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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


In the 8-round main event at the 2300 Arena in South Philly, Philadelphian Christopher Brooker, 9-1, 5 KOs, won a rugged unanimous decision over Atlantic City’s Antowyan Aikens, 10-2-1, 1 KO. It was a gritty fight with Brooker pressing the action and Aikens boxing smartly. From my seat the fight looked like a close call for Brooker. He appeared frustrated by Aikens’ jab and move style. Plus Antowyan landed a few stiff shots of his own. One of them sliced a cut over Christopher’s eye. However, Brooker had the power edge in the fight and used it to good advantage in round three.

After chasing Aikens for nearly nine minutes, Brooker finally caught him with a hard right hand, and the punch put Aikens down. At the moment, it seemed the fight would end, but Aiken showed determination. He got up and did his best to resume boxing. He survived the round and went back to work in the fourth.

The pattern remained with Brooker pressing and Aikens boxing. Brooker was landing the hard stuff, but Aikens surprised him a few times with his own unexpected power punches. The rounds ticked away. Both fighters fought hard, but Brooker looked fresher by the end.

It wasn’t a surprise that all three judges scored the fight for Brooker, but his wide margin of victory was mildly astounding. Bernard Bruni had the fight 79-73. Larry Hazzard Jr scored it 79-72, and Rose Vargas saw it a shutout at 80-71. It was a good and entertaining fight.

Former world champion Kermit Cintron, 36-5-2, 28 KOs, won a workman-like 6-round unanimous decision over Eduardo Flores of Ecuador, 23-21-3, 15 KOs, in the co-feature bout. This was Cintron’s first start since beating Ronald Cruz more than two years ago. Cintron looked frustrated throughout the fight, as he looked for the knockout and found that it just wasn’t coming. Still he kept throwing punches, piling up points, and dominating the action. By the sixth round, Flores had no shot at the win, and Cintron had no shot at the KO. The final bell sounded and everyone settled for a one-sided unanimous decision in Cintron’s favor. All three scores were 60-54.

In a six round junior welterweight contest, Philly's Naim Nelson, 13-1, 1 KO, bounced back from his first professional defeat nicely, defeating Carlos Velasquez, of Nicaragua, 24-24-2, 14 KOs, by unanimous decision. Nelson began the fight left-handed, but reverted to his usual orthodox style after a while. He did well from both sides and the outcome of the fight was never in doubt. All three judges scored it a shutout, 60-54.

In a junior welterweight bout scheduled for six, undefeated Scott Kelleher, 5-0, 3 KOs, battered a rusty Terrell James, 1-4-1, into submission at 2:33 of round three. Scott, of Philadelphia, won the first two rounds easily, but then James, also Philadelphia, nailed Kelleher with a left hook in round three that nearly turned the fight. Kelleher staggered into the ropes, but sucked it up and came back swinging. “It was the first punch that ever got my attention,” Kelleher said after the fight. “As strange as it sounds, it was exciting to find out that I could take a haymaker and come back from it.” From the moment he came off the ropes, Kelleher peppered James with hard shots until referee Blair Underwood stepped in to stop it. Kelleher had a huge cheering section at the fight, and once his bout had ended, a large chunk of fans headed for the door.

In a 6-round junior lightweight bout, Reading's Erik Spring, 7-1, 1 KO, won a close split decision over Pittsburgh's Justin Johnson, 6-12-4. The action see-sawed in nearly every round, which made the fight tough to score. Both fighters had their moments in each round, and it produced a wide swing on the three official cards. Judge Rose Vargas had it 59-55 for Johnson. Larry Hazzard Jr. scored it 59-55 for Spring. Bernard Bruni saw the fight all Spring and scored it 60-54.

In a super middleweight 4-rounder between two Philadelphians, Aaron Brooks won his pro debut against “writer-fighter” Ryan Bivins, 0-2-1, with a wide-margin unanimous decision. Brooks dropped Bivins in rounds three and four to increase his margin of victory. In the fourth, Bivins was having his best round, landing cleanly and finally getting somewhere in the fight. However, once the second knockdown came, it put the fight almost out of reach. Still, despite being hurt and tired, Ryan kept fighting hard. Just before the bell, Bivins hurt Brooks with a hard right hand, but Aaron held on until the bell. For the second fight in a row Bivins almost scored a last-minute KO, but ran out of time. Brooks won by scores of 39-36 and 40-34 twice, while Bivins, an excellent boxing writer, confirmed that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

Undefeated Philly junior lightweight Thomas Velasquez, 5-0, 4 KOs, knocked out Grashino Yancy, of Staten Island, 1-1, with a crushing left-right combination at 1:39 of the second round.

Velasquez fought carefully in the first, but gained momentum as the second round elapsed. When he finally uncorked the KO blow, Yancy crumbled in the blue corner and could not beat the count of referee Shawn Clark.

In a 4-round all-Philly junior welterweight bout, Tyrone Crawley Jr., 5-0, returned from a nearly three-year layoff to win a shutout decision over hard-luck journeyman Korey Sloane, 2-9-2. Crawley looked more aggressive than usual in this comeback fight, and he easily took the decision. All three scores were 40-36 for Crawley.

In a scheduled 6-round junior featherweight fight, Philly's Manny Folly, 7-0, 5 KOs, stopped Bryan Nevarez, Puerto Rico, 2-4-1, 1 KO, at the end of round one. Midway through the first, Nevarez threw Folly to the ground. The Philadelphian’s head hit the canvas hard, and he looked wobbly when he got to his feet. However, after a brief rest, Folly returned to the fight looking to finish his foe. He dominated the rest of the action. In the middle of the attack, Nevarez began to shake his right hand, as if something was bothering him. He shook it repeatedly until the bell ended the round, leaving everyone wondering if he had hurt his hand. Sure enough, between rounds the Puerto Rican claimed he could not continue due to an injured right hand. The fight was awarded to Folly at 3:00 of the first.

In a wild, free-swinging light heavyweight 4-rounder, Philly's Amir Shabazz, 4-0, 1 KO, topped Tahlik Taylor, 1-4, of Long Island in the entertaining opening bout. Shabazz dropped Taylor with a right in round one, but Tahlik stayed in the fight with his own power shots. The fighters traded throughout the bout. Taylor had his best round in the third, but his output appeared to drain his gas tank. In the final round, both were tired, but still the punches kept flying. In the end, all official scores favored Shabazz, 39-36.

The 2300 Arena was quite crowded, if not completely sold out, on this rainy Friday night. The start of the show was delayed for more than an hour while we waited for the EMT to arrive. However, once the card got going, it was a good night of Philly boxing. The show was promoted by Marshall Kauffman’s Kings Promotions.




John DiSanto - South Philly - May 06, 2016