PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - November 16, 2018  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


Rising Philly sensation Jaron Ennis scored an overwhelming TKO against fellow-Philadelphian Raymond Serrano, in their scheduled 10-round main event, before a packed house at the 2300 Arena Friday night in South Philly.  Ennis came out strong, winning the first round before closing the show with three knockdowns in round two.  The winner was a huge favorite entering the fight, and left the ring with another spectacular victory which sent the local crowd home, buzzing about his world title prospects.  Additional good news for Ennis was that a national television audience was also watching live on Showtime’s SHOBOX series.  The impressive win sent a message to boxing fans outside of Philadelphia that a new star is on the rise. 

Ennis came out in round one and immediately went to work.  He speared Serrano with several sharp jabs and rattled him with a chopping right hand.  After a volley of body shots, the switch-hitting Ennis turned lefty and landed freely.  He switched his stance back and forth a few times, but by the mid-point of the round, settled in as a southpaw.  Jaron coolly fired away at Serrano, who tried to get things going, but mostly followed Ennis around the ring on already shaky legs. 

The second round was a massacre.  Just 30 seconds into the round, Ennis, still in the southpaw stance, cracked Serrano with a right hook that sent him tumbling backward and down to the mat.  Gutsy Serrano got right up, but looked dazed.  For my tastes, the fight could have ended right then and there.  But Serrano got up quickly and referee Gary Rosato let the bout continue.   

Ennis turned right-handed and zoomed back in.  He nailed Serrano with a rocket overhand right and Raymond looked knocked out before he even hit the canvas.  I thought for sure the fight would be stopped at this point, but Serrano got up again and wanted to continue.  I wish he hadn’t wanted that. 

Ennis, suddenly southpaw again, swept in to resume his deadly mission, and moments later caught Serrano with another right hand that was mostly a hook, but had a dash of uppercut to it.  The vicious bullet caught Serrano on the chin, and the beaten fighter fell face-forward to the canvas.  Gary Rosato stopped the fight immediately.  The time was 1:12 of round two. 

The victory, although not unexpected for Ennis, was so convincing, so sudden, and so violent, that it even exceeded the already high expectations set for Jaron for the fight.  Ennis improved to 22-0, 20 KOs, and looked very ready to step up to the next level.  He can no longer feed on ordinary competition.  His assignments have become too easy. 

Serrano, 24-6, 10 KOs, 1 NC, came into this crossroads fight hoping to reboot his career.  He didn’t need this tough of a match, but took it willingly, knowing that success would turn things around for him.  His mentality as a true Philly fighter has never been questioned.  He is a popular and good fighter, but this defeat had the feel of a career-ender.  Raymond was brave and well prepared, but he had nothing to offer against the gifted Ennis. 

In an 8-round junior welterweight fight, Philly’s Samuel Teah, 15-2-1, 7 KOs, scored an upset points win over Kenneth Sims Jr., 13-2-1, 4 KOs, in the nationally televised semi-windup bout.  For Teah, it was a career-best performance, and with everyone watching on TV, the surge could not have come at a better time. 

The opening round was close, but Teah got into a groove midway through and took the round on my card.  In the second, Teah hurt Sims twice with very good right hands, one overhand right and one uppercut.  Sims bounced back in the third, but Teah regained control in the fourth. 

The second half of the fight was extremely competitive, but Teah swept the final four rounds from my perspective.  Teah scored with numerous power shots – both lefts and rights – and at least edged Sims by the end of each round.  The seventh was the closest during the final stretch, but I still gave it to Teah. 

One of the official judges, John Poturaj, agreed with my score of 79-73.  Steve Weisfeld and David Braslow saw the fight a bit closer, but still had Teah the winner, 77-75.  The result was a terrific win for Teah, and is a local “Upset of the Year” candidate.   

In the first TV bout, junior featherweight Arnold Khegai, of Odessa, Ukraine, 14-0-1, 9 KOs, beat Jorge Diaz of New Brunswick, NJ, 19-6-1, 10 KOs, by 8-round unanimous decision. Khegai, an exciting fighter who now calls Philadelphia home, displayed good punching power in the fight. 

His left hooks and right uppercuts stunned Diaz often, but Khegai only managed to drop Diaz once, in round six with a left hook / right uppercut combo.  Diaz survived, but repeatedly stayed out of trouble by “slipping” to the canvas several times during the bout. 

