|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - July 22, 2023|
J.D.'s REVENGE -
I was intrigued from the onset when I read that R&B Promotions - headed by Alex “Macho” Barbosa, Ring Announcer, and former professional boxer was having a show at 2300 Arena that comprised ten bouts- nine four rounders and a six-round main event. Equally important, three boxers - all southpaws – trained by Philly Legend – Coach Shar’ron Baker and managed by Lando Rosa- Founder & CEO of Pivott Boxing Academy would be on the card in four-rounders. I didn’t want to miss the Philadelphia debut of junior-middleweight Oluwafemi “The Nightmare” Oyeleye (12 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 6 kos) from Lagos Nigeria, the return of his stablemate - lightweight Joshua “The Real War” Jones (6 wins – 0 losses – 1 draw – 3 kos) and the second fight of the hard-hitting Juan “The One” Marrero (1 win – 0 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko), lightweight. Additionally, slick-boxing junior-welterweight Daiyaan Butt (14 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws – 7 kos) was headlining in the main event.
Nothing will ever replace The Legendary Blue Horizon which was shuttered on June 4, 2010 – the last night of boxing. However, 2300 Arena has its own aura and mystique – no balcony seating but based on the layout- there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Equally significant, the runway from the dressing rooms to the arena – bolstered by pyrotechnics – is a rare combination that adds to the ambiance and enchantment of the place. Yes, if you haven’t been to a show at 2300 Arena – add it to your wish list – things to be accomplished before you take a dirt-nap into eternity. The site is majestic and mesmerizing.
In the main event, Philly junior-welterweight Daiyaan Butt put on a masterful display of the sweet science against fan-favorite, southpaw Michael “The Hammer” Crain (5 wins – 6 losses – 2 draws – 1 ko) of nearby Smyrna, Delaware who kept the pressure on from opening to final bell. Butt took the lead early by sending the advancing Crain to the canvas in the opening stanza with a well-placed straight right to his cranium as he was attacking. More surprised than shaken, the fallen fighter got to his feet quickly as referee Shawn Clark tolled the count of two – checked his vitals and the action resumed. The 6 ft. Butt used a stiff jab to keep his opponent on the outside, capturing the round 10-8 on my scorecard.
Crain landed a straight left in the second round – much to the delight of his fans who made the trip from Delaware for him and debuting super-middleweight Ezri Turner. Fixated and focused on the task at hand – Butt boxed from a distance for most of the round, finally standing toe-to-toe with Crain - ripping and trading body shots on the inside until the gong sounded to end the round. The ringside doctor made his way into Crain’s corner because there was blood trickling around his right eye. The cut wasn’t so egregious that it warranted stopping the bout. Thus, Crain came out for the third stanza forcing Butt to wage war on the inside. It was a close round, and I am confident that Crain garnered the top score. His success was short-lived as Professor Butt started lecturing on the finer points of the sweet science – working behind his stiff jab while using angles and pivots to evade punishment - occasionally engaging at close quarters to remind us that there are different dimension to his repertoire. It was an entertaining bout, and all three judges scored it 59-54 for Butt who won by unanimous decision.
It has been a long journey and many lessons learned for undefeated junior-middleweight southpaw Oluwafemi “The Nightmare” Oyeleye (12 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 6 kos) of Lagos, Nigeria. After a forty-four-month hiatus, the twenty-eight-year-old landed in Philadelphia and couldn’t have found a better team than Lando Rosa, Coach Shar’ron and the Pivott Boxing Academy family aka “Southpaw City” – the boxing gym with twelve southpaws. Oyeleye - who stand 6 ft. – has impeccable boxing skills, impregnable defense, deceptive power, the stamina of a Kenyan marathoner and the work ethic of a Jamaican with three jobs and two mortgages. The only thing that is keeping him from ascending to the top ten in his division is opportunity and tonight was the beginning of his journey to a world title.
