcased by both men. The rest of the action was filled with sharp exchanges upstairs.

Early on, Albert had the edge. But Ennis found his groove in the middle rounds and came on strongly. With the bout fairly even - and at times difficult to score - the two continued to trade and swap the lead down the stretch. Albert suffered a messy cut over his left eye in round ten. But just when Ennis seemed to have the momentum going in his direction, Albert would storm back with his stiff shots. But Ennis buckled down and probably secured the result in the final two rounds - especially in the 11th, which he won cleanly.

So Derek Ennis left the Blue Horizon with his finest victory and most important career milestone. He's left the ring wearing belts before, but this time he went home with the USBA strap around his waist. The red and gold hardware was an indication that he finally took a step toward some real career advancement, probably a world ranking. But it was his gritty performance against a live and meaningful foe that impressed everyone the most. A good night's work indeed, but he was not alone in the impression-making department.

North Philly's Victor Vasquez came of age last night with the best win of his young career. The blood and guts brawler, who seems to have a tough fight every time out, looked poised, confident and dangerous in his 6-round demolition of a world-weary jr. welterweight Tyric Robinson. Vasquez floored Robinson in the 2nd and the 6th en route to an impressive unanimous decision.

When not trading shots in the ring, Vasquez is a barber in Philly's uptown section. If you see him in street clothes, he looks like a nice young kid - big brown eyes and a nice, friendly smile. In the ring however, when he stripped down to his trunks, he has a different look. His smallish frame is covered in frightening tattoos - his arms, legs, chest, back, and everything else usually covered by clothes, is like a trip to Dante's Inferno. And prior to this fight, every one of Victor Vasquez' 12 bouts had been as hellish as his many body murals.

Vasquez is fun to watch. He fights hard and is always in an exciting fight. But he often makes it too tough for himself. On this night, he was matched in what figured to be the bout of the night - especially given his own penchant for wars. He faced Tyric "Too Sweet" Robinson, a 9-4 smoothie with speed and skills more refined than anything Vasquez had to offer. It figured to be a classic boxer vs. brawler contest. So the question was, which fighter would impose their style better.

In the opening round, Robinson looked like he would be the one with the answer. He was fast and active. Vasquez chased and fired back. But the fight took a turn in round two when Vasquez stepped up the pressure and suddenly crashed a left hook on Robinson's jaw, toppling him to the floor. From that point on, the bout was all uphill for Robinson. Although he too had moments, Robinson could not claim another round all night. Both fighters worked the body well. But it was Vasquez who controlled the pace and nipped every Robinson advance in the bud with strong punches. Overall, Robinson looked like a fighter past his prime searching for answers, but coming up short every time. Is it possible that Robinson, at 29 years of age, but with only 15 fights on his record, is fading? It sure looked that way Friday night. Take into consideration that it was his third straight loss and his fourth in five fights, and it very well may be the case.

By the 6th and final round, clearly behind on points, Robinson waded in and tried to reclaim the fight. But once again, it was Vasquez who had the answers. Victor dropped Tyric again with a combination that started downstairs and moved upward. He did the damage with another left hook, but dropped him with a short right to the chin inside. Robinson fell down and got up quickly enough, but this development made it more than obvious that Vasquez had secured the win. The official scores were one-sided, 60-53, 59-53 & 59-53. The victory improved Vasquez' pro record to 10-3 with 5 KOs, and sends him on his way upward and onward. It will be interesting to see where he goes with this performance now under his belt. Robinson fell to 9-5 with 3 KOs, and at the very least a return to the drawing board is in order.

South Philadelphia heavyweight John Mercurio continued his streak of quick knockouts with his short work of James Pratt of Charlotte, NC. Both of his prior bouts were held at South Philadelphia High School and ended in the first and second round respectively. Pratt had little to offer in this quick bout, and went home after a pair of trips to the canvas ended his night after just 1:23. Referee Steve Smoger did the counting. Mercurio, who turned pro in January, raised his record to 3-0 with 3 KOs, while Pratt suffered his fourth consecutive KO loss, and fell to 2-7 with 2 KOs. All of his losses have been by knockout, as have all of his wins.

Originally super middleweights Tommie Speller and Mario Mina were supposed to fight different opponents in separate four-rounders. But when both of their lesser foes dropped out at the weigh-in, a fast deal was struck for the pair to instead fight each other. Neither guy was expecting a tough opponent on this date, but suddenly they found themselves with their hands fuller than expected. With rumors floating around ringside that Mina, listed as 2-0 with 2 KOs, was actually 5-0 with 5 KOs back in his native Argentina, Speller, returning after a two-year layoff (due to cancer treatment), might have gotten the short end of the stick.

When the fight began, the two fighters clashed immediately. A war ensued with each landing some nice shots. After three minutes, Mina had the edge. Mina ran the table in round two, hurting Speller a couple of times. But Mina looked gassed in the third and decided to take the round off. Speller, the Philadelphian, won the round, but it was all he'd get. Mina returned to form in the final session and closed the show. He won a shutout unanimous decision of the official cards, 40-36. Mina's record improved to 3-0; Speller dropped to 4-3. 

Rachael Clark won her four round welterweight bout with Natoya Ervin failed to answer the bell for round three. Clark, 4-2-1 with 2 KOs, repeatedly hurt Ervin, 1-4, in the first two rounds. Ervin, of Akron, Ohio, looked ready to quit in the second, and as soon as she sat down between rounds, the body language of the corner tipped everyone that the bout was about to end. Referee Smoger leaned into the conversation and waved the bout to a close. Officially it goes into the books as a TKO at the end of round two.

Glassboro, NJ's Derrick Webster scored a fast TKO over John Colvin in their four round super middleweight match. A big right hand did the damage and ended the bout at 1:56 of the very first round. The tall (6'3") and free-swinging Webster, 3-0 / 2 KOs, looked like left-handed Tommy Hearns against Colvin, who couldn't stand up to Webster's blows. Once he fell from the right hand punch, referee Gary Rosato ended the bout immediately. Colvin went back to West Virginia 2-8 with 2 KOs.

The card opened with a four round featherweight fight between two Philly fighters. Coy Evans took the unanimous decision by wide scores of 40-36, 40-36 & 40-35. The win raised his record to 5-0, but he has yet to score a knockout. Carlos Diaz was a game opponent. He returned fire when Coy landed, but Diaz could not match the speed and accuracy he was hit with. The loss was his fifth against one win.

The full night of boxing was promoted by Greg Robinson of Power Productions, who celebrated his 10th year in the fight biz. After a brief career in the ring, Robinson turned his focus on the business of promotion and by his count has promoted more than fifty shows. Robinson is the uncle of Tyric Robinson and the nephew of Philadelphia light-heavyweight and heavyweight Slim Jim Robinson, who after his own amateur and pro fighting career, became one of the city's most respected trainers.

Power Productions' anniversary show was a good one, highlighted by the Ennis and Vasquez bouts. But good matches don't always ensure big boxing crowds these days. Accordingly, the Blue Horizon looked quite empty when the evening started, but as the program played out, many fans filed in. Approximately 750 customers eventually came and enjoyed the action.

The Blue Horizon has had a busy year, and the old club still has a couple more dates left on its 2009 calendar. Next up is a Peltz Boxing show on November 20th.




John DiSanto - North Philly - October 16, 2009