PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - August 07, 2015                                                              
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr.


Joey Dawejko, Thomas LaManna and Anthony Burgin all returned to their winning ways Friday night at Bally's Atlantic City. All three had lost their previous fight and all three were looking to bounce back on the non-televised undercard of a nationally televised ShoBox triple feature on Showtime. It was a good boxing show filled with five exciting knockouts and three grinding full-limit, 8-rounders. 

Although nationally this was a card intended to spotlight three rising fighters from Brooklyn and New Orleans, the interest here was focused on the undercard. The night started with a streak of four quick knockouts, including two by Dawejko and Burgin, so let's go chronologically. 

In the opening bout at Bally's Atlantic City, Brooklyn-based middleweight Avtandil Khurtsidze, 31-2-2, 20 KOs, charged right out and began pressing Miami's Melvin Betancourt, 29-3, 23 KOs, from the opening bell.

At first, the action was two-way, but then Khurtsidze's heavier blows started to back up Betancourt. Once Betancourt stopped punching, Khurtsidze steamrolled forward and began to hurt his opponent to both the head and body.

Suddenly a Khurtsidze left hook landed and Betancourt went down flat on his back. For the first five seconds or so, the fallen fighter did not move and appeared to be out cold. However, Betancourt managed to rise, but on unsteady legs. Referee Earl Brown took one look and stopped the fight. The time was 2:22 of round one in the scheduled 8-rounder.

Philadelphian Anthony Burgin, 9-1, 2 KOs, rebounded from his first professional defeat with a first round TKO of Justin Johnson, 7-9-4, of Pittsburgh, PA, in a scheduled 6-round lightweight contest.

Burgin isn't known as a hard puncher, but on this night he was deadly with his right hand. "Bad Boy" floored Johnson in the early going with a right-hand rocket. Johnson rose, but Burgin kept on him. Anthony landed a sharp combination and punctuated it with another hard right, and Johnson fell for the second time. Again, he managed to climb to his feet.

With time running low in the first, Burgin found Johnson again with his right and put him on the canvas for the third time. Referee Sparkle Lee stopped the one-sided affair at 2:57 of round one.

It was a sweet win for Burgin who lost for the first time five months ago by TKO. Friday he returned looking strong and fully recovered.

The quick KOs kept coming at Bally's when welterweight Noel Murphy, 3-0, 2 KOs, dropped DC's Stacey Anderson, 0-3, twice in round one for another quick stoppage. The scheduled 4-round bout between the two southpaws, ended after 2:27. Murphy, Woodlawn, NY by way of Ireland, used a potent right hook to floor Anderson both times. Referee Sparkle Lee stopped the fight the moment Anderson fell for the second time.

In a scheduled 8-round heavyweight fight, Philly's Joey Dawejko, 15-4-2, 8 KOs, stopped Robert Dunton, 11-15-1, 6 KOs, Wilmington, DE, with jarring right uppercut in the first round. The quick KO was his fifth first-rounder in his last six bouts, and a return to the win column after dropping a decision in his last outing.

Dawejko started out boxing, as he usually does. However, before long, Dawejko tested the waters with a few power shots. Joey landed them, and before you knew it, stepped in and threw the uppercut that ended the bout. Dunton got up but referee Earl Brown decided to stop it with Dunton woozy and a determined Dawejko raring to go in a neutral corner. 

With his next bout, an already-set nationally televised ShoBox encounter with Natu Visinia on August 28th, the pressure was on Dawejko to escape this fight with no cuts or injuries. Joey felt the urgency and finished his work in just 31 seconds. Given the stakes of his next outing, this fast victory was exactly what he needed. Dawejko left the ring in mint condition and with his confidence sky high.

This quickie kept the evening's streak going - four bouts, four opening round TKOs. However, the round card girls finally got some work in the fifth bout of the night.

Thomas LaManna, 17-1, 7 KOs, from nearby Millville, NJ, defeated Joshua Robertson, 7-9, 2 KOs, of Lynchburg, VA, by unanimous 8-round decision. The official scores were all 80-72.  

