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 Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Chris Toney


Peltz Boxing & BAM Boxing returned to South Philadelphia Friday night with an 8-bout pro card that reopened the 2300 Arena.  The venue, formerly known as the New Alhambra, is still in the midst of renovation, but well on its way to (hopefully) revitalizing the local fight scene which has been in a slump without a central hub for boxing action.  Ever since the Blue Horizon closed in 2010, the Philly scene has slipped out of focus and slowly eroded away.  Each year, fewer and fewer promotions occur in the City, but Friday night's show brought plenty of hope to local fans.  

Topping the card were a pair of 8-rounders featuring rising but familiar faces.

Naim Nelson, West Philly, and Jerome Rodriguez, Trenton, pitched a nip-and-tuck junior welterweight battle over eight rounds.  The fight was extremely close and rather difficult to score.  Nelson started quicker, winning the early rounds with a steady jab and an energetic, pressing approach.  

However after a few rounds, Rodriguez, a southpaw, began to better use his size and stiff punching attack to work his way into the fight.  As Rodriguez loosened up, his offense became more frequent and his punches seemed more telling.

Both fighters remained busy throughout the fight, but it was Rodriguez who appeared to be winning rounds in the second half. Nelson kept throwing, and landing, but his aggression never produced any truly telling blows. His best shot, a left hook, won him the seventh round on my card, but the fight was extremely close and would probably come down to the final three minutes. 

In the eighth, the fighters stuck to script, taking turns pressing the action.  Before the round was over, Nelson was bleeding from a cut on the outside of his left eye. The cut streamed the entire round.

The fighters exchanged fiercely as the fight ended, perhaps both feeling they would need the round to claim the decision.  However, when the final tallies were read, Naim Nelson went home with a comfortable unanimous decision.

Judge Alan Rubenstein saw the fight the closest at 77-75.  Lynn Carter scored 79-73, and Pierre Benoist saw it a whopping 80-72.  All for Nelson.  It is unlikely that anyone else in South Philly saw the fight as wide as Benoist.

"No, no, no," Nelson said after the fight about the one lopsided score in his favor.  "That was a tough fight.  It was close." 

My final score was 77-76 for Rodriguez.  However, I scored the opening round even. Had it gone to Nelson, I would have had the fight a draw.  That's how close it felt to me.

A rematch sometime in the future seems likely, and would be welcomed.

In the co-feature, heavyweight Joey Dawejko faced Mark Rideout in an 8-round, Kensington vs. West Philly showdown.  The match seemed to have all the makings of a good heavyweight rumble, but the actual fight was rather methodical. 

Dawejko won convincingly, sweeping the early rounds on my card before tiring toward the end. With his solid cheering section on their feet throughout the entire fight, Joey used his superior skills and experience to keep the fight tilted his way.  Rideout was stubborn, but did not have the tools to make any headway. 

Dawejko won the first five rounds, using effective combinations to the head and body.  He was in total control, but around the fifth began showing signs of fatigue.

Rideout wasn't exactly fresh, but he was able to outpace Joey over the last three rounds, making the fight a bit closer.  Rideout took at least the final two, and might have won the sixth round as well.

By the end, both of Dawejko’s eyes were puffy. 

“He kept butting me,” Dawejko said after the fight.  “This one,” he said pointing to his right eye, “this one came from his hook, but this one (left) came from head butts.  I didn’t know what to do.  So I got frustrated.  He even bit me once (on the shoulder).  Did you see that!?”

In any case, Dawejko, 10-3-2, 3 KOs, was the clear winner by scores of 78-74 and 79-73 twice.  I also scored the fight 78-74 for Dawejko (6-2 in rounds), who was coming off a big January victory over contender Derric Rossy, and a recent stint in training camp with heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko in Austria. 

Rideout lost for the first time, 4-1-2, 1 KO. 

Lightweight Anthony Burgin improved to 7-0, 1 KO, with a 6-round unanimous decision over Ray Ellis, 4-11-2, 2 KOs.  Burgin opened the fight with a steady jab which won him the first round.  Ellis went on the attack in round two, pressuring his fast-rising opponent and landing well along the ropes to even things up.

However, Burgin's pedigree kept him out in front for the rest of the night.  He played with a switch-hitting style in the second half.  In round four, he turned southpaw and landed a hard combination before switching back and rocking Ellis from the orthodox stance.

Ellis hung tough and rallied again in the final round.  However, Burgin did enough to keep the round in his column.

All three judges, scored the fight 59-55 for Burgin.  My score agreed.

Junior welterweight Milton Santiago remained undefeated with a near-shutout of veteran Josh Beeman.  On this night, the highly touted Santiago was more workman than budding superstar, but still upped his record to 5-0, 3 KOs, with the easy, but uninspiring win.  Journeyman Beeman fell to 5-17-3, 2 KOs.

I thought Santiago won all six rounds.  One official judge agreed (60-54), while the remaining two both scored it 59-55. 

Nathaniel Rivas scored three knockdowns but had to settle for a unanimous 4-round decision over Jovan Sosa in their welterweight bout. Rivas dropped Sosa twice in round one and once in the second.  However, Rivas' heavy leather faded after that, reportedly due to an injured right hand in round two. 

Sosa came on strong in the final round, but Rivas took the fight by 38-35 scores on the three official cards.  My tally had him one better at 39-34.  Rivas rose to 4-0, 1 KO; Sosa slipped to 2-1.

Heavyweight Hector Perez opened the show with a third round TKO of Aaron Leonard in a scheduled four-rounder.  Perez won the first two rounds before turning up the heat early in round three.  Perez pounded Leonard along the ropes until referee Shawn Clark jumped in to stop it.  There were no knockdowns.  The time was 23 seconds of round three.

In the two walkout bouts, junior welter David Gonzales, 5-0, 1 KO, blanked Omar Brito, 2-2, 1 KO, over four rounds to win a 40-36 unanimous decision.

Vincent Floyd dropped a debuting Sharif Jones in round one and went on to take a unanimous decision after four rounds.  Eric Dali saw the fight 40-35, while Lynn Carter and Pierre Benoist scored it 39-36.

Jones, 0-1, rebounded from the knockdown, but Floyd, 1-0-1, used his size well in the spirited bout. 

Peltz and BAM return to the 2300 Arena on July 15th for a rare Tuesday night boxing show.

Ring announcer Larry Tornambe made his final East Coast appearance at this fight card.  He has been announcing for fights, the Briscoe Awards, and many other area events for about 20 years. Tornambe will be relocating to Arizona at the end of May, and will be greatly missed by his friends and fans.  




John DiSanto - South Philly - May 16, 2014
Photography by Chris Toney