J. R. Jowett reporting from ringside: The second in the new series of cards at the revived sports bar in Essington, PA, formerly known as The Lagoon and now The Deck, was presented on Thursday night(Aug 15).
It represented a comeback not only for the facility but for promoter Damon Feldman, operating under his father Marty’s license and in association with Meldrick Taylor. The Lagoon had been a seminal ground for many shows promoted by Feldman, but he had been off in a boxing limbo with exhibition and celebrity cards in recent years. Good to have him back promoting the real thing. The cozy room seats only about 250, so it’s a great venue for getting close to the action. The house was less than full, but fans in attendance thoroughly enjoyed a modest grass-roots presentation. Publicist Marc “The King” Abrams denied making the matches.
Anyone who’d seen the main eventers wouldn’t expect an action fight. And they’d be right. But Philly fans have traditionally been able to appreciate boxing skills, so it is no surprise that a cautious chess match still held their attention. Charles Hayward, 172 ½, Phila., 9-5 (4), edged his way to a unanimous decision over Antonio Liles, up 12 pounds from his match two weeks ago in Scranton at 178, Durham, NC, 1-3 (1). The visitor has slick defensive skills but no inclination whatever to mix. Hayward used his jab sparingly, generally pressed a cautious offense, and “made” whatever fight there was. Liles made himself a difficult target and did little to create openings, only reacting to whatever Hayward “gave” him by scoring embarrassing counters. Not a way to win a fight, and he didn’t. Judges Lynne Carter and Bernard Bruni scored the six rounder a shutout while Dewey LaRosa had 59-55.
At the opposite end of the spectrum was a scheduled four between popular Tyson Maher, 144, Brisbane, Austr., and purported opponent Josue Rivera, 145 ½, Phila., 1-2 (1). The debuting Tyson had a contingent of rabid fans and got off to a flying start. Rivera charged out with hands flailing wildly and wouldn’t let Maher get clear of his corner. But Tyson shifted to one side and dropped a right to the side of his head that flopped Josue on all fours, crowd cheering madly. Maher dominated a frenetic first round, but by the closing minute, the game Rivera was coming on with long, booming rights. Round one was wild enough, but round two escalated! The raw-boned and bigger Rivera was taking a crude attack to Maher, who seemed to be weakening. Then the Aussie revived his fans with a prolonged surge, but it was a last hurrah. The stronger Rivera, bleeding from the nose, stormed back, drove Maher into a neutral corner and hammered him down under a shower of clobbering blows. Tyson gamely got up and tried to regroup, but was getting pounded until referee Benjy Esteves (all bouts) had to stop it, at 2:16. This one had relatively little boxing skill, but frenzied action that kept the place going crazy!
A bit of a compromise between these two contests was a scheduled four between Evincii “Pride Fighter” Dixon, 143, Lancaster, 2-1 (1), and Ramon Ellis, 139, Phila., 4-9-2 (2). A good fight from first bell, but not as frenzied, saw the experienced Ellis trying to track down the lanky Dixon. Ramon edged a close first with a jarring right just before the bell. Ellis was continuing with what looked like a plan into the second, until the roof fell in! Backed into a neutral corner with Ramon attacking, Evincii timed him with a three-punch combo, right uppercut, left hook, right over the top. Ellis bounced onto the seat of his trunks and struggled unsuccessfully to beat the count, at 1:40. Despite many losses, all of Ramon’s fights have been matched tough and he’s given favorites all they wanted and sometimes more. A clean KO against this guy is an accomplishment!
A four between two debutees, Robert Sweeney, 159, Hampton, VA (training in Phila.), and Ruben Ortiz, 160 ½, Providence, was hard-fought and earnest, but had neither the fireworks nor the skills exhibited in the other fours. The southpaw Sweeney was the better boxer while the crude Ortiz swung vigorously. By round three a tight match was getting sloppy, with a lot of mauling, but still physically tough. The final round saw virtually no clean blows, but with both frenetically going for the win, the crowd was very much into it. Sweeney deserved, and got, the unanimous decision, all 39-37, although one card was announced as 38-38.
The show opened with an exhibition. These are usually hardly worth bothering, but this one was the exception! Anthony Patanella faced Maurice Amaro over three two-minute rounds at light heavy. Amaro repeatedly rocked Patanella with serious left hooks that had Esteves giving Maurice long looks…like, “Hey, this is supposed to be an exhibition!” Anthony rallied late in the third with some booming rights to pay Maurice back, bring up the fans and close the show.