By J.R. Jowett reporting from ringside: The latest of the ongoing revivals of Scranton boxing went to the second show, this time at Montage Mountain Ski Resort on Saturday. Two of the area’s most active promoters in recent years, “All-Nite” Long ((Long Prod’ns) and Chris Coyne (Northeast Boxing), put on a fine show with Renee Aiken as matchmaker, drawing a near full house announced at 840. A bear was reportedly seen hanging around outside, but couldn’t get a ticket. Timekeeper Fred Blumstein tolled the final ten count for the Northeast region’s veteran bell ringer Tony Marinucci.
Seven professional bouts topped a pro-am presentation, all scheduled fours. Although the fights were good to outstanding, with the fans going wild, it might have gone better for the promoters, as potentially rising local boxers could only split against no-nonsense competition. The top bout was a gem, popular Stephon Burgette, 158, Dunmore, 5-3-1 (1), going against an unknown quantity in Matt Probin, 154, Lewiston, ME, 2-1. He found out soon enough. Probin entered the ring confidently and proceeded to more than hold his own in solid toe-to-toe mixing from opening bell. With both boxers solidly built, the visitor remained flat-footed and economical with short punches from medium range, pumping both hands to body and head. The favorite had a bit more mobility, but all his scoring was done in the teeth of his opponent’s fire. After two rounds of wicked trading in which he was being relentlessly outscored, Burgette opened the third with a heightened assault that looked as if it might finally get things in order. Not so. The underdog fought back tirelessly and through the middle of the round, gradually gained control of the wearying trading. Late in the round, Burgette broke and gave ground as Probin roared to the finish line. But in a blazing final round, the two went all out. Burgette did not give ground this time but hung tough, finally getting Probin to back up and bloodying his nose. The favorite finished strong as the crowd went wild. Had this been a six, who knows? But it wasn’t. The contest was close throughout but the visitor had clearly outfought the favorite head-on over the first three rounds. In most places, they would have stolen it. But the Pennsylvania judges did an outstanding job. Adam Friscia scored a draw, but Jack Castellani and Justin Rubenstein had it 39-37 for Probin, who expressed surprise that he got it.
There was some booing, but then well-wishers flocked around the winner as he left the ring. All except one confused zealot who obviously knew little about boxing and created ruckus as he blocked egress to the dressing rooms. Finally ejected by security, he remained at the front door to continue a pointless harangue to the departing crowd. His ticket should have gone to the bear, who would have been more civilized.
The fans (and promoters) at least could be pleased with the semi, in which promising Jimmy Kelleher, 165, Scranton, 2-0 (2), stopped hapless Jermaine Corley, 166, Harlem, 0-2, in the second. With both fighting with full beards, Corley’s did nothing to cushion the blows as Kelleher took target practice. The favorite battered the stubby underdog from opening bell, as Corley already appeared to be sucking wind in the first. In round two, Kelleher made good use of the lead right to send the southpaw rocking against the ropes. Jermaine briefly fought out of it with crude punches that had more vigor than effect, but was promptly driven back to the ropes with straight rights snapping his head back when referee Eric Dali justly stopped it, at 2:17.
The locals got another good win with Ryan Wilczak, 157, Scranton, 2-0 (1), gaining a hard-fought and fair majority decision over shifty Rasheed Johnson, 156, Bethlehem, 0-1. The rangy Johnson more or less conceded the first two as he circled away while the favorite dutifully plied his trade. In the third, Johnson began to find the range with counters and made it a tough round. He continued into the final round, but with the crowd going crazy in the tense action, Wilczak willed himself back into the contest and finished clearly in control, to gain the win. Castellani had 40-36, Friscia 39-37, and Rubenstein 38-38.
Not so with debuting Mike Baresse, 219, Scranton, against menacing Solomon Maye, 223, New Haven, 3-6-2 (3). The stocky and tough Baresse had been a fixture around the local amateurs for a few years. The two were putting on a routine heavyweight mauler in round one until it exploded at the timekeeper’s tap. Baresse tried a left hook but was beaten to the punch by an inside left hook that dropped him hard along the ropes. He tried to regroup in the second, but when nailed by the same shot, he turned away, waved as if in surrender, and flopped onto all fours. Ref Gary Rosato ruled a TKO at 2:06.
The first of the local contests was a rip-roarer between popular Vinny Scarantino, 120, Pittston, 0-1-1, and hard luck Jeff Dorsey, 118, Bethlehem, 0-3-1. This was WWIII without the generals! Whereas Burgette and Probin had fought a war, it was with well-executed and well-placed short punches. These two just swung for the rafters, punch after punch without letup. Vinny’s reckless assault set the tone in round one, but Dorsey, a better fighter than his record would suggest, was paying him back while standing his ground and firing counters. This continued through the second and then escalated in the third! Scarantino suffered a bloody nose and got hit with some withering shots but would not stop coming forward and firing. The action steadily rose to a blistering finish, with referee Dali somehow managing to keep it under control. In the final round, Dorsey was nailing Scarantino with jolting counters that rocked him, but Vinny would not be turned back and kept coming. Dorsey was somewhat the sharper, but all three judges scored it a unanimous draw, 38-38.
The card opened with two record builders. Scarantino’s previous conqueror, Raheem Robinson, 123, Stroudsburg, 2-0 (2), dutifully stopped Christopher Nelson, 123, Jeffersonville, IN, 0-2, in 1:25 of the second. The spindly southpaw underdog showed movement but no more than defensive, rear-guard punches in a slow first, until late, when Robinson twice dropped him. A routine left hook spun Nelson down, and shortly after, a long right dropped him at the timekeeper’s tap. He got up at the bell, then in the next round was being worked over on the ropes, jolted by a right, when Dali stopped it.
It was barely a Pyrrhic victory for well-groomed Luis Perozo, 129, NYC, 4-0 (2), against Cameron Cain, 128, Jeffersonville, 0-3. At least it was a jump in opposition for the favorite. His previous opponents were all winless in one fight. Cain had two. Maybe that accounted for the fact that while doing nothing else, the southpaw underdog survived to lose the unanimous decision in taking a ferocious beating. Cain was pounded all over the ring in round one. In the second, Perozo was taking target practice. By the third, he seemed to be getting bored. But at least to his credit (or perhaps the corner’s), Perozo switched to the body in the final round and scored two late knockdowns with beautifully executed left hooks to the solar plexus along the ropes. Still, Cain got up and managed to scramble to the bell. The unique competitiveness of the contest was reflected by the scoring; Rubenstein 40-35, Friscia 40-34, and Castellani 40-31.
180 Nov – Jerome McLane, Irish BC, Scranton, dec Johnny Gilliam, unatt., 3-0, 3 rds
185 Masters – Shawn McFadden, Irish, dec Don Eaton, Delco Boxing, Exton, PA, 3-0, 3 rds
155 Nov – Jacari Waddell, Nye’s Gym, Lancaster, dec Rocco Cordero, Irish, 3-0, 3 rds
155 Nov – Darrien Gaskins, Stick ‘n’ Move, Lancaster, dec Nick Batzel, unatt., 2-1, 3 rds
127 Open – Jonathan Torres, Indio’s Boxing, Allentown, dec Julius Brown, Joe Hand Boxing, Phila., 3-0, 3 rds
In Memory of K.O.J.O.