PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                        January 22, 2011


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The Philly-area boxing drought got a nice shot in the arm Saturday night when Joey Eye Boxing Promotions staged an entertaining seven-bout card at the Harrah's Casino & Racetrack in Chester, PA. With the last local event coming more than three months ago (and little action on the horizon), ring junkies would have taken anything in the form of a live boxing show. So this lively, bloody, and overachieving gritty club show was nice little gift.

In the main event, Atlantic City's Osnel Charles scored a 6-round majority decision over North Philadelphian Victor Vasquez in a lightweight bout. Charles (6-2) appeared to bloom against the always tough Vasquez, who got off to a slow start and didn't show signs of life until midway through the bout. Charles jabbed and moved and kept the boxing barber on the outside where his usual trench warfare could not prosper. Charles piled up the points and banked round after round. But Vasquez is a fighter that is always plugging forward and working. However on this night, he could not seem to get things going.

Toward the end of the fourth round, that fighting spirit Vasquez is known for flickered, but he was being out-worked. He rallied to close the round, but it was too late to claim the round. Then again in the fifth, Victor smacked Charles with a hard right that might have helped him turn the tables, but the bell ended the short-lived rally.

Charles appeared tired in round six and Vasquez took advantage. He moved forward and threw punches, knowing he badly need the round. Vasquez won the session, the first on my scorecard (59-55 for Charles).  

The official scores were a little closer. Richard Hopkins Jr. had the fight even at 57-57. But the 58-56 tallies of Robert Grasso and Alan Rubenstein favored Charles. It was the fifth straight win for the Atlantic City boxer. Vasquez dropped to 12-5-1 with 6 KOs. It was his second loss in four starts.

In the semi-windup, Upper Darby heavyweight John Poore returned from the frightful beating he received at the Blue Horizon a little more than a year ago to test the waters of the cruiserweight division. Leading up to the fight, there was much talk about how the lower weight division would benefit the popular brawler. The story was that his nickname "Big John" was a misnomer and his lack of size was the factor that had limited his career. Of course this was one big fairytale. Size was not his problem. No. Poore was a popular attraction who fought well against well-chosen opposition. He reeled off 16 straight knockouts to start his career, but began to run aground once his competition was stepped up. The KOs didn't come as easily.

When he was stopped by Robert Hawkins in his first career defeat, his confidence suffered a chip. Two fights later, he was bombed out by Cerone Fox in the first round, and that confidence began to crumble. From that point on, Poore was a tentative warrior. When a fighter becomes damaged to the point of not being able to commit himself in the ring, it can get dangerous. And so it did. More knockout losses came, capped by the scary lights out he suffered at the Blue.

Poore sat on the shelf until deciding he just couldn't stay away anymore. The cruiserweight experiment was born. But it didn't last long. His opponent in Chester was Zeferino Albino of North Philly, a limited but game club fighter who came in with a 3-12-2 record. He hadn't won a fight since 2007. Albino was chosen presumably because he posed little threat to hurt the returning Poore. Wrong. Albino came right at Big John, landing and getting the better of it right away.  He won the first round. In the second round he closed Poore's left eye. By the end of the round, Albino was teeing off and hurting Poore. It was clear the fight was over.

However, the bell sounded to end the second. I worried that Poore's pride would push him out for more punishment. But the moment he returned to the corner, David Feldman stepped up and signaled to referee Blair Talmadge that the fight - and Poore's career - was over. It was an excellent call, and I'm so glad he made it.

Sometimes a finished fighter needs even more proof that it's time to call it quits. After the fight, John swore he'd never fight again. This was all the proof he needed. If it's true, he'll end with a career record of 21-5 with 18 KOs. I'll always remember him for his breathtaking come from behind KO win over Willie Perryman at the New Alhambra. It the was last fight of his knockout streak, and it was John Poore at his most exciting best.

In the two featured preliminary fights, both local fighters encountered some problems.

First, promising heavyweight prospect Joey Dawejko won his fourth straight bout as a pro. But the bright future of this amateur champion that had seemed so possible was nowhere in sight. Dawejko handled his late substitute foe named Taffo Asongwed (0-6-3) well enough. I gave him three of the four rounds (the official scores were unanimous: 40-36, 40-36 & 39-37), but Dawejko came in at 246 pounds and sluggishly went about his business. It was not an impressive showing. Many fighters have succumbed to weight problems and a lack of drive. Usually such problems set in after a fighter's career frustrations start to mount up. Sometimes it's a lack of career movement, or a bad decision or two. But it is rare to see a fighter eat his way out of his potential beginning in his first bout. This has been Joey's issue since he started in 2009 - and this was the heaviest he'd even weighed. The trend isn't looking good. Dawejko still has promise but he needs to get serious about his boxing career. He has the skill to beat these early opponents despite being out of shape. He should be burning through these early fights scoring the knockouts that get fans buzzing. Observers would have never guessed Joey was a touted fighter of the future. There have been rumors that he has plans to relocate to Las Vegas in an attempt to refocus.  I say GO! We'll miss you in Philly, but something needs to change.

