PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - April 26, 2019  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


In the main event at the Met in North Philly, Malik Hawkins, Baltimore, 15-0, 9 KOs, defeated Andre Byrd, Jacksonville, FL, 7-7-2, 1 KO, by unanimous decision, in a slow-paced welterweight eight rounder. After an entertaining night of seven other fights, closing the show with this snoozer was a let down. And the crowd of about 2,500 let everyone know how they felt, booing loudly midway through the fight.

That Byrd was a late substitute may have thrown Hawkins - as well as the matchmaker - but none the less, the bout has already been forgotten by all who witnessed it. Hawkins easily handled the challenge, dominating the action, and scoring a knockdown in round seven. It was a sudden thrill for those with their eyes on the door, but Byrd survived and the fight dragged on to the final bell.

From my seat, Hawkins won every round of the fight and picked up an extra point for the knockdown. Two of the three official judges, Adam Friscia and Steve Weisfeld, both agreed and turned in tallies of 80-71. Gail Jasper saw the fight 78-74. Hawkins retained his NBA-Americas welterweight belt, with the win.


In what I considered to be the real main event of the night, junior welterweights Branden Pizarro, North Philly, and Tre'Sean Wiggins, Newburgh, NY, battled to a legitimate eight round draw in their anticipated showdown for the PA state 140-pound title.

Southpaw Wiggins looked good at the Met two months ago, beating Samuel Teah over eight. If he could add a similar victory over the rising Pizarro, Tre'Sean would secure his reputation as a Philly-killer. Pizarro, loaded with talent and the key cog in the Hard Hitting Promotions stable, was expected to either sink or swim against Wiggins. On Friday night, Pizarro did neither.

The fight was a closely-fought battle between the two. Interesting and at a high level, if not a classic confrontation. Pizarro jumped out to an early lead, taking the first three rounds with sharps jabs and stiff right hands. For those nine minutes, he appeared to have just enough skill and flash to take the fight from Wiggins.

However, Wiggins got on track in round four. he landed hard left hands and pressed Pizarro to the ropes. At one point, Tre'Sean trapped Branden in a neutral corner and appeared to shake him up a bit. But Pizarro leapt out of the corner like a cat in water, avoiding further punishment.

The volley by Wiggins captured a third straight round for him, evening the score on my card. Tre'Sean had a strong seventh round as well. His jab landed well and his left hand power shots were on the mark. The round ended, and Wiggins went back to his corner with a narrow lead of four rounds to one.

It all came down to the eighth and final round. Would Tre'Sean continue his hot streak, or would the talented teen rally for the win? The problem was that with only one round remaining, it appeared the best Pizarro could do was even the score with a good last round.

Pizarro showed toughness and maturity and did all he could to win the round. But Wiggins did the same. The two fenced for much of the round, and exchanged a bit less than in previous rounds. The eighth was probably the closest of the fight, but Pizarro did what he needed to do to stave off defeat, taking the round and pulling the result on my card to a draw.

When my card comes up even, I don't like it. Surely there must have been a factor that put one man above the other. But given round by round scoring, this one was a solid draw, four rounds apiece. Had been a ten rounder, we may have gotten a winner, but perhaps that will be left for the next time.

All three judges, Adam Friscia, Ron McNair and Steve Weisfeld, turned in the same 76-76 tally. That's four rounds to four.

Afterward, both boxers felt that they had done enough to win. I don't blame them, but this fight was a squeaker from beginning to end. Wiggins, 11-4-2, 6 KOs, left with his PA state title belt intact, while Pizarro, 14-1-1, 7 KOs, kept his NBA-Intercontinental title belt.  


This new Met boxing series has provided a number of Hard Hitting boxers with tough career experience and the record blemishes that sometimes come along with it. In February, both Jeremy Cuevas and Samuel Teah suffered setbacks. On this night Branden Pizarro added a draw and Gadwin Rosa took his first loss in eleven bouts.

Maryland-based Ugandan Sulaiman Segwa, 12-2, 4 KOs, upset previously undefeated Gadwin Rosa, Ocala, FL, 10-1, 8 KOs, by unanimous decision after eight rounds. The junior lightweight lefty dominated the action throughout, hurting Rosa several times during the fight. Segwa just came coming and did not stop punching. Rosa struggled to survive at times in the fight, but showed plenty of durability. Although he fell far short on the official cards, the bout gave him some needed experience and exposure to adversity.

Judges Steve Weisfeld and Ron McNair saw the fight 79-73 for Segwa. Gail Jasper had it a shutout for Segwa, 80-72. I gave Rosa the sixth, and scored the fight 79-73. Segwa was a joy to watch in the ring. He is a straightforward stalker-puncher, and those are crowd-pleasing qualities. Let's hope we see him here again.

North Philly heavyweight Darmani Rock improved to 15-0, 10 KOs, with an impressive power display over Mike Bissett of Tampa, 15-12-1, 9 KOs. Rock's punches couldn’t miss on this night and won by TKO in round two. Darmani dropped Bissett twice in the first round, once with a left hook and then with a left uppercut. In the second round, Rock put Bissett down twice more, both times with hard right hands. Referee Gary Rosato stopped the fight at 2:20 of round two.

Although Rock's weight was a very high 275.4, he posted one of his most impressive wins to date. Bissett was a willing recipient, and victim to seven previous knockout losses, but Rock did what he was supposed to do and looked big and powerful in the process.   

After a fairly close first round between lightweights Christian Tapia, Coamo, PR and Raul Chirino, Miami, Tapia’s power became the determining factor in the scheduled six-rounder. Tapia, 9-0, 8 KOs, dropped Chirino, 13-11, 8 KOs, twice in the second and twice more in the third. When the final right hand landed, referee Benjy Esteves jumped in to stop it as Chirino fell for the fourth time in the fight. The time was 2:25 of the third.  

The third fight of the night was a beautiful brawl in the light heavyweight division. South Philadelphian Benny Sinakin, 4-0, 2 KOs, picked himself off the canvas in round two and went on to win a four-round unanimous decision over Patrick Pierre, New Orleans, 3-7, 1 KO.

Sinakin won the wild first round, but both fighters landed often. Pierre jolted Benny with a hard right hand in the second round that floored the undefeated fighter. It was the first time in his young pro career that Sinakin had tasted the canvas. Apparently, it was a taste he didn't like. Benny jumped to his feet and regained control of the bout over the final two rounds, cementing the victory and his reputation as an exciting crowd-pleaser. After four full rounds, Sinakin won by scores of 38-37 (Adam Friscia) and 38-36 twice (Steve Weisfeld and Ron McNair).

In a quick bantamweight fight, Josue Rosa, North Philadelphia, 2-0, 2 KOs, battered Lucky Holt, Hannibal, MO, 0-4, dropping him in a neutral corner less than one minute into the fight. When Holt struggled to climb up the ropes and looked wobbly, referee Benjy Esteves stopped the fight. The time of the TKO was :45.  

In a welterweight bout scheduled for four, North Philly’s Thyler Williams, 2-0, 2 KOs, stopped Abdiel Padilla, Aricebo, PR, 1-2, 1 KO, in round three. Williams put Padilla down twice in the third and referee Gary Rosato stopped the contest at the 1:46 mark.  

The show was promoted by Hard Hitting Promotions, and was the second boxing event at the newly restored and reopened Met. Hard Hitting returns to the Met on June 28th.




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - April 26, 2019