PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                              June 03, 2011


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Crowd-pleaser Victor Vasquez began a new career chapter with his fourth-round TKO of Gustavo Dailey in the six-round main event of Joey Eye's latest club show at Harrah's Casino and Racetrack in Chester, PA. Yes, the heavily tattooed and heavily favored barber from North Philly merely repeated a prior stoppage of the always-ready-to-battle club-fighter from North Philly's ABC Rec. Vasquez even bettered his prior effort by one round, but the career shift I speak of happened outside the ring, months before this bout.

After Vasquez dropped a majority decision his last time out at the same venue, he and his former trainer Chris Rotella parted ways. There apparently was no drama in the split between Vasquez and Rotella. Rather it was an exchange of clear communication the likes of which is somewhat unusual in the boxing world. So each went their separate ways and Vasquez began looking for a full-time trainer. He didn't have to look very far.

Working cuts for Vasquez in that last fight was none other than Billy Briscoe, the boxing guru from the Rivera Recreation Center in North Philly. In the weeks following that bout, Vasquez and Briscoe made a pact to work together.

Over the past five or six months, the pair tackled the trickiest of professional relationships: fighter and trainer. Things seemed to click right away. Briscoe reported that Vasquez was a good worker and seemed talented beyond the thrilling brawls that made up most of his 12-5-1 record. Vasquez was impressed by how much Briscoe knew the game and liked the change of training routine that the new alliance was presenting. Vasquez relocated camp to the Rivera Rec at 5th & Allegheny, looking for a fresh start.

Briscoe relies on many traditional training techniques taught to him by mentor Wesley Mouzon. Chances are Vasquez had seen a lot of this portion of Briscoe's bag of tricks, but it was only part of the story. For sure Vasquez must have scratched his head a little when his new trainer suggested that he train wearing a gas mask. Still Victor ran right out and bought one. It wasn't the only left-field suggestion to come - just the most bizarre.

Billy Briscoe in the corner of Jonathan Ocassio

Briscoe's goal for the initial camp was to improve Victor's stamina and to pump up his confidence. Speaking with Vasquez about one week prior to the fight, it was clear they had at least accomplished the latter. Victor was up-beat and certain he was moving in the right direction. Still the boxing barber remained grounded, and indicated that the current camp and upcoming fight were only the first steps of his progression.


Vasquez looked good in his scheduled six-round rematch with Dailey Friday night. The barber controlled the first three rounds using a good jab and a mixture of shots to the head and an effective body attack. Dailey came to fight, as he always does, and had his moments in the bout. But Vasquez slowly stepped on the gas and let his new confidence rev. Having already stopped Dailey about 15 months ago in their first go-round, Victor didn't lack a presumption of victory, but he clearly was willing to turn up the heat early, confident that he had the gas needed to press for the entire six rounds.

With a three round deficit, southpaw Dailey entered the fourth looking to turn things around. He repeatedly fired crisp one-two combinations at Vasquez, landing quite a few times. Dailey was clearly winning the round when Vasquez sucked in a breath, measured his foe with a jab to the body and then let fly a left hook-overhand right combination that wobbled and dropped the surging Dailey.

Of course, Gus got right up ready to fight. But his staggering stroll around the ring after rising, didn't clear his head. It proved to referee Blair Talmadge that he was in no condition to continue. The time was 2:42, and it was a sudden and exciting end to the fight.

The victory improved Vasquez' record to 13-5-1 with 7 KOs. Daley fell to 4-12 with 1 KO. The Vasquez-Briscoe teaming looks like a good one.

In the six-round semi-windup, Anthony Ferrante, Northeast Philly, scored a fourth round TKO over Joe Park of Florence, SC. Light-heavyweight Ferrante was coming off the only two losses of his career. He jumped right out to a quick start. He won the first and then hurt Park for the first time in round two. In desperation, Park held Ferrante tight and wrestled him to the canvas, and almost out of the ring. By round three, Park looked winded before Ferrante dropped him for an 8-count, and by the time he got up he was exhausted. In round four, Ferrante pressed the attack and blasted away until referee Shawn Clark stopped it. The win was a big relief for Ferrante and raised his pro record to 10-2 with 5 KOs. Park went South, 8-6. It was the third time he was stopped. 

Five four-rounders opened the show. 

In the evening's first bout, Naim Nelson, Southwest Philly junior welterweight, made a successful pro debut with a unanimous four round decision over North Philadelphian Kywame Hill. Nelson won every round and staggered and almost dropped Hill in the final round, but the tough ABC Rec battler stayed on his feet. The loss left him 1-8. Nelson, the latest addition to the Doc Nowicki-Jim Williams stable, is now 1-0.

In the second fight of the night, hard-luck lightweight Jonathan Ocassio, North Philly, lost for the eighth straight time in as many bouts when Joey Tiberi, Newark, DE, took the decision in their four-rounder. Official Dave Greer gave every round to Tiberi for a 40-36 score, while Dewey LaRosa and Bernard Bruni saw it 3-1, or 39-37, for Tiberi. I thought the bout could have been declared a draw. Ocassio, also from the Billy Briscoe stable, fought better than in his previous losses and Tiberi appeared winded as early as round two. But Ocassio's long looping shots did not impress the official judges. Tiberi improved to 4-1 with 3 KOs.

Next up, Fred Jenkins Jr., whose fight was almost scrapped the day before when his original opponent didn't show for the weigh in, took on the scrappy Dover Viking, Todd Eriksson. The newly-svelte Jenkins, North Philly, took the first round and squeaked out the close second round to establish the early lead on my card. That pick-em second round turned out to be the key three minutes of the fight. Eriksson was busier, but Jenkins landed the cleaner, harder blows. After the second however, Eriksson began to find his mark and took the last two rounds, making my score even. However, the three officials saw it for Jenkins 39-37, or 3-1 in rounds. Jenkins won his second pro fight (2-0, 1 KO), while Eriksson dropped to 3-6-2 with 1 KO.

Philly middleweight Rashad Brown made it four straight wins (4-0 / 2 KO) with a quick stoppage of Phillip Burnette of Myrtle Beach, SC. Burnette went down twice in the round before Shawn Clark stopped the bout at 2:59. Burnette went below the .500 mark with the loss, 2-3 with 1 KO.

In the final prelim, touted Philly lightweight Angel Ocasio beat Randolph Scott of Salisbury, MD by unanimous decision. Scott took the first round but lost the next three. In the third, Blair Talmadge called a quick trip to the canvas by Scott a knockdown, but I didn't see a punch. Still Ocasio won the fight on my card 39-37. The official judges all had it 39-36, giving Angel a two-point margin in the third. I didn't think it was a knockdown, so I scored that round 10-9. It was a tougher- than-expected but still a clear win for the now 5-0 / 1 KO Ocasio. However, his opponent came in 0-3 and left one loss worse. It's time for Ocasio's management to step up the level of his opposition. 

The summer crowd at about 800 was a little lighter than it was in the January and March Harrah's show. Next up for promoters Joey Eye and David Feldman is another Harrah's card in September.




John DiSanto - Chester, PA - June 03, 2011