I knew that Javier Francisco Maciel (34 wins – 20 losses – 0 draws – 23 kos) of Argentina was in trouble when Oyeleye exited the dressing room and while on the runway – well-lit with pyrotechnics – jumped straight in the air like a Maasai warrior executing the Adamu – the traditional jumping dance. Had he been on a basketball court – his head would have cleared the rim. Without missing a beat, the Nigerian descended back to Earth and briskly made his way to the ring with his handlers - Coach Shar’ron Baker, Lando Rosa, Marcus Rosa and Khalib “Big Foot” Whitmore in tow for the eighth fight of the night.
Ring announcer Alex Barbosa and referee Shawn Clark conducted the pleasantries, the gong sounded and “The Nightmare” stalked his prey like a lion on the Serengeti Plains – walking him down behind a stiff right jab – going to the body with right hooks and uppercuts as the Argentinian retreated as though he was avoiding contacting Covid-19. Maciel weighed in at 167lbs – ten pounds heavier than his opponent. I guess the extra weight provided him with the cushion to absorb the vicious body shots that Oyeleye unleashed. It was an excellent opening round for the Nigerian who showed little or no ring rust, dislodging his opponent’s mouthpiece with a crisp punch with ten seconds remaining.
The action resumed at a frenetic pace in the second round with Oyeleye seemingly in rhythm – back in fighter’s mode – stalking like the late, great “King of the Serengeti” – Bob Junior – head of the pride who ruled for over seven years. Maciel appeared to be in survival mode and The Nigerian attacked the body with power, precision, and bad intentions. It was a wonderful display of the sweet science and I wanted to jump out of my seat and salute Coach Shar’ron Baker and team for all the wonderful work. It is one thing to witness a fighter and trainer in the gym. But it is truly special and gratifying to sit ringside and watch their hard work and chemistry unfold on fight night in front of a capacity crowd. Allow me to state that Oyeleye was like butter in a restaurant – he was on a roll!
Bob Junior was the “coolest cat” in the Serengeti because he was fearsome and virtually unbeatable. Tonight, Oyeleye showed no chinks in his armor as he dominated every phase of the boxing match – inside and outside. Maciel had no answer and simply couldn’t find a solution for the puzzle – “The Nightmare.” I will assume that Coach Shar’ron told her charge to close the show because Oyeleye came out for the fourth round and caught Maciel with a straight left followed by a right hook, left uppercut, capped off with another right hook that sent the Venezuelan to the canvas. Referee Clark reached the count of seven as Maciel was upright on unsteady legs and waived off the fight at 29 seconds of the round. There was a higher probability of it snowing in Jamaica than Maciel making it to the bell. Oyeleye was declared the winner by technical knockout.
If you haven’t seen the 1976 movie classic “J.D.’s Revenge” – starring Glynn Thurman as a young law student whose body is taken over by the spirit of a New Orleans’ gangster murdered on Bourbon Street in 1942 – please go watch to get a clear picture and better understanding of Philadelphia welterweight Tahmir ‘The Don” Smalls (10 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 6 kos). Not only does Smalls resemble the main character but he also walks and fights like a man who is dangerous and deadly. Yes, tonight I witnessed J.D. Walker – brought back to life - donning a pair of boxing gloves in the ninth fight of the night.
Smalls strolled to the ring with his handlers and entourage comprised of “The Best Fighter in the Galaxy” – IBF Interim Welterweight Champion Jaron “Boots” Ennis and his father/trainer Lawrence Smalls. The ring-walk reminded me of gangster Peoples Hernandez walking down from his apartment to confront John Shaft in the 2000 Blockbuster “Shaft.” Smalls seemed like a man who had double booked and wasn’t going to waste too much time on the first order of business – a four-round fight!
The bell rang and the taller Smalls pressed forward, attacking Andres Viera (11 wins – 5 losses – 0 draws – 8 kos) of Montevideo, Uruguay – jabbing to the head and body. It was a tactical fight with Viera trying to match his adversary’s prowess. Smalls was in control, and I had the feeling that he was poking around looking to unleash the heavy artillery and end the festivities so he could make his next appointment. There was nothing about Smalls countenance and body language that gave me the idea that he was going to let this fight go the distance. Towards the end of the round, Smalls connected with a straight right and a hook that discombobulated the Uruguayan – freezing him for a split-second – as he ripped off a vicious combination – forcing referee Braslow to jump in and immediately stop the fight before he could reload and leave his opponent helpless and hapless on the canvas in need of medical attention. Kudos to Braslow for a job well-done – declaring Smalls the victor by technical knockout at 2:47 of the opening round.
