PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - April 27, 2024  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. / Instagram: @darrylcobb


Rookie promoter Dominc Walton debuted his Teflon Promotions on Saturday night at the Liacouras Center. His inaugural offering was a stacked, 11-bout card featuring a heavyweight 10-rounder in the main event and an undercard loaded with local and popular ring talent. The bouts were matched by Renee Aiken. This was the first of three events planned by Teflon Promotions, all expected to take place in Philly over the summer. 

In the spotlight bout, Las Vegas heavyweight Andrew Tabiti jumped right out and began firing hard right hands at Junior Wright of Evanston, Il. The fight heated up quickly and before you knew it, a combination by Tabiti - primarily a series of right hands - sent Wright sprawling to the canvas. Junior made it back to his feet, but was too woozy for referee Shawn Clark to allow the fight to continue. The rapid finish of the bout came after just 2:29.

Tabiti, who holds a previous points win over Steve "USS" Cunningham, improved his record to 21.2 with 17 KOs. Wright, who won by knockout on his previous visit to Philly, lost his second in a row and left the ring with a 20-6-1, 17 KOs, record.

The quick kayo ended the long night of fights and capped a streak of knockouts over the final eight fights of the evening.


In the co-feature bout, North Philly's Jesse Hart dominated Daniel Aduku of Accra, Ghana, in a light heavyweight fight scheduled for eight rounds. Hart, the son of Philly legend Cyclone Hart, towered over his opponent and began dishing punishment from the opening bell. In round one a stray low blow by Hart sent Aduku to the canvas. Referee Eric Dali gave the injured fighter time to recover before allowing the bout to continue. Hart resumed his lashing of Aduku and took the first round with ease.

Hart remained in control over the next two rounds, but Aduku proved tough and durable, earnestly chugging forward toward the punishment. In round four, Hart's right hand repeatedly found it mark. Then a pair of lefts and a sweeping right sent Aduku to the canvas. He struggled to his feet but there was not enough time left in the round for Hart to finish the job.

In the fifth, as Hart worked to end the fight, Aduku suddenly shook his right arm, indicating a problem with his shoulder. The fight continued with Hart landing and pressing the action. Finally, after a flurry of punches by the local hero, Aduku turned away, again shaking him arm and tapping his shoulder. Dali stepped in to investigate before waving an end to the bout. Aduku had quit the fight due to injury. The time of the stoppage came at 1:37 of round five.

It was Hart's fifth straight win and the victory improved his record to 31-3, 25 KOs. Aduku lost his third in a row (all by KO) and fell to 15-5-1, 11 KOs.


In an 8-round middleweight fight, Brooklyn's Nikita Ababiy scored a first-round TKO over Jesus Cruz Silva of Monterrey, Mexico. The fighters began trading at the start of the fight, but Ababiy quickly established an edge in accuracy and power. Silva was game, but Ababiy was clearly the better fighter. After round one, Silva, seated on his stool, decided to pack it and quit in his corner. The result entered the books as a TKO at 3:00 of round one. The referee was Eric Irizarry.

Ababiy stretched his perfect record to 13-0, 7 KOs, while Silva slid to 6-4, 1 KO, with his fourth consecutive defeat.


Las Vegas cruiserweight Mushin Cason dropped Lamont Capers, Hawley, PA, with a looping right hand in round one. The late substitute survived the round, but when another hard overhand right by Cason put Capers down again in round two, the journeyman fighter took the full 10-count from referee Shawn Clark. The time was 1:48 of round two.

Cason improved to 12-0, 9 KOs. Capers lost for the seventh straight time and fell to 11-22-5, with 2 KOs and 1 No Contest.


Rising prospect Dylan Price posted a fine performance in a scheduled 8-round junior featherweight fight against Tito Franzolini of Buenos Aires. At 122 pounds, Price, Sicklerville, NJ, looked bigger and stronger than ever before. He cruised through the first round and then brought the bout to a close in round two with three knockdowns.

The first knockdown came from a combination of punches by Price. Franzolini dutifully rose to his feet but Price dropped him again, this time with a left hook. The Argentine got up but clearly the end was near. Price waded back in and after a right uppercut and left hook landed, Franzolini went down for the third and final time. Referee Eric Dali stopped the fight at 2:22 of the second round.

Price's strong showing raised his record to 18-0, 12 KOs and 1 No Decision. Franzolini dropped to 19-15-2, 1 KO.


Amateur star Johnny Rivera made his anticipated professional debut with a speedy and powerful TKO of DeAndre Menser of Durham, NC. Menser took his shot at upsetting the young Philadelphian with a surprisingly aggressive performance. No shrinking violet, Menser charged in and threw everything he had at the budding star. However, Johnny stepped up his own offense and eventually began teeing off on his overmatched foe.

As Rivera ripped punches and Menser covered up, referee Eric Irizarry jumped in to stop the fight after just 1:04. The ultimate outcome seemed obvious, but the actual stoppage of the fight felt a little premature. None the less, the fight ended exactly as everyone expected it would.

The quick victory by one of the most celebrated local amateur boxers of recent years was a good start to a promising career. Rivera (1-0, 1 KO), under promotional contract with Danny Garcia's Swift Promotions, is scheduled to next appear on Garcia's inaugural promotion, June 15 in Atlantic City. Menser's record fell to 1-3.


