PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - March 23, 2017  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Hard Hitting Promotions & The Fillmore


The Philly fight scene welcomes another brand new boxing venue Friday night when The Fillmore, a live music club in the Fishtown section of the city, hosts its first-ever boxing show. The six-bout card, promoted by Hard Hitting Promotions, features North Philly junior middleweight Ray Robinson, 22-2, 11 KOs, in the scheduled 8-round main event against Brazilian Claudinei Lacerda, 18-16-1, 13 KOs. Also on the card are bantamweight knockout artist Cristian Carto, flashy lightweight rookie Branden Pizarro, hard-hitting Jeremy Cuevas, undefeated Camden featherweight Vidal Rivera, and Florida featherweight Gadwin Rosa. 

Ever since the Blue Horizon closed its doors back in 2010, the local fight scene has grappled to replace it. Hard Hitting’s Manny Rivera and Will Ruiz think they may have the answer in The Fillmore. With its intimate setting, low-rise horseshoe-shaped balcony, and chandeliers overhead, the new venue may make boxing fans harken back to the feel of Philly’s most beloved setting.

The Fillmore isn’t the first venue that Hard Hitting has broken in. Last year, they brought boxing to the Sugar House Casino, located almost directly across Columbus Boulevard (29 E. Allen St., 19123). Now, after four shows at the casino, Harding Hitting breaks new ground at The Fillmore Friday night.

The card brings back Hard Hitting’s sold roster of fighters, led by the long-overlooked Ray Robinson, who has struggled to land a significant opponent who can help to launch him into a title fight. Robinson has headlined two of the last three Hard Hitting shows, and scored TKOs both times.

Friday he’ll try to add 36 year old Claudinei Lacerda to his list of victims. Recently, Lacerda has been a good measuring stick for a number of young rising boxers, including Julian Rodriguez, Mykal Fox, Bredis Prescott, and Alex Saucedo. Lacerda extended all of them the full distance. Robinson, 31, looked a bit off his last time out, so all eyes will be on him to impress against a road-weary but proven foe. A stoppage would distinguish him nicely.

Christian Carto, 7-0, 7 KOs, returns and will try to extend his knockout streak to eight in a row, going against Rudolph Hedge of Jamaica, 10-4-3, 4 KOs. The 20 year old Carto usually steals the show with his aggressive style and heavy punching. In his last fight, Carto posted his best win to date, a patient and mature beat down of a 42-bout pro.

Lightweight Branden Pizarro, 3-0, 2 KOs, one of the most exciting newbies on the Philly scene in quite a while, faces matt Murphy of St. Louis, 2-9-1, 2 KOs. Murphy doesn’t appear to have the pedigree to seriously challenge Pizarro, but he may prove to be a good gauge of Pizarro’s status. Last summer, Murphy fell to Philly’s Jaron Ennis in two rounds. So it will be interesting to compare how Pizarro performs against the journeyman.

Junior welterweight Jeremy Cuevas, 2-0, 2 KOs, has stopped both of his previous opponents in the second round on Hard Hitting shows. Buffalo’s Jack Grady, 0-4-1, will try to escape the same fate. Murphy lasted four rounds against Philadelphian Scott Kelleher in 2015, and has only been stopped once (in his last fight). 

Camden featherweight Vidal Rivera, 4-0, 3 KOs, has looked like a million bucks every time I’ve seen him fight. He’s been out of the ring since June, but will look to get his young career moving again versus apparent gimme Jesus Feliciano of San Juan, 0-2.

Undefeated Florida junior lightweight, Gadwin Rosa, is a mystery to me, and his record, 2-0, 1 KO, against two young boxers doesn’t offer many clues. So we’ll get our first look when he takes on fellow-Floridian Wytama Faulk, 1-2.

Hopefully Friday’s show at The Fillmore will be the start of a long run of boxing events at the venue. The first bell (ever at The Fillmore) sounds at 8:00 PM. Tickets are still available for $70 and $40.




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - March 23, 2017