PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - September 15, 2016  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb, Jr. -


Welterweights Dusty Harrison and Thomas LaManna waged an entertaining battle for the vacant USBA title, Thursday night at the 2300 Arena in South Philly. After ten grueling rounds, Harrison took the unanimous decision to improve his professional record to 30-0-1, 16 KOs, and claimed the red and gold regional belt that will insert him in the Top-15 world ranking of the IBF.

The contest was a steady action fight, with both fighters landing many shots. However, it was Harrison's greater physical strength that seemed to be the difference in the bout.

The first two rounds were close with LaManna jabbing well and tossing the occasional right hand while Harrison set the pace and landed the harder punches. Dusty edged the opening two rounds, but LaManna seemed to get into a groove to open the third.

In the early part of round three, the momentum shifted LaManna's way. For the first time, he appeared to be taking control. However, in the final minute, Harrison began landing heavy blows that had LaManna sagging. The attack swung control of the bout back to Harrison, and he nabbed the third straight rounds on my scorecard.

LaManna picked up his good efforts in the fourth, and stayed out of trouble. When he worked from the outside, Tommy was in control. However, when the action would drift toward the ropes or the corners, Dusty's physical strength gave him the edge.

For a couple of rounds, LaManna managed to outwork Harrison and kept the trench warfare to a minimum. At the midpoint of the fight I had Harrison up by a point, and the outcome was still in question.

Over the second half of the fight, however, Harrison was the stronger and fresher of the two. LaManna began to tire in round six and his condition ebbed as the rounds flew by. He was in the fight, but was running out of time.

If LaManna possessed a sledgehammer in his arsenal, he might have pulled out the fight. As the rounds expired, the popular Millville, NJ fighter took chances and repeatedly caught Harrison. But the DC prospect, took Tommy's shots well and always came back with his own, often bigger, punches.

LaManna was having another good round in the eighth until Harrison cracked him with a right that appeared to have him buzzed. LaManna showed heart, but Dusty too over and added another round to his column.

In the ninth, Harrison's right hand found it's mark several times and LaManna started to show wear and tear around his eyes. He was bruised and reddened, and a bit swollen. Meanwhile, Harrison looked strong and fresh.

They battled to the end of the fight and after the bell ended the tenth, Harrison was awarded a deserved unanimous decision by scores of 97-93 (Tom Schreck), 97-93 (Dana De Paulo), and 98-92 (Bernard Bruni). My scorecard matched Bruni's.

The victory earned Harrison the USBA championship and kept him moving forward. LaManna, 21-2, 9 KOs, clearly lost, but showed determination, ability and entertainment value.

Before the fight, LaManna characterized this outing as a "must win", and said that a loss would forever cast him as an opponent. Although he did not come away with his hands raised, this fight should not spell demise for the well-liked boxer.

The solid win for Harrison keeps him moving upward in the crowded and hectic welterweight division. Good fight abound, so Dusty is likely to find himself in another important test before long.

The main event and three other bouts were nationally televised live by the CBS Sports Network. Harrison-LaManna joins Hart-Johnson and Johnson-Perez as probable candidates for the "2016 Philly Fight of the Year". 

The six-round semi-windup bout between heavyweights Ray Edwards of Cincinnati, 12-0-1, 7 KOs, and Dan Pasciola of Brick, NJ, 8-2-1, was a dreadful six-rounder with imperceptible activity. The two big men went through the motions, but generated virtually no action during the bout.

There were no knockdowns, no near knockdowns, and just a sprinkling of heavy punches. It was like a battle between two giant dinosaurs, but without the bite.

Edwards captured the unanimous decision. Bernard Bruni had it 60-54, Tom Schreck scored it 59-55, and Gail Jasper saw it 58-56. My glassy-eyed opinion was a 60-54 shutout for Edwards. Thankfully, the fight was only six rounds and you can bet the house that there will be no rematch.