Besides the knockdown, Diaz hit the deck eight additional times which were all ruled non-knockdowns by referee Gary Rosato.  To be fair, Khegai pushed down Diaz on a couple of those trips, but to be sure, Diaz made the tactic part of his survival technique. 

After the eight rounds were completed, Khegai took the decision on all three official cards.  Steve Weisfeld and John Poturaj both saw the fight 77-74, while Dewey LaRosa had the fight much wider, at 79-72.  I went even further, calling the fight an 80-71 victory for Khegai. 

There were six bouts on the non-televised portion of the show.   


Just before the cameras began to roll, North Philly teenage junior welterweight Branden Pizarro, 13-1, 6 KOs, won a 6-round unanimous decision over Trenton southpaw Jerome Rodriguez, 7-11-3, 2 KOs.  Going in, this fight had the aroma of a good challenge for the rising youngster, and it was exactly that.  Still, Pizarro won impressively. 

Branden had to deal with an experienced pro who is much better than his tattered record suggests.  Rodriguez put Pizarro through the paces, banging up his left eye in the first round and never falling prey to Pizarro’s youthful flash. 

For Pizarro, this was a grittier than usual win, and the type of fight that will help him develop his skills.  Pizarro had a few issues with Jerome’s southpaw style, but he rose to the occasion and looked good doing it.  This assignment was something that Branden isn’t always given – a true test. 

The 19 year old has been given the star treatment since even before he turned pro, and with it, many easy matches have come his way.  But on this night he had to fight hard to win, and he showed that he is quite capable in the ring.  That wasn’t a surprise, but it was good for us fans to get that verification. 

Pizarro won by easy official scores of 60-54 (Dewey LaRosa) and 59-55 (David Braslow and John Poturaj).  My score was a stricter 58-56, but I was impressed by Pizarro more than ever before. 


Florida-based Puerto Rican Gadwin Rosa, 9-0, 7 KOs, won a 6-round unanimous decision over experienced Mexican journeyman German Meraz, 61-51, 2, 38 KOs. Rosa won the junior lightweight bout by wide scores of 60-54 (Braslow) and 59-55 twice (LaRosa and Weisfeld).  My score mirrored Braslow’s.   


Gledwin Ortiz, 6-2, 5 KOs, Bronx, scored a one punch knockout over Kieran Hooks of SW Philly, 3-2-1, 1 KO, in the first round of their scheduled 4-round junior middleweight bout. 

Ortiz slammed Hooks with a perfect right hand that put the Philadelphian flat on his back.  Referee Benjy Esteves took one quick look, and stopped the fight without a count.  The punch and abrupt end was a shocker.  The time was 2:27 of round one.  


In another scheduled 4-rounder, lightweight Christian Tapia, Coamo, PR, 7-0, 6 KOs, stopped Cleveland’s Darnell Pettis, 3-13, at the end of round three.  Tapia was definitely in control and had begun to widen his lead, but Pettis did not seem on the brink of being stopped.  However, he failed to come out for the final round.  Referee Gary Rosato stopped the fight in the corner before the fourth, upon the doctor’s recommendation. The time was 3:00 of the third.  


In a scheduled 4-round light heavyweight fight, Philly’s Benny Sinakin, 2-0, 1 KO, made quick work of Darren Ferndale of Michigan, 1-6, 1 KO.  Sinakin scored one knockdown before finishing his opponent after 2:23.  “The Jewish Bulldog” was wild in his second pro fight, but was extremely fun to watch.  The referee was Benjy Esteves Jr.  


In the show opener, Reading, PA cruiserweight David Stevens, 1-0, 1 KO, made a successful pro debut, stopping Judd Brown, 0-1-1, Reading, in round one of their scheduled 4-rounder.  Stevens dropped Brown once with a left hook and stopped him moments later at 2:56 on the first.  The referee was Gary Rosato.

The show was a good night of boxing, and came after an exciting build up.  Tickets were sold out more than a week in advance, and everyone seemed to be talking about the event during the final days before fight night. 

As stated before, the house was packed.  Although the enormous Showtime camera boom, prevented the staging of a large section of would-be seats, the promoters loaded the building with standing room only spectators to augment the scaled down seating chart.  The result was a huge crowd of both sitting and standing fight fans, everywhere you looked.  The attendance had to be about 1,200.   

The successful show was co-promoted by Hard Hitting Promotions, Victory Boxing Promotions and Showtime. 




John DiSanto - South Philly - November 16, 2018