In the other main preliminary, Philly's Ardrick Butler lost for the third straight time. He ran into a tough and talented fighters from Indianapolis named Eric Draper. Although just 2-4 going in, Draper assumed control from the beginning and won the entertaining fight going away. I had it a 40-36 shutout. Two judges gave it to Draper (40-36 & 39-37) while the third scored it even (38-38). Butler fell to 5-4 with 2 KOs. He seriously needs a win.

The three opening bouts were all thrillers.

The show opened with an upset. Newark, Delaware's Joey Tiberi and Corey White of Cincinnati jumped on each other at the opening bell. It was a wild start by the two lightweights. At first the popular Tiberi (2-0 / 2 KOs) had the better of it, but then the debuting White rocked him along the ropes. In the second round Tiberi hurt White twice before being staggered near his own corner. Needing a break in the action, Joey appeared to spit out his mouthpiece intentionally. It helped get him through the round, but White was waiting for him in the next round.

Tiberi was winning the third round somewhat comfortably before White cracked him with another hard right hand. The punch hurt Tiberi. White followed through with a flurry that dropped him. Tiberi got up, but referee Blair Talmadge stopped the contest at 2:43. Tiberi slipped to 2-1; White made a nice start, 1-0.

The second fight of the night was a bloodbath between two light heavyweights. Pete Yates of Virginia Beach didn't look too impressive as he waited for the fight to start. He had a nonchalant slacker vibe, but when the fight started, he clearly knew what to do. Kyle White of Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ appeared to be the opposite. He bounced around the ring in his bright white trunks, muscled and ready for battle. When the bell sounded, the two fighters went right to it. White establish an early lead, but before long he was bleeding from a bad cut over his left eye. No one saw a head butt, so it was presumed that the cut was caused by one of Yates' sneaky punches. However, when Yates turned to go to his corner at the end of the first, he was clearly bleeding from a gash in the back of his head. So perhaps it was a butt after all. Still Yates took the round.

White came out in the second and mounted a terrific body attack. His cut continued to stream blood. He was doing okay until Yates dropped him hard. White got up with a bloody nose. Both wounds bled freely and before long, his white trunks were a mess of red blotches.

The knockdown may have jolted White awake. He got to work in the third.  Yates began to tire and White started to land punches and control the action. He won the final two rounds on my card, but still fell short overall, thanks to the knockdown.  I had it 38-37 for Yates. Judge Robert Grasso agreed, 38-37 Yates. But judges Hopkins and Rubenstein scored it 38-37 for White. So the split decision went his way and improved his record to 3-0 (2 KOs). Yates grumbled back to VA with a 1-2 record.

The third preliminary was a four rounder between Todd Erikson, a 2-5-1 middleweight from Dover, NJ and Stephon Burgette of Scranton. It was a nice pro debut for Burgette who was the stronger and more active fighter most of the way. He easily pushed Erikson around the ring with his punches and his physical strength. Burgette took the first three rounds on my card (although the second was close). He tired in the fourth, allowing Erikson to take a round - and make the fight quite close. The judges could not agree on a result. Hopkins had it 39-37 for Burgette, Grasso scored 39-37 for Erikson, and Rubenstein had it deadlocked 38-38. So a draw it was.

The show was promoted by Joey Eye boxing Promotions. The matchmaker was Don Elbaum in association with David Feldman. The alternate referee was Gary Rosato. The ring announcer was Larry Tournambe.

This was the first of a proposed series of fights for Harrah's Chester. The show drew a near sellout crowd of about 800. The next card is scheduled for Thursday, February 24th when cruiserweights Ran Nakash and Bobby Gunn clash in a 12-rounder.

I would much prefer that these fights be staged within the limits of Philadelphia. However, who can argue with any series of fights these days? Perhaps Harrah's can fill the gap left with the demise of the Blue Horizon. This was a true club card that delivered. So keep them coming.




John DiSanto - Chester, PA - January 22, 2011