J. R. Jowett reporting from ringside: The match smelled from Day 1.Why put Anthony Caputo Smith, a limited fighter but a popular ticket-seller whose 13-1 (10) record was largely built up against carefully-picked opposition, in with dangerous spoiler Dhafir Smith, 26-23-7 (4)? Dhafir “meant nothing” in Philly, most of his bouts being out of town. Yet he is vastly more experienced, against tough opposition. He looked to take Anthony apart. In the days of Frankie Carbo, this would have smacked of set up. But they don’t do that in boxing anymore.
The scheduled 10 took place 4/19/13 at Harrah’s Casino Chester, for the PA Light Heavy crown owned by Smith…Dhafir, that is. Smith (Dhafir, that is) at 175 ½, from Upper Darby, and Caputo 176 ¼, Kennett Square. The circa 900 room was packed wall-to-wall with Caputo fans, not exactly to be regarded for their objectivity. The contest itself, by objective standards, was tame and a bit of a disappointment. But that didn’t hold back the Caputo fans, who never gave up hope. Most of the interest wouldn’t come until after the bout ended.
The pattern was established in round one and barely wavered all night. The long-limbed Smith (Dhafir, that is) circled away, kept as much distance as his lanky proportions could establish, and worked the jab. Jab, jab, jab…over and over. Caputo, meanwhile, followed him around with studied ineffective aggression, and got hit, and got hit, and got hit. His nose was considerably bloodied already by round two. Caputo tried to catch Dhafir on the ropes and force the action inside. But Dhafir’s long arms easily shut him down, plus outfought him in what limited close trading there was. The rounds were repetitive, with Caputo managing to make a couple late rounds close, mainly by mauling and reducing the number of scoring blows still further. He tried long left hooks at times, but as Dhafir was always moving to his own left, the best Caputo could do was reach him on the end of the punch, where it was reduced to a touch. Round ten was the only really action round, as both seemed to respond to the moment and mixed it up at last. Again, Dhafir clearly got the better of it. Anthony’s face was by now so busted up that he began to resemble Gene Fullmer. Gary Rosato was the referee.
OK, so Caputo hadn’t been disgraced, he hadn’t been destroyed, he could still sell tickets. He just hadn’t won the fight. Ringside press joked about how many rounds Anthony may have gotten, shy of a shutout. Oh, the horror! Ring announcer “Torma” (a/k/a Larry Tornambe) first read Dave Braslow’s 95-95. Bad enough, but one dissenter doesn’t ruin the decision. Next, he announced that the other two (Allen Rubenstein, Dave Greer) had scored a ridiculously close 96-94. OK, at least the right guy would win. No! “…To the new Pennsylvania light heavyweight champion…” The partisans were ecstatic, of course; what did they care? But it was mind-boggling to anyone who respects the sport that this could be given to Caputo. Are points awarded for coming forward? Is this what they’re taught in seminars? Is a boxer to be penalized for retreating and moving away? Are rabbit punches, kidney punches, blows glancing off arms and shoulders to be considered scoring blows? This is Boxing, not street fighting, MMA or UFC!
Matchmaker (not for this show) Zach Pomilio nailed it. “Dhafir has the most negative body language I’ve ever seen.” The judges score like it’s a playground fight, on body language, not clean blows. Because Caputo trudges forward and Dhafir “runs” and avoids punches by feet rather than inches, they think that the “aggressive” boxer is winning, no matter how many times he gets hit in the face. Dhafir’s trainer Percy Custus accepted the defeat, philosophizing that his fighter allowed it to be too “close”. True; Dhafir threw few rights and never opened up. And it’s no wonder we have brain-damaged boxers.
DeCarlo Perez, 155 ¾, Atlantic City, 10-2-1 (4), was impressive in dissecting normally murderously tough Julius Kennedy, 156 ½, Windsor Mill, MD, 7-5-1 (3), in the semi eight. The aggressive, free-swinging underdog normally gives everyone heck, and recently that included the vaunted Harry Yorgey. But the key to DeCarlo’s win was precision. Kennedy never could establish his swarming attack as Perez consistently beat him to the punch with short, precise combinations. Julius would try to attack, DeCarlo would scorch him with a quick combo and step away, Julius would regroup and the same thing would happen over again. Some blistering exchanges did take place, especially to the bell in rounds three and four, but DeCarlo’s better hands held the advantage. Kennedy’s left eye was swelling badly in the fourth. He also came in with his left knee wrapped, which may have affected his performance. With desperation building, the two opened round five with a you-hit-me, I’ll-hit-you bombs away that had the crowd in a frenzy. But Kennedy was rocked, gave ground, and fell onto the ropes where Perez poured it on without answer until referee Shawn Clark abruptly stopped it, at 1:49. Julius protested.
Somehow the judges got it right in a tough, close contest between Julio DeJesus, 139 ¼, Chester, 8-3-3 (4), and Ariel Duran, 139, NYC, 7-4-1 (4). Ariel entered the ring in shades. Remember when Roger Mayweather did that? Ariel fared better, losing a close majority decision, six. The bout was a hard-fought struggle between the attacking DeJesus and the circling Duran, but lacked fireworks. DeJesus did a nice job of picking off the jab, and landed counter rights whenever Ariel tried to reverse gears and attack. With the bout on the line in the final round, the muscular Julio pulled out all stops and clearly won the round. This afforded him a 58-56 victory from Braslow and Rubenstein, while Greer had it 57-57. Neither score was out of line, unlike the main event.