KAUFFMAN FUELS PHILLY - A tremendous year of boxing in
the “City of Brotherly Love” came to an end on Friday December 6th
at the 2300 Arena. When Washington DC native, junior welterweight,
Mykel Fox's hand was raised after winning a ten round unanimous
decision over John Arrellano of Texas, it signaled the end of a
fabulous year of pro prizefighting. Fittingly, the area’s most
prolific promoter Marshall Kaufman’s Kings Promotions delivered the
action that night. Kaufman once again was the
busiest local promoter. In October, Kaufman, in conjunction with
Premier Boxing Champions, brought world class talent to the area
showcasing Robert Easter Jr.'s win over Adrian Granados and top ranked
junior middleweight Erickson Lubin to his hometown Reading, PA.
Without Kaufman promoting close to a dozen shows in and around the
Delaware River, the area’s fight scene would hardly survive, yet
RAGING BABE DEBUTS - The excitement all started back
in February when Michelle Rosado’s Raging Babe Promotions kicked the
year off promoting her first event in Philly at the 2300 Arena. A
solid fight card became mythological when flaming hot prospect, Christian Carto was poleaxed and laid out on the canvas by Mexican
tumbler Victor Ruiz in round two. Leaving the venue on a stretcher, Carto’s future was in doubt, meanwhile Rosado cemented her
credentials as a promoter within the municipality.
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA - It
appeared that Hard Hitting Promotions was going to a have a
phenomenal year when close to 3,500 spectators packed into the
newly refurbished Metropolitan Opera House (The Met) on North Broad
Street. That night a couple of home town undefeated participants of
Puerto Rican heritage squared off in the main event for more than
victory. On the line for combatants Steven Ortiz and Jeremy Cuevas
was neighborhood and ethnic bragging rights. Ortiz won easily over eight
rounds. Hard Hitting returned to “The Met” a few more times but
nothing compared to the virgin experience in the opera house.
TOP RANK PROMOTIONS - Bob Arum
committed to bringing world renowned talent to Philadelphia and
delivered exactly that in 2019.
Checking the temperature of the water, Arum dipped his toe in last
March when he promoter Oleksadr Gvozdyk's successful WBC light
heavyweight title defense against Doudou Ngumbu. Also seeing action
that night Philly native “The New” Ray Robinson drew with highly
ranked and touted Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas. Many of those
at ringside believed Robinson deserved the nod. Other spectators felt
if Robinson turned it up just a notch he would have clearly been
victorious. Egidijus went on to give a good account of himself in
his next fight before getting kayoed in nine rounds versus WBO
Welterweight King Terence Crawford in December at Madison Square
THE SHOW MUST GO ON - After a
freak accident had Carl Frampton pulling out of his fight at the Liacouras Center in August, less than two weeks beforehand.
would have blamed Top Rank for cutting their losses and canceling the
festivities altogether. Instead former junior lightweight champ
Jason Sosa was bumped up to main event status and pitted against
unheralded Lydell Rhodes. Sosa kayoed Rhodes in seven rounds. With
no time to promote the change in the main go, the show drew poorly.
A few months later Sosa went on to unsuccessfully challenge WBC
Super Featherweight Champion Miguel Berchelt getting finished off in
THE COUP DE GRACE - The big one
occurred when Top Rank chose to come back to the Liacouras Center to
pit two undefeated knockout artists in a light heavyweight
unification match. WBC King Oleksandr Gvozdyk and IBF Monarch
Artur Beterbiev squared off on October 18. This pairing would have sold out major arenas in
Las Vegas, Manhattan or Chicago. By choosing Philadelphia, Top Rank
made a statement that it plans on being a major part of this city's
professional pugilism. Beterbiev stopped Gvozdyk in the tenth.
Quality over quantity is why Top Rank should be considered for The
Briscoe Award Promoter of the Year.
IRISH INVASION- Once again UK boxers invaded
Philadelphia. Contrary to the American Revolution, this time the City
of Brotherly Love welcomed the red coats with open arms. In March, Matchroom
USA promoted Tevin Farmer's homecoming at the Liacouras Center in
what turned out to be the best night of fights for 2019. Jono
Carroll of Ireland put forth a spirited and gallant effort in trying
to wrest the crown from IBF Super Featherweight king Farmer. The undercard showcased two potential Briscoe Award Fights of the Year.
Philly native Gabriel Rosado's late round comeback against Polish Maciej Sulecki was epic. Rosado lost a ten round unanimous decision
but showed he is still a threat in the middleweight division.
Unbelievable, unless you were in the arena early to witness Hank
Lundy vs. Avery Sparrow, you missed one of the best pairings of two
rival Philly boxers in a long time. DAZN cameras had not started
rolling when this fight occurred. Also, nearly 1,500 of Katie
Taylor's faithful fans flew into Philly from the Emerald Isle to see
her easily defend her undisputed lightweight laurels.
WEST PHILLY RULES - I traveled to DC to see Philly
fighters showcase their impressive skills in May. The scraps took
place on the abandoned campus of George Mason University. Classes
ended the day prior to Julian Williams' shocking upset of Jarrett Hurd.
Not only did Williams ruin Hurd's homecoming, he walked away with his
IBF and WBA Super Welterweights belts. West Philly had more proud moments
when Stephen Fulton put on a flawless performance on the undercard,
and won the IBO junior featherweight belt.
Happy New Year! Keep Punching!