In the opening bout of the night, heavyweight Daniel Bean (2 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 2 kos) Old Bridge, New Jersey suffered his first loss – a four-round majority decision that was scored 38-37 twice and 38-38 in favor of debuting Rob Perez of Worcester, Massachusetts. It is my contention that Bean could have been the victim in the ambiguity of the scoring system and should have garnered the victory based on logical and reasonable interpretation of the rule instead of the widely-held belief that a knockdown is automatically a 10-8 round for the person scoring the knockdown.
Let me steal from the movie “Mo’ Money” by quoting the Reverend Pimp Daddy by stating – “let me fumigate my wisdom.” Bean demonstrated impeccable boxing skills, working behind his jab in the opening stanza. Circling and jabbing, Bean evoked fond memories of the great “Easton Assassin” – former World Heavyweight Champion – Larry Holmes. He snapped Perez’s head backwards with his laser-like jab. Perez tried but couldn’t touch Bean. While moving in to throw a combination, Bean was countered with a straight right that deposited him on the canvas. More surprised than hurt – he was up immediately and continued his fine display of jabbing.
The Pennsylvania Code Title 58 Chapter 21.5 (b) (3) “10-8 indicates a round in one boxer was in constant control and unquestionably outclassed his opponent. The boxer may also have obviously stunned his opponent, usually including at least one knockdown.” This rule is open to interpretation. Bean was dominating the round. He suffered a flash knockdown and if that round was scored 10-8 for Perez then therein lies the travesty. My scorecard read 10-10 following the logic that a knockdown is a one point. You can either deduct a point from the score of the boxer that would have won the round absent the knockdown or give the fighter scoring the knockdown a point.
Bean would have won the round 10-9. Thus, if he loses a point the round is scored 9-9. If you give Perez the point then the round is scored 10-10. But, if the round is scored 10-8 for Perez – Bean has been penalized two points in the round that Stevie Wonder had him winning! It would be great to review the scorecards instead of drawing a conclusion from cumulative scores.
The second round was somewhat close with Bean working his jab and going downstairs to Perez’s body. I scored it for Bean who was busier despite standing toe-to-toe and trading with Perez at the end. There wasn’t much action in the third stanza. However, Perez pinned Bean on the ropes and was able to connect with some good combinations as they slugged to the bell. I scored the third round for Perez. Both combatants were exhausted, and the pace slowed. However, Bean demonstrated good head movement. Perez landed a good right and threw his hands in the air signaling victory towards the end of the round. It was another close round that I gave to Bean.
We can arrive at the score of 38-37 if the first round was scored 9-9 and Perez won two rounds 10-9 and lost one 10-9, However, the same score can be reached if Perez won the opening round 10-8, won one another round 10-9 and lost two by the same score. That is the conundrum that is unsolvable unless we review the scorecards. The score of 38-38 is mathematically possible if the opening round was scored 10-9 for Perez and he won another round 10-9 and lost two 9-10. Hopefully, there will be clarity moving forward. Nevertheless, it appears that Daniel Bean was the victim of the inconsistencies in the interpretation of the rules for scoring. My scorecard had Bean winning by one point regardless of whether the opening round was scored 10-10 or 9-9. I gave him two of the remaining three rounds.
Having watched featherweight Devin “Most Dangerous” Gantt (3 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) Camden, New Jersey, in the amateurs – I couldn’t wait to see him in action for the first time in the punch-for-pay ranks. In the second bout of the evening, the talented southpaw squared off against debuting Jahron Williams of Bronx, New York. It is never a great idea to place a fighter in his first professional bout against a rising prospect with a 100% knockout ratio. But then again – maybe Williams’ management team knew something that would be disclosed tonight in the squared circle. Williams attacked at the opening bell relentless as he backed up Gantt who seemed calculated – trying to get a proper reading on his opponent. Williams controlled the first half of the round. But Gantt started to find a home for his straight left and right hook – shaking up Williams – winning the last half of the round.
