|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - April 14, 2023|
THE IRISH INVASION -
R and B Promotions headed by Alex “Macho” Barbosa, Ring Announcer,
and former professional boxer, made its Philadelphia debut tonight
with a six-bout card, and an exhibition featuring two nine-year-old
pint-sized pugilists at the 2300 Arena in South Philly. The main
event featured Northern Ireland’s “Fearless” Feargal McCrory (13
wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 6 kos) – a body punching lightweight –
in a scheduled six-rounder against
Eduardo Pereira Dos Reis (24 wins – 11 losses – 0 draws – 19
knockouts) of Santa Cantina, Brazil.
The erudite Barbosa, a Renaissance man, and Temple University graduate is just not your ordinary boxing promoter. Remember that he holds the distinction in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for being the only professional boxer to ring announce his own fight! A brilliant thinker – “The Polymath of Pugilism” - he is adept at building bridges at all levels in our beloved sport of the sweet science oftentimes considered the “Wild West of Professional Sports” where the barriers to entry are so low that even a crooked caterpillar could leap over them on its way to prominence. The business of boxing is filled with charlatans, con artists, crooks, liars, and cheats. Thus, it is refreshing to see someone with creativity, principles, and integrity at the helm of a promotional company. No surprise that his fourth show and first in Philadelphia highlighted an undefeated boxer from the country of Ireland buttressed by local talent with sizable fan base.
It would be a memorable night because it caused me to question the ethnicity of Harvey Dock, referee, and former professional fighter. All these years I was convinced that Dock was African-American. But, watching Dock work the entire show without a break, refereeing all six professional bouts, is a rebuttable presumption that he is Jamaican. And if that joke as we would say in colloquial terms “went over your head” – please thank the Wayans family and “In Living Color” for portraying Jamaicans as the hardest working people on the planet.
I go to the fights to watch the pageantry as much as I do the combat in the squared circle. Thus, it was extremely gratifying when the runway from the backstairs lit up with sparkling lights and hip-hop group “House of Pain” with bagpipe blaring bellowed on the track “Jump Around” released in 1992 – as the shirtless McCrory walked briskly to the ring for the main event and final bout of the night as though he was five minutes late for a business meeting, his handlers in tow carrying the Irish Republic flag as Dos Reis waited patiently in the blue corner.
Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin
The southpaw McCrory was a heat-seeking missile at the opening bell, hell-bent on mayhem and separating his opponent from his senses. He attacked the body delivering the right hook to Dos Reis’ liver with power and precision. To his credit, the Brazilian fought back valiantly but it was obvious that the Irish fans would be celebrating tonight. Dos Reis made it out of the opening stanza but visited the canvas twice in the second-round compliments of McCrory’s patented right hook to the liver capped off by a combination. Fortunately for Dos Reis the second knockdown occurred with approximately ten seconds remaining in the round. He was able to make it to his feet as the referee reached the count of eight and survived until the bell.
McCrory continued his forward march attacking as though he had another appointment and could not spend much more time at 2300 Arena. He attacked at the bell, pressing the action going downstairs to the body. Dos Reis fought back but he did not have the ammunition to keep his adversary at bay. With less than a minute remaining in the round, McCrory deposited him to the canvas for the third time with a well-placed right hook to the liver. Dos Reis made it to his feet as Dock tolled the count of eight, checked his vitals and signaled for the fight to resume. McCrory pinned him on the ropes and unleashed a vicious combination forcing Dock to stop the festivities declaring McCrory the victor by technical knockout at 2:06 – to the delight of the raucous fans.
Early next morning, I received a direct message on Instagram from my Jamaican/Irish brother - Tommy McCarthy, former European Cruiserweight Champion – “How did my guy look?” Well, Tommy – your guy looked fantastic – a mini-version of Mike “The Body Snatcher” McCallum. Philadelphia loves McCrory!
Nineteen-year-old lightweight Phenom Juan “Thrilla” Davila (2 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) of Philadelphia squared off in a four-rounder against Tony Johnson (0 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws) of Tucson, Arizona in the fourth fight of the night. It was a chess match from the opening bell as Davila worked behind his jab, using feints and a counter left hook to offset the tall and rangy fighter who threw punches in such a fashion that it had to be difficult to calculate his distance and timing. Nevertheless, Davila was able to land the left hook whenever Johnson was recoiling his long jab. Most impressive was Davila’s defensive wizardry on display as he slipped, rolled, and side-stepped almost all of Johnson’s attack, living up to M.C. Hammer’s chart-topper – “Can’t Touch This.”
