By Jeff Jowett: Little hole-in-wall bars in Bridgeport make for better press conferences. But this time, Marshall Kauffman’s Kings Promotions held their final conference for their show this Friday, Aug. 23, at the fight site, Valley Forge Casino. This will be the second card held at the new casino, which has actually hosted boxing for years and for several promoters under its former alias as the King of Prussia Convention Center, just outside Philadelphia.
As can be expected, the show has been riddled with fallouts and rearrangements. But Kauffman is not only one of the Philly area’s longest-surviving promoters but also a resilient and conscientious matchmaker. Local star power was lost with Bridgeport’s popular Harry Yorgey off the show. Harry was offered only a ticket-selling undercard bout, and declined. Although he’s a “natural” here, he may be looking elsewhere in future. Meanwhile, a good-as-it-gets top attraction between Upper Darby prospect Naim Nelson and Wilmington sleeper Ryan Belasco was scratched with Nelson sustaining a hand injury in training. Another dangerous sleeper, Tevin Farmer, readily offered to step in against Belasco, but was declined by Ryan’s camp.
Not to worry! The co-feature becomes the main event, with heavyweight Travis Kauffman taking on dangerous Arron Lyons, from Gulfport, MS, over eight…or less! The talented Kauffman, 24-1 (18), has never been able to fight regularly, and hasn’t since February. With Yorgey’s imminent departure from the local scene, he hopes to make the VF Casino a second home. But first he has to impress against Lyons. A dangerous sneak counter puncher, Arron (12-12-1 with 9 KOs) made his mark in the Philly area when he bombed out Don Elbaum’s then-unbeaten sensation Joey Abell at the Blue Horizon. Arron is truly the kind of opponent who can separate fact from fiction. He predicted he’d do likewise to Travis. But when he reportedly declined a bet that would have put his purse on it, Kauffman remarked, “That’s all I need to know.” The favorite elaborated, “Whoever else he upset, I’m not those guys. I’m on a whole other level.” And he concluded, “My goal is to stay busy.”
The undercard features another Reading prospect, but without the storied amateur credentials of the headliner, Frankie DeAlba. “I like to see a fighter grow,” Marshall commented on Frankie’s career to date. “I like to take baby steps. You don’t wanna take big steps, you take baby steps along the way.” That’s how fighters were developed when the sport had genuine champions instead of mere title holders, and you HAD TO be able to fight to become a champion. No longer true. “I only had ten amateur fights, so I’m learning on my job,” explained the aggressive and exciting DeAlba. Again, fallouts plagued the match, but Kauffman came up big. First scrappy Osnel Charles, then Miguel Rodriguez fell out, but Marshall was persistent and has gotten tricky Luis Esquilin, whose 2-5-1 record comes primarily against local favorites in close, competitive matches. DeAlba, 8-1-2 (3), observed, “I was training for orthodox, now I’m fighting a southpaw. It’s two different things, but still, I’m ready.”
Back to storied amateurs, two sterling Philly prospects appear on the undercard, Miguel Cartagena and Damon Allen. Cartagena, 7-0 (3), seems to have a laugher against Puerto Rico’s Eduardo Melendez, 4-13 (1). But wait a minute! A friend to the matchmaker who can’t find opponents for premier fighters, Eduardo has fought eight straight undefeated foes. In 18 fights, only two had losing records. At 5-9 to Cartagena’s 5-4, Eduardo appears to offer a challenge of another sort. But Miguel cracked, “I’ll show you how to chop this tree down. He’s fought some great competition, but he hasn’t fought Miguel Cartagena yet!”
Allen (2-0, 1)and his opponent, Sammy Quinones from York, were not present, so Kauffman spoke for what is an uncommonly good local competitive match for a four rounder early in the respective careers. Quinones got upset in his debut, also a Kings card, when he took on experienced spoiler Ramon Ellis. But he’s won two since then. Explained Kauffman, “You normally don’t see two guys at this level taking a chance for such short money. They say normally the risk outweighs the reward. But these guys don’t think that way.”
One more national amateur champ and one more sleeper fill out the card. The former is Khalib Whitmore who turned pro on Marshall’s last card after a highly visible amateur career. The latter is Kamarah Pasley, on a comeback after upsetting Kauffman’s own revitalized Jeremy Stauffer in a bruising contest on that same show.
An attractive new suburban venue, a veteran and proven promotion, and perhaps half a dozen potential world beaters make for a promising evening: Friday, Aug. 23, Valley Forge Casino, King of Prussia, PA, 7 PM.
August 21, 2013