PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - October 28, 2016 
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Kenny Ludwig


Ray Robinson looked sharp in his return to the ring after an 18-month layoff, Friday night at the Sugar House Casino. Robinson, 21-2, 10 KOs, ran the table against Santos Benavides, 25-11-2, 19 KOs, and stopped the Nicaraguan after a thorough four round beating. The fight mercifully ended by Benavides' corner before the fifth round began. The scheduled 8-round junior middleweight bout was the main event of a six-bout card promoted by Hard Hitting Promotions.

Robinson did not appear to have the slightest bit of ring rust in his first performance in nearly two years. The southpaw staggered Benavides with a hard right in the opening round and then a moment later dropped him with a left. Benavides got up and Robinson met him with more punishment until the end of the round.

Ray went on to batter Benavides to the head and body for the rest of the fight. Robinson's attack was impressive. He alternated the abuse up and down the Nicaraguan's frame.

Robinson worked Benavides' body like he was beating a drum. The thwack of the Philadelphian's shots downstairs rang out through the Sugar House ballroom, and slowed Benavides to a crawl. The visitor was tough, but had little to offer in return. Benavides did launch several desperate bombs at Robinson, and although a few of them grazed the target, they did not nothing to change the momentum of the fight.

Robinson continued throw clean and quick punches and appeared on the brink of a stoppage throughout the fight. However, Benavides would not go down and Robinson could not find the right combination to halt the fight.

Finally Benavides' corner saved him after the fourth round ended. As Benavides, lumpy and exhausted, sat in his corner, his trainer asked referee Shawn Clark to end the fight.

The stoppage came not a moment too soon.

Robinson looked in good condition, despite competing one weight class higher than usual. His current #4 spot in the WBC welterweight rankings, suggests he may be in the mix for a big fight in 2017.

The welterweight division is chock full of talent, big names, and opportunity. After Friday's performance, Robinson looks set to finally find his spot on the big stage. 

In the co-feature, two junior middleweight out-of-towners battled in a grueling back and forth 8-rounder. Bronx boxer Steven Martinez, 17-3, 3 KOs, came away with a unanimous decision against Colorado's Jeremy Ramos, 9-5, 4 KOs. But the fight was closely fought and at times the sniff of upset was in the air.

Ramos started quickly and had a sliver of an edge in the early rounds. Late in the second, Martinez began to surge and close the round well. In the third, he picked up where he had left off.

The middle rounds were tight. Ramos was more aggressive and fought with the urgency that an underdog should. He had Martinez backing up and looking weary. Twice the favorite lost his mouthpiece, in what seemed to be an attempt to catch a breather.

Referee Blair Talmadge warned Martinez each time he spit out his mouthpiece, and when the New Yorker did it again in round seven, the ref penalized him one point. The penalty felt like it would be critical in the final scoring.

However after the final round, the three judges awarded Martinez a close but comfortable unanimous decision. Steve Weisfeld had it the widest, 77-74. Lindsey Page scored the fight 76-74, and Justin Rubenstein had it 76-75. Had Martinez not lost the penalty point, he only would have won by a bigger margin. The fight looked even to me.

17 year old 11th grader, Branden Pizarro won his highly touted professional debut in a blink against Ezequiel Ramos of Puerto Rico, 1-3. The opening bell rang and before you knew it, the Philadelphian blasted Ramos with a hard right that put his down for the full ten count by Shawn Clark.

The fight may have been non-competitive, but it brought the house down. A huge cheering section for the former amateur standout, who became the youngest fighter to be granted a professional boxing license in recent years, was delighted to see Pizarro's arms raised.

The celebration stretched far longer than the fight (just 39 seconds) and set the tone of big expectations for Pizarro, now 1-0, 1 KO.

Local bantamweight Christian Carto, 4-0, 4 KOs, extended his knockout streak with a second round stoppage of Chicagoan Angel Carvajal, 2-5. Carto displayed his usual aggression, power and quiet calm in the fight.

Carvajal the veteran of a number of Philly-area battles, had faced Manny Folly, Miguel Cartagena, Rau'shee Warren and Ricardo Caraballo, and represented Carto's best opponent to date. However, Carto had no problem asserting his will and scoring his fourth straight victory by knockout.

After taking the first round, Carto walloped Carvajal with a hard right hand and followed with a jarring right uppercut. Carvajal wilted a bit but did not go down. However, referee Blair Talmadge had seen enough and stepped in to end the fight.

The stoppage infuriated the Carvajal who wanted to continue and protested the stoppage. The time was 1:42 of round two.

Soft-spoken outside the ring, Carto fights like a silent killer inside it. He is one of the best rookies in this year of great Philadelphia rookies.

Junior featherweight Angel Pizarro, the older brother of Branden, scored his second win as a pro, registering his first career knockout. Philly's Pizarro, 2-0, 1 KO, knocked down Maurice Adams, 1-2, of DC, in round two. A sharp right was the punch that put Adams on the canvas. He climbed to his feet but referee Shawn Clark waved off the fight after assessing his condition. The time of the stoppage was 2:40 of round two.

In the opening fight of the night, Philadelphia junior welterweight Jeremy Cuevas, 1-0, 1 KO, made a successful pro debut by knocking out Puerto Rican Luis Ramos, 0-3. Cuevas won the first round against a Ramos, who after a few seconds appeared not to want to fight at all.

Ramos held his guard high and neither threw punches or stepped forward. He didn't even step backward for that matter. He just stood there and did nothing.

Cuevas fired his shots until the bell ended the first round. In the second, it was more of the same. Finally, southpaw Cuevas nailed Ramos with a right hook that put him on the floor. Surprisingly, he got up. But after a few more shots from Cuevas, referee Blair Talmadge stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two.

It was another full house for Hard Hitting Promotions. Their inaugural Sugar House show in August was packed with about 1,300 fans which challenged the fire code of the events center. So this time, only about 1,200 tickets were sold. The house was still packed and the crowd lively.

Hard Hitting returns to the Sugar House on December 16th.




John DiSanto - Northern Liberties - October 28, 2016