PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                            April 01, 2011


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North Philly welterweight Raymond Serrano stopped Corey Alarcon, of Denver, 44 seconds into round  five of the headlining bout at South Philly's Asylum Arena Friday night. It was Tito's first hometown fight in three years. Serrano dropped his foe in round one and administered a methodic beating over the next few sessions to claim his 15th straight victory (and 8th KO) without a loss. Alarcon, 14-16-4 (4 KO), was able to land a few clean shots, but did not have the skills to compete with Tito, who pressed the action, consistently landed, and wore Alarcon down to a crawl. Eventually Alarcon's face gave way to the excessive punishment and things got bloody. In the 5th, Serrano trapped him on the ropes & blasted away until referee Blair Talmadge stopped it.

It was a solid performance by Serrano, but the disparity in the records of the two combatants made this bout little more than a showcase for the rising young star. Tito did his part, piling on the pressure and unloading a fuselage of punches on his tough but overmatched opponent.

Sometimes an "A-side" fighter will coast when given an easy match. But this was not the case with Serrano. He put on a show and gave his hometown fans a peek at the current level of his progression. But how much could we really learn given the level of his opposition? This question was a recurring theme on this evening. 

The show's "A-Side" fighters which included Raymond Serrano, Andres Taylor, Patrick Majewski, Juan Rodriguez, Ardrick Butler, John Mercurio, Keenan Smith and Kamil Laszczyk came into the ring with a combined record of 63-5-2 with 35 knockouts.  Four of the group's five losses belonged to Butler. Their combined win percentage was 90% going in.

By comparison, the cast of characters called upon to "test" this group came into the night with a combined record of 32-59-3 with 9 KOs. That's a sub-par 34% winning percentage and a very safe 10% knockout ratio.  The A-Siders had a 50% KO percentage. 

What unfolded Friday night was a decent club show with no surprises. All eight A-Siders won their matches - half of them scored KOs while the other half took unanimous decisions. To be fair, there were a few entertaining matches despite the disparity in record. 

Ardrick Butler had the fight of the night.  The Philly welterweight (5-4, 2 KOs) faced Mike Denby (3-8-3, 2 KOs) of Felton, DE in a six-round welterweight bout. This was the best-matched bout on the card and it produced a real slugfest. Butler, nicknamed "The Hitman" came out strong. He stunned Denby with a hard right hand, right off the bat. Later in the round, Ardrick hurt Denby again and seemed to be in complete control.

In the second, Butler continued his work, stunning Denby two or three times. Just when things looked settled, Denby cracked Butler with his own right hand. Butler felt the punch but fought right back. He hurt Denby with another long right and Denby held on for dear life. As he clung tight, and Butler tried to squirm loose, both fighter crashed to the canvas. Denby jumped right up, but Butler remained down for several seconds. For a moment, it appeared he may have injured his back. However, Butler got to his feet and the fight went on.

In the third round, Butler dropped his forward-chugging foe with wild reaching right hand. Butler wound the punch from way back and whipped it directly to Denby's jaw. Denby went down hard, but he had been hurt much worse in the second round while still on his feet. But by this time, Denby was beginning to crack, and the incoming shots were starting to convince him the night was nearly over. But Denby bit down and gave it one more try. The fourth round was close, but Denby won it with his aggressive forward motion. At one point he barreled Butler between the ropes and almost out of the ring.

In round five, the fight turned completely, albeit momentarily. While Butler caught his breath and coasted a bit, Denby swung for the fences and landed a looping right along the ropes. Butler went down with his left arm tangled in the ropes. He climbed right up and argued with referee Blair Talmadge that his trip to the canvas wasn't legitimate. But it was. Butler smartly held and kept his distance as best he could, and the round ended before any further damage could be dealt.

In the sixth and final round, both fighters went at each other knowing the scoring had to be close (I had it 47-46 for Butler as the round began). Butler seemed to be fully awake now, the knockdown having served as an alarm clock. He jabbed and lashed Denby with sharp punches. Denby kept coming forward and throwing, but he wasn't landing anymore.

After one exchange, Denby's head popped between the ropes and he seemed stuck there for a moment. The referee pulled Butler off and tried to help Denby to his feet by tugging him up by the arm. Denby stood up and then stumbled back and down to the canvas, his legs completely gone. Apparently the exchange that put Denby to the ropes contained a stealth punch that took him out.

With Denby wobbly and in no condition to continue, Talmadge stopped the bout and awarded Butler the TKO victory. The time was 46 seconds of the sixth.

The hard fought battle was a classic club fight, and provided the biggest thrills of the night. It was an exciting well-matched bout, that sadly only happened because BOTH fighters had lumpy records and were not being protected. They were thrown at each other because they could fill a six-rounder and fight to a result that only mattered to the fighters themselves and their fans. And thank God they were.

The night started with a scrappy mismatch that turned out to be the second best fight of the evening.

Javier Ramos, 2-5, Puerto Rico, came out for his four round featherweight contest with undefeated Kamil Laszczyk, 2-0 (2 KO), with the frightened look that announced to everyone he would not be out there for long. But just when I thought Ramos might find a nice soft spot to fall on, he dropped the undefeated prospect on the seat of his pants. Wow! The look of fear disappeared from Ramos' face.

