PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                            April 02, 2011


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Super middleweight Farah Ennis suffered the first loss of his professional boxing career Saturday night in Atlantic City when he dropped a ten round majority decision to undefeated but unheralded Alexander Johnson in the main event at the Grand Ballroom of Bally's Resort Casino. Oxen Hill, Maryland's Johnson came into the fight with a shiny 10-0 / 4 KO record, but he had never been in a fight scheduled over six rounds and had only fought one other fighter with a winning record - barely at 3-2-1. So, the 17-0 / 11 KO Ennis was expected to have a relatively easy night. Add the fact that his NABF crown was not at stake against Johnson and Ennis' evening almost looked like it might be a night off. But then the fight started.

Things began well enough for Farah. He took the first round and even stung Johnson with a hard body shot. In round two Ennis turned up the heat and it was bombs away! Ennis flung numerous hard shots at the rangy southpaw and appeared to be on his way to an early night. But Alexander "The Great" Johnson stood his ground and mixed it up as if he belonged there. He even punched back.

Ennis kept working but seemed a little put off by Johnson's left-handed stance and matching stature. The big and strong Farah that we have seen in his other fights was on equal terms physically and before long appeared not to have any zip in his punches. As Ennis tried to shake off his funk, Johnson kept jabbing and ripping his own shots.

Ennis had a slight edge after three rounds (2-1), but beginning in the fourth, Johnson started to pull ahead. He strung together several rounds in a row to build a lead that started to look insurmountable. Along the way, a mouse under Ennis' left eye developed.

By round eight, Johnson was breathing heavily from his mouth and Ennis pushed himself to take advantage. Farah launched a series of would-be haymakers but even though he looked fresher than Johnson, still showed signs of fatigue himself. His punches had no power and only helped him score enough points to take a couple of rounds. It was clear that no fight-saving knockout was on its way. 

To make matters worse Ennis suffered a nasty cut on his right eyelid in round nine. The cut bled profusely and at one point forced referee Ricardo Vera to call in the ringside doctor for a look. Ennis was allowed to continue, but the steady flow of blood clearly rattled him. Farah pawed at the cut repeatedly, trying to clear his vision. Ennis' bad night was getting worse.

With the fight and both undefeated records on the line, the tenth and final round was fought hard by both men. With his cut still streaming badly, Ennis swung for the fences in an attempt to win the fight. But Johnson was able to not only avoid any danger, he managed to outwork Ennis and close the show. He took the final round and had 6-4 edge on my scorecard (96-94).

Judge John McKaie scored the bout a 95-95 draw, giving each boxer five rounds. Judge Joe Pasquale had it 97-93, or 7-3 in rounds. Judge Tony Perez saw it 98-93, or 7-2-1 in rounds. Most of the ringside press seemed to have it scored 7-3.

After the fight, the Ennis camp was understandably disap-pointed. Farah sat in his dressing room with his head hung low. His cut eyelid looked bad and clearly needed stitches.

It's been a tough month for the Ennis crew. In March, older brother Derek was upset by a surprising TKO at the hands of another unknown fighter. Now a month later, Farah was dealing with his own upset and very first loss as a pro. It was a difficult evening, but things like this happen.

In the old days, a fighter wouldn't have blinked after such a loss. He would have just bounced right back into the ring and moved forward. Today fighters - and many promoters - put a lot of emphasis on an undefeated record. It's as if a perfect record is the only thing that indicates a good prospect. Further, many modern fight fans think the same way, believing a fighter is only good if no one in the world can beat him. I think the imposing prime of Mike Tyson ushered in this latest version of that mindset. But nothing could be further from the truth. Every fighter can be beaten.

To develop and improve his skills, a fighter needs to be challenged.  And if a fighter takes on a real challenge, he takes the risk of losing. Not everyone gets it, but losing a tough fight is better for a boxer than blowing out another perfectly matched set-up.

Ennis had his share of favorable match-ups in his first 17 bouts. Against Johnson he came across a tough guy who wanted to make his own move. It happens. But now things get interesting. Farah Ennis gets to go back to Bozy's Dungeon and put things back together. He'll come out next time with something to prove. And having something to prove is great place for a fighter to be. Farah Ennis' career starts now, and it still looks like it can be a good one. 


Seven other bouts filled out the card, which was promoted by Pound For Pound Promotions. Highlights of the undercard included a very sudden KO by undefeated Amir Mansour, and an appearance by entertainment fringe mega-star Beetlejuice, who was in attendance to support his pal Bobby Rooney, who scored his own quick knockout. The results were as follows: 

Amir Mansour KO1 (2:08) Hector Ferreyro, heavyweights, 8 rounds
Bobby Rooney KO1 (2:03) Adrian Armstrong, cruiserweights, 6 rounds
Steve Martinez W4 (U) Eric Marriott, junior middleweights 4 rounds
Damian Wills TKO9 (3:00) Arron Lyons, heavyweights, 10 rounds
Osnel Charles W6 (S) Chris Green, lightweights, 6 rounds
Steven Johnson W6 (U) Victor Valenzuela, bantamweights, 6 rounds
Thomas Lamanna TKO1 (1:36) Bobby Bynum, junior middleweights, 4 rounds




John DiSanto - Atlantic City - April 02, 2011