|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - March 15, 2019|
Championship boxing returned to Philadelphia Friday night when local world champ Tevin Farmer defended his IBF junior lightweight crown against Dublin’s Jono Carroll at the Liacouras Center on the North Philly campus of Temple University. Farmer kept his title with a 12-round unanimous decision, and female world champion Katie Taylor won her third share of the women’s lightweight title with a dominant TKO of Brazilian Rose Volante.
However, these two bouts were only part of the offering from Matchroom Boxing and promoter Eddie Hearn. The show featured nine total contests, including entertaining wars involving North Philly middleweight Gabriel Rosado, and cross-town rivals Hank Lundy and Avery Sparrow. It was a jam-packed event, and one that included perhaps three fights that could be considered for the “2019 Philly Fight of the Year” trophy at next year’s Briscoe Awards.
In the main event, IBF junior lightweight champion Tevin Farmer, North Philly, 29-4-1, 6 KOs, 1 ND, posted his fourth straight win in a world title bout since winning the belt last August. His challenger, Jono Carroll, 16-1-1, 3 KOs, came to Philadelphia with an abundance of energy, presence, and purpose, determined to impose his will on Farmer, and was supremely confident that the IBF belt would return to Ireland with him.
The left-handed Irishman gave a good account of himself, fighting for three minutes every round in an attempt to wear down the southpaw champion. However, the slick and skilled Farmer is a difficult customer for any 130-pounder. He brought far more ability and, as we all know, his confidence cannot be shaken. Still, the fight was non-stop, grinding action, and although Farmer was generally in control, the bout was no walk in the park for Philly’s only current world champ.
Carroll started quickly in the opening round, pressuring Farmer right away. Farmer boxed well, but Carroll stole the round on my card with a heavy body attack late in the round. He continued the aggression in the second, and was effective pressing and landing throughout the period.
By the third, Farmer was all warmed up, and he better controlled the action. Tevin sliced Carroll’s right eye with a left, and the wound bled for the rest of the night. It was at this point, that Farmer took over the fight. His punches were clean and more frequent. However, Carroll stayed in his face and worked on the inside.
Farmer began banking rounds. They didn’t come easily, but the sessions kept falling into Farmer’s column. Tevin appeared intent on beating Carroll at his own game, and seemed happy to engage in a physical war that could have been avoided and made the task of turning back the challenger harder that it had to be.
Jono had a pretty good round five, and seemed on the brink of adding it to his credit before Farmer surged and took the round with a number of showy power shots. Farmer also won the sixth, and closed the first half with a 4-2 edge in rounds. But something happened that shifted the momentum, beginning in the seventh. Carroll, bleeding and banged up, knuckled down as the second half started and began to out-work the champion. He strung together three good rounds on my card, and by the ninth, Farmer looked to be getting tired.
As champions are apt to do, Farmer rose to the occasion in round ten. Reenergized and looking to close the show, Tevin picked up the pace and lashed Carroll with rights and lefts. By winning the tenth, Farmer evened my score at five rounds apiece. But when the championship rounds began, Farmer left Carroll in the dust.
The champ perhaps had his best round in the eleventh. He hurt Carroll with a right hook, and the challenger staggered as he retreated loosely around the ring. Farmer stayed on him, but the game visitor survived. However the punishment Carroll absorbed, sapped the rest of his strength, and left him with only fumes for the final round.
Farmer looked winded himself in the final three minutes, but Carroll couldn’t push like he had earlier in the fight. So, Farmer coasted to the bell, and appeared to have done plenty to retain his title for the third time.
As we waited for the result to be announced, most at ringside felt Farmer had won it. My score was 115-113, or seven rounds to five. However, a contingent of three prominent writers to my right all had the fight a draw. It was that kind of scrap, and was also a possible “Fight of the Year” contender.
The official judges saw the fight much more comfortably for Farmer. John Poturaj scored it 117-110, while David Braslow and Sylvain Leblanc had it 117-111.
The victory moves Farmer, the first Philly world champion in 16 years to defend his title at home, one step closer to an anticipated meeting with Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis. Carroll, lost for the first time as a pro, but proved himself to be a tough and willing contender.
After dishing eight rounds worth of consistent punishment, Taylor hurt Volante again in round nine. The attack didn’t look much different than in previous rounds, but after the long night of abuse, it became clear that Volante had taken enough. So, referee Benjy Esteves stepped in at the 1:40 mark of round nine. Volante may have been able to remain upright for the tenth and final round, but why subject her to additional battering? The stoppage was a good one.
This was Taylor’s seventh
defense of her WBA belt, the fourth defense of the IBF title, and
the start of her reign as WBO champ. Presumably now she sets her
sights on the WBC title, and a fight with Delfine Person of Belgium,
to determine the undisputed champion.
Rosado used his right hand to good affect against his larger opponent. He took the third round, thanks to that right, which landed from every angle - straight, overhand, and as an uppercut. The problem for Rosado was however, that although he was nailing Sulecki cleanly, the punches failed to move him one bit. One even wonders if he felt them at all.
In round four, Sulecki started a run that pushed him to a comfortable lead in the fight. Rosado was still landing shots, but Sulecki was in a groove and began taking over. Sulecki's punches began to mark Rosado around the left eye, and his left cheek began to swell some.
After six rounds, Sulecki had won five, on my card, including an extra point for the first round knockdown. Rosado was still in the fight, but he was in desperate need to make something happen.
The local won the seventh round to stop Sulecki's roll, but in the eighth, Sulecki picked up steam and was back in control. The pair had a vicious exchange, and it was Rosado who had the better of it. However, as the exchange wound down, Sulecki cracked Rosado with a left-right that put him on the canvas again.
