PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                             April 03, 2009


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Israeli bomber Ran Nakash defeated a gutsy Dave Brunelli in Friday night's Blue Horizon main event promoted as "Israel vs. Italy" by matchmaker Don Elbaum. A smaller than usual crowd cheered wildly for their particular rooting interest, be it Israel, Italy, or as the majority of the crowd reminded everyone, the USA. Nakash steamrolled to his 18th straight victory in as many bouts, in this, his ninth appearance at the North Philly venue. The out-of-towner, who has made the Blue Horizon a second home, methodically broke down Brunelli over the course of the scheduled 8-rounder. Many thought this fight would be a quick one, but Nakash had to work for his TKO over the tough and determined local.

Brunelli appeared to be out-gunned in the early going. It was his first foray in the cruiserweight division and the newly weight-reduced former heavyweight boxer looked dry and thin - especially across his back. As the bout began, Brunelli just did not look like a good physical match for the imposing Israeli, despite a solid advantage in height. The bulldog visitor plowed his way in using a thudding jab and some clumsy but dangerous rights. But Dave weathered Nakash's slow and steady forward pace and hard arching punches. He fired back himself, and although he was able to land some shots, he couldn't come close to hurting Nakash. But he kept throwing, and he did his best to keep his defense strong. Brunelli kept the heel of his right glove pressed to his chin like he had a toothache. And every time he exchanged with Nakash, and allowed this defensive shell to open up, you could see Brunelli suddenly remember his gym lessons and quickly resume the toothache position. It served him well for quite a long time.

However as the fight wore on, Brunelli sustained a collection of cuts and bruises on his face that revealed to everyone watching how hard and how effectively Nakash was punching. The blood started in round two after a sharp right-left made Brunelli's nose start streaming. It would do so for the remainder of the bout. In the third, Brunelli was cut under his right eye. More of the same followed in rounds four and five, as the lumps and cuts and nicks continued to rise on Brunelli's face. All the while, he was wearing down physically too. But through it all, Brunelli's heart and grit were showing even more obviously. He kept trying to press forward and stop Nakash's steamrolling with his own combinations - which he kept firing, but Nakash was stronger and he just kept coming. Brunelli proved how tough he was. He worked and fought hard all the way, trying as hard as he possibly could to turn the fight around, or at least survive the eight round distance. It just seemed like a lost cause.  

But then in round six, Nakash started showing some signs of fatigue. Perhaps at 206 pounds, he wasn't in the best shape. On the other side, Brunelli who had been taking a beating and losing blood and vision, was in excellent condition, perhaps due to his new, lower weight (200.5 pounds). Dave seemed looser and more relaxed, and must have felt that he was finally getting somewhere. As Ran slowed down a notch, Dave picked up steam and had a good sixth round, even winning it.

Brunelli picked things up in the seventh, but Nakash looked refreshed and he resumed his bull rushes. About one minute into the round, with Brunelli's cuts freely leaking again, referee Gary Rosato stepped in and led the battered Brunelli to his own corner where he asked the ringside doctor to have a look. On the doctor's advice, Rosato stopped the bout at 1:18, much to Brunelli's disappointment. I doubt that Dave thought he had a chance of winning the bout at that point - either by the cards or by somehow stopping the imposing strongman he was in against. No, he just wanted to keep fighting. He didn't want to be stopped. But his performance was no embarrassment. Brunelli dealt with a ton of pressure and showed a toughness that few could match. It was a gritty Philly performance that lowered his record to 8-5, but won him many new fans - not just the Italians.

For Nakash his 18th win was a solid showing, although most had expected him to win it fast. But he pretty much did what he wanted in the ring and came away with another KO - his 14th. When asked if he thought he could have finished Brunelli, even if the doctor hadn't intervened, Nakash said, "Probably not. He's a tough guy, and probably would have stayed in there until the end".

In the semi-windup, Julius Edmonds hustled for six full rounds, outworking a worn out Tyric Robinson in every session to win a lopsided decision. Two of the judges gave him every round (60-54), while the third had it 58-56, or 4-2 in rounds. There was no doubt that Edmonds had controlled the action. Robinson, now 9-4-1, had to settle for landing some clean shots on his hard-charging foe, but it was far too little to sway any opinion his way. The loss was his third in four fights, and raises some questions of his ring future. For Edmonds, now 5-3, it was his third straight win, and an impressive one. He just kept moving forward and kept working.

7-0 southpaw, Julio Cesar Matthews,  won his cruiserweight fight against William Gill by 6-round unanimous decision. Matthews had little trouble with the 30-fight vet. His only setback was when Gill raised a mouse under Matthews' right eye in the 6th and final round. The scores were one-sided, 60-54, 59-55, and 58-56 all for Matthews, who now looks forward to his upcoming main event at the South Philly Arena against Kamarah Pasley on May 8th. Gill's record dropped to 9-22.

It looked like featherweight Joselito Collado would have an easy time with Jason Rorie after one round's worth of work. But the well-conditioned Rorie, a dead-ringer for Ike Williams, made Collado work for his unanimous 6-round decision. Every time Collado hurt Rorie, "little Ike" would battle back hard. Rorie, 2-3-1, didn't have the skills to upset the 7-0 Collado, but might have been able to do so had he been better schooled in the basics of boxing.

In the only stoppage other than the main event, Paul Fernandez accomplished the task against Joseph Francisco with three seconds to spare in their 4-round jr. lightweight fight. Fernandez dropped Francisco in the third and fourth rounds, and referee Rosato stepped in to halt the action at 2:57. 

Undefeated Bethlehem, PA welterweight, Ronald Cruz, went to 4-0 with a four-round unanimous decision over Ohio's Shannon Hill. Cruz felt the pressure in round one, when he suffered a large slash around his hairline and had to peer through his own streaming blood to finish the round. He did so without incident and his corner stopped the bleeding between rounds. He wasn't bothered by it again during the fight and posted an official win by the judges scores of 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37. Shannon's record evened to 1-1.

In the evening's opening bout, Taneal Goyco beat Davit Davitashvili in a 4-round cruiserweight prelim that stole the show. The pair brawled it out all the way to the end and had the crowd in a frenzy. Goyco's jabs and strong uppercuts led him to victory, but Davitashvili helped his opponent with an intentional head butt in the first round that cost him a point. The fight was a real barn-burner, and all three judges saw it 39-36 for Goyco.

Approximately 900 fans came out to watch the show, including boxers Riddick Bowe, Simon Carr, Tony Ferrante, and Blue Horizon staple Tex Cobb.




John DiSanto - North Philadelphia - April 03, 2009