PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - August 01, 2015                                                              
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Ed Diller / DiBella Entertainment
Photos by Lucas Noonan / PBC


Danny Garcia moved completely up to the welterweight division Saturday night and made it a successful career step with a 9th round TKO of former two-division champion Paulie Malignaggi. Danny looked healthy and strong at the new weight, and before the first bell sounded, it looked like this might be the all-new Danny Garcia that he had promised we would see against Malignaggi.

However, when the fight began, it was the same old Danny in there. This is not a bad thing by any means, but Garcia was looking for a fresh chapter and a first step to winning back the many fans that have abandoned him over the past 18 months.

Garcia entered the Barclay's Center ring in Brooklyn to a chorus of boos, despite it being his fifth headlining appearance at the venue. But let's be fair, these boos were all about the love that the Brooklyn fans have for Malignaggi. The crowd was certainly pro-Paulie and remained that way until the night was over, despite the official result.

The fighters split the first two rounds. Garcia jumped out early and muscled Malignaggi to take the first three minutes. In round two, Paulie's boxing skills and head movement earned him the second. 

Beginning in round three, Garcia took over the fight. His punching power and energy were the difference. Danny added the fourth to his column, but Paulie didn't make it easy.

Even though Malignaggi's best days were quite a while back, his still possesses slick and tricky boxing skills. Paulie made Danny miss throughout the evening, and proved himself a frustrating foe. Just before the bell, Garcia landed a right that wobbled Malignaggi a bit, but the underdog took the blow in stride.

Malignaggi came alive in round five and took the round with a lot of jabbing and little moves that had Danny whiffing badly. However, this was the last session that Paulie won and the rest of the fight was a gradual beat-down of the popular former champ.

Paulie's jab was working in the sixth, but Garcia was pressing closer.  He worked the body and landed to the head as well. Garcia was loading up on his shots but was still missing many punches. However, more and more of Danny's blows were landing and Malignaggi was showing signs of wear. 

Malignaggi's face was badly marked by the seventh with two deep cuts, one above and one below his right eye. Paulie landed a nice right uppercut in the seventh, but Garcia landed his own right and started landing his jab.

The eighth was all Garcia and it was clear that his punches were finally getting to Malignaggi. Garcia kept punching to the head and body and it was clear that Paulie was weakening and giving ground.

The pattern continued in round nine with Garcia getting the better of the action. Suddenly his punches were heavy and Malignaggi was retreating. Garcia landed a flurry that staggered Malinaggi back. Paulie stumbled across the ring and Garcia followed.  However referee Arthur Mercante Jr. jumped in to save Malignaggi from any further punishment. 

The stoppage might have been a bit quick, but it was far more an act of mercy than it was a measured decision by the ref.  No one argued Mercante's judgment. 

The fighters embraced after it was over and Malignaggi, 33-7, 7 KOs, suggested that he may never fight again. You could see that the thought of retirement tortured him. He's got plenty of fighting spirit, but needed to beat Garcia to prove he was still a factor among the elite fighters.

"Paulie is a great champion," Garcia said.  "He's a crafty veteran with a great jab and foot movement.  But I went in there and executed the game plan."

Garcia, 31-0, 18 KOs, won the fight soundly but it was not the welterweight rebirth that he had hoped for and had promised to deliver. 

"There were definitely things I have to work on but I'm proud of myself," Garcia said.

He still has much to do to regain those fickle fans that have deserted him. A clean KO of Malignaggi would have done wonders, but this was a solid win that kept his undefeated roll going.

"I feel strong and I feel good. 147 is where it's at." 

Certainly Garcia will be criticized by many saying that his performance wasn't good enough. It seems that he can't satisfy the fans. But his performance was good enough to earn an honest win and set himself up for numerous interesting and lucrative future bouts.

When it comes to boxing talent, welterweight surely is where it's at. Garcia will have other chances to impress the fans, but first he has a date with fatherhood. Danny and girlfriend Erica are expecting a daughter on August 11. 

The best fight of the night was the WBA middleweight title bout between champion Danny Jacobs, 30-1, 27 KOs, and Sergio Mora, 28-4-2, 9 KOs. This one started fast with both fighters downed in the first round, but ended the following round due to an untimely injury. It was a real heartbreaker that the fight couldn't play itself out more naturally.

Going in, I was under the impression that challenger Sergio Mora had little chance to win the bout, figuring that his mileage was just too high to be effective against Jacobs. And shortly after the first bell rang, my thoughts on the fight appeared to be validated.

Jacobs came right out and began pressing Mora. Sergio fired the jab, but Jacobs kept coming. Suddenly, Danny caught Mora with a hooking right that landed flush and put the challenger on the floor. Fight over, I thought, or it certainly would be soon.

However, Mora climbed off the canvas and kept boxing. In the next exchange, Mora landed a left hook and Jacobs crumbled to the canvas. Suddenly the fight was even and looked like an instant classic.

Jacobs got up, and in the final 45 seconds of the opening round went back to work and regained control of the fight.

