PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - October 06, 2018  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


Philly heavyweight 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 hometown crowd.

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 night. 

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. 
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 of caution. 

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. 


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. 


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. 


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 KOs. 


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. 


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 November 16th.




John DiSanto - South Philly - October 06, 2018