This was a rematch between the two fighters, and although both bouts were shutouts for LaManna (the first one W6), Robertson proved to be a tougher challenge this time around. The Virginian landed his share of hard shots that kept Cornflake on his toes. Robertson won the second round on my card, and fared rather well in some other rounds. However, LaManna, coming off his first-ever pro defeat, controlled the fight with his jab, combinations and excellent body work.

Cornflake tried to take Robertson out. He threw strong right hands and several solid combinations, but Robertson repeatedly returned fire with his own bombs. LaManna was shaken a few times but kept chugging forward and clearly outworked his opponent.

The win put LaManna back on track career-wise and probably did enough to remove the big chip on his shoulder that he had spoken about before the fight.

In the first of the three televised bouts, junior welterweight Regis Progrias, New Orleans, remained undefeated (15-0, 12 KOs) with an entertaining 8-round decision over aggressive Amos Cowart, 11-1-1, 9 KOs. This all-action punch-out between the two southpaws was the fight of the night. 

Cowart pressed much of the action, but Progrias was just too accurate with his attack. Most of the way, Cowart crowded Progrias and threw looping but dangerous shots while Progrias stood calmly in the pocket and speared Cowart with stinging combinations. Amos kept coming and at times appeared to be on the brink of turning the fight. His punches were hard and steady, but he could not match his opponent's output.

In the sixth round, Cowart, Groveland, FL, looked ready to make his move. However, Progrias shifted his attention to the body and the attack sapped Cowart's surge. In the final three rounds, Progrias kept up the body attack and drilled his pin-point punches through Cowart's defense upstairs. Progrias was in charge, but it was still a thrill ride to the final bell.

At the end of eight rounds, Progrias took the unanimous verdict by scores of 79-71 and 80-72 twice. My tally was a hair closer at 79-73 for Progrias.

Middleweight Ievgen Khytrov, 11-0, 10 KOs, kept his perfect record intact with a last-round TKO of Nick Brinson, 17-4-2, 7 KOs. Brinson boxed well in the first half of the bout, but Khytrov patiently kept stalking him. In these early rounds, this bout was the slowest of the evening, but the drama slowly built as Khytrov edged closer to his prey.

In round six, the Brooklyn-based Ukrainian closed the gap and did much damage to a fading Brinson, Albany, NY. Brinson weathered the crisis, but the writing seemed to be on the wall. 

Khytrov continued to wear down his foe down in round seven, and then in the eighth and final round hurt Brinson repeatedly. Khytrov was relentless, knowing that time was running out. He pounded away in brief but brutal flurries and eventually had Brinson in full retreat.

Finally with Brinson in serious trouble and backing away as best he could, Khytrov caught him with a combination along the ropes that crumbled Nick to the canvas. As he hit the floor, referee Earl Brown stopped the fight at 2:31 of the eighth round. 

The general consensus at ringside was that leading up to the stoppage, the fight was close on points. I had it even after six, but felt Khytrov had taken control down the stretch.

In the 8-round main event, Brooklyn's Sergiy Derevyanchenko extended his undefeated streak to six straight (6-0, 4 KOs) with a unanimous decision over Elvin Ayala of East Haven, CT. 

Derevtanchenko chased and chopped away at the veteran for the full eight rounds, but Ayala was too durable and perhaps too experienced to fall. However, it did appear that Derevtanchenko came close to a KO, as the fight neared its finish.

With Ayala tiring badly, it appeared the Brooklyn fighter might pile on enough punishment to prompt referee Sparkle Lee to stop it in the final round. Derevyanchenko landed well to the head and body. His right was his key weapon and found its mark over and over again, However, Ayala, 28-7-1, 12 KOs, stood his ground and Derevtanchenko settled for a lopsided points win. The scores were 80-72 and 89-71 twice. My tally was 80-72 also.

The fight was promoted by DiBella Entertainment in association with Fight Promotions Inc. and Showtime.




John DiSanto - Atlantic City - August 07, 2015