PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - December 01, 2017  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


On Friday night, the local boxing scene reached a recent crescendo, offering two separate ring shows - one at the Sugar House and one at the 2300 Arena – both on the same night, at the same time, and just a few miles of Columbus Boulevard between them. Loyal boxing fans packed into both venues, giving the two competing promoters – Hard Hitting Promotions (at the Sugar House) and Kings Promotions (at the 2300 Arena) – sellout nights and a fine cap to the 2017 boxing season – a year that offered more in-Philly fight shows in a single twelve months (17 cards in all) than any year since 2009.

King Promotions’ show at the 2300 Arena, was a marathon offering of twelve bouts, 72 scheduled rounds, and two flinty regional title contests. In the scheduled 10-round main event, junior middleweight power puncher Tyrone Brunson, 26-6-2, 24 KOs, Philadelphia, pounded away at Floridian Manny Woods, 16-7-1, 6 KOs, and finally stopped him at the end of round eight.


Brunson fought in workmanlike fashion for six rounds, dutifully punching Woods and withstanding everything the visitor threw back. Tyrone swept round after round, landing the better and more frequent shots. He appeared calm and patient as the rounds rolled by, less jittery and more confident than he usually is. Finally in round seven, and continuing in the eighth, Brunson turned up the heat of his attack, and found the result he was ultimately looking for.

In what would be the final six minutes of action, Woods began to break down, piece by piece. Manny landed a mighty left in the seventh, but it was the last bit of artillery he had left on this night. Brunson repeatedly swung with his hard right, and landed it easily.

Then, just as the eighth round was winding down, Brunson caught Woods with a combination in Manny’s red corner and the St. Petersburg fighter staggered. When the bell sounded to end the round, Woods stepped away from the action and his entire body weaved in one long ripple, from the ground up. He all but collapsed, but managed to survive the short trip back to his corner.  

During the rest period, referee Benjy Esteves stopped the fight with no argument from Woods or his team. That final flurry of punches by Brunson had removed the last bit of fight that remained in Woods. The official time of the stoppage was 3:00 of round eight.

The victory earned Brunson the vacant UBF International title belt, which he adds to the PA state championship that he currently holds at 154 pounds. This was Tyrone’s third straight win, and made him 3-0 in 2017. In fact, he hasn’t lost a fight since 2015.   

In the scrappy, all-Philly co-feature, super middleweights Brandon Robinson and Christopher Brooker engaged in a testy local grudge fight that had brewed on social media from the moment the bout was announced. Their fight was a grueling, active, and bloody showdown, although it fell short of the “Fight of the Year” potential it had promised on paper.

In the ring, Robinson was in control through the majority of the distance. He was quicker, fresher, and more accurate, while Brooker struggled to pin down his boxing identity, and slipped behind on the cards.

Once a hard-pressing, aggressive battler, Brooker has, in recent months, tried his hand as a more careful boxer and a counter puncher. These recent incarnations have coincided with a revolving roster of head trainers. The evolution – or devolution – has moved Chris farther and farther away from the style that made him the promising “Rookie of the Year” of 2015.

Against Robinson, Brooker just wasn’t busy enough to make a dent in Brandon’s output. After the first round, which leaned Brooker’s way on my card, Robinson cruised along, nailing Brooker with many shots, round after round.


In the fifth, a clubbing right hand by Robinson left Brooker with a pair of cuts above and below his left eye. The wounds seeped for the rest of the night, but did not overtly factor into the fight. However, the constant bleeding was a ready reminder – to the fans, to the judges, and to the fighter himself - that Brooker was having a difficult evening.

Near the end of the seventh round, Brooker landed an excellent right-left combo that got Robinson’s attention. Time ran out in the round, but Brooker came out for the eighth and final session desperately looking to pull the fight from the ashes.

Brooker had a good final round, busy and aggressive, but it was too little too late. Besides, Robinson cracked Chris with his own right hand as a reminder of how most of this night had gone. 


After eight full rounds, Robinson had a comfortable lead and won the unanimous decision by scores of 80-72 (Alan Rubenstein), 79-73 (Dewey LaRosa), and 78-74 (Steve Weisfeld). My score mirrored Weisfeld’s, six to two in rounds.

Robinson continued to climb, improving to 8-1, 6 KOs. He hasn’t lost since his debut. Brooker, on the other hand, lost for the fourth time in his last five bouts, falling to 12-5, 5 KOs. Brooker still has plenty of fight let in him, but the clock is ticking.

Streaking Philly welterweight Jaron “Boots” Ennis improved his record to 17-0, 15 KOs, with a second round KO of veteran George Sosa, Reading, PA, 15-11-1, 15 KOs. This was one of the young star’s best victories, given Sosa’s resume. The Reading measuring stick had gone the distance with Thomas LaManna, Anthony Young, Emmanuel Taylor, Tommy Rainone, Javontae Starks, and lasted four rounds with Ray Robinson. Ennis’ performance topped all of these.

