PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - October 02, 2015  
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Story b
y John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb, Jr.
for BAM Boxing / Peltz Boxing / Joe Hand Promotions


The first annual Puerto Rican Boxing Classic went off without a hitch Friday night at the 2300 Arena in South Philly. The crowd was big, the fights were entertaining and the logos and sponsorships were plentiful.

In the main event, Camden junior lightweight Jason Sosa, 18-1-3, 14 KOs, scored his 13th consecutive knockout to keep his star rising at 130 pounds. His victim this time was Mexican Jorge Pazos, 14-9-1, 8 KOs, who came to Philly with one target on his chin and another one on his back. Certainly this Puerto Rican Classic needed Mexican fodder for Puerto Rican Sosa, and Pazos complied, showing a survival instinct early on that would ultimately wilt over time.

Sosa's workmanlike attack built slowly, but after a few rounds kicked into high gear. The recent Top Rank recruit stayed on his rising career course by doing what he usually does - rolling up his sleeves and working hard. For the past few years, when Sosa has done that, it has produced knockouts. So Friday night was just another day at the office. 

Sosa won every round of the fight, and by round three, the writing was on the wall. Sosa's punches began to have a greater affect on Pazos, and you could see the Mexican begin to lose his drive. In round five, Sosa hurt Pazos with a left hook and right hand combination. He didn't go down, but you could tell that he didn't want to be there anymore. Who would have?

In the next round, Sosa poured on the pressure and battered Pazos with everything he could. The barrage kept coming and Pazos eventually went down. He climbed to one knee and apparently decided he had had enough. A clear-eyed Pazos remained down with his gloves crossed on that one raised knee and gladly took referee Hurley McCall's 10-count. The time was 32 seconds of the sixth.

The win keeps Sosa chugging upward, and should set him up for another start on a Top Rank show, presumably in Puerto Rico in December.

In a bruising lightweight battle, Baltimore's Tyrell Samuel, 16-6-1, 7 KOs, stopped Philly warhorse Victor Vasquez, 19-10-1, 9 KOs, at 1:29 of round four. Vasquez started fast and was winning the fight, but Samuel began landing cleanly in round three. In the fourth, Vasquez complained about a head butt. Then moments later, Samuel cracked Vasquez with a left hook and right hand that dropped the boxing barber violently near a neutral corner. Vasquez got up, but looked wobbly. He again motioned to the referee about a head butt.

When the action resumed, Samuel jumped right in and put Vasquez down for a second time with another left hook. Vasquez rose again, he always does, but after another hook staggered him, referee Gary Rosato ended the fight.

It was a brutal, and somewhat surprising win for Samuel. Then again, he calls himself the "Show Shocker". He was exactly that on this night. 

In a six-round rematch of a previous draw, Philadelphia junior welterweight David Gonzales, 6-0-2, 1 KO, beat Ryan Belasco of Wilmington, DE, 18-5-4, 4 KOs, by unanimous decision. Where their first fight was nip-and-tuck, this one almost ended in the first round.

In round one, Gonzales unleashed a sweeping left hook that drove Belasco to the canvas. Ryan staggered up and went back in. He lost the round big, but appeared to survive the scare. Slowly, he fought himself back into the fight, although Gonzales was still winning the rounds.

In round four, Belasco landed a right and Gonzales went down awkwardly. Referee Hurley McCall called it a knockdown, which it probably was. However, this was a flash knockdown and nothing like the trip Belasco had taken to the canvas three rounds earlier. Still the incident helped Belasco to make up some ground on the scorecards.

However, Gonzales was back at it in round five and six, and closed out the fight by landing freely with his right in the final round. The decision was clear-cut for Gonzales. He won by scores of 58-55, 58-54 and 58-54.

In a four-round middleweight bout, Ismael Garcia, Vineland, NJ, 9-0-1, 4 KOs, remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision win over North Philly's Fred Jenkins Jr., 9-3, 3 KOs. When Garcia dropped Jenkins in the first round, it seemed the Philadelphian's decision to fill in at the last minute was a big mistake. Rounds two and three validated that thought, as Jenkins was wobbled a few times and didn't appear to have anything going. By the end of the third, the scheduled four-round distance looked like a blessing for Jenkins.

