Darmani Rock easily dismantled an experienced but hopeless
Pedro Rodriguez in the fourth round at the 2300 Arena in
South Philly Saturday night. It was the local prospect’s
first-ever main event, and came before a loud and supportive
Rock, 13-0, 8 KOs, weighed a career-high of 275.5 for the
bout, but his added girth – eleven and a half pounds heavier
than in his last outing only three months ago – didn’t
prevent him from having his way with Rodriguez, 23-6, 19
KOs. The reason was probably because the visiting
Miami-based Cuban was no physical specimen himself. Far
shorter in height and rounder in waistline, Rodriguez
immediately fell behind at the opening bell.
Rock came out strong, using his size to bully Rodriguez
around the ring. Darmani showed a long jab that set the
I-give-and-you-take tone of the fight. Rodriguez dutifully
absorbed the 22-year old’s punches, but didn’t appear to be
going anywhere soon. This was because while Rock’s
dominance was clear, the sometimes reluctant Philly
heavyweight once again didn’t seem so impassioned on this
However, all of that changed when Rock shifted to a body
attack a round or two into the fight. Suddenly Rodriguez
began to feel Darmani’s thudding blows to his soft
midsection, and he began to give ground. Rock continued to
stalk his prey and early in round four, cracked Rodriguez
with a hard right to the belly – plus an additional but
unnecessary left hook – that stopped the Cuban in his tracks
and sent him tumbling down.
There, on hands and knees, Rodriguez took the full ten count
of referee Eric Dali. The time was 27 seconds of round
four. The loss was Pedro’s fourth straight, all by
knockout. Two fights prior, Rodriguez fell to Oleksandr
Usyk in a cruiserweight bout.
For Darmani Rock, this was a good milestone victory in that
Rodriguez was the local’s most experienced opponent by a
mile, and perhaps his first with any form of pedigree at
all. Rock passed the test with relative ease with the only
mark against his win being his lack of conditioning. A
better trained Darmani would have devoured the worn out
Rodriguez much quicker.
CUEVAS BEATS RODRIGUEZ
In the co-feature bout, rising lightweight thriller Jeremy
Cuevas won a bloody unanimous decision over returning
veteran Jerome Rodriguez. Like Rock, Cuevas was facing a
seasoned foe, and passed his challenging test as well.
Jerome Rodriguez is a tough customer whose career has fallen
apart over recent years, but he is the type of fighter that
a youngster like Cuevas must approach with a certain amount
Rodriguez, now back fighting out of his hometown of Trenton,
has far more talent than his now 7-10-3, 2 KOs, record
suggests. Anyone who knows him and has watched him lose
seven straight bouts (and 10 of his last 11) waits for that
old tiger to surface. But on this night, Cuevas was just
too young, determined and talented to let it happen.
Cuevas established an
early lead as both southpaws warmed up. He banked the first
two rounds, but by the third the pair really started to
battle. By the end of the third, both were bleeding from
cuts, and from my seat, Rodriguez won the round.
The fourth round was even better. Of course both continued
to bleed, but suddenly the fight was filled with solid, two
way exchanges. Cuevas landed a few hard shots that helped
to muffle Jerome’s enthusiasm, and by the end of the round
both were breathing from open mouths.
In the final two rounds, Cuevas’ youth helped him regain the
momentum as Rodriguez quietly faded. Jeremy won the stretch
rounds to seal the victory, but his punches seemed to lack
their usual zip. Perhaps this was because of Rodriguez’
experience and overall quality.
In any case, Cuevas improved his record to 11-0 with 8 KOs,
winning this one by easy scores of 60-54 (by judge Steve
Weisfeld) and 59-55 twice (Robert Rubenitz and Marc
Werlinsky). My score was also 59-55 for Cuevas.
PIZARRO WINS BY TKO
Teenage junior welterweight Branden Pizarro, Philadelphia,
looked impressive against his own seasoned foe, Justin
Johnson of Pittsburgh. Pizarro, 12-1, 6 KOs, overwhelmed
Johnson, 6-19-6, in round two, knocking him down three times
to end the fight. The first knockdown came from a sharp
left hook to the body. Johnson got up but was met with a
dizzying combination that send him to the canvas a second
time. Referee Eric Dali let the fight continue, but when
Pizarro slammed in right-left to Johnson’s body that sent
him down again, the fight was stopped at the 2:21 mark.
ROSA SCORES QUICK TKO
In a scheduled six-round junior lightweight fight, the
“A-Side” fighter was again matched with a
far-more-experienced opponent, apparently the evening’s
theme. Once again, the favorite handled his test.
Florida-based Puerto Rican, and Hard Hitting Promotions
regular, Gadwin Rosa made quick work of Brazilian Aldimar
Silva in their scheduled six round junior lightweight
fight. Rosa, 8-0, 7 KOs, met Silva at the opening bell and
took the fight right to him. In no time, Silva, 21-14, 13
KOs, was down from a right and moments later, hit the floor
a second time, prompting referee Shawn Clark to halt the
mismatch after just 41 seconds.
TAPIA KOS MARENGO
In a scheduled four-rounder, Puerto Rican lightweight
Christian Tapia knocked out fellow Puerto Rican Hector
Marengo in the second round. Tapia nailed Marengo with an
overhand right and a right uppercut in round two. These
punches set the stage for a final right hand that dropped
Marengo moments later and kept him prone for the full ten
count. Eric Dali reached the count of ten at 2:02 of the
second. Tapia remained undefeated (6-0, 5 KOs), while
Marengo lost for the sixth straight time and slid to 7-14, 4
Philly light heavyweight Benny Sinakin made a successful and
exciting debut in a four rounder against 1-0 New York City
pro Alex Lara, a former NY Golden Gloves amateur champion.
The fight was wild and sloppy but full of action and drama.
Both boxers threw punches freely and were pretty tired after
putting two rounds in the books. But the action continued
on the same reckless path for another two rounds. Sinakin
won all four rounds of the fight and scored a knockdown with
a potent left hook in the third. All three judges (Weisfeld,
Werlinsky and Rubenitz) scored the bout 40-35 for Sinakin.
It was a good start for Benny and his performance promised
many more fun nights to come.
SUAREZ & SUAREZ DRAW
The show opened with a see-saw four round lightweight fight
between Marcos Suarez of Bronx, NY and Israel Suarez of
Luquillo, PR. Despite winning the first round, Marcos came
away with a cut on his forehead that bled badly for the
remainder of the match. They traded the rest of the rounds,
back and forth, and wound up even after four. Judge Robert
Rubenitz saw the fight a 40-36 shutout for Suarez number one
(Marcos), but Steve Weisfeld and Marc Werlinsky scored the
fight a 38-38 draw. My score was also 38-38.
The seven-bout show was
promoted by Hard Hitting Promotions and drew a decent crowd
of about 750. Hard Hitting returns to South Philly on