|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - June 19, 2015|
Saturday night two of Philly's most dependable warriors will face off in a 10-round bout for the vacant PA State cruiserweight championship. Kennett Square's Anthony Caputo Smith and South Philadelphian Garrett Wilson both have earned their reputations as serious crowd pleasers, and pairing them against each other only figures to give local fans exactly what they like in their ring action. There are no guarantees in boxing, but Wilson vs. Smith is about as close as you can get.
The two will top the Kings Boxing card at the Valley Forge Casino in King of Prussia, PA with eight additional bouts underneath.
Caputo Smith, 15-4, 10 KOs, won the PA state 200-pound belt 17 months ago in a typically tough war against Tony Ferrante at Harrah's Chester. The bout was a nip-and-tuck battle for ten full rounds. Caputo hit the deck in round six, but survived and won a razor-thin split decision.
Smith never lost his title, but since then, he's has been on the road, earning good paydays and adding losses to his record. He dropped a decision to contender BJ Flores last June and took a shellacking from prospect Ola Afolabi one month later. He's been inactive for nearly one year.
Three of Smith's four career losses have occurred on similar road trips, where the money outweighed the matchmaking logic. However, at home (or nearby), Caputo-Smith is almost perfect. Locally, he's won all but one bout and has always brought the action to his fans.
The other thing about Anthony is that he usually manages to fight above expectations. He was the underdog against Ferrante and Dhafir Smith in his two most important fights to date. Few gave him a chance in either bout, but Smith turned spoiler and grinded out close wins both times.
Smith fights with pure heart and can be surprisingly effective. If he can pull a hat trick by defeating Wilson in a similar manner, his local legend will be set in stone. However, Wilson is the toughest - and most dangerous - opponent that Caputo has faced on local soil.
Garrett Wilson's career started out rocky. That is "rocky" as in rough, as opposed to "Rocky" as in Balboa.
In his early days as a pro boxer, Wilson, 13-9-1, 7 KOs, would take on any opponent, with or without advance notice. The guy just wanted to fight. The result was a number of early losses that smudged his record and cast him as a local club fighter.
However, once Wilson gained some consistency in his corner and in his career, he started to win - and win big - and he proved himself to be one of the most dangerous punchers in the cruiserweight division.
Starting with his second fight with Reshawn Scott in 2010, Wilson reeled off a 6-0-1 streak that earned him the USBA title, the NABF title, two KO of the Year Briscoe Awards, and a world ranking. His knockouts of Chuck Mussachio and Andres Taylor were classics, and his rematch victory over Omar Sheika was also impressive.
However when Wilson stepped up to bigger game, he was not successful. He dropped a title eliminator to Alexander Alekseev in Romania, unwisely turned heavyweight to face Vyacheslav Glazkov (although he impressed many), was tied in a knot by awkward Thabiso Mchunu, and took a beating from Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in his most recent bout, six months ago.
Wilson could put asterisks next to each one of those last four bouts, but he doesn't. He's a blue-collar fighter who just keeps moving forward in hopes of yet proving himself to the outside world.
The truth is however, that Wilson's last four fights resembled the opening chapter of his career. His choices were desperate and in the end, they didn't do much for his career prospects except to provide good paydays. But to be fair, this is professional boxing, and paydays are at least half of the story.
So Wilson and Smith prepare to face off, sitting in very similar situations. Both have looked good on the local scene and both have struggled on the big stage. Both have appeared close to retirement, yet both fight on. Both need this win to go on, but both are facing a very tough opponent.
This fight feels like it could be special.
When fighters are pressed into must-win situations, interesting things often happen. Both Wilson and Smith must win Saturday. A loss would annihilate any state of denial that might offer hope for the future. Both of their careers are on the line tonight.
These are two of the most popular local fighters around. They are two of the nicest guys in the sport. They both have given us great memories on some of their most memorable nights. One swings a sledgehammer and the other refuses to be beaten. But tonight something's got to give.
I wouldn't miss this one for the world.
Eight additional bouts fill out this card, with highlights including fights with Milton Santiago, Stephen Fulton, and tough Brian "Wildman" Donohue.