Laszczyk popped right up and got to work. He dug a hard body shot to the ribs of Ramos that brought the frightened expression back to Ramos' face. The Puerto Rican tucked his arms in close to his body and tried to bounce away. However, Kamil stayed right on him and chased. After a few swings to the head, Laszczyk went downstairs again and whacked Ramos to the body. Ramos caved to the mat from the attack. He regained hi feet but was bent over to one side. As referee Shawn Clark administered the eight count, Ramos' corner climbed the steps and stopped the fight. Clark waved his hands to end the bout at 1:48 of the first round.

Next up, Philly's Keenan Smith took a workmanlike four-round unanimous decision over fellow heavily tattooed Joshua Nieves of Bronx, NY. The 3-0 Smith, a southpaw, ruined Nieves' professional debut with a good body attack and many flashy left leads. He turned up the heat in round two with a strong right hook and kept the punches coming to score a clear cut decision. I gave him all four rounds. One of the judges, Pierre Benoist agreed while Lynn Carter and Alan Rubenstein saw it three rounds to one. It was a good win for Smith who raised his record to 4-0 with 1 KO.

Heavyweights John Mercurio, South Philly, and William Miranda, Allentown, fought next in what was expected to be the fight of the night. Last month, Miranda stepped in as a late replacement to face Jamie Campbell at Harrah's in Chester. That night, Miranda disregarded a 51-pound weight deficit and who knows how many inches in height to surprise everyone with his plucky-size-doesn't-matter performance against Campbell, friend and stablemate of John Mercurio. That unlikely win for Miranda set up this four rounder up as a real grudge fight with another David and Goliath subplot thrown in for good measure. 

However, no surprises occurred this time. Although Miranda was the aggressor throughout the four rounds, he could not get anything going against Mercurio. The South Philadelphian carefully poked his jab out to keep Miranda at bay, and in doing so, reddened his opponent's left eye immediately. Miranda did press the fight however, constantly moving forward despite the fact that he took shots all the way in. Both fighters tired early making the action slow but steady. Mercurio's best punch came in the third round when he drove a left hook to Miranda's jaw that wobbled him. But the outgunned Miranda wasn't going anywhere. He remained on his feet throughout and battled through his injured eye which was badly marked and swollen by the end. All three judges gave the fight to Mercurio. All three judges gave the fight to Mercurio. Judge Lynn Carter and Pierre Benoist had it 3-1 in rounds, while Alan Rubenstein saw it 3-0-1. My card had Mercurio winning all four sessions. Mercurio improved to 4-0, 3 KOs. Miranda dropped to 2-3.

The Ardrick Butler - Mike Denby fight was next on the card. The fight of the night was followed by a four round match between Juan Rodriguez of Union City, NJ and Andrew Jones of Buffalo, two southpaw welterweights. The undefeated Rodriguez raised his record to 6-0 with 3 KOs by pitching a shutout against the winless Jones, who fell to 0-5. However, Rodriguez had to look through a bad cut to gain the win. All three judges gave him the win by scores of 40-36. 

Patrick Majewski, the Polish middleweight who fights out of Atlantic City blasted out a hapless Allen Medina of Denver. He dropped Medina on the seat of his pants and continued the beating when his opponent regained his feet. Medina offered up no offense and waited on the ropes until referee Blair Talmadge stopped the fight. Medina's record fell to 8-19 with 1 KO. The undefeated Majewski improved to 16-0 with 11 KOs. It was a mismatch, plain and simple. 

Cruiserweight Andres Taylor, Johnstown, PA, beat Cleveland's Rayshawn Meyers in a four round bout just before the main event. Taylor dropped Meyers in round one, but could not get the knockout. He swaggered and smiled and posed his way through four rounds while the out matched Meyers tried to dazzle the crowd with his own versions of the bolo punch and the Ali shuffle. The tactics helped to pass the time in the dull bout, but scored no points. I gave the fight to Taylor 40-35. Two of the official judges agreed, but Lynn Carter scored it 38-37. Taylor left the ring 17-1-2 with 7 KOs; Myers fell to 3-7 with 2 KOs.

The evening ended with Raymond Serrano's fifth round stoppage of Corey Alarcon. Tito scored a knockdown in the first round and cruised through the rest of the fight. Serrano was warned twice for hitting low but managed to keep it clean and not lose any points. In the fifth round, Serrano dropped Alarcon in his own corner. With Alarcon still flat on his back, referee Blair Talmadge stopped the fight at 44 seconds into the round. The fight was a good showing for Serrano given that he jumped on his lesser foe and stayed on him until he earned the TKO. Even with 31 bouts going into the fight, the promoters still had to stretch to call Alarcon a worthy opponent. His 14-16-1 record included 13 losses by knockout. Anything can happen in the ring, but this guy didn't stand a chance against the undefeated Serrano, who improved to 15-0 with 8 KOs. Alarcon added to his loss column with the defeat and upped his KO loss tally by one. That's the opposite of building a record. 

Serrano needs more work and deserves additional developmental bouts, but he needs to step forward and leave opponents like list on the reject list.

The show was promoted by KEA Boxing and attendance was strong with about 950 fans in the seats. It was just the second Philadelphia show of 2011. So, for all my complaints about the card, I was still happy to see a local show go on. The entertainment value of the show was a solid "7".

The South Philly now called the Asylum Arena has gone through more name changes than P. Diddy in recent years. Let's hope this one sticks. The place has been known as Viking Hall, The New Alhambra, The Arena, The South Philly Arena (a name that this web site coined), and now the Asylum Arena. I can live with this one.

Next up is a Friday night card in North Philly at the New Palladium on April 15th with featherweight Coy Evans slated to go in the main event. 




John DiSanto - South Philly - April 01, 2011