|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY January 19, 2010||
2009 BRISCOE AWARD NOMINATIONS
Now that the new local boxing year has begun,
it is time to announce the nominations for the 2009 Briscoe
Awards. This is the third year for the "Briscoes" which are
awarded in two categories - "Philly Fighter of the Year" and
"Philly Fight of the Year". It was a memorable twelve months
full of fine performances and excellent fights. The
nominations for the year are detailed below. Have a look and
then go to the bottom (or top) of this page to cast your vote.
Ennis beat local trial measuring stick Clarence
Bono' Taylor (W8) in January with relative ease, topped John Mackey (W6)
by shutout on ESPN2 in
July, and defeated Eromosele Albert (W12) in an all-action battle for the
vacant USBA title, at the Blue Horizon in October. The
victory over Albert was the toughest and most mature win of
Derek's career. It brought him the vacant USBA title and for
the first time really offered us a glimpse of his potential for
success on the world stage. It took a major effort to turn
back the tough Nigerian, and Pooh Ennis came through with
Kennedy fully matured as a fighter in 2009 by winning two of
the best local fights of the year and having to stretch his
talents and show his grit to make it through bouts with Andre
Wilson (W8) and Francisco Rodriguez (TKO10). With two of his
four fights being so tough, some thought Teon
showed his flaws in 2009, but we think he showed just how
tough and good he really is. Kennedy also beat Lucian Gonzalez in a
and drew with Lante Addy (D10) in a fight most observers
felt he actually won. In addition to his ring trials, his
need to get past the Rodriguez tragedy certainly posed a
challenge outside the ring as well. Only time will tell if he passed
that test too.
2009 was a typical year for Mtagwa. He won some and he lost
some. But he once again proved himself to be our most
exciting fighter of the moment. His victory over tough
Ricardo Medina (W10) was the usual blood and guts Mtagwa
fare, but it was nothing compared to his life-and-death,
one-punch-away, MSG war with Juan Manuel Lopez for a world
title belt. He lost
the fight, but considering the pedigree of his opponent and
the odds against him, it was way more than a moral victory.
This near upset was
the one he'll always be remembered for (and there are many
others to choose from). For everyone who watched, it was boxing's fight of the year, but for Rogers Mtagwa, it was just
another day at the office as the ultimate crowd pleaser.
One of Philly's best young prospects, Teon Kennedy, had a very difficult night in his 8-rounder against southpaw Andre Wilson of St. Joseph, MO. The bout went the full limit and resulted in a very close call for Teon. Although Kennedy posted his 12th win without a loss, he had much to deal with in gaining the split decision.
Things started well enough for Teon. He hurt Wilson early and banked the two opening rounds. But Andre Wilson was no "opponent". He came to fight and to make his own mark at the legendary Blue Horizon. So in the third, just when it appeared that Teon had things under control, Wilson cracked him with a hard shot that put the Philly fighter on the floor. When Kennedy tried to rise, he stumbled back down. His promising career seemed about to derail. However, he beat the count and continued on - albeit a bit wobbly. When Teon picked up the pieces and roared back in the following round, Wilson answered by slicing him over the right eye. Would Teon be able to scale this second major obstacle of the night, and deal with a talented opponent on a roll? It wasn't easy. The blood flowed the rest of the night, and Wilson's punches kept coming. But Teon never panicked. Slowly he fought his way back into the fight. They both showed an excellent work rate, and their even exchanges were top-rate. In the seventh, Wilson shook Kennedy again, but Teon rebounded with a left hook and right cross that had Wilson reeling. They resumed the action in the final round - Teon pressed things while Andre looked for openings. At the final bell, Kennedy was still bleeding and his white trunks had turned pink. Wilson's face was suddenly marked. The tough bout was over.
scores were 76-75 for Kennedy; 76-75 for Wilson; and a crazy
79-73 for Kennedy. The split nod raised Teon to 12-0 (5 KO).
Many felt he came up short, and there were some boos. But
Kennedy won this one by digging down deep. Someday, maybe
there will be a second fight between these two with more on
the line. But on this night, Kennedy proved himself the
better fighter - by a hair.