Despite looking twice his size, Sosa couldn't muster very much against Ennis. He did land a few wild shots in the opening round. One right hand even knocked Ennis into the ropes. However, Jaron stayed composed and softened his foe with numerous punches to end the first round.

In the second, Ennis suddenly finished his experienced foe with a left uppercut-right cross combo. Sosa fell and failed to beat the count of referee Blair Talmadge. The end came at 1:09 of the second. 

This was Ennis’ ninth fight of 2017, his sophomore season, and he continued to look like a future champion. It isn’t a stretch to say that Ennis will move up to the next level in 2018. The sky truly appears to be the limit for Boots.  

Wilmington junior featherweight Omar Douglas, 18-2, 13 KOs, bounced back from two consecutive losses, and made short work of Tucson’s Martin Gonzalez, 22-10, 14 KOs. Douglas dropped his opponent twice in round one, the second time for the full ten count. Referee Benjy Esteves ended the bout at the 1:52 mark of the first.

Wilmington middleweight Kyrone Davis, 13-1, 5 KOs, shut out Costa Rican Jaime Barboza, 19-13, 9 KOs, over eight rounds. All three scores were 80-70. It was a convincing but flat victory for Davis, who needs to be harder pressed to bring out the true fighter in him. Kyrone never showed more than in his lone defeat, a 2016 decision loss to Junior Castillo. That Davis, with his back against the wall, showed what a tough, resourceful fighter he is. Against Barboza, Davis appeared a little bored. Then again, maybe it was just me who was bored.

In a 4-round welterweight fight, Rasheed Johnson, Willow Grove, PA, 3-1, 1 KO, topped Reading southpaw Kashon Hutchinson, 3-4-1, 1 KO, by unanimous decision. The scores were 40-36 twice and 39-37.

In a sloppy heavyweight fight, Newark, NJ’s Joe Hanks, 22-2, 14 KOs, beat stubborn Joel Caudle of Raleigh, NC, 7-1-1, by unanimous decision over six rounds. Caudle came to fight, but could not seem to make anything happen against Hanks, who was much bigger and rangier than the squat Carolinian. However, this didn’t stop Caudle from giving it a try.

For six full rounds, Joel kept charging, but tired badly as the fight wore on. In the sixth and final round, Caudle was exhausted, but he fought with everything he had. The round was perhaps his best, and certainly offered the best action of the fight. Both boxers teed off on each other for nearly the full three minutes. I thought Caudle almost stole the round, but I still gave it to Hanks – his sixth in a row on my card. Two of the three official judges (Steve Weisfeld and Alan Rubenstein) also had it a shutout for Hanks, 60-54, while Judge Dewey LaRosa favored Hanks 4-2 in rounds, 58-56.

Baltimore heavyweight Colby Madison, 5-0-1, 4 KOs, rallied from a first round trip to the canvas to stop Randy Easton of Sunbury, PA, 4-10-2, 4 KOs, with a body shot in round two. Easton started strong, but badly faded when he couldn’t close the show after putting Madison on the floor in the first. Madison centered himself after hitting the canvas and worked his way back into the fight. By round two, Easton was gassed and Madison poured on the pressure. His left to the body of Easton put the PA fighter down and convinced him the fight was over. After reluctantly rising from the knockdown, an exhausted Easton could not continue, and Benjy Esteves stopped it at 2:44 of the second.

Philly junior featherweight Romuel Cruz. 1-0, 1 KO, made a successful pro debut, stopping Rondarrius Hunter of Georgia, 1-2, 1 KO, with a series of shots to the body in round three. While holding Hunter in a clinch, Cruz landed three lefts to the side that crumbled Hunter in the red corner. He got up, but referee Blair Talmadge stopped the fight at 2:35 of the third. The flurry that ended the fight was borderline foul, given that it came while Cruz was clinching Hunter tight. However, the referee saw no fault in the attack, and called the knockdown which lead to the end of the bout.  

In a two-way, free-swinging lightweight bout, Gerardo Tiburcio Martinez, 2-0, 1 KO, Coatesville, PA, edged Philly’s Christopher Burgos, 0-2, by split decision. All three scores were 39-37, two of them for the winner. This was a very close battle. In fact, I scored the bout a draw.

In a 6-round junior featherweight bout that opened the show, DC’s Marcus Bates, 8-0-1, 7 KOs, knocked out Mexican Antonio Rodriguez, 11-20-1, 5 KOs, with a left to the body in round six. Referee Blair Talmadge reached the count of ten at 2:37 of the sixth and final round.

In a scheduled 4-round junior welterweight walkout bout, Philadelphia rookie Shamsuddeen Justice, 2-0, 2 KOs, (above right) halted Buffalo’s Jack Grady, 0-7, at 2:07 of the first round. "Shady" Grady again came to fight, but couldn't come close to matching skills with his flashy opponent. It was Sham's second consecutive first round stoppage, and Grady's seventh straight loss without a win.  

The sold out show was promoted by Marshall Kauffman’s Kings Promotions and televised live by the network Eleven Sports. 




John DiSanto - South Philly - December 01, 2017