However in the fourth, Jenkins came alive and had an excellent round. He cut Garcia over the left eye and was making headway. As time was running out in the fight, Jenkins cracked Garcia with a left hook that wobbled him. The bell sounded a moment later and Jenkins ran out of time to salvage the fight. Suddenly that 4-round blessing looked like a curse. Oh well.

Garcia won a wide decision by scores of 40-35 and 39-36 twice.

In a maddening lightweight fight scheduled for six rounds, North Philly's Avery Sparrow, 4-1, 2 KOs, was disqualified in the last round for hitting low against Jerome Rodriguez, 7-3-3, 2 KOs, of Allentown, PA. Sparrow had this fight in the bag, but stubbornly allowed it to go down as his first professional defeat.

Sparrow was in complete control of the fight. He was the younger, fresher, and faster fighter. Rodriguez, usually a big and strong junior welterweight, looked gaunt as a lightweight. It's amazing what four pounds can do. As Sparrow fired away to the head and body, Rodriguez followed him around and did little in return.

Then in round two, Sparrow's body attack strayed below the belt and referee Hurley McCall took a point. It didn't seem like much of anything at the time, but things turned out very differently.

Sparrow resumed his flashy attack in round three and won the round easily, although he was warned for hitting low a couple more times.

In the fourth, Sparrow landed low again and the referee took a second point. This was getting interesting. The low blows did not seem intentional, but they kept coming. It's always great to see a fighter employ the lost art of body punching, but even the most ardent admirer of that lost art would have instructed Sparrow to stop going down stairs. But Sparrow is a hard-headed guy.

Another low blow in the fourth by Sparrow paused the action briefly while referee McCall conferred with the PA Commission. However, instead of ending the fight right then and there, McCall took another point from Sparrow (his third). The round continued and ended without another foul. On my card, Rodriguez won the session by a score of 9-8, thanks to the deductions.

As Rod Serling used to say, "Picture this", you've got a young undefeated prospect winning a fight against an increasingly fading foe. The youngster has lost three points for hitting low and there are still two rounds to go in the fight. If Sparrow so much as touches Rodriguez' belt line, he's likely to lose by disqualification. He's had ample warning and even been lucky to still be in there. Most other fighters would have focused on the head, but not in The Twilight Zone. It was clear that Sparrow was destined - or perhaps determined - to lose by DQ.

And that's exactly what happened.

Sparrow came out for the fifth and before long, was mixing in body shots with the assortment of blows he was landing to Rodriguez' head. Jerome looked exhausted by this time, but all he had to do was hang in there and let Sparrow give him this win.

In the sixth round, Sparrow, winning the round as usual, slammed Rodriguez below the belt and referee Hurley McCall stopped the fight and declared Rodriguez the winner by DQ. The time was 1:06. Sparrow complained. His corner, including trainer Vaughn Jackson complained. But why? Everyone in the place could see where this one was going. How could they be surprised?

Sparrow is a super talented fighter, but his stubbornness and attitude got the best of him this time. As his career develops, Avery Sparrow is going to be fun to watch. What a character!

In the opening bout of the card, Edgar Cortes, Vineland, NJ, 2-1, 1 KO, defeated Antonio Conigliaro, St. Clair, PA, 1-2, in an all-action four-rounder. The fighters went right at each other at the opening bell and kept swinging - and landing - for the duration of the fight. Southpaw Cortes had the edge, but every round was a close-fought battle. The scores were, 40-36 and 39-37 twice, all for Cortes, but this was a real war and a rematch might be nice to see.

In the walk out bout, Philadelphian Scott "Thunder" Kelleher, 2-0, 1 KO, won his second pro bout, beating Alberto Manuykan, of Union City, NJ, 0-3. The fighters traded a lot of leather in the first three rounds, but Kelleher, nicknamed after his favorite fighter, Arturo Gatti, always seemed to have the better of it. However, this was no easy fight for Scott. He took a lot of punches, but came back every time. Arturo would have been proud.

In the fourth round, determined to keep his brief knockout streak going, Kelleher came out swinging. Early in the round, a combination bloodied Manuykan's nose and put him down. He managed to get up and even battled back strong. However, by the end of the fight, Manuykan was still standing and Kelleher looked winded.

As they went to the cards, there was no doubt that Kelleher had won the fight. All three scores were 49-35. 

The Puerto Rican Boxing Classic appeared to be a success all around. The fans were happy and presumably so were the promoters. So I guess the tradition will continue next year. That sounds good to me.




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - October 02, 2015