They come and they go, but there’s always Russell Peltz & Joe hand. Otherwise, Philadelphia boxing waxes and wanes on the strength of challengers. Hard Hitting Promotions run their second show tonight, May 14, at the closest thing to a new Blue Horizon, Sheet Metal Workers Hall, an accommodating little venue at 1301 S. Columbus Blvd.
On 5/12, promoter Manny Rivera and matchmaker Will Ruiz presented a lively offering to a gathering of about 35 press and insiders, something between a press conference and a rave, at Laborers Union Local 57 hall in the Northern Liberties section of the city. Rumor had it that popular ring announcer Alex Barbosa was going to both announce and fight on the show. But that proved false as veteran ring announcer Pat Michael Fattore returns from MMA to boxing. Fattore did the honors for the press conference and bravely battled his way through copious notes provided by PR man Kurt Wolfheimer. A welcome appearance by Bernard Hopkins was the hit of the evening, as the boxers on the dais were as focused on Bernard as the press corps was on them.
Much of the buzz surrounded the local debut of storied amateur standout Jaron Ennis, of the fighting Ennis family all trained by father “Bozy” at the hardscrabble Bozy’s Dungeon. Jaron recently made his pro debut in Utah with a 42 second KO. “Don’t fight for Peltz,” quipped a wiseguy, “He pays by the round.” Commented Ennis, “I liked Utah; it was something different.” With the once first-rate Philly scene decimated in recent years by defections, it is hoped that Hard Hitting can keep Jaron here. He’s said to combine the power of brother Farah and the skills of brother Derek. Jaron takes on Puerto Rican Luis Ramos, 0-1, at welterweight.
The 8 round main event headlines Jonathan Maicelo, 23-2 (12), against tough spoiler Ramesis Gil, DR, 10-14, in a lightweight encounter. With manager Nelson Fernandez interpreting, Maicelo, a Peruvian fighting out of N. Bergen, NJ, described himself as “the last Inca warrior” and told Hopkins that Bernard is his favorite fighter. Advised Fernandez, “This is not a chump that we’re fighting. We have seen him fight. We have trained for Gil. It’s going to be a dangerous fight but we’re well prepared.”
Alex Barbosa returns to the ring, bringing a 4-2 (1) record into a featherweight four against determined Marquise Pierce of NJ, 1-8. The underdog stated modestly, “I love the sport and no matter what the record says, I’m gonna keep on boxing . I’m just here to continue to box until my hands don’t work anymore.” He blamed early lack of success on lack of a trainer before taking time off and traveling to W. Virginia to find two steady coaches. Barbosa manages a fitness and UFC gym in NJ, but focuses entirely on boxing, no MMA, as he trains at famed Shuler’s Gym in Phila. “I look forward to doing what I love to do,” Alex declared. “I genuinely don’t work a day in my life,” an allusion not to sloth but to the enjoyment he gets from all aspects. Upset, anyone?
Another recent addition to Bozy’s gym, Greg Jackson, 6-2 (2), comes off a recent thrilling come-from-behind win over unbeaten Gledwin Ortiz (who also appears on this card). Greg takes on an unknown but experienced quantity in Joel Vargas of Kansas, 4-16-2, in a welter four. All four of the opponent’s wins have come by KO, so he looks like a dangerous sneak puncher. Having gone through trainers before settling on Bozy, Jackson is a work in progress. “Your plans don’t always go as planned once the first punch is thrown,” Greg confessed. “As soon as the bell rings, that’s when I adjust.” But trainer Ennis is working him out of a willingness to street fight and into the finer merits of technique.
At light heavy, Wilmington’s David Murray, 3-1 (3), takes on experienced Ken Clairborne, Ft Worth, 4-11 (3), four rounds. Training out of Newark, DE, under Greg Prtchett, the confident Murray said of his unknown out-of-town opponent, “It doesn’t really matter. You work in the gym and you’re ready for any style.”
A Cuban by way of Ecuador but now fighting out of FL, Yordan Frometa, 7-0 (6), fights a jr welter 6 against Puerto Rican Ken Alvarez, 7-3 (3). Speaking through an interpreter, Yordan observed that he’s glad to be in Philadelphia where so many great fighters come from…and one of the best ever, Bernard Hopkins. Yordan warned that not all Cuban fighters are defensive minded…Hhhmmm, who could he mean?...Some come to hurt you, and he’s one of them.
Fighting out of Miami Beach’s famed 5th Street Gym, Daniel Scardina, 4-0 (4), goes against Oklahoman Steve Crowfield, 2-3 (2), in a middleweight 4. Somehow billed as “Italian”, possibly for the benefit of South Philly fans although he’s from the DR, a heckler asked him if he’s the “next Benvenuti.” Scardina replied, “Yes!”
Also on the show will be a good bangup between NY’s Gledwin Ortiz, 3-1 (3), and Wilmington’s Anthony Miller, also 3-1 (3), in a welter 6. A feather 4 features the return of once-promising Raul Lopez of NY, 9-2, versus NJ’s Edgar Cortez, 2-1.