PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                     September 30, 2011


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Local prospect Ray Robinson looked sharp in halting durable journeyman Manuel Guzman in the 7th round of their scheduled 8-round main event bout at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philly Friday night. The fight card also marked the debut promotion  by 22 year old Brittany Rogers' BAM Boxing Promotions. 

Southpaw Robinson was in complete control of the fight which could have been stopped much sooner than it was, but the always game Guzman, of Lancaster, PA, threw just enough "Hail Marys" in the final few rounds and pleaded his cause well enough between sessions to prevent the ring  doctor and referee from calling an earlier stoppage. So Guzman kept plugging along and Robinson kept throwing punches until the 20-second mark of round seven.

The fight was all Robinson - from opening bell to the final wave by referee Steve Smoger. As they circled each other at the start of the fight, the size difference between the pair was astonishing. Ray used his advantages in height and reach to lash Guzman with a stinging right jab, and before long, he was landing booming shots from the outside that seemed to indicate that victory for Robinson was just a matter of time. But Guzman pressed forward and even made the third round a wild ride. This was Manuel's best round, but still Robinson had the advantage.

By round four, Smoger was looking to stop the fight. He conferred with the ringside doctor repeatedly and asked him to examine Guzman after every remaining round. When neither the commission doctor nor the fighter's corner would stop it, Smoger stepped in himself after Robinson unloaded a flurry on Guzman just after the seventh round began. 

The win raised Robinson's record to 12-2 with 5 KOs, snapped a two-bout losing streak, and ended a 14-month layoff. It was also his first fight at home since 2008. All-in-all a very good night for the lanky left-handed welter. Guzman fell to 7-13 with 3 KOs. 

The fight of the night was the 6-round semi-final between the promising Philadelphia junior middleweight Julian Williams and the nearly immovable Eberto Medina of Newark, NJ. Williams won all but one round on my card, but each chapter was tough and grinding and often close. Williams whipped his punches toward Medina, and landed aplenty, but he might as well have been punching a stone wall.

By round three, Williams began looking fatigued. Medina took the fourth, but the round, like most of the others was close. In the fifth, a tired Williams miraculously hurt Medina at the bell, but didn't have the time to go for a finish. By the sixth and final round, the opportunity had passed and Williams had to settle for a clear-cut decision victory.

At the end, my card read 59-55, the same as official judges Lynn Carter and Dave Greer. Judge George Hill gave every round to Williams, scoring 60-54. Williams, 8-0-1 (4 KO), showed his talent, and Medina (5-7-1 (1 KO) did his job and provided the rising star a good, rugged test. Every round was up for grabs but Williams came up with the  answers and banked a nice and crowd-pleasing win.

Eberto Medina

A six round super middleweight bout between Charles Hayward of Philly and George Armenta, Silver Springs, MD, ended in  a confounding decision (at least for me). True the fight was close - especially the second and third rounds - but I felt that Hayward had done enough to take the verdict. However this was not the case when the official scores were read. Judge Lynne Carter had it 58-56 for Hayward, but George Hill and Dave Greer both scored it 58-56 for Armenta. Call me a "homer", but I saw  it 59-55 for Hayward. His left hook was working wonders for him and a few of the combinations he put together rattled Armenta. But he did a lot of clutching that perhaps turned off the officials. The win improved the visitor's record to 14-7 (11 KO) and backed Hayward down to 7-3 (3 KO). It was the first loss for Hayward since returning in 2009 after a four year layoff.

Referee Steve Smoger pulls Armenta and Hayward apart

State College, PA junior middleweight Grayson Blake upset Atlantic City's Decarlo Perez in their six rounder. Blake (pictured in black & white trunks) took a one-sided unanimous decision on the official cards. Greer and Hill had it 60-54, while Carter scored 59-55. Once again, I had the other guy ahead, scoring it 58-56 for Perez in the slow-paced fight. Blake remained undefeated (4-0, 1 KO), and Perez lost for the first time (5-1-1, 2 KO).

Philly's Chase Corbin provided the biggest fireworks of the night with his abrupt first round knockout over Mexican Alexander Blanco. Corbin landed a left hook and right uppercut that dropped Blanco near his own corner and brought the welterweight fight to an very sudden end. Blanco struggled to get up but wobbled and toppled over again, and was sent home after just 28 seconds of action in the ring. It was his second pro fight and evened out his professional record to 1-1. Corbin improved to 6-0 with 4 KOs. The KO was a lightning bolt of excitement for the card, and made fans want to see more of the 25 year old boxer. This was his first fight in Philadelphia after five bouts out west.

Mexican Alexander Blanco tries to beat the count

Philadelphian David Navarro won his first professional fight, after four tough losses, with a bloody four round unanimous decision over Chris Plebani of Bristol, PA. in their welterweight contest. Plebani's nose began to bleed in round two and never stopped. The blood streamed down his face and went flying with every incoming punch. In the last round, Navarro shook Plebani but just didn't have the firepower to put him down, let alone out. But he certainly was happy with his very first win. All three judges scored 39-37 for Navarro (1-4). Plebani dropped to 1-3. I scored the fight a draw at 38-38.

Camden's Korey Pritchett (pictured) made a successful pro debut with a four round unanimous decision over Korey Sloan  of Philadelphia in a junior welterweight bout. Sloan outworked Pritchett most of the way, but Pritchett landed the showier and harder shots in the "Battle of the Koreys". The third was the best session, with  Sloan landing well to the body and Pritchett firing back to the head. Pritchett had the better of it, wobbling Sloan twice. Judges Hill and Greer had 39-37 (same as me) and Carter gave all four rounds to the winner (40-36). Pritchett goes to 1-0; Sloan falls to 1-2.

The first fight of the night pitted two light heavyweights both making their professional debut in a four rounder. Pottstown's Ronnie Lawrence was in control in the first round, despite keeping  his hands dangerously low, but Philly's Todd Unthankmay (pictured) got on track and won the rest of the rounds as Lawrence tired. Beginning in round two, Unthankmay started to exploit Lawrence's open chin, and hurt him a few times. In the third  Unthankmay dropped an exhausted Lawrence to add an extra point to his tally. All three judges gave the fight to Unthankmay by scores of 39-36. I scored it the same. Hurley McCall was the referee.

Upstart promoter Brittany Rogers put together a fine first show. Most of the fights were well-matched and closely contested, and the one blow-out (Corbin-Blanco) was the thrill of the night. Although the crowd looked small at the start of the evening, eventually the Armory filled in  nicely. BAM Boxing Promotions did not announce the attendance, but it was probably in the 1,000-1,100 range. The atmosphere was more festive than the usual club show. Clearly the crowd was enjoying being part of the event that made Rogers the youngest female promoter in US history.

Now with one show under her belt, and all the fanfare and talk of her being the "youngest female..." about to subside, Rogers can now focus on the business and grind of putting together a promotional career. She apparently has the tools and drive to do this, and local boxing needs it.

The card was just the seventh boxing show in Philly this year, and it's already October. So the arrival of BAM Boxing can potentially breathe new life into the local scene.

Now that Rogers has the distinction as the youngest female promoter, it's time to shoot for Herman Taylor's record as the oldest. The Philadelphia super-promoter staged fights well into his 80's. Now there's a goal to reach for!




John DiSanto - Northeast Philly - September 30, 2011