J. R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Too bad, this may have been the finale for boxing at this great little venue, Valencia Ballroom in York, PA, on 11/23/13. The comfy, wood-paneled early 20th-century hall in an old-fashioned small town business district has played host to virtually all the big musical names of the Swing Era, and held great small club boxing in this century.
Whether it be major fights on cable, none of the big three local attractions (Bowman, Nemo, Weimer) on the show.who knows? But only about a hundred fans turned out, and promoter Julio Alvarez (A&D Prom’ns), who has done a great job keeping boxing alive in South Central PA, was not a happy camper.
Those who showed up couldn’t have had a better example of a humbly-conceived card producing sensational contests in terms of action, and the fans were going crazy! Matchmaker Chuck Bayley provided four pro bouts, three of them wars and one comic relief, with no bad decisions.
After a spirited exhibition between Terrance Williams and Ryan Forbes, the pros opened with a slam-bang four! In an odd pairing (for PA) of Ohioans, Julius Leegrand, 129 ?, Cleveland, 4-1-1, faced Micah Branch, 129, Columbus, 2-8-1. Leegrand took the opening round by being a little busier in semi-cautious but energetic boxing.
Micah dug in his heels and started firing with bad intentions to take the second as action increased, but Julius finished stronger to make it close. Leegrand continued the rally into the third, starting fast and peppering Branch with long-armed shots. This time it was Micah’s turn to come back late, digging some good body and body-head shots to close the session.
It was anybody’s fight into the final round, but Branch let everything go, bombarding the overwhelmed Leegrand throughout the round and rocking him late in the session. Bernard Bruni scored 38-38, but Dave Greer and Mike Somma tilted the majority win to Branch, 39-37.
Comedy time was next as promising Khalib "Bigfoot" Whitmore, 183, Phila., 3-0 (1), took on unschooled but willing Martez Williamson, 185, Alliance, OH, 1-4. The innovative Whitmore has a tendency to spice up his act for the fans, but against Williamson, he didn’t need to. Martez hurtles his body into the action, head down and hands flailing maniacally.
The skilled Whitmore tried to garner some order out of this but it wasn’t easy! Getting tied up, Williamson kept hitting as referee Gary Rosato (all bouts) tried to separate them. Bigfoot then threw Martez to the canvas and was pulled down with him.
Rosato stopped the playground fight and chastised them both. It didn’t do much good. The two careened around the ring, punching like windmills and wrestling, with Williamson thrown down again. Into the second, it remained mayhem. Martez wasn’t landing anything cleanly, but his punches were flying around like flak. Whitmore was trying to draw a bead, and twice more shoved him to the canvas.
At last, a knockdown! Khalib managed to put three or four shots on target during a wild melee, and down went Martez. He tried to beat the count by a split second, and did, but Rosato had had enough and called a TKO, at 1:55. Williamson stormed around the ring, vocalizing in protest. It couldn’t be discerned whether that was in earnest or a face-saving act. Stylistically, the bout was garbage, but had an odd entertainment value on its own terms.
The last of the fours was back to a good fight, and ended with the right outcome, a split draw. James Robinson, 154, York, 1-0-2, matched tactics with Malik "The Freak" Jackson, 152, 0-1-2, in furious trading. Both fighters bailed out full-tilt on nearly every punch, but there was method to the madness.