PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - March 30, 2018  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


Baltimore welterweight Malik Hawkins, 13-0, 9 KOs, won a competitive ten round decision over Philly’s Raymond Serrano, 24-5, 10 KOs, in the main event of an eight-bout card staged by Hard Hitting Promotions and RocNation Sports at The Fillmore in Philadelphia. The fight was a fairly close, give-and-take encounter. However, two of the three official judges scored the fight for Hawkins by surprisingly wide margins.

Hawkins jumped out early and swept the first three rounds. During these nine minutes, the undefeated visitor comfortably controlled the action while Serrano tried to get things going. Serrano did better in the third, an excellent round that featured both fighters trading heavy body attacks.

Then, beginning in the fourth round, Serrano showed additional signs of life, landing more often, cutting Hawkins under the left eye in the fifth, and generally swinging the momentum his way for a few rounds. Raymond scored with a series or good rights in the sixth, and appeared to take control.  

However, Hawkins surged again in round seven and kept rolling, round after round, down the stretch. Serrano scored well with his right hand in the ninth, but Hawkins still edged the round on my card.

The fighters entered the final round with things feeling rather close. Hawkins landed his right hand well, but Serrano was busier and squeaked out the round – at least on my scorecard. After ten, I thought Hawkins had won the fight 96-94, or six to four in rounds.

But when the official tallies were read, Hawkins’ lead was much wider. Judge Lynn Carter only gave Serrano two rounds, and had the fight 98-92. Judge Dewey LaRosa saw it a bit closer at 97-93. Justin Rubenstein scored it the closest, 96-94. To be fair, many of the round were close, and the judges did get the winner right. Hawkins’ unanimous decision win kept him undefeated, and snapped Serrano’s three-bout winning streak. 

The co-feature attraction pitted local hopeful Darmani Rock against Ronny Hale, the Austin heavyweight who steamrolled debuting Philadelphian Dominique Mayfield in his last outing, earlier this month. That performance by Hale gave us hope that he might test Rock, who’s had things pretty easy thus far in his young career. 

However, after controlling the first round, Rock blasted his foe into submission about one minute into the second. Rock cracked Hale with a hard shot to the body – a body not particularly prepared for such treatment – and Hale backed into Rock’s red corner. Rock slammed Hale downstairs again, before landing a left and a right to his head. Hale folded to the floor and took most of the count from a sitting position. He did try to get up, but just couldn’t get it done before referee Ronald Bashir reached the count of ten. The end came at 1:07 of round two.

Rock, still just 21, improved to 11-0, 7 KOs. He’s maturing slowly, but his knockout series displayed some of the aggression that he showed sparingly in his first ten bouts. Hale slid to 4-12, 4 KOs.

In a four round lightweight bout, Philly’s Branden Pizarro, 9-1, 4 KOs, bounced back from his first pro defeat of last December with a shutout decision win against San Diego based Mexican Pablo Cupul, 9-24, 5 KOs. The eighteen year old was in charge throughout the fight, and it appeared from ringside that he could have closed the show several times.

However, Pizarro apparently opted to play it safe in this comeback fight. He kept the pressure on Cupul and landed an array of shots. His right uppercut and body attack looked particularly effective, but the stoppage never came. All three judges scored the fight a 40-36 sweep for the young prospect.

In a quick junior welterweight fight, Philadelphian Samuel Teah, 13-2-1, 6 KOs, won by TKO in the first round over Orlando Rizo of Nicaragua, 19-13, 11 KOs. Clearly Rizo was in no mood to fight on this night, for each time Teah came in punching, Rizo found a reason to go down, whether a significant blow had landed or not. Overall, he made four visits to the canvas. The first time, referee Ronald Bashir ruled it a slip. However, the next three trips downward were all called knockdowns, after grazing shots approximated their target. Finally after that last “knockdown”, the fight was stopped after just 2:33 had elapsed.


In an entertaining punch-out that was probably the best of the entire show, Philly lightweight Jeremy Cuevas, 8-0, 6 KOs, came off the floor in round two to beat Efrain Cruz, of Puerto Rico, 4-5-1, 1 KO, over six exciting rounds. Both boxers landed throughout the fight, but Cuevas had the edge most of the way.  However, for a moment in round two, Cuevas appeared to be in serious trouble.

The second was a great round, with both fighters landing on the other. They traded heavy blows on several occasions, and in one such instance, a ramrod right by Cruz rocked Cuevas and sent him down for the first time in his career.

It was a sudden and shocking knockdown, but Cuevas survived the test. He got right up and eagerly returned to the battle. Most of the second round belonged to Cuevas – just about everything other than the knockdown. So, my score was just 10-9 for Cruz, after the three minutes were up.

Cuevas fought well the rest of the way, but Cruz stayed in the fight. Round four was another two-way skirmish. They traded for much of the round, but Cuevas had the better of it. After six rounds, all three judges (Carter, LaRosa, and Rubenstein) scored it 59-55. My score was the same.  

It was a good learning – and proving – experience for the rising Cuevas. He showed a solid chin and plenty of composure. Cruz definitely came to fight and gave Cuevas a good test.

In a free-swinging super middleweight fight, Ronald Ellis, Lynn, MA, remained unbeaten, 15-0-2, 10 KOs, with a wide-margin unanimous decision over Philly’s Taneal Goyco, 9-11-1, 4 KOs. Goyco, often a spoiler against rising prospects with good-looking records, could not pull another upset this time.

Ellis dominated the action, hurting Goyco in round one so badly that I scored that three minutes 10-8, despite Goyco staying on his feet. Ellis stayed on him and eventually knocked Goyco down in the fourth. He got up and fought on, but looked spent ever since that difficult first round.

His legs betrayed him all night, and Goyco never seemed to fully recover after that first Ellis power punch landed. But he remained dangerous, tossing occasional bombs of his own. However, Taneal just could not get anything going in the fight. Judges Dewey LaRosa and Mark Constantino scored the fight 60-53 and Lynn Carter had it 59-54. My score was a lopsided 60-52 for Ellis.  


In a six round featherweight bout, New Haven southpaw Tramaine Williams, 15-0, 5 KOs, pounded out a comfortable unanimous decision over Mexican Antonio Rodriguez, 12-21-1, 5 KO. Williams landed almost at will in the fight. Rodriguez had his best round in the third, when he unloaded a one-handed series of rights toward the end of the round. But after six, there was no question as to the outcome. The official scores were 60-53, 59-55, and 58-56, all for Ellis. 

In the opening bout, middleweight Joey Alday, Odessa, TX, 7-0, 7 KOs, dropped Smyrna, DE’s Mike Crain, 1-2, once in round two and once again in round three, in route to a third round TKO. When Crain rose from the body punch that put him down in the third, referee Shawn Clark stopped the fight to save him from more punishment. The time was 1:28 of the third.  

For the second time, Hard Hitting Promotions brought boxing to The Fillmore, normally a concert venue, and sold the place out. The site is a beautiful room and very well suited for fights.




John DiSanto - Philadelphia, PA - March 30, 2018