PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - April 28, 2018  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


In the thrilling main event at the Liacouras Center, on the biggest fight card in Philadelphia in years, London-based Ghanaian Isaac Dogboe, 19-0, 13 KOs, won the WBO junior featherweight title with an 11th round TKO of Jessie Magdaleno, 25-1, 18 KOs. The fight was the best of the night, and was loaded with exciting moments, knockdowns by both fighters and a savage ending that capped the night.

In the first round, the southpaw champion dropped Dogboe with a hard left and appeared to be on the brink of quickly defending his title, and ending the angry, confrontational bitterness that preceded the fight. However, these two were just getting started.

Dogboe bounced back from the knockdown well, and soon began landing himself, but Magdaleno won the round. Dogboe won the second with his power punching, landing rights and lefts with authority. Magdaleno came back in the third, but Dogboe took over in round four.

In the fifth, Dogboe put the champion on the canvas with a right. His power was explosive, and although he had been landing more and more cleanly, the knockdown blow came as a jolt to everyone in the arena – especially Magdaleno.

Dogboe continued to beat down the champion through the middle rounds. But Magdaleno fought back and made the fight exciting. The champ won the eighth round when his left hit the mark more often, but the round was his last gasp.

In the eleventh, Dogboe was unstoppable. He pounded Magdaleno along the ropes and the champion leaked energy. A hard body shot by Dogboe froze Magdaleno and an immediate left hook dropped him again. He climbed to his feet but Dogboe pounced on him. Another left hook crashed against Magdaleno’s jaw and the champion spent the last moments of his title reign lying on the canvas.

Dogboe’s performance was star-making and his resiliency and killer instinct suggests he may be on top for a while. The fight was fantastic – dramatic and violent - and a rematch is certainly warranted. Too bad the redux won’t be in Philly.

North Philly super middleweight Jesse Hart, 24-1, 20 KOs, scored a seventh round TKO over Demond Nicholson of Laurel, MD, 18-3-1, 17 KOs, in a testy and exciting brawl. The two fighters went at each other at the press conference and weigh in earlier in the week, but saved their best clashes for the actual fight.

Hart cruised through the opening round, but just before the bell ended it, Nicholson blasted Jesse with a right hand rocket that nearly put him on the canvas. Hart took the shot and careened into the ropes, but stayed upright and jangled back to his corner on rubbery legs.

Hart was back in control in the second, a closer round, and Nicholson showed no signs of another big punch. In the third, Jesse was credited with two knockdowns, both times from right hands. However, in both cases it seemed that Nicholson hit the canvas to avoid Hart's jagged attack. Neither knockdown was clear-cut, but Hart was in control.

In the sixth, Nicholson hurt Hart with a pair of uppercuts and an extra straight right, but again they came too late for the visitor to capitalize on it. Still Hart won the round and entered the seventh with a big lead.

In a wild round seven, Hart flailed away at Nicholson, and at one point Demond squatted down, again to avoid getting hit. As he crouched, his gloves touched down on the canvas. Referee Shawn Clark, ruled it a slip and waved at Nicholson to get up. When the action resumed, Hart flew back in and swarmed Nicholson with punches, which drove him across the ring, and put him down again.

Referee Clark stood over Nicholson and began counting. However, when Clark reached “eight”, he waved at Nicholson to get up. Nicholson remained on one knee. Again, Clark urged Nicholson to get up and fight, but the Maryland fighter stayed put. So, Clark ended the fight and called it a TKO at 2:26 of the seventh. Why Clark didn’t just finish counting to ten, I’ll never understand.

The win earned Hart the vacant NABF super middleweight title, and kept him on target for a rematch with Gilberto Ramirez for the WBO world title.

In the anticipated meeting between North Philly heavyweight Bryant Jennings, and Tacony’s Joey Dawejko, Jennings won a ten round unanimous decision to take the vacant PA State heavyweight title. The fight was a good scuffle between both locals.

