PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                             April 30, 2010


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Lightweight Victor Vasquez, the fighting barber from North Philly who is rapidly becoming the go-to guy for messy and entertaining wars on the Philly fight scene, was slapped with a split decision draw in his six-round main event against fellow Philadelphian Paul Fernandez, after seeming to out-work and out-punch his tough and willing foe.

But the judges could not agree on who had the best of the fight Friday night (04/30/10). Each of the three officials saw something different. Judge Steve Weisfeld appeared to get it right with his 58-56 (or four rounds to two) scorecard for Vasquez. Richard Hopkins, Jr. had it the same way - but for Fernandez. And the deciding card by Dewey LaRosa was dead even, three rounds to three or 57-57. Not the worst decision I seen, but disappointing after a good night of boxing and a spirited six rounds of this main event. 

The fight itself was a glorious bloodbath beginning in the second when the two shaven headlining heads smashed together about a minute and a half into the round.  Fernandez' dome was better placed and Vasquez backed away from the clash with blood streaming from above his left eye. The incident was accidental, but the result favored Fernandez greatly.

For the remainder of the fight, the cut steadily streamed blood. It never stopped. Not even between rounds. Even crack cut man Joey Eye, who usually waves his Q-tip like a magic wand, could not stop the bleeding this time. He dutifully worked on Victor's wounds, but Vasquez had to deal with the deficit all night. Although he wiped and swiped and pawed at his bleeding eye OCD-style, it never stopped him from biting down and pressing forward. He's a fighter and he once again proved it on fight night.

Paul Fernandez, similar in style and stature to Vasquez, came to fight too. He pressed and fired shots in every round. But he was always just a step behind Vasquez who had just a little more activity and poise. Even with blood streaming down his face, Vasquez never lost his cool. Granted most of the rounds were close mini-wars, but Vasquez maintained his edge, and looked to be banking rounds.

But that's not say that Victor ran away with the fight. It was a no-frills slugfest. There were no moments in the fight - other that the head butt - that really stood out. They stayed on the inside and threw punches. Both worked hard trying to establish the lead. But in the end, all that the spectators had to focus on was the blood. Perhaps the constant stream affected the scoring. Perhaps it made it look like Fernandez was doing more. But it was just a head butt.

The other problem is that four and six round bouts are particularly susceptible to surprise decisions. With so few rounds, it's easy to for a close fight to end up as a draw. Main events need time for the various objective anomalies to even out. So much blood made this one a mess on the scorecards as well. 

But did a draw hurt either guy so much?  Probably not. A rematch might be a good thing. Vasquez left 11-4-1 with 6 KO, while Fernandez went home 5-3-2 with 3 KOs.

The co-feature was a junior middleweight quickie between Philly's "Hitman" Ardrick Butler and Norman Allen of Laurel, MD. Allen came in with a 6-3 record but was quickly sent home with another loss. Butler, sporting a new Mohawk hair-do, got right to it, dropping his opponent almost immediately. He jabbed Allen a few times before driving him to the ropes and cracking him with a left hook. Allen tangled in the ropes and tumbled to the canvas. He got up and the action resumed. But when Butler jumped right back on his foe, referee Shawn Clark halted the contest. Just 44 seconds and elapsed.

The victory in the scheduled six-rounder raised Butler's record to 5-1-1. It was his second consecutive KO, and his first time in the ring since November. A nice win for a guy who's been cancelled on a couple of times recently. He was obviously happy to actually have his opponent show up, and made the best of it before another fight evaporated on him again. Butler seems to have fully rebuilt his confidence after his disastrous 2008 pro debut. And that's good to see. Hopefully he'll keep fighting and winning.

Kennett Square's Anthony Smith, 4-0 with 3 knockouts, toppled Donnie Moore, of Wilton, North Carolina, now 0-3. Just like Ardrick Butler, Smith was in a hurry. He barely had his robe off before chasing Moore to a neutral corner, trapping him there and flailing away at him. There was no knockdown, but referee Gary Rosado saw enough punishment to save Moore from more, after 1:10 of the four-round light-heavyweight bout. Smith brought a large cheering section with him that whooped it up as their man got busy. The Kennett Square contingent went home happy. 

In another one-round stoppage, Juan Rodriguez, Jr. of Union City, NJ, bounced Mike Denby off the canvas twice in less than three minutes of their four-round junior middleweight bout. Southpaw Rodriguez used a fast right jab and a stiff straight left hand as his primary weapons. Denby's first trip to the canvas left him flat on his back with all four limbs curled upward, like a dying bug. But the Felton, DE fighter arose gamely. But Rodriguez, fighting at the Arena for the second consecutive time, quickly deposited Denby on the floor again and referee Shawn Clark waved the fight off. The official time was 2:51. Rodriguez improved his pro slate to 3-0 with 2 KOs. Denby fell to 2-5-3 with 2 KOs. It was his first fight in Philadelphia.

