welterweight, “The New” Ray Robinson, 24-3, 12 KOs, faces another
stern test Saturday night, when he takes on undefeated, Lithuanian
puncher Egidijus Kavaliauskas, 21-0, 17 KOs, in a scheduled
10-rounder at South Philly’s 2300 Arena.
fight is the co-feature bout on a nationally televised double-header
headlined by light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk, in his
first title defense since taking the title from Adonis Stevenson in
December. The Ukrainian champ fights Doudou Ngumbu in a 12-round
WBC championship bout. These two fights will be telecast by ESPN,
beginning at 10 PM. The rest of the card, will stream live on
It’s been about 13 months since Robinson last fought. In that
arduous start, Ray suffered his third career defeat, losing by
stoppage to Yordenis Ugas, who recently fought a close battle with
WBC champ Shawn Porter. For Robinson, it was tough assignment after
another extended layoff, and Saturday night threatens to be more of
Robinson, a talented southpaw, has had a fine career, only losing to
Ugas recently, and Porter and Brad Solomon ages ago. He’s won a
slew of regional belts, been world ranked, and has been on the verge
of big things more than once. However, his run as a pro has also
been plagued by inactivity due to injuries, management issues, and
other nagging obstacles. For the most part, he’s navigated the
choppy waters well, but now finds himself in a sink-or-swim
his most recent layoff, Robinson, 33, does not have the luxury of
picking and choosing opponents. He’s done enough of that already.
So these days, he takes what he can get. That was the case with
Ugas, and it’s definitely the case on Saturday.
When he steps back into action against the highly regarded
Kavaliauskas, Robinson will be a big underdog. Around town, fans
are worried. However as usual, Robinson has the opportunity to turn
his career on a dime, and make another run at the top – and the
potential he’s always appeared to have.
A win against the world-ranked, Oxnard-based Kavaliauskas puts
Robinson right into the mix among 147-pounders. But everything is
going to have to fall into place on Saturday. Any type of win could
put Robinson right where he wants to be, but the wrong kind of loss
might end his career on the spot. No other fight on this card has
higher stakes or more drama attached to it.
Much of the rest of the undercard is loaded with local talent.
Philly featherweight Donald Smith, 8-0, 5 KOs, meets Mexican-born
Jose Antonio Martinez, 11-17, 6 KOs, in a six rounder. Smith, a
three year pro who’s fought mostly in Atlantic City, returns to
Philly for just his second hometown bout.
Promising Joshafat Ortiz, of
Reading, PA, 5-0, 3 KOs, fights James Thomas of Michigan, 6-4, 6
KOs, in a six round junior lightweight bout.
South Philly heavyweight
newbie, Sonny Conto, 1-0, 1 KO, returns to the 2300 Arena for his
second start as a pro. The 23 year old Conto is already wildly
popular. Then again, what Italian puncher in South Philly isn’t?
His last opponent was a virtual no-show. So in some ways, this will
be our first look at the professional version of Conto. He fights
Omar Acosta, of New Mexico, 1-5, 1 KO.
Allentown, PA junior
featherweight Jeremy Adorno makes his pro debut against Tacoma’s
Sebastian Baltazar, 1-3. If Adorno is anything like his brother
Joseph, don’t blink.
Five additional bouts,
including a 12-round welterweight eliminator between Kudratillo
Abdukakhorov, 15-0, 9 KOs, and Keita Obara, 20-3-1, 18 KOs, complete
The first bell for this Top
Rank promoted show, is set to ring at 5:30 PM, Saturday at the 2300