PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - November 09, 2018  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


Local bantamweight sensation Christian Carto extended his undefeated streak to 17-0, 11 KOs, Friday night with a shutout unanimous decision over Mexican journeyman Antonio Rodriguez, 13-23-2, 6 KOs, in the six-round main event at the Sugar House Casino in Philadelphia.  The fight headlined a six-bout card staged by Kings Promotions before another full house. 

Carto is perhaps Philly’s most popular rising star, and each of his fights are always packed with a noisy band of loyal Carto-shirt-wearing fans who scream with delight at every punch he lands and seem completely oblivious to the shots that land on him in return.  Nothing stems the excitement of seeing their hot prospect ply his skills.  True love can be like that.  Certainly Carto gives them plenty to love, but on Friday night he also gave his fans much to turn a blind-eye to.    

Carto jumped out at the opening bell, aggressive and seemingly ready to snap the five-bout streak of decisions he’s put together over the past fourteen months, after stringing together nothing but knockouts to start his career. 

The stretch of full-limit bouts has undoubtedly given Carto some much needed experience.  He lost barely a round during this run of fights, but Carto also showed a tendency to get hit – too much.  Although the flaw never really cost him much in any of these fights, it gave the impression that the promising star had plateaued. 

Perhaps this was the reason for the recent change he made in his training staff.  Two fights ago, after 15 straight wins, Carto switched trainers, bringing in Billy Briscoe, one of Philly’s best pro coaches.  Clearly the goal was to infuse Carto’s game with the know-how needed to help him rise to the next level. 

In round one on Friday night, the Briscoe-effect appeared to kick in for Carto.  The 21-year old fighter looked like his old aggressive self.  He landed some strong shots right off the bat, and looked energetic and focused. 

In the second, after battering Rodriguez around the ring, Carto caught him with a body shot that sent the Mexican tumbling as the round wound down.  Rodriguez bounced up and had no problem surviving the few seconds that remained in the round.  However, it appeared clear that his days were numbered and that Carto was on the brink of starting a new knockout streak.  Supporting this premise was the fact that Rodriguez had been previously stopped twelve times.  So it seemed certain that he’d never survive Carto’s onslaught.  But this was not the case. 

In the third round, Carto continued to control the fight.  He was aggressive and busy as he pounded away at his foe.  But along the way, Christian began to take punches himself.  Many of them were solid, even hard, shots.  Christian was never hurt by any of them, and calmly brushed off each shot as they landed.  But it became clear that he was still a work in progress. 

Carto zipped through the remainder of the fight, winning every round and staggering his tougher-than-expected opponent several times.  It was frustrating to see Carto continue to take too may punches, but he stormed to the end and captured a one-sided victory on all three official scorecards.  Judges Alan Rubenstein, Steve Weisfeld and Anthony Lundy turned in identical scores of 60-53.  I think every observer had the same tally. 

The victory pushed Carto to 17-0, 11 KOs, and was another solid, if not perfect, win.  He may still have some developing to do, but he is without a doubt a star attraction with some very real potential.  His new trainer knows what he is doing and should be able to plug the last few holes in Carto’s game.  Until then, Christian will continue to sell tickets, attract sponsors, excite fans, and win fights.  He and his team appear to be in no rush, and that is refreshing to see.  The expectations for Carto are sky-high, and meeting those expectations will take time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the wait was worth it.   


North Philly welterweight Poindexter Knight, 6-0, 3 KOs, blasted out Ft. Lauderdale’s Travis Castellon, 16-3-1, 12 KOs, in less than one round in their scheduled six-rounder.  Knight started his career with two quick knockouts, but in his next three starts, his power went dormant.  It returned Friday night, and brought a speedy end to his latest fight. 

Knight swarmed Castellon and issued a left-right that sent him into the ropes.  Knight drove in one more shot that would have sent Castellon to the floor had the ropes not held him upright.  So, referee Eric Dali gave Castellon an eight-count.  As Dali counted, Castellon wobbled and staggered around, and the moment Dali reached “eight”, the ref waved the fight over.  The time was 1:33.   


North Philly’s James Martin, 3-0, 1 KO, won a punch-out with Kenyan Denis Okoth, 2-0-1, 1KO, in a four-round welterweight bout.  Martin dropped Okoth with a right hand in the opening round, but Okoth survived.  Martin took the second, and was winning the third, before Okoth floored Martin, the son of Philly legend Jerry “The Bull” Martin, with his own hard right hand.  Martin climbed to his feet and fought on.  The final round was close, but Okoth had the edge from my angle.  All three official judges turned in identical scores of 38-36 for Martin.  My tally was one point closer, 38-37 for Martin.   


West Philadelphia lightweight Frank “Nitty” Trader, 11-2-1, 3 KOs, returned after a four years away from the ring to score a second round TKO over California-based Mexican Pablo Cupul, 10-28, 5 KOs, in their scheduled six-rounder.  After winning the first round, Trader started landing freely with power punches in the second.  A volley of shots trapped Cupul on the ropes and a storm of lefts and rights prompted referee Eric Dali to stop the fight.  The time was 1:45 of round two.   

Middleweight Maurice Burke, North Philly, made a successful pro debut (1-0) against Brandon Bey, Bronx, NY, 0-0-0, 1 No Decision.  Burke swept through all four rounds, winning each clearly.  He took the unanimous decision by three landslide scores of 40-36 by judges Alan Rubenstein, Anthony Lundy and Steve Weisfeld.  Burke is the nephew of former world champion Charles Brewer, who also serves as his trainer.   


In the opening fight of the night, Philly southpaw Mark Dawson, 5-0, 3 KOs, won a methodical, six-round unanimous decision over Chukka Willis of Kansas, 3-7, 2 KOs.  It was a slow bout with the final round offering the most action of the encounter.  I thought Dawson won all six rounds, and two of the three judges agreed.  Mark Consentino and Alan Rubenstein scored the bout 60-54, while Steve Weisfeld saw it a round closer at 59-55.   

Referee Eric Dali handled all six bouts.  Alexis Barbosa was the ring announcer.  An estimated crowd of about 1,100 attended.  Kings Promotions returns next Friday, November 16th, with a show in Bethlehem, PA, and then comes back to Philly for a card at the 2300 Arena on December 7th. 




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - November 09, 2018