J. R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Sadly, the Pennsylvania judges took Good Friday to give a Bad Decision. Frankie Santos DeAlba, 137 ½, Reading, 12-1-2 (4), headlined a pro-am card at the EconoLodge in Allentown, facing a difficult spoiler in Israel Suarez, 137, Luquillo, PR, 4-4-2 (1).
Promoter/matchmaker Marshall Kauffman doesn’t make bad matches or give fighters easy wins. And that was the case here. Unfortunately, there was the decision. The eight-round main event, a pairing of southpaws, wasn’t a slam-banger. Rather, it was a tense chess match…move, counter, maneuver, set up…that was anybody’s fight…for six rounds. It started in standard hero-versus-opponent fashion. DeAlba took the immediate high ground, setting the pace and forcing the contest. Suarez circled away cautiously and looked for mistakes. The two probed with the jab, while DeAlba landed some clean lefts that took the first two rounds.
It was shaping up like the typical record-building club fight, where the prospect wants it more and dictates the terms while the foil takes what is given and doesn’t over-extend…until the close of round two. Suarez landed one clean, solid left as the bell ended the second round, then led off the third with the same tactic, jolting Frankie. DeAlba became more cautious, started looking for openings as much as making them, and the momentum swung subtly to the now more aggressive underdog. Frankie was trying to rally at the bell, making the round close. Round four saw the visitor now controlling the pace with DeAlba looking confused and Kauffman imploring “Jab! Jab!” The fifth was Frankie’s last hurrah, as he had now changed tactics to moving away and countering, but he got it working and landed some clean combinations in yet another close round. Action became freer in an exciting sixth as Suarez took it to DeAlba, jolting him with a left in mid-round. DeAlba again tried to rally late and steal the round as excited fans rallied with him.
At this point, it was anybody’s fight, one round give or take. But the last two rounds were ALL Suarez. Frankie was a beaten fighter. Israel had his best round of the fight in the seventh, confidently letting his hands go with less caution and battering the favorite for the entire session. With the fight on the line and fans going crazy, the underdog continued through a big final round, punctuating it with a sharp left at the ten-second tap that staggered DeAlba and had Suarez pouring it on to the bell.
Now comes the decision. Announcer Larry Tornambe (a/k/a “Torma”) first called Mike Somma’s score of 77-75 for DeAlba! OK, not to worry, Tornambe likes to tease the crowd by often announcing the loser first, and Somma is a new and unproven judge. Then Dave Greer’s correct score of 77-75 Suarez. Finally, when Tornambe announced that Eric Dali had scored it a wide 78-74…that HAD TO be for Suarez…but no! Unimaginably, the split decision went to DeAlba! The place exploded with celebration, because the DeAlba fans all knew they’d dodged a bullet. So what now? Correctly lose a decision and you go back to the gym and make yourself a better boxer. Walk away with a gift, and then what?
Suarez was quite gracious with the outcome. He stated through handler Lenny DeJesus acting as interpreter that he saw it as an even fight but in his mind, with his work ethic, he thought he’d won. His initial tactic had been to use the jab to create openings, and once he’d shocked DeAlba a couple times, he took over and started forcing the fight.
All the undercard bouts, four rounders, were hard-fought, competitive and close. The judges fared better. The first two contests followed the exact same pattern: underdog starts fast, hero takes over and appears to have it under control, but underdog comes back in fourth and makes it close. Debuting Miguel Martinez, 157, Reading, got plenty from hard-luck Danny Lugo, 151 ½, Harrisburg, 2-7 (1), in a good bout. Lugo moved and popped short counters to take the first before the bigger Martinez began settling down on his punches and battering Danny. Lugo was on the run late in round two when he fired back a short right uppercut that stunned Martinez and drove him back. Miguel was showing wear in the final session and doing some holding while Danny was still there in a round that could have gone either way. Somma had a shutout while Dali and Greer had a better 39-37, unanimous for Martinez.
Robert Ramos, 133, Allentown, 1-2-1 (1), had no laugher against Benjamin Burgos, 128, Mt. Pocono, 1-6-1 (1), a rangy switch hitter who is technically sound but manages to do just enough to lose. Not this time. Ramos literally willed himself into the fight, attacking with total abandon. Burgos’ skills dominated round one, but Ramos was overwhelming him by the second. Robert continued to swarm effectively in a punishing third, while Burgos was doing his best to find the range with counters. He did in the fourth, scoring just enough to possibly gain the round by an eyelash. The judges split all three ways. Dali had 39-37 Burgos, Greer 39-37 Ramos, and Somma 38-38.
These two contests were good, but the final four, debuting Pat Kehoe, 150, Reading, against returning Shawn Sutton, 149 ½, Norristown, 0-2-1, was a debacle. The switch-hitting Sutton, once a promising amateur, hadn’t fought in twenty years! The popular Kehoe attacked recklessly, but his best punch was the haymaker. The result was a lot of bad intentions that produced mostly big misses. Kehoe forced the fight, nailed it with a strong fourth, and won the unanimous decision, 39-37 and 40-36 twice. Shawn Clark refereed all bouts.
Kauffman and co-promoter David Feldman put on a good grass-roots show overall, which included four amateur bouts, all female, and provided opportunity for boxers who aren’t on the inside track to gain valuable experience. But the main event decision was a spoiler.
Kaliah Vasquez, Reading Sensei Boxing, dec Angelita Rodriguez, TriCity, Bridgeton, NJ, 2-1, 88 lbs, 3 rds.
Samantha Veresey, Lehigh Valley BC, Bethlehem, dec Jasmine Torres, Kings Gym, Reading, 3-0, 136, 3.
Yesenia Torres, Kings, dec Marissa Mills, TriCity, 3-0, 135, 4 rds.
Brooke Shilling, Hammer Trng & Fitness, Bethlehem, dec Kayla Hracho, Kings, 3-0, 128, 3.
April 19, 2014