J. R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Promoter/matchmaker Greg Robinson has done a fine job for many years in Philadelphia, but occasionally the best-laid plans… A nearly full house showed up at the Northeast Armory on 4/26/13 to see what promised to be a prime-time regional showdown between Philly’s rising Angel Ocasio, 7-0-2 (2), and Wilmington sleeper Ryan Belasco, 18-5-3 (3).
The problem was, among the 1500 or so people in the building, none of them was Angel Ocasio! The report was that he had failed the commission physical with a racing heartbeat, been given a spell to relax, and then passed. But by fight time, he had evidently reconsidered, and failed to show. What happened to the rule that fans had to be offered their money back if the main event wasn’t as advertised?
Belasco took the microphone to “apologize” to his fans, largely a lost effort on a PA system so bad that it even defeats the talents of ring announcer “Torma”. But fortunately, the fans took it well. “It’ll be tough to move him now,” commented Ocasio’s sub rosa manager Kurt Wolfheimer.
If that weren’t enough, the remaining seven bouts produced a lousy card! What more or less passed for the main event was mysteriously cut to four and provided an earnest contest, but lacked fireworks. Frankie Trader, 132, Phila., 10-1 (2), gained a unanimous decision from Jules Blackwell, 129, Phoenixville, 8-4-2 (3), in a studied boxing match. Trader, who had a storied local amateur career but has fought pro largely out of town, forced the contest, but carefully. Southpaw Blackwell, known as an exciting slam-banger, has been out of action for three and a half years, and boxed cautiously in reverse, looking mainly for payoff punches instead of building points. They both boxed well within themselves and Blackwell wasn’t disgraced, but the contest failed to ignite. Frankie finally opened up and had a dominant round in the third to remove any doubt as to the eventual winner. Scores: 39-37 and 40-36 twice.
The only six was a masterpiece of inactivity, as returning Wahid Rahim, 134, Phila., 4-0 (1), picked up the unanimous verdict from Tyrone Luckey, 133, Middletown, NJ, 5-3-1 (5). The main action in this match consisted of Luckey trying to step in against the southpaw and whacking heads, which happened in nearly every round and disconcerted Wahid. Otherwise, they searched but couldn’t find each other. Rahim inched forward but may have had trouble shaking the rust, while the rangy Tyrone seemed only interested in maintaining his perfect kayo record and looked for finishers. Finally in the sixth, Rahim opened up and had a good round. Joe Pasquale scored 58-56, Lynne Carter 59-55, and Bernard Bruni 60-54.
More extra-curricular activities took place in the bout between lefty Tevin Farmer, 134, Phila., 10-4-1 (1), and Jesus Bayron, 133, Mayaguez, PR, 5-7 (4)., mysteriously cut the four. Farmer wanted to mix it up while Bayron only wanted to get paid. In the second, with Jesus draped over his shoulder in a clinch, Tevin stood up full height and slammed him to the canvas. Hulk Hogan might have been proud, but not referee Blair Talmadge, who had to interrupt action and bring in the doctor to examine Bayron’s knee. The contest eventually resumed, until the next round, when the clutching underdog was thrown through the ropes and onto the commission table right in front of Commissioners Greg Sirb and Rudy Battle. Jesus got up limping and holding his back, but had to finish what was otherwise an uneventful contest. All scores 40-36, Farmer.
Something of a contest took place between Isiah Seldon, 165, Somers Point, 7-0 (3), and Tommie Speller, 168 ½, Phila., 5-6 (3), but it was no prize. Seldon started well and Tommie couldn’t get out of the way of spearing straight right leads in rounds one and two. The shots removed his mouthpiece repeatedly, keeping Talmadge busy. So did the scuffles that took place after the bell in the second and third. Speller finally rose to the challenge in round three and the two mixed it up. After Tommie nailed him with a clean left-right, Isiah stuck his tongue out in defiance, then got his own mouthpiece knocked out, and finally, the two fought after the bell. Then with the contest on the line in the final round, neither had enough left to go for it, with the result that Seldon won a unanimous decision, 39-37 and 40-36 twice.
Hapless Charles Hayward, 175 ½, Phila., 8-5 (3), picked up a win with a TKO over Abdellah Smith, 177, Queens, NY, 2-6 (2), at 2:11 of the fourth. The out-of-shape opponent offered nothing. The dreary match went into the final round before the exhausted Smith was trapped in a corner and slumped to the canvas by way of escape, a right to the back of the head helping him along. When he arose, he turned away and leaned on the turnbuckle, leaving referee Gary Rosato little choice but to stop it.
An earnest enough contest was nevertheless a heavyweight slo-mo and no gem between two debutees, Dante “Mr. Snuggly” Selby, 214 ½, and Aaron Leonard, 225 ½, both Phila. Mr. Snuggly started ambitiously, but Leonard may have stolen the first with some sneaky counters late in the round. Snuggly won the next two, although both were losing steam and mauling. With the contest on the line in the fourth, Aaron seized the occasion and built a lead before Mr. Snuggly mounted a too-little, too-late rally that nonetheless encouraged his many fans. Pasquale gave Snuggly a shutout, but the others made it a majority draw, 38-38, not a bad call.
And one possible bright spot was the debut of Emmanuel Folly, 122 ½, Phila., versus Elvis Rodriguez, 120, Manchester, CT, 0-3. Elvis took a flash knockdown early in the first when his trailing foot went out behind him, but Emmanuel made it the real thing later in the round. Elvis was doubled over to the body, then hammered down and saved by the bell. In round two, Rodriguez was still game but being worked over when Rosato had seen enough, moved in to separate them and knocked Folly over in the process, and stopped the scheduled four at 1:22.
April 26, 2013