PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                        January 25, 2011


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Philadelphia ends a near four month boxing drought Friday night when Greg Robinson's Power Productions comes to the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia. We haven't had a pro fight here since Danny Garcia headlined a show in South Philly back at the beginning of October. Although a few neighboring shows in Atlantic City and most recently in Chester have served as a release valve for local fight fans, boxing had started to feel like a fading memory of late.

With the closing of the Blue Horizon last June, the local ring scene has sputtered. The good old Blue served as the spine of our fight schedule locking down a minimum of six shows that served as the anchor of Philadelphia boxing. With those six shows as a base, other local promoters filled out the remainder of the schedule, lighting up numerous Friday and Saturday nights for fight fans. Since the Blue's demise after the June 4th show just four cards came off through the end of 2010 (three at the South Philly Arena and one at the Penn's Landing Hyatt Regency). 2009 had twice as many shows in the second half of the year. A terrible trend we'd hate to see to continue.

Enter promoter Greg Robinson. Starting with Friday's show, Robinson's Power Productions has committed to a total of six dates at the Armory for 2011. That's great news. With no such plans from the other promoters, it will be up to Robinson to hold down the fort for the local scene until others return to the city. Power Productions scheduled dates for the year are January 28, March 4, May 27, August 5, October 7 and December 2. That's a good start.

Friday's card at the Armory looks like a nice club show that includes a few professional debuts, a showcase for one of more promising prospects and an old fashioned neighborhood grudge match.

The main event features rising star Coy Evans, the 9-0-1 featherweight from the Bozy Ennis Gym, against Felipe Almanza of Lorica, Columbia. At 18-19-4 with 9 KOs, Almanza will be the most experienced foe that Evans has faced thus far. Almanza has boxed Philadelphia's Teon Kennedy (L6), Eric Morel (L8), Abner Mares (KO'd 5), and has been ten rounds on a few occasions. He's not a world beater, but he should provide a decent test for the budding Evans. The bout is scheduled for 6 rounds.

The co-feature is really the fight that everyone has their eye on. It pits two local club fighters from the West Oak Lane neighborhood of Philadelphia in an 8-round grudger. At 13-16-3 (8 KO), super middleweight Jameel Wilson will enter the ring as the favorite over Tommie Speller (5-5, 3 KO). However, Wilson hasn't fought in more than two years and is five years older than Speller. Perhaps that helps to even things out on paper. But these fights aren't usually settled by paper logic. This one is about bragging rights, neighborhood pecking order and simmering anger.

Robinson tried to make this fight a few years ago, but things fell through. Since that time much has happened. Speller survived treatment for stomach cancer and Wilson has recovered from a serious eye injury. As is usually the case with fighters such as these, their records do not sparkle. Speller has dropped five of his last six fights, while Wilson has lost 14 of his last 16. No one is looking for them to make a major move on the world scene. They only have each other.

Last Friday, Power Productions held a "Meet and Greet" event for the Speller-Wilson fight that turned ugly. As the two fighters faced off, the pot boiled over and both fighters went at it. What seemed like typical press conference bluster, apparently was the real thing. The fighters were pulled apart. Wilson did not attend Monday's final press conference at Chickie & Pete's on Roosevelt Boulevard. Hopefully, they will pick it up on Friday night in the Armory ring. A memorable war between two old Philly warhorses would be nice.

The remainder of the card is filled with young rising boxers. Tim Witherspoon Jr. takes on Kywame Hill in a four-round lightweight bout. Heavyweight Georgiy Guralnik makes his pro debut against Michael Davis. Light-heavy Amir Shabazz turns pro against Phillip Hannah. 2-0 Miguel Corcino of Camden faces Rashad Bogar over four rounds. Philadelphians Rashad Brown (2-0) and Terrell Boggs clash in a middleweight four rounder. Cruiserweight out-of-towners Venroy July and Joe Broken Rope fight a scheduled six round match. 10-0-1 junior welterweight Emmanuel Lartey takes on Jesus Vallejo over four rounds. Philly's Keenan Smith is also scheduled to appear on the card, but is still looking for an opponent.

The night's first bell rings at 7:30 PM. Tickets are still available. The National Guard Armory is located at Southampton Road and Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia.

Big Poppa - Tommie Speller

Tim Witherspoon Jr.

Georgiy Guralnik

Amir Shabazz

Miguel Corcino




John DiSanto - News & Notes - January 25, 2011