The rounds were almost identical with Davila controlling the action - pitching a shut-out. After boxing judiciously for three rounds, Davila decided that it was time to close the show. With barely 40 seconds expiring in the final round, Davila sent Johnson to the canvas, an overhand right careening off the left side of his head. Johnson made it upright at the count of four. The action resumed and Davila connected with another overhand right reminiscent of the great Wilfred “The Bible of Boxing” Benitez capturing the WBC Junior-middleweight from Maurice Hope on May 23, 1981, in the twelfth round of their scheduled fifteen-rounder. Referee Harvey Dock waived off the action – calling a halt at 57 seconds – declaring Davila the winner by technical knockout.
In the opening bout of the night, a scheduled four-round welterweight bout, Leonidas “The Great” Sopranidis (1 win – 1 loss – 1 draw – 1 ko) Kilkis, Greece, fighting out of Philadelphia, won a unanimous decision by scores of 40-36 and 39-37 twice over rough and rugged Ryan “The Lion” Schwartzberg (2 wins – 10 losses – 2 draws – 2 kos) of Dania, Florida. It was a high-paced, action-packed match with both combatants swinging for the fences – hoping to score a knockout. However, it was Sopranidis who landed a straight right early in the opening round sending the King of the Jungle - The Lion – to the canvas. More flabbergasted than shaken, Schwartzberg hopped up as Harvey Dock reached the count of three. The action resumed and they engaged at a high pace until the bell gave them a one-minute respite.
The next two rounds were close with me giving the edge to Sopranidis who used a jab to the stomach to control the action. However, they both threw straight rights and left hooks with bad intention that were off target by an inch. Had these bombs landed, there would have been no need to go to the scorecards. I gave the final round to Schwartzberg who was slightly busier and connected with a few more shots. It was an entertaining and competitive fight. Kudos to Schwartzberg who was a last-minute replacement.
They say that you can never judge a book by its cover. And the same can be said of Allen Otto. For several years I have been greeted at the door of TKO Fitness, Cherry Hill, New Jersey by Otto – checking me in and my amateur boxers for their amateur shows. TKO Fitness is owned and operated by Alex Barbosa – tonight’s promoter. I also discovered that Otto has several mixed martial arts bouts under his belt and decided to transition from the octagon to the squared circle.
The sole heavyweight matchup – the second bout – debuting Daniel Bean of Old Bridge, New Jersey did not waste much time in demolishing and dismissing Michael Cook (0 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws) of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Decked out in black trunks, black boxing shoes – no socks visible – Bean evoked fond memories of the great Michael Gerard Tyson – even bearing a slight resemblance in stature and facial features. Like Tyson, Bean attacked at the opening bell putting Cook on the canvas with a combination forcing the referee to stop the bout declaring Bean the winner by knockout at only 29 seconds of the first round. Bean’s ring-walk lasted longer than his fight.
Undefeated Queens, New York-based middleweight Gian “Double G” Garrido (9 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 7 kos) won a unanimous four-round decision by scores of 39-36 on all three scorecards in an action-packed bout against Pablo Jesus Rojas (4 wins – 5 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Garrido controlled the action from the opening bell, walking down his opponent – going to the body – forcing him to fight while retreating. To Rojas’ credit he was a moving target that used the entire ring to stay in the fight. Garrido was deducted a point by Dock in the final stanza for continuous low blows. With twenty seconds remaining, Garrido pinned Rojas on the rope and unleashed a barrage of punches and the referee was contemplating stopping the fight. But Rojas pivoted off the ropes and used his legs to motor around the ring for the remaining few seconds.
In a special attraction bout – a three round exhibition featuring nine-year-olds, Miguel “Lil Rumbler” Cartagena Jr. and Landen “The Landshark” Finkel displayed their wares for three 45-seconds rounds to the delight of the audience. Cartagena is the son of former bantamweight contender Miguel Cartagena Sr. – who was in his corner giving instructions. The two pint-sized pugilists punched non-stop for three rounds.
<![if !vml]><![endif]>It was another exciting night of sweet science. Kudos to Alex Barbosa for giving a special award to Miguel “No Fear” Cartagena Sr. who has officially retired from professional boxing at the age of thirty. It was Cartagena who as a sixteen-year-old in 2009 won both the US National Championship and the National Golden Gloves Championship.
Lastly, it was great watching the fighters wearing the exquisite, well-crafted, and beautiful KDukes boxing gloves www.kdukesboxing.com. Established in 2016 and based in Brooklyn, New York – it is only a matter of time before this company’s products become “The Air Jordans of Boxing.” Please visit the website, you will fall in love with the “Put Up Your Dukes” brand.
Continue to support the sweet science, and remember, always carry your mouthpiece.