Going into this fight, the smart money was on Jennings, who had advantages in size, professional experience, and physical conditioning. However, there was a strong storyline that suggested if Dawejko could whip himself into excellent enough shape, his crafty boxing skills might lead him to victory in this, the biggest fight of his career. So it was up to Dawejko to flip the script on Jennings and have enough steam to maintain his game for ten full rounds.

Dawejko made a good start of it. To the eye, Dawejko was clearly in the best condition we’ve ever seen. He also did well in the early going and appeared to be keeping his promise to finally deliver in an important fight. However, as the fight extended into the second half - always the moment of truth in Joey’s important assignments - Dawejko began to tire and could not maintain late in the fight. Thus, the script remained un-flipped, and Jennings held serve until the final bell. In doing so, the former title challenger, and added another win to his quest to return to a world title fight.

Over the first half, the battle was fairly even, with both fighters trading punches and figuring each other out. Dawejko took the first round on my scorecard, with a mix of body shots, and effective counterpunches. Jennings did better in the second, but began complaining to referee Gary Rosato about low blows. These complaints carried into the third and fourth rounds.

It was an interesting development for the start of the fight, because it made me wonder if Dawejko’s body work was getting to Jennings, or if Joey had gotten into his head a bit. Regardless, Jennings kept his cool and fought through it.

Dawejko had a good third round and landed a beautiful three-punch combination – left to the body, left to the head, and a right uppercut through Jennings gloves. The combo came back at times later in the fight, and was Dawejko’s best weapon.

In round four, Jennings complained about another low shot, and when no action was taken by the referee, he drilled Dawejko with a good low blow of his own. It was a smart tactic. It basically stopped the borderline blows coming from Dawejko, and probably helped to take some wind out of him too. Dawejko took the fifth round to establish a 3-2 edge on my score. However, things began to unravel for Dawejko after that.

Jennings won a quiet sixth round to even the score, and it was during this three minutes that Joey started showing signs of fatigue. Not unlike his bout with Amir Mansour, Dawejko was running uphill in the second half. For the rest of the fight, Jennings surged and Dawejko slowed.

The fight settled into this pattern for the last six rounds. Joey stayed in there and was competitive all night, but he was digging a hole on the scorecard and Jennings, always consistent in the ring, was showing no signs of a down shift. He just kept working and winning. 

Jennings’ jab started working well and dictated a lot of the remaining action. He bloodied Joey’s nose in the eighth, but Dawejko kept plugging along looking for a chance to change the momentum.

In the final round, Jennings rocked Dawejko with a right-left combo. Moments later while in a clinch, Joey looked up at one of the large TV screens in the house, peering for the countdown clock. They broke the clinch with about one minute remaining in the fight. One minute is an eternity for a tired fighter. Before you knew it, Dawejko lost his mouthpiece and the action was paused while they replaced it.  

When the final bell sounded, the fighters embraced. No hard feelings between the two Philadelphians.

All three judges turned in identical scores. Dewey LaRosa, James Kinney and George Kachulis had Jennings the winner by a 98-92 margin. My tally was one point closer, 97-93.

For Jennings, 23-2, it was a good step back. Going in, he was vocal about the fight having no upside for him. However, the downside of a loss to Dawejko would have been profound. So, perhaps this win, and staying on track was in fact an upside. Jennings’ solid and dependable performance brought him a second term as Pennsylvania heavyweight champion, and earned him a large shiny trophy for his mantle.

Dawejko, 19-5-4, 11 KOs, must be disappointed with the defeat. Although he trained harder than ever before in his career, his results didn’t change as much as he had hoped. However, if he treats his new regimen as a starting point and takes his conditioning as seriously as he did this time, and builds upon it, he very well may get the results that are needed to advance him in the heavyweight division.  

In the final fight before the TV telecast began, Newark, NJ featherweight Shakur Stevenson, 6-0, 3 KOs, issued Atlanta’s Patrick Riley his first-ever defeat, 12-1, 6 KOs, stopping him at 1:35 of round two. Stevenson breezed through the opening round. In the second, the southpaw Olympic Silver Medalist dropped Riley with a pair of lefts. Riley got up, but Stevenson jumped right on him. The subsequent flurry prompted referee Shawn Clark to step in and save Riley from further punishment. Stevenson’s performance was a good one, and furthered his claim that he is the best young prospect in the world.  


