PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - December 16, 2016 
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Daniel Cork


Philadelphia closed out its local boxing schedule for 2016 with a seven-bout show promoted by Hard Hitting Promotions, at the Sugar House Casino on Friday night. It was the third event at the venue by Hard Hitting and the new venue, and its entry into the local scene helped to breathe new life into the Philly fight schedule. 2016 saw fourteen fight cards city-wide, the most in the city since 2009, which offered nineteen shows.

In the main event, San Juan featherweight Luis Lebron 7-0-1, 3 KOs, defeated late substitute Roberto Corea of Nicaragua, 9-12-4, 4 KOs, by unanimous decision over eight entertaining rounds. From my perspective, the first half of the fight was close, before Lebron dominated the final four rounds. After four rounds, my score was even at two rounds apiece.

However, in the fourth round, Lebron cleanly landed several hard rights, and the blows seemed to sap Corea's strength. Still, the action remained constant throughout the entire fight. Corea never won another round, but he stayed in the contest and did what veteran opponents do. He fought hard and took his lumps. 

Lebron remained unbeaten with a surprisingly easy points win on the official scorecards. Steve Weisfeld saw it an 80-72 shutout, while John Poturaj and Gail Jasper both had it 79-73. My card was the most generous toward Corea at 78-74, or 6-2 in rounds. 


In the co-feature bout, Philly lightweight Branden Pizarro, 2-0, 1 KO, won a decision over rugged Floridian road warrior, Jesus Lule, 9-20-1, 1 KO. Lule, no stranger to Philly fight fans, returned to the City of Brotherly Love to face yet another of our rising young prospects.

Lule's assignment was clear - show up, give Pizarro a bit of a test, but ultimately go home with another loss and leave the new young lion with a nice name on his record. Lule did all of that, but he provided more of a test than perhaps expected.

Pizarro's win was a shutout on all the official cards, and in time the toughness of the fight will be forgotten, or marketed into oblivion. However, this was a very tough fight for the talented and promising Pizarro.

Lule entered the ring with his weather-beaten Mexican poncho and straggly mullet, looking long in the tooth and not so intimidating. Pizarro glided from his dressing room and through the Sugar House Event Center, into the ring amid an entourage as big as anything ever seen on a Vegas Pay-Per-View. Much of the large crowd appeared to be there to see Branden, and they screamed as the 18 year old heartthrob entered the ring, beautifully adorned in another flashy, tasseled ring outfit. Team Pizarro calls him "The Gift", and Pizarro appeared in the mood to give to his fans.

Branden started quickly and in round three, appeared on the verge of his second straight knockout. Although Lule wavered under Pizarro's attack, he managed to stand up to the assault. So Pizarro kept throwing, trying for the knockout. But Lule was just too durable to be stopped.

Suddenly after the extended surge by Pizarro, the hot prospect appeared seriously winded and still had the rest of the third round and all of the fourth to get through. He kept tossing punches economically and still was able to win the last round, but it was a scary moment for the promising young pro. 

All three judges had the fight a 40-36 blowout for Pizarro. My card agreed. After the fight, Pizarro complained of an injured hand. Whatever the case, it was a great learning experience for Pizarro, a fighter who looks to have a big future. Hats go off to Lule who always comes to fight, and is an opponent you can never sleep on.


Local bantamweight Christian Carto, 6-0, 6 KOs, closed out his rookie year with another knockout, keeping his young record perfect. His victim this time was Harold Reyes, 2-7-1, of Puerto Rico. After warming up in the first, Carto dropped Reyes with a right to the body. After receiving the blow, Reyes took a step back and crumbled to one knee. He remained on the canvas while referee Steve Smoger counted to ten and ended the fight at 1:14 of round two.

Carto is one of the most promising and entertaining young fighters to come along in a while. His aggressive style and quiet demeanor are winning more fans each time out. His rookie season was one of the best of 2016, a year I've called "Philadelphia's Year of the Rookie". 


Another top Philly rookie in 2016, Jaron Ennis, 8-0, 6 KOs, Germantown, kept his young pro record spotless with a last-round TKO of New Yorker Marcus Beckford, 3-5-3, 1 KO, in a welterweight bout.

Through the first four rounds, Ennis built a wide lead, but appeared destined to go the full six-round distance. At times he looked a little sloppy, but never lost a moment of the action.

In round five, Ennis pounded Beckford for nearly the full three minutes, seemingly determined to end the year with a KO. Finally a hard right put Beckford down, but he survived the round.

In the sixth and final round, Ennis stepped on the gas, insisting on the knockout. He worked hard and after a vicious left-right-left combination, referee Eric Dali jumped in to save Beckford from further punishment. It was the first time Beckford was ever stopped. The time was 55 seconds of the sixth round.

Like Carto, Ennis had an impressive first year. He fought every month since his debut in April, and along with Carto leads the pack for the "2016 Rookie of the Year" Briscoe Award. Fans can't wait to watch Ennis progress in his career, and they won't have to wait long. His next start is already set for January. 


Delaware light heavyweight David Murray, 5-1-1, 4 KOs, and Kenmon Evans, 3-0-1, New Smyrna Beach, FL, fought to a six-round draw in an entertaining, two-way brawl. Murray finished with a 58-56 lead on Steve Weisfeld’s official card, but judges’ John Poturaj and Gail Jasper overruled with two deadlocked scores of 57-57.

The fight was a nip-and-tuck affair all night. I gave Murray the first two rounds and then had the two fighters swapping the final four. My 58-56 score favored Murray, but an even 57-57 score was no stretch. A rematch might be a good idea.


Philly lightweight Jeremy Cuevas, 2-0, 2 KOs, scored two knockdowns in the first round and another one in the second to stop Tom Mills of Verno Beach, FL, 1-7, 1 KO. After Mills went to the mat in round two, his corner asked for the fight to be stopped. Referee Eric Dali complied, but Mills wasn’t happy about it. The time was 33 seconds of round two. Thus was Jeremy's second straight, second round knockout.


In the opening bout of the evening, Las Vegas junior welterweight Kevin Johnson, 1-0, 1 KO, made a successful pro debut with a first round TKO of Austin Ward, 0-3, of Kansas. There were no knockdowns in the fight, but Ward appeared to stop trying after a while, and referee Eric Dali halted the bout after 1:42.

The show drew another full house at the Philly casino, and closed out the local fight action for 2016.




John DiSanto - Northern Liberties - December 16, 2016