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20 JULY 2018

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Boxing Revives in Harrisburg

By J R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Boxing in the state capitol of Pennsylvania waxes and wanes. There are presently numerous amateur gyms, but there hadn’t been a pro show in three years and not much amateur action either. On 6/17/17, that ended. Aptly titling his show Proving Grounds, promoter and gym owner Andrew Foy (Titans Boxing Prom’ns) intended to turn numerous locals pro on an eight-bout card at the Harrisburg Fairgrounds Small Arena. But matchmaker Julio Alvarez’ matches fell apart like a house of matchsticks and the show ended with only four bouts, while only two of the eight combatants had ever had had a pro fight. The intrepid promoter went ahead, drawing about 400, not a bad turnout for such a scant show, and despite the brevity, the crowd went crazy and loved it!


Sheriff Nick Chimienti Jr. debuted as ring announcer and did a nice job. Kurt Wolfheimer was publicist and Madra Clay did the timekeeping. A humble beginning; hope it’s not an ending too.


After the round card girls held up an American flag for the national anthem, an exhibition between amateurs Danny Lugaro and Johnny Castaneto opened the show. All the pro bouts were fours. In a pairing of southpaws, popular Luis Morales, 140, Harrisburg, debuted against the most “veteran” boxer on the card, Wytama Faulk, 136 ¾, Webster, FL, 1-4. To the fans’ delight, the bigger favorite was able to swarm all over the visitor in a wild opening round. Wytama circled and managed not to take excessive punishment given the volume of Luis’ punches. But he was so busy trying to avoid getting stretched that he landed few counters. Late in the round, Wytama took a flash knockdown, a knee touching from a short left, but he wasn’t badly hurt. The round ended and having made it that far, the underdog elected not to answer the bell for round two, a TKO.


In a battle of debutees, Roy McGill, 146, Harrisburg, scored a sensational KO of Don Koch, 147, Bel Air, MD, at 2:21 of the opening round. Despite the brevity, fans weren’t cheated. The two were mixing briskly in close give-&-take. McGill was slightly more mobile and kept slipping Koch’s jab to counter with rights. Suddenly, the roof fell in! McGill dropped a near-perfect right over Koch’s extended left and Don crumbled face down for the count. McGill may be a local talent the promoter can develop.


In another pairing of debutees, Carl Murphy, 175, Harrisburg, took on Ryan Watson, 175, Salisbury, MD. The contest had little sustained action but was still a close tactical match that kept the fans intently involved. The local favorite Murphy was powerfully built and stalked, just looking for a payoff punch. The southpaw visitor meanwhile was satisfied to score points while picking punches cautiously. Watson did miss a wild swing in the first that caused him to carom through the ropes, where Murphy attempted to sucker punch him. But Ryan deftly extricated himself without getting hit. By the third, the confused Murphy was trying southpaw, but being steadily outscored. The crowd was going crazy in the fourth as a desperate Murphy tried to physically manhandle Watson on the ropes, but was still outscored every time Ryan got free. All scores (Bernard Bruni, Adam Friscia, Commissioner Greg Sirb) were 39-37, unanimous for Watson.


In what amounted to a main event, local Golden Gloves champ Angel Rivera, 225, Harrisburg, debuted under trainer Wayne Thompson, and wowed his fans in a mauling slugfest with Jimmy Levins, 207, Buffalo, 0-2. Levins tried to hold his own in early wide-open trading, but the husky Rivera’s bulk forced him back off balance while Angel’s body punches quickly sapped him. By the latter half of round one, the visitor was spent, gasping, and trying to hold. He was clobbered down, mostly body shots, just before the bell, and unable to come out for round two, referee Eric Dali (all bouts) calling a TKO. Happy fans danced out into the parking lot to salsa on the public address. Hope they can dance back for another.


In memory of K.O.J.O.

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