In round two, Jacobs kept up the pressure, but Mora was jabbing and looking for another opening to exploit.

With time running out in the round, Jacobs landed a stiff right and Mora felt it. Mora retreated along the ropes and Jacobs followed him, punching all the way. He landed again, but as Mora leaned away, Jacobs ran into him and Mora tumbled to the canvas.

As he fell, Mora's ankle twisted hard and his knee bent awkwardly. Referee Gary Rosato called it a knockdown and began counting.

Mora got up but with his first step forward, Mora grimaced and turned away toward the ropes. Rosato repeatedly asked him if he was ready to continue, but Mora failed to answer.  Finally Rosato stepped closer to ask him face-to-face, and Mora made it clear that he could not fight on due to an injury. 

The fight was stopped at 2:55 of round two. What a heartbreaking end to a match that was shaping up as an excellent fight. To be fair, it did seem like Jacobs had regained complete control, but Mora looked in great shape and ready for war. 

Mora immediately called for a rematch, saying that it was a fractured ankle, and not Jacobs' punches, that ended the fight. Jacobs suggested that a rematch would be a step backward, and called for an all-Brooklyn showdown with Peter Quillin.

Between the two feature bouts, junior middleweight Prichard Colon, 15-0, 12 KOs, scored a second round TKO over Michael Finney, 12-4-1, 10 KOs.  Colin took the first round and then in round two, staggered Finney with a hard right hand. Wasting no time, Colon continued punching and drove home three more big shots as Finney fell to the canvas. The Las Vegas fighter struggled to his feet, but the referee would not allow him to continue. The time was 1:23 of the second round. Colin, Orocovis, PR, remained undefeated and scored his second consecutive KO. The fight was scheduled for eight rounds.

In a light heavyweight fight between two undefeated prospects, both Travis Peterkin, Brooklyn, and Lenin Castillo, Miami, managed to hold on to their "0"s, but each added a lighter blemish to their records when their 8-round bout was declared a draw by majority decision. 

Peterkin, 15-0-1, 7 KOs, and Castillo, 12-0-1, 7 KOs, waged a fairly even and hard-fought battle, although the Brooklyn fighter appeared to win more rounds.  However two point deductions in Castillo's favor cost Peterkin the victory. 

In round four, referee Mike Ortega took a point from Peterkin for hitting on the break, and in the following round penalized the same fighter for hitting low.  The fighter had not been warned prior to either deduction, and those two lost points cost him dearly. 

Peterkin fought back in the final three rounds to make up the lost ground, but ran out of rounds to take the lead on my 75-75 card.  The official scores were 76-74 for Peterson, 75-75, and 75-75.  Were it not for the penalties, Perkin would have won the fight. 

Featherweight Rafael Vasquez, 16-1, 13 KOs, thrilled his hometown Brooklyn fans with a quick stoppage of Mexican veteran Mario Macias, 26-17, 13 KOs, in their scheduled 8-round contest. Vasquez, boxing comfortably in the opening round, clipped Macias along the ropes with a deceptive right hand. However, the nipping blow was hard enough to put Macias on the canvas. The Mexican got to his feet, but the referee took a long look and decided to stop the fight. The time of the abbreviated bout was 1:07 of the first round. 

Brooklyn's Adam Kownacki remained undefeated with a bruising KO of gun-shy Texan Maurenzo Smith, 12-10-3, 9 KOs. Kownacki, 11-0, 10 KOs, blasted away until a big right hand in round two deposited Smith on the seat of his trunks. Maurenzo attempted to rise, but did not beat the count. The time of the knockout was 2:26 of round two of the scheduled 8-round heavyweight bout.

Female featherweight Heather Hardy, 14-0, 3 KOs, administered a steady battering to Renata Domsodi, 12-7, 5 KOs, of Budapest, Hungary, in their scheduled 8-rounder until the ringside doctor advised the referee to stop the fight just after the seventh round began.

Hardy bloodied Domsodi in round six, but the fight continued. After the bell sounded to begin round seven, the referee called time to confer with the doctor. Moments later, the fight was stopped and went into the record books as a TKO at 1 second of round seven. 

Philadelphia junior lightweight Thomas Velasquez, 1-0, 1 KO, won his professional debut on the Garcia-Malignaggi undercard with a stunning KO of Gabriel Braxton, 2-11, 1 KO. Velasquez opened up in rounds two and three before finishing the fight with a straight right hand in the fourth and final round. The punch dropped Braxton, Red Oak, GA, and the referee halted the bout without a count. The time of the KO was 1:20.

In the opening bout at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, NY, junior lightweight Titus Williams, Elmont, NY, made a successful pro debut by defeating Cincinnati's Micah Branch, 2-15-1, via 4-round unanimous decision. Williams, 1-0, won the bout by three official shutout scores of 40-36.

The announced attendance for the show was 7,239. Garcia-Malignaggi, Jacobs-Mora and Colon-Finney were all nationally televised live by ESPN.




John DiSanto - Brooklyn, NY - August 01, 2015