PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - March 02, 2018  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


The education of highly regarded Philly bantamweight Christian Carto, 14-0, 11 KOs, continued Friday night at the Sugar House Casino when he was put to the test by a truly live opponent who came to shock the legion of Carto-shirt-wearing fans that braved a wicked snow storm to watch a six-bout show staged by Kings Promotions. The visitor from Detroit, James Smith, 12-2, 7 KOs and 1 NC, gave Carto perhaps his toughest fight to date, but could not manage the upset. The fight featured numerous two-way exchanges, and although Carto generally remained in control and pounded out a unanimous decision after eight rounds, it wasn’t an easy assignment for the rising star.

Smith pressed the action and landed enough to grab the first round on my scorecard. He ripped Carto with two very solid rights and a collection of left hooks during the session. Carto took the punches in stride, but still lost the round.

By round two, Carto appeared sufficiently warmed up enough to begin seizing control of the fight. However, Smith remained assertive, and continued to land his own shots in a measure that no previous Carto opponent had managed. But Carto countered every one of Smith’s attacks and began to move the Detroit fighter around the ring with his heavy punches.

Things heated up in the third. At one point, Smith was warned for hitting Carto low. After a rest, Carto resumed his work and relentlessly, but carefully, took over the fight. He won round after round as the fight progressed, but Smith stayed dangerous and refuse to go away.

It was interesting to watch Carto have to work so hard. He continued to get hit more than we’ve ever seen before. He showed a good chin and much composure. His jab was excellent, and despite Smith’s offense, Carto remained cool and focused in the trenches. He slipped and blocked what he could, and unloaded with power punches when openings appeared. It was hard work, but he handled it quite well and the result was never in doubt.

In round six, the action was more one-sided than in any other round, with Carto landing many hard shots and Smith more passive than in previous rounds. For a moment, it appeared that Smith was breaking down, but this was not the case. Sure enough, he was back at in round seven, whacking Carto with a left hook, and generally still gunning for an upset. However, the clock was running low for Smith, and Carto’s energy, work rate, and general superiority were still flying high.

Christian won the final round and went on to take the decision by wide scores of 79-73 (Steve Weisfeld) and 80-72 twice (Dewey LaRosa and Marc Werlinsky). My card also read 79-73.


This was the third straight distance fight for Carto, and certainly, these twenty four most recent rounds have served his future far better than the twenty nine total rounds that comprised his first eleven bouts. This test was especially helpful. The tough assignment produced Carto’s best performance thus far. He has a few things to work on, but his potential is clear, and more real now, than ever before.

In the all-Philly co-feature contest, Christopher Brooker, 13-5, 5 KOs, out-muscled Jamaal Davis, 16-13-1, 7 KOs, to win a comfortable decision in their super middleweight bout. There were many good exchanges in the fight, but Brooker remained in control throughout. He didn’t try anything cute. Rather, he applied constant pressure and used his considerable size advantage to keep the fight going his way.

The third was probably the closest of the eight rounds. Davis matched Brooker most of the way, and even held his own in a slug-out, as the round came to an end. However, Brooker still nipped the round on my scorecard, and went on to a clean sweep of 80-72 from my perspective.

Two of the three official judges, Steve Weisfeld and Marc Werlinsky, gave Davis one round, and turned in 79-73 tallies. Judge Dewey LaRosa saw the fight a rather close 77-75, or five rounds to three.

The win was sorely needed by Brooker, who snapped a four-bout skid. He also claimed the WBF-US super middleweight title in the process.

For Davis, this loss interrupted a two-win comeback streak, and sent the Philly native back to his Harrisburg home to think over his future prospects. The truth is that he’s experienced enough and still good enough to keep going against the average boxer on the local scene, but at 36, he’ll be hard-pressed to land a bigger fight.

Philly junior welterweight Tyrone Crawley Jr. was having his way in a scheduled eight rounder against Anthony Mercado of Puerto Rico. He won the first three rounds and even dropped Mercado toward the end of the second. However, as we waited for the fourth round to begin, suddenly the fight was stopped in Crawley’s corner. No one at ringside understood the abrupt turnaround.

Later we learned that Crawley had apparently injured his left hand during the fight, and it was serious enough to make him stop fighting – and even give up that commodity most treasured by the modern day boxer – his undefeated record.

Indeed, Crawley lost for the first time in eight bouts (7-1), when referee Benjy Esteves signaled the end between rounds. The time was 3:00 of the third. With the surprise victory, Mercado improved to 11-3, 10 KOs.  

In a scheduled heavyweight four rounder, Ronny Hale of Alabama, 4-11, 4 KOs, swarmed debuting South Philadelphian Dominique Mayfield, 0-1, and knocked him down suddenly in the opening round with a right hand. The newbie got up, but Hale kept chasing and dropped Mayfield for a second time with another right. Once again, Mayfield rose to his feet, but as the knockdowns began piling up, the eventual end became clear to the Philadelphian’s loud cheering section at ringside, and they fell silent. Another trip to the canvas was called a slip by referee Blair Talmadge, but almost everyone else thought it was a knockdown. Regardless, the fight continued.

Finally, another right hand bomb landed on Mayfield sent him down for the third time. This time, as soon as he thudded to the canvas, the referee ended the bout at the 1:40 point. 

In a brief junior welterweight bout scheduled for eight rounds, Victor Vazquez, Yonkers, NY, 10-3, 4 KOs, made short work of Philly’s David Gonzales, 8-3-2-1, 2 KOs. Vazquez dropped Gonzales with a left hook in the first round, and although David got up, referee Benjy Esteves stopped the fight at the 1:56 mark. Gonzales hasn’t won a fight since mid-2016, and this was his second first-round knockout loss in that stretch. Shortly after the fight, Gonzales announced his retirement via social media. 

In the show-opener, junior bantamweights Jerrod Miner, Philadelphia, and Rondarrius Hunter, Atlanta, fought to a four round draw. Hunter, 1-2-1, 1 KO, appeared to have the edge in the first three rounds, taking the first and third on my card. However, in the fourth and final round, Miner, 1-1-1, 1 KO, scored two sloppy knockdowns to nearly end the fight. However, Miner could not finish off the severely winded Hunter, and let him off the hook. Judge Steve Weisfeld favored Miner with a 39-35 score, but judges Dewey LaRosa and Marc Werlinsky called the bout even, 37-37, making the result a split decision draw. Miner had a 38-36 edge on my scorecard.  

Despite the bad weather, about 1,000 fans attended the show, which had sold out in advance.




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - March 02, 2018