The knockdown sucked the air out of the boisterous crowd, as the reality set in that the fight was slipping away from Rosado for good. However, Gabriel Rosado is built differently than most fighters. He may struggle at times to match skills with the elite class, but his heart and determination never fall short. He proved this once again in round nine.
With just six minutes remaining in the fight, the boxers launched another trench battle in the ninth. It was a tough, grueling fight. Both looked tired, but Sulecki had the advantage of leading on the scorecards, and really only needed to hold serve to win. All the pressure was on Rosado. In the final moments of the round, they went into another exchange. Both fighters landed hard shots, but this skirmish was punctuated with a thudding right hand from Rosado.
The punch knocked Sulecki off his feet, and the crowd went wild. So did Rosado. Suddenly he was back in the fight. On a difficult night, he had dug deep enough to keep his hopes alive. Sulecki slowly climbed to his feet and when the action resumed, Rosado had a clear mission – get his tough opponent out of there before the clock ran out.
Gabe jumped in and pounded away. Another right staggered Sulecki. He turned away, and for a moment it looked like he might be surrendering. But as he turned, his legs gave out and he crumbled to the canvas. This was a Hollywood movie playing out 3,000 miles from La-La Land. Rosado peered at the fallen Sulecki, coiled and ready to either jump up in victory, or jump back into battle.
Sulecki managed to get up, slowly. Referee Shawn Clark gave him the mandatory count and the moment he reached eight, the bell sounded. It ended the round and clearly saved Sulecki. If only a handful of seconds remained, Rosado quite possibly could have put him away. However, Rosado’s career doesn’t go that way. If a bell can sound to kill his chances, it will. And it did.
In the final round, Rosado tried to recreate the magic of the previous three minutes. He was in control and landing, but Sulecki had recovered enough to remain out of trouble. The round ended and the drama was over. But what a ride it had been.
There wasn’t too much doubt how the decision would go, but with Rosado’s the last minute surge the score had tightened a bit. Like many of Rosado’s fights, the actual result had little to do with the enjoyment level of the preceding rounds. Alas, this was another case of Gaby coming so close in an important fight, but ultimately going away without the victory.
The official scores all favored Sulecki. Lynne Carter had it the closest at 95-93, while both David Braslow and John McKaie saw it wider at 95-91. My score was 94-92 for Sulecki.
So, Rosado lost another one. But once again he proved that his career will not ultimately be measured by his record. The legacy of Gabriel Rosado will be marked by his effort, his heart, and the almost absurd amount of entertainment he’s brought the fans over his thirteen year professional career.
If this sounds like an obituary, it is not. After this incredible performance, he’ll certainly receive another fight, probably another important one. And for as long as Rosado is breathing, he’ll have a chance to win the fight and steer his career toward one more chance at the top. But if he can’t make it all the way, his efforts will still be “must watch” moments anyway.
Rosado will make us all forget that, these days, boxing is mostly, and incorrectly, measured by wins and losses. Gabriel Rosado is more than the story his record tells. He is a true Philly fighter, and ranks alongside the most memorable of all those that have preceded him. He carries the torch proudly. That’s just who he is, and who he’s always been. It might not pay the bills like another title fight would, but he will be remembered as one of our city’s best.
Sparrow had promised to shut Lundy’s mouth, and Hank swore he’d teach the “young pup” a stern lesson. The truth is, at this point in both their careers, the fight was a toss-up, and fans couldn’t wait for it to play out. Lundy started fast, hurting Sparrow with a left hook to end the first round. But the fight turned dramatically in the second, when Sparrow flashed his power.
First Sparrow landed a right that knocked Lundy off balance. Hank tipped forward but caught himself from falling, with a stiff glove to the mat. It was correctly called a knockdown, but looked like the flash variety at best. However moments later during a two-way exchange, Sparrow landed another right that stopped Lundy in his tracks and sent him crashing down. It seemed the fight was about to end, but Lundy’s experience and rock-hard attitude got him to his feet and kept him steady until the round was over.
Sparrow won the third, but failed to resume the dangerous trend he started the round before. Lundy rebounded well in the fourth, but Sparrow reminded him of his power, with a hard right near the bell.
Beginning in round five, Sparrow put together a streak of winning rounds that gave him a comfortable lead. This included the sixth, which was a great round and perhaps the best of the fight. During those three minutes, both boxers traded, landed, and wobbled the other.
However, old pros don’t give up easily, and Lundy proved this rule down the stretch. With Sparrow tiring slightly, Lundy took over in the final three rounds. He was fighting Sparrow, as well as his points deficit on the scorecards, with everything he had. Hank is tough and proud. He won the eighth, the ninth – trapping Sparrow in a corner and hurting him at one point, and the tenth. The run brought the fight quite close on the cards.
Judge Dewey Larosa saw the fight a 94-94 deadlock. However, David Braslow and John Poturaj favored Sparrow by tallies of 95-93 and 96-92, respectively, giving Sparrow the majority decision. My score was 95-93 for Sparrow, with each fighter winning five rounds, but the two knockdowns by Sparrow proving to be the difference.
This fight was not as dramatic and wild as the Rosado fight. However, it was a very high quality match between two excellent Philly fighters. Sparrow was impressive, especially after a one year layoff, and Lundy proved that he still has a lot of gas left in his tank. A rematch would make a lot of sense, and certainly be welcomed by all the fans. When we look back at the best fights of 2019, this will be one of them.
Ford scored a knockdown with an
overhand left in round one, but was not able to end his first fight
early. Instead, he dominated most of the action and won by three
scores of 39-36 (Steve Weisfeld, Lynne Carter and Dewey Larosa).
The attendance was announced as 5,246.