By JR. Jowett reporting from ringside: Manny Rivera and matchmaker Will Ruiz (Hard Hitting Prom’ns) returned on Friday,10/28/16 to the Sugarhouse Casino on Philadelphia’s waterfront for their second offering here, and again the circa 800-seat room was SRO. With fighters and fans concentrated on Philly’s Hispanic community, the home team produced a sweep. Kurt Wolfheimer was publicist and Patrick Michael Fattore handled the announcing duties.
The stutter-start career of once highly promising Ray Robinson was on again after some 18 months of inactivity. Robinson, 150 ½, Phila., 21-2 (10), looked reasonably sharp in polishing off potentially dangerous Santos Benavidez, 151 ½, Chontales, Nicaragua, whose 25-11-2 record includes a foreboding 19 KOs. But despite an indomitable fighting spirit, the stocky and crude visitor could never get close enough to score effectively on the long-limbed and rangy favorite. Both southpaws, the two excited the crowd by mixing constantly, but most of consisted of Robinson taking target practice while Benavidez trudged resolutely forward while firing premature shots that missed consistently. As the first round closed, the frustrated Benavidez stepped back from a plastering and defiantly dropped his hands. Robinson willingly obliged, a sweeping left and right hook buckling the underdog’s knees, followed up by another right that put him on the floor.
Benavidez got out of the round and remained undaunted, gamely trying to turn it into a drunken brawl but so lacking in fundamental skills that Robinson was able to let his hands go and tattoo him with roundhouse punches. Benavidez took ferocious beatings in rounds two and three, and ironically was beginning to land amid the blitz in round four, but it was his last. Taking too much punishment, the underdog had referee Shawn Clark giving him a long look between rounds when a cornerman signaled the end of the contest. Despite its extreme one-sidedness, the loser’s determined if hopeless effort made it an entertaining bout and good win for Robinson.
The semi-final eight between Steven Martinez, 155 ½, Bronx, 17-3 (13), and Jeremy Ramos, 154 ½, from somewhere in Colorado that no one seemed to know, 9-5 (4), was the first competitive contest after an undercard of obligatory gift-win fours, and that dramatic shift in momentum had repercussions that extended well past the final bell. The favorite was clearly the better technician and quickly established control in a brisk and lively contest. Martinez moved carefully forward, working the left hook as if it were the jab, and sometimes following with short rights. The steady tattoo had the underdog constantly in retreat, although Jeremy was game and tried to answer back. But he was consistently outscored and giving ground. Occasional muscular rallies by the underdog brought up the crowd but were mostly crude misses after which the pattern resumed. The punishment seemed to be telling on Ramos in the third and it looked as if he were on the way out. But he rallied in round four and set the stage for a dramatic finish.
Swinging crude but determined punches in an effort to turn the slick contest into a brawl, Ramos had a seemingly disconcerted favorite twice losing his mouthpiece and once spinning completely around from a missed left hook, to the crowd’s amusement. But even in this hectic round, Martinez finally collected himself and had Ramos again giving ground from body shots. Steven was back in control and dominated the next two rounds. Then in the seventh, the contest pivoted to a rip-roaring finish! When referee Blair Talmadge took a point from Martinez for the third loss of mouthpiece, Ramos went into high gear, throwing everything he had into the fray and backing a fading favorite up for the first time since the interlude in the fourth. The last round had the crowd going wild and was all Ramos, culminating in a short, booming right that buckled Steven’s knees just before the bell.
What happened next was classic Scappoose Effect; after four blowouts on the undercard, the designated loser had done much better than expected and put up a heck of a fight. But that did not entitle him to win. The scores were fair; Steve Weisfeld 77-74, Justin Rubenstein 76-75, and Lindsey Page 75-74, unanimous for Martinez. Weisfeld’s was the best score. The crowd booed lustily and the loser surely thought he’d had a chance. But anyone who thinks Ramos won this fight should take up water polo. That assertion can be verified in a week on Telemundo.
The undercard bouts were all scheduled fours. Christian Carto, 117 ½, Phila., 4-0 (4), stopped Angel Carbajal, 116, Chi., 2-5, in a brisk crowd pleaser. Carbajal mixed willingly but the bigger favorite let his hands go with a punishing mix of both hands to body and head. With the underdog getting cleaned up and rocked, Talmadge stopped it, at 1:42 of the second. Angel was still on his feet and protested vigorously.
Angel Pizarro, 123, Phila., 2-0 (1), TKO’d Maurice Adams, Jr., 120, Wash., DC, 1-2, in 2:40 of the second. After some cautious boxing, the favorite shifted gears and brought up his fans with a closing rally in the first that had the visitor clutching desperately. In the second, Pizarro began firing the right with bad intentions, and when one dropped behind Adams’ ear, his knees gave out and he folded to the canvas for a count. Arising, the spindly Maurice wobbled noticeably and this cued ref Clark to stop it, over a protest.
Angel’s brother Branden Pizarro, 136, Phila., debuted to wild fan support but didn’t have much in front of him in Ezequiel Ocasio, 137, Carolina, PR, 1-3. Coming out with both hands firing full tilt, Branden drove the overwhelmed underdog to the ropes, roasted him and dropped him with a left to the ribs. Ocasio made no effort to rise and was counted out by Clark in 39 seconds of round one. He was reportedly fined $250 by the commission for lack of effort.
Popular Jeremy Cuevas, 139 ¾, Phila., debuted to fan delight, blowing out pathetic Luis Ramos, 143, Carolina, PR, 0-3, in 1:32 of round two. The underdog tried at first in bristly action, but swung wildly as if he’d never had a boxing lesson. It wasn’t long before Cuevas’ sharpshooting had him merely covering up. In round two, a left to the body and right hook from the southpaw favorite slumped Ramos to a sitting position in his own corner, looking at his handler. He got up but Cuevas was on him, and a booming left uppercut prompted Talmadge to stop it.
In memory of K.O.J.O.