Heavyweight Jamie Campbell halted journeyman Darrick Allen of Wilton, NC. But he had to climb off the canvas to do it. Allen was returning to Philly for the second time. He fell to South Philly's John Mercurio at the Southern High last year, and Mercurio was in Campbell's corner Friday night. But his advice didn't help Campbell once the bout started. The two heavyweights came together like magnets and began winging wide punches. Allen landed first and Campbell tumbled into the ropes and fell to the floor. Moments later, he was up again and storming back. He pressured Allen to the ropes and began to dish out the punishment. Allen got tangled in the ropes and then slipped down toward the canvas. Referee Gary Rosado pulled Campbell away but did not consider it a knockdown. Campbell continued to roll until the bell ending the first. Instead of the usual 10-8 score when one fighter scores a knockdown, you could make an argument that Campbell had taken the round, even though floored. I scored it 10-9 for Allen, but knew that it probably wouldn't matter. When the bell rang to start the second, Campbell rushed in and started to throw. Again tangled in the ropes and almost falling through, Allen was helpless, forcing the referee to stop it at 26 seconds of the second. Campbell went to 3-1 (2 KOs), while Allen slipped to 2-6 (2 KOs). 

Vinland, NJ lightweight Anthony Yoder, Jr. had his hands full with Andrew Barnes of Wilton, NC. Barnes, 0-2 going in, was an awkward southpaw short on skills but loaded with confidence fighting spirit. He rushed Yoder, winging punches in a herky-jerky style that was ugly, but somehow effective. Yoder seemed perplexed and stiff, almost afraid of the unpredictable offense coming at him.

Barnes took the first round on my card. Yoder came back in the second and appeared to on the brink of a stoppage when he blasted Barnes in the corner near the end of the round.

But the Barnes corner wound their fighter up in between rounds and he was ready to go again in the third. He continued to make things uncomfortable for Yoder, but was beginning to fade. The result of the fight probably swung with one's opinion of the third. If you gave it to Yoder, it was likely you had him winning the bout after the fourth and final round. Yoder took the last round easily over the tired Barnes.

I gave the odd rounds to Barnes, the even rounds to Yoder and scored it a draw. But all three officials had it for Yoder. Steve Weisfeld and Dewey LaRosa called it 39-37, and Richard Hopkins saw it 40-36. It was Yoder's second career victory (2-0). Barnes lost his third straight bout (0-3).

North Philly's Khalil Farah won his four-round preliminary against John Colvin of Pennsboro, WV. They fought at a catch-weight of 170 pounds - something that leading up to the fight, Farah may have regretted. Khalil struggled to make the weight, but made it on his first try at 169. As it turned out, he was in great shape and perhaps fought his career-best fight.

Farah controlled the bout with his southpaw right jab. Colvin was plucky and kept coming despite tasting a lot of leather. Colvin scored better in the second round, but still couldn't establish any real control. In round three, Farah used his jab well and repeatedly drilled Colvin with a hard straight left. Over and over again, he landed the punch took the round with ease. But the good effort left Farah winded. He used his jab in the fourth to score points and to keep the fight at a safe distance. Colvin raged in the closing moments, and although Farah looked like he was starting to sag, Colvin couldn't get around the jab to better further his cause.

All three judges favored Farah by wide scores: 40-36 (by judge Bernard Rooney & Richard Hopkins) and 39-37 (judge Dewey LaRosa). Khalil raised his record to 6-4 with 1 KO. Although prior to the bout, Farah, really just a dabbler in the prize ring, talked about making this his last fight. But his success on this night may very well tempt him to fight on. Colvin left 3-9 with 3 KO's. It was his third trip to Philly, and the first time he finished on his feet. Derrick Webster and Mike Tiberi had stopped him previously.   

The show opened with an all-Philly heavyweight rematch scheduled for four rounds between rising star Bryant Jennings and trial horse Zeferino Albino. Back in February, Albino lasted the distance with Bryant in his pro debut. His failure to score a KO was a bit of a disappointment for local fans and for Jennings himself. So this was his chance to do better. And he did. Jennings needed just one second short of a single round to drop Albino three times for the automatic stoppage by referee Shawn Clark. The time was 2:59. Jennings has been impressive in his three pro bouts and will be fun to watch in the future.


This was an entertaining night of fisticuffs by KEA Boxing in their sophomore Philadelphia show. Their first card back in February at the South Philly Arena was plagued with cancellations and late scratches. Although this night's proposed main event featuring middleweight contender LaJuan Simon never materialized, the card still packed plenty of punch. It was a night full of knockouts, which kept the healthy crowd interested and helped them appreciate the three decision bouts. It was a refreshing change to see all that leather being thrown.

The South Philly Arena comes right back with another fight card on Friday May 7th promoted by Golden Boy and featuring local junior welterweight prospect Danny Garcia, who at 16-0 looks like a future champion. Heavyweight Joey Dawejko is also on the card.

Andre Kut / KEA Boxing

Estimated attendance:
About 1,000

Judges (rotating):
  -Steve Weisfeld
  -Dewey LaRosa 
  -Richard Hopkins, Jr.
  -Bernard Rooney

Alternating Referees:
  -Gary Rosado 
  -Shawn Clark

Ring Announcer:
  -Henry Hascup




John DiSanto - South Philly - April 30, 2010