Comfortable with his assessment of Williams – Gantt continued where he ended the opening stanza – working behind his jab – landing straight lefts and right hooks. In one exchange he pinned Williams on the ropes with a combination and continued landing from one corner to the next – along the ropes. Gantt was living up to his moniker, proving that he was most dangerous after benefitting from the so-called “feeling out” first round. Referee Shawn Clark saw that the New Yorker was in dire straits – called an end to the fight – declaring Gantt the winner by technical knockout at 1:34 of round two. It was an impressive performance by the Camden southpaw.
It is a reasonable conclusion that super-middleweight Ezri “No Time” Turner of Dover, Delaware is a huge ticket seller based on the sea of purple t-shirts with “Team Turner” on the back and “No Time” emblazoned on the front. His supporters – comprising much of the audience – stood as the debuting Turner made his way to the ring to face the awaiting “Lord” Milton Volter (0 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws) of Bronx, New York in the seventh bout. With a large afro and mustache – Volter is the doppelganger for Jamie Foxx’s character “Django” in the eponymous movie “Django Unchained.” Volter seemed as though he had just escaped from the Carrucan Plantation and merely made a stop at 2300 Arena on his way to Canada. I was tempted to hop out of my seat and yell, “Where are the Brittle Brothers – John, Ellis and Little Raj?” However, I remained composed because I was confident that I was not the only person in the building staring at Volter, thinking – “This motherfucker looked like he escaped from a slave plantation and was transported here in a time machine!” Who enters a boxing ring with a beard, huge afro without a robe or entrance music?
The bell rang to for the opening round and based on Volter’s attack it was difficult to convince me that he wasn’t a conductor on Harriett Tubman’s underground railroad. He rushed at Turner with reckless abandon – throwing combinations as he literally ran towards him being oblivious to staying in a proper stance. Turner was somewhat surprised and tried jabbing to slow down his opponent’s forward progress. But Volter pressed the action. Fortunately, Turner connected with a straight right that momentarily slowed Volter’s ambush. However, this isn’t a beauty contest. Thus, I scored the round for Volter based on him landing more punches.
Turner made the necessary adjustments and connected with a left hook early in the second round and was able to land more frequently as Volter rushed in throwing punches. Turner solved the puzzle and his success continued in the third round as he was able to neutralize Volter with some great body punches – forcing him to clinch – his mouth agape showing signs of being tired.
Dr. King Schultz might have saved Django but only referee Braslow could save Volter in the fourth round when Turner jumped on him and unloaded from both barrels of his gloved six-shooters – connecting to the head and torso with rapid succession for approximately ten seconds. Braslow saved Volter from visiting the canvas by calling a halt – declaring Turner the winner by technical knockout at 1:00 of the final round.It's never over until it’s over. In the third bout, debuting welterweight Ghandi Romain of Union City, New Jersey by way of Port-au- Prince, Haiti had defeat snatched from the jaws of victory in an extremely exciting bout with iron-chinned Anthony Dill (2 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws – 2 kos) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The opening round was close with Ghandi controlling most of the action with Dill switching back and forth from the orthodox stance to southpaw hoping to confuse his opponent and gain an advantage. The action heated up in the second round with the Haitian catching Dill on the ropes on three different occasions with a straight right. In the third round, Ghandi dropped Dill with a vicious shot to the body. Surprisingly, Dill was upright as referee Braslow tolled seven and signaled for the action to resume. Seizing the moment, Ghandi blanketed Dill and reintroduced him to canvas with another shot to the midsection. Braslow made it to the count of five and amazingly Dill was able to continue. Attacking with reckless abandon, Ghandi was met with a vicious combination by Dill that landed square on his chin. His legs short-circuited, and he was heading to the canvas when referee Braslow caught him instead of moving out of the way.
Braslow immediately called an end to the festivities much to the amazement of Ghandi’s handlers and the audience. It is a rarity to witness a boxer score two devastating knockdowns in a round - only to lose by technical knockout in the same round. Nevertheless, Dill was declared the winner at 2:04 of the third round leaving us all to wonder had Ghandi been allowed to fall to the canvas – would he have beaten the count and made it to the bell? It’s never over until it’s over!