In another televised bout, undefeated Kenneth Sims, Jr. of Chicago, 8-0, 2 KOs, stretched his perfect record with a one-sided points win over grizzled veteran Gilbert Venegas of East Moline, IL, 14-25-5, 8 KOs. Sims threw buckets of punches at the rugged journeyman junior welterweight, but never came close to putting him down. The light-punching prospect steered the entire contest and endured Gilbert's late-bout rally, when the vet through caution to the wind and did his best to land a haymaker. The necessary bomb never landed, and Sims took a shutout win on all cards.

In the opening televised bout, lightweight Devin Haney of Las Vegas looked impressive against an overmatched Mike Fowler of Milwaukee, 5-3, 2 KOs. Haney abused Fowler for four rounds before lowering the boom in round five. Haney, just 17 years old, staggered Fowler along the ropes in the fifth, and when he scorched one more right hand at his helpless opponent, referee Gary Rosato stopped the fight. The time was 1:19 of round five, but Fowler probably should have been kept in his corner after the fourth.

With the win, the Phenom improved to 10-0, 6 KOs. That's 10 wins in ten months as a professional for Haney. And that's the way to do it.

Local budding Phenom, Jaron Ennis is also one the one bout per month plan. His latest test was his sixth fight in six months, and proved to be his toughest so far.

Ennis won handily, but was forced to go the distance for the very first time. Compton, CA's Eddie Diaz was the opponent who withstood Ennis' punches and broke Jaron's knockout streak.

The four round junior welterweight bout was full of exchanges, with both fighters landing serious blows. Ennis had the better of it all night long, but Diaz nailed Ennis repeatedly throughout the contest.

Ennis started with a brutal body attack, but abandoned it after a round of two to go head-hunting. He easily piled up points and rounds, but looked a little sloppy along the way. Stray shots from Diaz got his attention more than a few times.

However, Ennis was head and shoulders above Diaz in talent and coasted to a wide-points victory. Judges Dana DePaolo and Bernard Bruni scored the fight a shutout for Ennis at 40-36. Tom Schreck saw it one round closer, 39-37.

Ennis upped his young record to 6-0, 5 KOs. Diaz slid to 2-5-2.

New Brunswick junior lightweight, Leroy Davila, 3-0, 2 KOs, routed Vineland's Edgar Cortes, 3-4, in their scheduled six-rounder. Southpaw Davila floored Cortes twice in the opening round and twice again in the second. The first three knockdowns came from short, straight lefts, but the final blow was a shocking right hook that stretched Cortes on the canvas and prompted referee Gary Rosato to halt the slaughter without a count. The time was 2:03.

Cortes upset Philly's Alex Barbosa in his last outing, just three weeks ago, but he was no match for the impressive-punching Davila.

Atlantic City prospect, Anthony Young, 14-2, 6 KOs, halted Newark, NJ's Malik Jackson, 3-10-4, 2 KOs, in round four of their scheduled six-round welterweight fight.

Young dropped an off-balance Jackson with a right in round one to jump out to an early lead. He took the next two rounds before putting Jackson down again in the fourth, just before the bell. This time the knockdown was legitimate and proved to be the capper of the fight. When Jackson rose from the mat and returned to his corner, the ringside physician recommend that the fight be stopped to protect Malik from further punishment. The time was 3:00 of round four.

This was Young's third straight win and Jackson's fourth straight loss.

In the first fight of the night, super middleweight Darryl Gause, Vineland, 2-0, 1 KO, stopped Asbury Park's Darryl Bunting, 2-1-2, in round two of a schedule four-rounder.

Gause hurt Jackson in the first round and landed send him into the ropes with a hard right. Referee Eric Dali ruled it a knockdown since the ropes kept the injured fighter on his feet.

In round two, Gause maneuvered Bunting to the same exact spot along the ropes and pounded him with a curt left hook-overhand right combination that staggered Darryl number two badly. Referee Dali jumped in and stopped the bout at 2:14.

About 900 fans attended the show, which was promoted by GH3 Promotions, Final Forum and Peltz Boxing.

Peltz Boxing, Bam Boxing & Joe Hand Promotions return to the 2300 Arena on October 14th with a card featuring Tyrone Brunson vs. Ismael Garcia in the main event. GH3 Promotions returns to the same venue on November 12th.




John DiSanto - South Philly - September 15, 2016