Olympic Gold Medalist Robson Conceicao of Brazil, 7-0, 4 KOs, won a lopsided unanimous decision over Canadian Alex Rynn Torres, 6-2, 3 KOs, in their 6-round junior lightweight bout. Conceicao used a steady body attack to move Torres around the ring while his jab lashed away at his opponent. All three official judges, George Kachulis, James Kinney and Glenn Feldman, each scored the fight a 60-54 shutout. My score was the same.   

Local bantamweight Christian Carto improved his record to 15-0, 11 KOs, with an eight round unanimous decision over Edwin Rodriguez of Ponce, PR, 8-5-1, 4 KOs, but the hot prospect had to work hard for it. After an eleven-bout knockout streak at the start of his career, Carto went the full limit for the fourth straight time. However, this fight was the most challenging of them all, and one where he actually dropped some rounds.

Carto won the first three rounds and showed a good jab, some hard rights, and a sneaky right uppercut. But Rodriguez was tough and landed his left hand regularly in the opening rounds. In the fourth, Rodriguez cracked Carto with a hard right hand, and edged the close round on my card.

In the following round, Carto nearly started another knockout streak when he landed a left hook that staggered Rodriguez near a neutral corner. Carto jumped on him, working the head and body, however the durable Rodriguez survived. In the sixth, the fighters banged heads and the impact appeared to hurt Carto. Rodriguez tossed a few good punches after the butt, but Carto handled the heat just fine.

Rodriguez took the sixth and seventh rounds before Carto closed the fight with a strong eighth. In that final three minutes, Carto’s jab, his right and that effective uppercut were back in full force.

When it was over, I had Carto up 77-75, or five to three in rounds. Two of the judges agreed. John Poturaj and David Braslow scored the fight 77-75, while Tony Lundy saw it 78-74. The fight was another good learning experience for Carto.


In an eight round junior welterweight bout, Kent Cruz, St. Louis, MO, 14-0-1, 9 KOs, and Mexican Mohamed Rodriguez, 10-4-1, 4 KOs fought to a split decision draw. Both fighters punched away in workmanlike fashion, and when it was over I thought Cruz had the edge. However, the scores of the three official judges had it dead-locked. Judge Glenn Feldman scored it 78-74 for Cruz; Dewey LaRosa had the fight 77-75 for Rodriguez, and Anthony Lundy saw it 76-76 even.

Reading knockout artist Joseph Adorno, 7-0, 7 KOs, knocked out Mexican Jorge Padron, 3-2, 3 KOs, at 1:11 of round one in a scheduled six round junior lightweight fight. After stalking Padron for about one minute, Adorno landed a solid right to the body.

The punch snuck in, just under Padron’s guard and cracked him on the ribs. Padron went down from the shot, and from a kneeling position, took the full ten count from referee Shawn Clark. Although it appeared (from a pain-free position outside the ring) that Padron could have gotten up, he did not, and lost by stoppage for the first time.

Emerging North Philly junior middleweight Marcel Rivers, 5-0, 4 KOs, again won by TKO, but the ending of this scheduled four round bout was a disappointment. Rivers won a quiet first round against New Yorker Ronald Logan. The round started slowly, but Rivers stepped up the pace in the final minute. In the second, he picked up where he’d left off but before long, Logan had second thoughts about letting Rivers build up a full head of steam.

Early in the second, the fighters clashed in the red corner and Logan fell to the canvas without absorbing a punch. Referee Gary Rosato ruled it a slip, and waved him to rise. Logan climbed up slowly. However, when he regained his feet, he grimaced and limped forward, claiming an injured ankle. When he refused to fight on, Rosato halted the fight and called it a TKO at 49 seconds of round two.

It was the fourth straight win for Rivers, and although it wasn’t his fault, it was the only fight of the four that wasn't a satisfying show. Logan lost for the third straight time (0-3), all by knockout.

The event, promoted by Top Rank and Peltz Boxing, attracted about 3,000 paying fans.




John DiSanto - North Philly - April 28, 2018