In the fourth bout - a scheduled four-rounder - featuring hard-hitting southpaw lightweight Juan “The One” Marrero (1 win – 0 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) – another product of “Southpaw City” – Pivott Boxing Academy – made short work of winless Jose Luis Fracica Baron (0 wins – 4 losses – 0 draws) of El Vigia, Venezuela – stopping him at 2:32 of the opening round with a vicious left uppercut. Marrero’s ring-walk lasted longer than the fight. The bout began with Marrero using his stiff right jab as Baron did likewise – jabbing and trying to counter. It appeared to be a strategic chess match with each fighter probing and searching for an advantage.
When you carry dynamite in both mitts as Marrero – your adversary is never safe until the bell ends the round. As fate would have it, Baron was coming forward and Marrero countered with a left uppercut – which looked like he was shoveling snow in early January. Down went Baron who was unable to beat the ten-count administered by referee Clark. Venezuela had Edwin Valero; Philadelphia has Juan Marrero!
In another life, junior-middleweight Allen Otto (1 win – 0 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) of Pennsauken, New Jersey must have been a hitman – a hired assassin. The humble and self-effacing Otto is usually the first person you meet on amateur fight night at TKO Fitness, Cherry Hill, New Jersey – the establishment owned and operated by promoter/ring announcer Alex Barbosa. Otto was always gracious in checking the list to ensure that my amateur boxers were matched and that their opponents were in the building or on their way. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision that Otto was a prize fighter until I witnessed his debut on April 14th at this venue. I later discovered that he is also a mixed martial arts fighter.
Tonight, in the fifth bout, Otto didn’t allow Timothy Tyler (1 win – 3 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) of Camden, New Jersey to hear the bell to end the opening round of their scheduled four rounder. Otto outboxed Tyler throughout the fight – closing the show with a vicious left hook to his right kidney leaving him writhing in pain, rolling around on the canvas being counted out by referee Braslow at 2:53. The bewhiskered victor was expressionless – no excitement - simply another day at the office.
Decked out in an exquisitely tailored outfit, Philly lightweight Joshua “The Real War” Jones (6 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) made his ring-walk with rapper Lena L. leading the way – dropping bars on the track “Not for Nothing” – with Jaron “Boots” Ennis, undefeated heavyweight contender Jared “Big Baby” Anderson, Coach Shar’ron Baker, Lando Rosa, Marcus Rosa, Khalid Whitmore and several others following closely behind. The crowd enjoyed the festivities and was swept up in the pageantry of Jones’ entrance. It has been a thirty-month hiatus for Jones who was last in action on January 16, 2021, with a different trainer and team.
Tonight, as a member of “Southpaw City” – Jones was able to shed all the ring rust and garner a unanimous four-round decision 40-36 twice and 39-37 in the sixth bout - handing the undefeated Carlos Rocha (3 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 2 kos) of Sao Paulo, Brazil his first loss. It was a masterful display of the sweet science as Jones controlled the action with his jab, body shots and straight lefts. The Brazilian fought back but Jones was too quick and defensively sound. He won every round on my scorecard, letting everyone know that he is back and ready to climb the ladder to the top of the division.
If you read this far – thank you! It was another exciting and entertaining night of boxing at 2300 Arena. Surprisingly, I was the only writer in press-row – covering the fights on this historic night of ten bouts. Congratulations to Coach Shar’ron, Lando Rosa and Pivott Boxing Academy aka “Southpaw City” – three fighters (Oyeleye, Marrero and Jones) - three victories. Much respect to Alex Barbosa for another great show. “I am trying to give competitive fights and everyone opportunities to level up. I want to thank my team – Carlos Rosario, my right-hand man who makes these events run smoothly” stated promoter Barbosa in our conversation immediately after the show. He further added, “I wouldn’t succeed without a strong team – Miguel Cartagena, Jose' Diaz, Jesus Barbosa, Austin Beck, Emmanuel Rodriguez, and the TKO family.” R&B Promotions is back at 2300 Arena on September 29, 2023.
Continue to support the sweet science, and remember, always carry your mouthpiece. firstname.lastname@example.org