This was a real old-fashioned battle between two rising fighters. It could have easily been one of those old neighborhood turf wars they used to stage at the Cambria back in the day. Anthony Ferrante got off to a good start in the bout, and got the better of the early action. However, by the end of round one, he was marked under both eyes, especially the left which sported an ugly mouse. It took an assist from his cut man, Joey Eye, to keep him in the fight. Ferrante continued his dominance in the second, but things got interesting in the third. Bailey roared back, hammering Ferrante's head and body. He seemed to be wearing Tony out, but started to get winded himself. While Ferrante puffed from his mouth, Bailey repeatedly tried to shake the fatigue from his arms. Along the way, Bailey whacked Ferrante with a right hand that dislodged Tony's mouthpiece. Ferrante caught the guard and replaced it himself. Later on, the seventh round was the best of the fight. After losing a good portion of the period, Ferrante roared back and looked to be on the brink of finishing Bailey off. But Bailey returned the fire with shots of his own and although tired, proved he wasn't going anywhere.
In an extremely close fight, it came down to the eighth and final round to decide a winner. Things stared slowly, with both men gasping from their mouths and looking exhausted. Suddenly Ferrante landed a nice left hook that staggered Bailey and proved to be the pivotal punch of the night. He followed up with several rights that also landed. Bailey tried to return the favor, but was just too tired to mount another rally. He did corner Ferrante once late in the round, but still couldn't capitalize. Ferrante kept up the pressure and cut Bailey over the right eye. With help from his chanting fans, Ferrante managed to keep things going his way until the bell, and won the fight by a narrow decision.
This was Bailey's second visit to Philly.
He stopped Brian Cohen in January 2009, and after this
brawl, he is welcome back anytime. Both fighters showed
just how tough they were, but Ferrante pulled the fight out
and showed some nice focus and maturity for a young fighter.
The handful of decent foes that Derek Ennis had faced in his prior seven years as a pro probably did only so much to prepare him for Eromosele Albert. Albert was in a totally different class than anyone Ennis had ever faced. He'd been around the block more than a few times and was no stranger to the 12-round distance. On paper he not only figured to be Derek's toughest test, he appeared to be a bit too much fighter for the local attraction to handle. But Derek had more to call upon than his modest experience. Derek had a lifetime full of verbal lessons from his father-trainer, years worth of dreaming for the right opportunity, and an eternity of hellish training sessions at Bozy's Dungeon. It proved to be exactly what he needed.
Albert did his best to prove that he was too much for Ennis. He used an effective jab and made the most of his reach and height advantages. For a while it seemed like a man was fighting a boy. However, a thinking Ennis kept back, studied the opposing style, and timed well-executed counter punches. It was a start, but he wasn't changing the momentum of the bout. So he attacked the body. The strategy worked and began to turn the tide. Albert took note and began to return the favor. For the remainder of the fight, both fighters put on a two-way clinic on the lost art of body punching, while mixing in more than the fair share of exchanges upstairs too. With the bout very even - and at times difficult to score - the two continued to trade punches 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 things going in his direction, Albert stormed back with his own stiff shots. So Ennis buckled down, and secured the win in the final two rounds - especially in the 11th, which he won cleanly. Along with it, Ennis took home the USBA jr. middleweight title.
This was a gritty performance by both
fighters. Neither one gave the other much. It took twelve
full rounds of hard fighting between two very evenly matched
pros to decide a winner. This was boxing at a very high
level. It gave us a lesson on the sport and entertained us
the whole way.
Amateur rivals Teon Kennedy and Francisco Rodriguez resumed their feud by waging real warfare in a spectacular and unforgettable contest that played out in three thrilling acts. Both fighters proved their worth in this fight, and by the end, what separated them was very little. The fight was a rollercoaster that placed victory within reach of both combatants, and Teon and Francisco gave everything they had to win it.
Kennedy started fast and appeared to have the match in complete control. In fact, Rodriguez barely made it out of the first round. But Rodriguez showed his toughness and answered well. He fought back hard and won over the Blue Horizon crowd - not an easy task. By the middle rounds, Rodriguez had Teon in serious trouble and appeared to be on the brink of winning it all. Then, in the final third of the fight, Kennedy miraculously found his way back. He regained control, and scored the stoppage in round ten. Many in the crowd felt the bout was stopped too quickly. Little did they know. The victory brought Kennedy his first title belt as a pro (the regional USBA championship), but the glory was far overshadowed by the tragedy that followed.
After walking back to his
corner on his own power, Rodriguez lost consciousness while
still in the ring.
He was taken to the hospital and underwent brain surgery
that same night. Unfortunately, Rodriguez
did not recover from his injuries and passed away two days
later. He was 25 years old. Many felt the tragedy demonstrated what is wrong with
boxing. But we feel that the death of Francisco Rodriguez
was a reminder of the stakes that make boxing more than a
sport, and make boxers more than athletes.
CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO CAST YOUR VOTE