Undefeated Philly lightweight prospect Juan Marrero improved to 4-0, 4 KOs with a quick TKO over winless Daniel McCall of Stone Mountain, GA. It didn't take long for Marrero to establish control. The southpaw cracked McCall with a left hand that knocked the underdog to the canvas. The fallen fighter rose and the fight continued, but Marrero overwhelmed McCall with a combination that put him down again. A right uppercut was the final punch of the series. McCall went down and referee Shawn Clark halted the bout at the 2:33 mark.

Marrero looked promising. McCall lost his fourth straight with no victories to his credit (0-4, 3 by KO).


Local heavyweight favorite Joey Dawejko pounded away at Michigan's Walter Burns for three full rounds before the visitor opted out of the scheduled 8-rounder while sitting in his corner before round four. Dawejko was stronger and busier for those nine minutes of action, and his output was good enough to convince the once-defeated Burns that he had no business being in the ring with The "Tank." As the bell to start round four approached, Burns retired on his stool, conceding his second consecutive TKO defeat.

Although there was some blood coming from Burns' nose, he didn't appear beyond continuing in the fight. However, that is easy to say from outside the ropes where Dawejko's punches are at a safe distance. The end of the scheduled 8-rounder was recorded as a TKO at 3:00 of round three. The referee was Eric Dali.

With the win, Dawejko improved to 28-11-4, 16 KOs. It is hard to believe Joey has had 43 pro bouts. His local debut, now more than 14 years ago, feels like yesterday. Burns went home 7-2, 5 KOs.


Philly junior welterweight Hank Lundy continued to rack up the mileage on his 40-year-old body. In a tough six-round bout against Juan De La Cruz, Lundy took the decision on two of the three official scorecards. Lundy started well, looking bust and strong during the first two rounds. However, Hammerin' Hank began to fade beginning in the third round.

 De La Cruz, who lost previous bouts to Philadelphians James Martin, Tyrone Crawley Jr., and Daiyaan Butt, surged in round three and seemed to have the better of the action through the final four rounds. However, these rounds were rather close and could have gone either way. After the full six rounds, the judges awarded Lundy a split decision. Judge Bernard Bruni (59-55) and Marc Werlinsky (58-56) both favored Lundy, while Justin Rubenstein had De La Cruz the winner (58-56).

My score mirrored Rubenstein's. Perhaps a draw would have been the best call, given the closeness of the fight. Regardless, Lundy, bolstered by the first win in his last seven starts, will continue his career, despite the obvious decline of his once-tremendous skills. De La Cruz, a tough opponent for anyone, added another defeat to his 11-23-1, 7 KOs, record.


Philly welterweight Seifullah Jihad Wise was given a four-round shutout points victory over Atlantic City's Aaron Newmones. However, the fight felt much closer than 40-36 from my vantage point. Southpaw Wise clearly won the first round, but Newmones rebounded well in the second. The final two rounds were pretty close (and uneventful). When the fight was over, judges Bernard Bruni, Marc Werlinsky and Tony Lundy all had the bout 40-36 in Wise's favor. The win made him 5-8, 1 KO. Newmones slid to 2-5..


In the opening bout of the evening, Philly's Tariq Green and Levittown, PA's Rancy Slanger (orange trunks) fought to a four-round draw in a middleweight fight. All three judges, Bernard Bruni, Justin Rubenstein, and Steve Weisfeld scored the fight 38-38, for a unanimous draw. Green left the Liacouras Center 5-2-2, 3 KOs, and Slanger went home with a 1-0-1 record.

There were no real surprises in this set of 11 fights. The red corner was hot, with all the favorites winning their fights, many of them in impressive fashion. In all, these were entertaining fights, with several being mercifully short on this long schedule of bouts. In this his first offering, the promoter was smart to load the card with local fighters. Eight of the 11 bouts featured locals at various stages of their careers.

Jesse Hart kept winning in hopes of returning to another title shot or at least another big match with a top contender. Joey Dawekjo kept his busy streak going, feeling he's one phone call away from a lucrative match. Dylan Price, one of the most talented young risers around, continued to dare the top fighters in his division to keep avoiding him. Juan Marrero stretched his young winning streak and looked good doing it. Both Tariq Green and Seifullah Jihad Wise continued their workman's journey, doing what they do best - showing up, fighting hard, and surviving, hoping the opportunities to perform continue. Hank Lundy got a badly needed win, but did nothing to prove he should still be fighting. A once magnificent performer, Lundy still has the charisma to entertain, but he's done enough in the sport. On this night, the brightest spotlight fell on Johnny Rivera who began his career with a statement knockout, as expected. He's just starting out, but figures to be a fighter to watch in the future.

With all these compelling stories set to play out on one packed boxing card, the event should have been a huge success. However, despite all that was offered, the Philadelphia boxing fans did not come out to support the effort. With just 300-400 fans in the cavernous Liacouras Center, which was already draped in half by a giant curtain, this event appeared to be a financial misfortune.

That is bad news. Promoter Dominic Walton is planning two more Teflon Promotions back to Philly during the summer (June 1st and July 15th), with potentially even more on the way. However, if the supposedly ravenous Philly fight fans don't support such shows, new promoters are likely to vanish from the scene.

Ticket prices were quite high for the event, no doubt in part to operate at the Liacouras Center. So, perhaps staging this one at the 2300 Arena would have made more sense. But Walton took a big swing for his first show. Although he may have missed this time, I appreciate his attempt. Despite the prices, it still makes sense that a card stacked with all that local talent should have done better. However, this was not the case tonight. Perhaps Walton will have more luck on June 1st, and hopefully the Philly fans will actually come out to verify their reputation as hardcore fight fans in a true boxing city. We shall see.




John DiSanto - North Philly - April 27, 2024