PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - December 07, 2018  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


After a heated weigh in and testy build-up to fight night, Arkansas-based Texan Kalvin Henderson and Upper Darby’s Brandon Robinson waged a memorable war that far exceeded the theatrics that came before opening bell of the fight.  Their scheduled 10-round super middleweight main event at South Philly’s 2300 Arena, Friday night was a dramatic, grueling battle from the very start, and when it was all over, it was a clear contender for the Philly Fight of the Year. 

The bloody and violent battle tested both men, but to the surprise of the noisy Philly crowd, there to root on Robinson, one of the City’s rising prospects, it was Henderson that prevailed, winning by TKO in round seven.    

Robinson started fast, looking strong and in control for most of the first two rounds.  He hurt Henderson with a hard right hand early in the bout, and for a moment seemed to be on the verge of a quick victory.  However, before the second round closed, Robinson’s left eye was sporting a nasty welt underneath it, and the deficit would turn out to be critical to the outcome of the fight. 

In the third round, Henderson surged, pulling the fight’s momentum his way.  He withstood everything that Robinson dished, and threw enough punches himself to worsen Brandon’s left eye.  Further, by the end of the session, Robinson’s right eyelid was an angry red, and on the brink of bursting open.  Robinson fought on, but the punishment to his face was clearly having an effect. 

Henderson continued to work in the following round, and his efforts took a further toll on Robinson’s face.  With his left eye nearly closed, and by then leaking blood, and his right eye catching up, Robinson, his face a mess, courageously – and desperately – kept fighting.  He chased his opponent, and even managed to nick the Texan’s eye, but the Upper Darby puncher appeared to be tiring and unraveling slightly. 

In round five, Henderson drove home a hard right, that Robinson, never saw coming.  Peering through slits, Robinson caught the invisible punch right on the face and toppled to the canvas.  Brave and not ready to give up the winning streak that had stretched since his unsuccessful pro debut, more than two years ago, Robinson rose from the knockdown and went right at his opponent. 

Brandon pressured Henderson to the ropes and threw punches from both sides.  This crowding and aggressive technique, was exactly the right method for Robinson.  With Henderson against the ropes and right against him, Robinson could find his target with his eyes closed.  He landed some good shots and probably won most of the round, but he was seeping energy.  The round ended, and both fighters welcomed the breather. 

Round six was quieter than the frenzy of the previous three minutes.  Henderson seemed to take a rest, still probably doing enough to win the round, but not really capitalizing on the knockdown.  Robinson chugged along, trying hard to make something happen, but by now, he appeared to be more in his head than in the fight, probably anticipating the defeat that was coming. 

The seventh round came and Henderson, fully rested from his sixth round nap, turned up the heat.  An extended combination by Henderson withered Robinson and sent him sagging to the floor once again.  Of course, he got up.  That’s what fighters do, but when he rose, it was clear that the end was coming.  Henderson nailed Robinson with a sharp overhand right and Brandon went down again.   Before he could even try to rise, referee Benjy Esteves, Jr. mercifully stopped the fight.  The time was 2:08 of the seventh round. 

It was a brutal, exciting and dramatic affair, but one that will remain in the memories of the 800 or so fans that witnessed it.  Henderson improved his undefeated record to 11-0, with 7 KOs.  Robinson slid to 11-2, with 8 KOs. 

At the time of the stoppage, the three judges had the fight even.  Dewey LaRosa favored Henderson, 57-56, James Kinney had it scored for Robinson 58-56, while Adam Friscia saw it a 57-57 deadlock.  My score was 58-56 for Henderson after the sixth round.  Of course, with the dramatic end to the fight, the scores didn’t matter.  With the win, Henderson won the 168-pound UBF Intercontinental title belt. Despite the clear-cut win for Henderson, a rematch would be great to see.  With two good eyes, Robinson could have fared better, and would probably welcome a chance to avenge this tough loss. 


In the free-swinging heavyweight co-feature, South Philadelphian Paul Koon, 4-0, 1 KO, beat Cade Rodriguez of Monroe, GA, 2-3, 2 KOs, by unanimous decision after four rounds.  The punches flew in both directions for much of the first three rounds, but then the two big men tired and slowed down to a crawl in the fourth and final round.  Moon was credited with a knockdown in the first, but it looked to be more of a slip.  All three judges gave the fight to Koon by easy decision, 39-36 and 40-35 twice.


North Philly junior featherweight Romuel Cruz, 3-0-1, defeated tough, aggressive Mexican Hugo Rodriguez, 0-2, by wide-margin unanimous decision.  All three official scores were 40-36.


In a scheduled 6-round junior middleweight fight, Isaiah Wise, Philadelphia, 7-2-1, 4 KOs, won an exciting brawl against Andy Gonzales, of Worcester, MA, 6-4, 5 KOs, by second round TKO.  Both fighters landed well in the first round.  Gonzales jarred Wise a few times and the Philadelphian fought back recklessly.  It was nerve-wracking to watch, but extremely thrilling just the same. 

Suddenly, Wise cracked Gonzales with a right hand that left him stunned.  He dropped his hands and began to walk away, unaware of where he was.  Wise charged back in and slammed another right that hit the mark perfectly.  Gonzales went down, but survived the round. 

In round two, Wise battered his still-groggy foe from the moment the bell sounded.  He continued to drive Gonzales around the ring, and once he trapped him in a neutral corner, let the punches fly until referee Benjy Esteves saved Gonzales from further punishment. The time was 40 seconds into the second.  It was an impressive win for the popular Wise, and the crowd roared with approval. 


In a 4-round junior welterweight bout, North Philly’s Sheldon Deverteuil, 1-0-2, and James Brenadin of Lancaster, 2-0-1, 1 KO, fought to a split decision draw.

Each received 39-37 score from two of the judges and the third saw it 38-38.  I felt that Deverteuil had won it, but my colleagues at ringside seemed to disagree.  It was that kind of fight.   


In the show opener, Bronx light heavyweight Travis Toledo, 4-0, 3 KOs, quickly knocked out Philly’s Ronnie Lawrence, 0-3, in round one after two knockdowns.  Lawrence fell twice in the same neutral corner, the second time for the full ten count by referee Chris Riskus.  The time of the KO was 2:30 of the first.

Prior to the show's start, the Pennsylvania Boxing Commission acknowledged the recent death of long-time ringside physician, Dr. Paul Steinberg, MD.  Executive Director Greg Sirb gave his tribute to Paul, and called for a final 10-count in his honor. 

The six-bout event was staged by Marshall Kauffman’s Kings Promotions, and was the final local boxing show on the 2018 Philly fight schedule.




John DiSanto - South Philly - December 07, 2018