J .R. Jowett reporting from ringside: The Great J. Russell Peltz teamed as usual with BAM Boxing and Joe Hand Prom’ns, plus Lou DiBella (DiBella Entertainment), for a show on Friday night at the 2300 Arena in S. Philadelphia. As usual, the place was just about sold out. And as usual, it was a good show. Fred Blumstein did the timekeeping and Steve Mittman was announcer.
DiBella handled both halves of the main event, Philadelphia’s Tevin Farmer, 129, 24-4-1 (5), and Dardan Zenunaj, 129, Peć, Kosovo, 12-3 (9). As this is his home town, Farmer was the favorite, although he’s fought fully half of his fights not only out of Philly but out of the area entirely. After an active local amateur career, he started slowly in the pros, until connecting with DiBella and the fast track. The versatile southpaw favorite got off to a quick start, circling and jabbing in the first, then going to-to-toe in the second. Zenunaj pressed the fight all night, but when inside threw push-punches that were often slipped or blocked. Though not a big puncher, Tevin’s shots were snappy, clean, and dead on the mark, often driving his opponent’s head back to an almost embarrassing degree. A left to the body finally had Dardan giving ground. Round three was a mix of styles, with Tevin stopping, letting Dardan come to him, ripping off a combo, and then stepping away. Near round’s end he put on a razzle-dazzle display of defiant ducking while Zenunaj tried to corral him on the ropes.
The pace changed in round four as Farmer was now milling around on the inside where Dardan wanted him and not firing the sharp punches he had earlier. The rest of the contest was fought on somewhat more even terms, with Farmer only showing spurts of brilliance rather than dominating whole rounds, while Dardan continued to try to work on the inside. Action picked up in the seventh after Zenunaj put on a display from a supposed low blow and referee Shawn Clark allowed a rest. Zenunaj tore into Farmer after that and gained an edge, but after both exchanged rallies that brought up the crowd, it was an aroused Farmer who finished stronger. The beady-eyed favorite kept his distance and showed superior hand skill to dominate the eighth, but then tried to fritter it away with grandiose hotdogging. Their separate styles were in evidence through the ninth and into the final round before Farmer landed a big left that broke the action open and brought up the fans with some free trading to the bell. Julie Elizabeth Lederman and Dave Braslow scored 99-91, Dewey LaRosa 98-92, unanimous for Farmer.
Styles make fights, and sometimes not. On paper, it looked like an attractive local rivalry between sleepers trying to inch their way into the headlines as well as offering opposing styles. Loose-limbed and lanky spoiler Lamont Capers, 193 ¼, Hawley, PA, 7-9-2, can be dangerous and not to be taken for granted. Built like a rock crusher, short and stocky Garrett Wilson, 200 ½, Phila., 17-11-1 (9), can readily break down and belt out an opponent in a war. But neither could apply his trade effectively against the other’s style. Capers wisely wanted no parts of trading, but substituted only evasive tactics. With Lamont’s long jab pawing his face, Garrett couldn’t effectively penetrate, but instead lunged, often landing a grazing shot in the process but never putting anything together. Garrett’s best round was the third, in which Lamont had ceased fighting while Garrett landed a couple sweeping left hooks and rocked him once with a right on the inside. After that, Capers became even more difficult (let’s hope the judges weren’t giving him points for sticking his left in Wilson’s face!), and the contest stumbled and mauled to its end. Somehow, Wilson had to settle for a majority decision, as Braslow scored it 57-57, while thankfully the others, LaRosa and Adam Friscia, had 58-56. Benjy Esteves deftly refereed this tough assignment.
The undercard was composed of some snappy shootouts and the obligatory bad decision. Long-time area amateur Joseph Adorno, 131, Allentown, debuted and sensationally blew out hopeless Guy Newman, 128, Lynchburg, VA, 0-2, in 1:37 of a scheduled four. The short, stocky underdog knew nothing but to chug forward, straight into Adorno’s two-handed sweeping punches! Joseph stopped him in his tracks with crunching left hooks under the ribs and dropped him with an overhand right behind the head. Newman got up and gamely tried to get back into the fight, but walked into a solid left hook and down again. Once again arising, he stumbled back, and that was Clark’s cue to stop it.
Two debutees met in a scheduled four, and it was bombs away! Popular Marcel Rivers, 151 ¾, Phila., came out super-aggressive, firing full tilt with both hands. The taller, standup Tony Kim, 152 ¼, Fresh Meadows, Queens, tried to answer back, but with wider punches, he was a sitting duck. A right hand got there first and spun him around as he crashed spectacularly to the canvas, legs in air. He arose and gamely tried to fight back, but a wide-open left hook wobbled him seriously and referee Hurley McCall stopped it, in 41 smoking seconds!
Debuting southpaw Victor Padilla, 135 ½, Vieques, PR, got little opposition to speak of from handlebar-mustachioed Kimmy St. Pierre, 134 ½, Saint-Éphrem-de-Beauce, Quebec, 1-3 (1), in a scheduled four. St. Pierre scarcely landed a punch in a feelout first. In the second, he tried a cop-out from a routine low blow, with histrionic gyrations drawing a rest from referee Esteves. Immediately after, Padilla took care of all that, jolting St. Pierre with a right hook and then pouring it on with both hands, not missing a shot, until the underdog went to a knee and sheepishly allowed himself to be counted out.
Iegor Plevako, 223 ½, Brooklyn, 4-2 (1), came in the underdog but went out the winner against debuting Montrell Castro, 255 ½, Phila., in a scheduled four. The blubbery and thirty-something Castro came out throwing his weight around behind a crude attack and took the early action. But he soon slowed and walked into a short right that staggered him badly just before the bell. Ref Clark gave an illegal standing eight, possibly considering the turnbuckle to have held Castro up. It was merely a brief reprieve, as Castro stumbled to the canvas without being hit at the start of round two and Clark called a TKO at 0:31. Career over. Who the deuce put Castro in against a guy with this much experience in his first fight?!
What’s a show without a bad decision? Isaiah Wise, 155 ¼, Phila., 3-1 (2), met Roque Zapata, 154 ½, Culpeper, VA, 2-1-3, in the first competitive bout of the card. The two wowed the crowd by mixing non-stop for four rounds! The bigger, stronger favorite set the pace and forced the fight mixing to head and body, but the squat underdog returned fire after getting hit and often landed clean fall-away shots. After a hectic opening round, the pace increased! Zapata was no longer waiting to be hit first but was firing all-out. Isaiah was back in command to start the third, but shot his bolt and let the relentless underdog back in, making it a hard round to score. The fourth closed with a bang, but Wise was putting more on his punches while Zapata was fighting a rear-guard action. The decision was a case of Scappoose Effect, as the underdog came in looking like a sacrifice but went out to cheers, thereby handicapping the favorite. Julie Elizabeth had it a reasonable 38-38, given the difficult third round. But Braslow scored it 39-37 and LaRosa an incredulous 40-36, for Zapata.
The show opened with a tame four, as southpaw Jose Gonzalez, 124 ½, Harlem, 6-0-1 (2), got a unanimous decision over Tim Ibarra, 120, Denver, 4-4 (1). The prospect Gonzalez had trouble with the lanky underdog’s reach, putting the kibosh on any sustained action. But Jose did most of what fighting there was, as Ibarra threw poking punches with absolutely nothing on them.
In memory of K.O.J.O.