PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - November 27, 2021  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


Betting favorite Paul Kroll emerged the winner in his main event showdown against Mark Dawson Saturday night at the 2300 Arena. However, what started as a would-be walkover, ended up a tougher than expected, full-distance victory for Kroll that somehow revealed weaknesses in the winner and strengths in the loser. The eight-round welterweight fight topped a six-bout card promoted by RDR Promotions.

The anticipated match-up almost ended before it got started thanks to Kroll's punching power. Paul the "Punisher" cracked Dawson with a hard right to the jaw that slammed him against the ropes and sent him crumbling down each strand until he hit the canvas. It was a crushing punch and the fight appeared to be over. But Dawson wasn't going out like that.

The unbeaten fighter climbed to his feet took referee Shawn Clark's eight-count, and, with most of the round still before him, walked back into the action. Kroll was ready and tried to finish Dawson before the bell. He ran out of time, but Kroll resumed his onslaught in the second, repeatedly landing right hand punches. Dawson wobbled at times, but he proved his toughness by surviving and soldiering on.

The third round was closer than the previous two, but Kroll was still in control. Then in the fourth, a mild shift occurred with southpaw Dawson squeaking out the round on my card. Suddenly he wasn't finished. But with the memory of the early near-knockout hanging in the air, it still felt like Kroll might end the fight at any moment. However, this was just not the case. Paul had chased Dawson, loaded up, and reached in to land his shots, but Dawson hung in there and in time Kroll became less effective.

At around this mid-point of the fight, Kroll became passive and appeared satisfied with banking rounds and winning in less spectacular fashion than in the way he had started. Dawson edged the sixth round, but his hopes of winning the decision were already gone. This was Kroll's fight and he took the final two rounds to lock down his victory.

However, by the end, despite winning clearly on all three judges scorecards (80-71, and 79-72 twice), Kroll's performance felt like a disappointment. He was supposed to win this fight, and he did. But he let the knockout slip away and despite dominating the fight, failed to truly impress. Perhaps his conditioning was off. He originally weighed in at 150.5 pounds, came back once at 150, and left it at that, agreeing to pay a penalty for exceeding the contracted weight of 148. To be fair, it was his first start in just over a year. 

Dawson, on the other hand, came in at a trim 145.8 pounds, apparently learning from his own weight-making issues in the past. He was also been far more active than Kroll over the past year. Clearly, Dawson prepared for a long, tough fight, and it's a good thing that he did. Had he not, chances are he would have never made it out of the first round.

The win improved Kroll's record to 9-0, 6 KOs. Dawson lost for the first time and went home 9-1-1, 3 KOs. I look forward to seeing both fighters in the ring again. Kroll, who came into the fight with better credentials than Dawson, left that way. Many thought Dawson had no chance against Kroll, but by the end of the fight, proved that he was tougher, sturdier, and even better than everyone expected.

It was a great match-up and a good fight, but my hopes that it would run away with "Philly Fight of the Year" honors, were not realized. Still, a terrific pairing of good rising locals is always welcome.


In the scheduled four-round co-feature bout, North Philly junior lightweight Rashan Adams scored a sudden knockout over Deo Kizito of Baltimore. When the bell sounded to start the fight, Kizito landed a nice left hook. Adams responded with a flurry of shots that turned the tide. A right staggered Kizito before a left-right combination put him on the canvas. Referee Eric Dali looked down and didn't bother to count. Dali stopped the fight immediately and called it a knockout at the 35 second mark. Adams remained undefeated, 2-0, 1 KO. Kizito fell to 3-6, 2 KOs. It was the third time he was stopped.


In a four-round heavyweight fight, undefeated Derek Starling, North Philly, was on his way to another win in his bout with winless Darryl Clark (red trunks) of Houston, TX. Starling won the first round and had the second nearly locked down before the unthinkable happened. As the round was winding down, Starling through a left jab at Clark and then recoiled in pain. He then crumbled to the mat. With Starling clearly unable - or unwilling - to continue, referee Shawn Clark waved the fight over. The time was 2:59 of round two. In the aftermath, it was revealed that Starling had injured his shoulder when he flicked that final jab with only seconds remaining in the round. The loss was the first for Starling, 4-1, 3 KOs, and the win was the first for Clark, 1-1, 1 KO. 


In a fight between two Philly junior welterweights, Isaiah Johnson scored a second round TKO over Anthony "2 Guns" Young in a scheduled four rounder. After winning the first round, Johnson trapped Young in the corner and fired a series of punches that compelled referee Eric Dali to step in. There were no knockdowns, but Young was clearly hurt and wavered a few times. The quick win improved Johnson's record to 3-0, 3 KOs. Young remained winless, 0-4. It was his third loss by knockout.


North Philly junior middleweight LaQuan Evans won a split decision over Camden's Eliezer Olmeda in their four round bout. Olmeda won the first round, but Evans edged out the next three rounds. However, each round was rather close and the official scores reflected it. Judge Dewey LaRosa scored the fight 39-37 for Olmeda, but was overruled by John Poturaj and Adam Friscia, both of whom had it 39-37 for Evans. My score was also 39-37 for Evans. The win upped Evans' record to 5-2, 2 KOs. Olmeda, 1-1, lost for the first time. 


In the opening bout of the night, middleweight Temirlan Raimkulov scored a shutout over Kareem Gladney of Philadelphia. Kazakhstan native Raimkulov, now a Philadelphian, hurt Gladney in round one and dropped him with a right in the fourth and final round. All three judges scored the fight 40-35 for a bloody Raimkulov, who was cut over his left eye. The win made Raimkulov 4-1-2 as Gladney fell to 0-5.

A solid crowd of about 900 came out for the show. RDR Promotions returns to the 2300 Arena on December 11, with Jesse Hart in the spotlight fight.




John DiSanto - South Philly - November 27, 2021