|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - January 20, 2015|
Philadelphia kicked off its 2015 boxing season with an entertaining seven-bout show on Tuesday night at the 2300 Arena. In the main event, featherweight Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter, 19-3, 9 KOs, won a 10-round unanimous decision over Rene Alvarado, 21-4, 14 KOs. Before that, junior welterweight Michael Perez, 22-1, 10 KOs, won a grueling and bloody thriller over Miguel Acosta, 29-8-2, 23 KOs, in the 10-round co-feature. Both fights were nationally televised live by Fox Sports 1.
Eric Hunter used his speed and superior boxing skills to stay ahead of his tough opponent throughout the fight. It was a decisive win, but not an easy one.
Like his USBA title-winning effort last year, Hunter started the fight as a southpaw against Alvarado, and switched back and forth all night. However, he was smoother far more effective as a righty.
Alvarado won the first round while Hunter warmed up. However, Outlaw did come on late and finished the round strong. In round two, the fighters banged heads and Hunter came away with a cut over his left eye. The wound seeped, on and off, for the rest of the night, but didn’t really hamper his performance.
Beginning in the second, Hunter put several rounds in his column. In round four, Hunter cut Alvarado over the right eye, and the Nicaraguan bled profusely after that. The fourth was a very good round for Hunter, but he never came close to scoring a knockout. Alvarado was tough and Hunter seemed satisfied with banking rounds and chipping away at victory.
The fighters traded punches for much of the eighth, probably the best round of the fight. Hunter won that session to extend his lead. But Alvarado battled back in round nine, landing a hard right hand and then a stiff left hook. It won him the round on my card, but Hunter was back in control in the final round. Hunter blasted Alvarado with a variety of punches, and perhaps had his best round of the fight.
After ten rounds, there was no question about the outcome. Judges Dave Braslow and Dewey LaRosa scored it 97-93, while Steve Weisfeld had it 98-92, all for Hunter. My card read 97-93.
“I did what I had to do,” Hunter. “I just did smart boxing and stuck with the game plan. He was a rugged opponent, but he was too slow for me.”
Hunter, now in the Golden Boy stable, looked good and kept is star rising.
“What’s next? I hope something good,” Hunter said.
In the 10-round co-feature bout, Newark, NJ’s Michael Perez got off to a slow start against Philly-based Venezuelan Miguel Acosta, but battled back to win the high-action brawl. In the first few rounds, Acosta landed the cleaner shots and had Perez nicked and bleeding from the left eye. Before long, Perez was also bleeding from his right eye as well. As Perez’ eyes worsened, and Acosta banked three of the first four rounds, it appeared that an upset was in the works.
However in round five, Perez buckled down and forced a change of momentum in the lively fight. A solid left hook by Perez wobbled Acosta in the fifth, and moments later Acosta’s right eye was streaming blood. Perez launched a good right hand before the round ended, and both fighters returned to their corners bleeding.
Perez continued his surge in the middle of the fight, winning the next two rounds. In round seven, Acosta whacked away at Perez’ body, and appeared to be mounting a comeback. However as the round expired, Perez caught a retreating Acosta with an awkward glancing left that toppled him to the floor.
The incident could have been ruled a slip, but referee Gary Rosato called it a knockdown, despite Acosta’s complaints. In the end, Rosato’s call was probably the correct one. However, I did not give Perez the extra point, given that Acosta was winning the round before hitting the canvas.
Acosta rebounded well in the eighth round, hurting Perez with a left hook, and pulling the fight even on my scorecard. But by the next round, Perez was back on top, forcing the action and landing more frequently. Perez buckled Acosta’s knees with a left jab that hit home like a battering ram. As the bell sounded, both fighters were still bleeding freely.
In the final round, Perez jumped right out and dropped Acosta with a left hook in the opening 30 seconds. Acosta bounced up, but from a scoring perspective, the knockdown was a fatal blow in the close fight. Still Acosta did his best to salvage the round. Perez zoomed in to try to finish the fight, but Acosta met him with a mountain of grit. For the next two minutes, the pair brawled away and staged the best round of the fight. It was a thrilling display, and the crowd ate it up.
At the final bell, both fighters’ faces were heavily marked, and they had put on memorable fight that must be considered an early candidate for “Philly Fight of the Year” honors.
All three judges favored Perez in the scoring. Steve Weisfeld and Dewey LaRosa had it 96-93, and Dave Braslow scored it 97-94. My card also read 96-93 for Perez. It was a terrific fight.
“I was blind for most of the fight,” Perez said afterward. “It was a rugged fight. I felt like I had to bring it from within. I fought with instincts and I caught him with real good shots, and dropped him a couple times. So that just goes to show you what type of fighter I am. I can dig down deep and pull it out.”
DC junior welterweight Lamont Roach Jr. opened the TV broadcast and remained undefeated (6-0, 3 KOs) with a powerful 4th round TKO of Herbert Quartey of Silver Spring, MD. Roach dropped his overmatched foe with a right hand in round one and continued his beating over the next few rounds. He pounded away, but Quartey, 8-11, 7 KOs, hung in there bravely.
In round four of the scheduled 6-rounder, Roach knocked Quartey down two more times before referee Steve Smoger mercifully stopped the fight. The time was 2:34.
Roach, heavily decorated as an amateur, now looks like a strong and promising professional prospect.
In another two-way war, junior middleweights Alex Sanchez, 5-6, 2 KOs, 1 NC, and Robert Sweeney, 3-2, battled closely for most of their six-rounder, before Sanchez knocked down Sweeney with a right hand in round five. With this, Sanchez pulled into the lead and then secured the decision by winning the final round as well.
All three judges, Steve Weisfeld, Dave Braslow and Mike Somma, scored the fight 58-55 for Sanchez. My scored concurred.
In the freakish first fight of the night, Timothy McNair, Snow Hill, NC, threw a punch at his lightweight opponent, Carlos Rosario of Pennsauken, NJ, but that punch missed the target and McNair suffered an injury with the strike. He immediately took a knee and was counted out by referee Gary Rosato. The time of the scheduled 4-round non-fight was 33 seconds of round one. Rosario improved to 2-1, 1 KO, while McNair slid to 0-3.
There were two walkout bouts after the Hunter-Alvarado main event.
Impressive Philadelphia rookie Avery Sparrow, 4-0, 2 KOs, made short work of Pedro Andres, 1-4, of Bridgeton, NJ. Right off the bat, Sparrow blasted Andres with an overhand right that put him on the canvas. Andres made it to his feet but uttered the infamous phrase “No Mas” to referee Steve Smoger, who stopped the bout at 1:41. (Yes, he really said it.)
In the final fight of the evening, Philly’s Raymond Serrano, 20-2, 9 KOs, overcame a slow start to nab a decision over southpaw Jerome Rodriguez, 6-2-3, 2 KOs, of Allentown, PA.
Just like his first comeback fight only two months ago, it took Serrano few rounds to reach a full boil in this bout. Although Serrano took the first round, it was Rodriguez who looked like the stronger fighter during the opening half of the fight, while Serrano appeared vulnerable. Jerome landed well and hurt Serrano twice in round three with hard left hands.
However, by round four, Serrano was all warmed up and began making his move in the fight. Over the second half, Serrano’s experience showed and he swept through the final three rounds to close the show.
All three judges, Mike Somma, Steve Weisfeld and Dewey LaRosa, scored the fight 59-55 for Serrano. I saw the fight one point closer at 58-56.
The show was promoted by Golden Boy and Joe Hand Promotions. Earlier in the evening, a 50th birthday celebration for Bernard Hopkins was part of the event.
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS BY RAY BAILEY