J.R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Promoting his brains out, Marshall Kauffman (Kings Prom’ns) ran yet another show at Philadelphia’s 2300 Arena, on Friday night. Christmas came early for the fans, who got a six-bout competitive card instead of what has become all too common with modern promotions, the numbing post-midnight marathon of record-building setups. Marshall does his own matchmaking and took a risk, which proved a good contest but a blow to the local hero. The circa 1200-seat arena had about a thousand fans, who were well rewarded. Alex Barbosa was ring announcer and Marc Abrams publicist. Timekeeper Madra Clay tolled the commemorative final ten for long-time ringside physician, Dr. Paul Steinberg.
The 10-round main event could hardly have produced more action, but was a bitter loss for popular Brandon Robinson, 168 ¼, Phila., 11-2 (8), to sleeper Kalvin Henderson, 166 ½, Fayetteville, AR, via Ft Worth, 11-0 (7). In heated trading from first bell, the strong and muscular favorite tried to overpower his more slightly built opponent. But Henderson was calm and cool, to say the least. He kept a sneaky jab working that had Brandon’s left eye puffing underneath as early as the second round. In a few rounds, it was virtually closed and contributed mightily to his eventual loss, blinding him to rights that then drove him into right-left hook combinations that proved deadly. By round three, the pace was telling. Robinson was still ahead in the punch count as trading never ebbed. But Henderson, more sparing with his punches, twice buckled Brandon’s knees, a left hook and then a right just before the bell. By the fifth, the toll began to tell on the hero. He was holding his own in the trading, but evidently being worn down, as he suddenly and surprisingly slumped to one knee, more by way of escape than from a single blow. But he rallied gamely, trying to mug Henderson on the ropes.
This bruising style and punishing action continued through the sixth. But it was now a question as to whether the favorite had weathered the storm and was on a roll over a tiring underdog, or whether the visitor was taking too much out of him and would eventually gain control. It proved the latter. Robinson again started the seventh round with a vigorous mugging on the ropes, but when he stepped away, he was spent and ready to go. Henderson seized the opportunity, twice dropping Brandon to a knee with right-left combos. On the second knockdown, referee Benjy Esteves mercifully waved it over, at 2:08. The question now remains if Robinson can pull it back together in the gym or if this is effectively a career ender.
One-time storied amateur, whose pro career has ground slowly, Paul Koon, 237 ½, Phila., 4-0 (1), returned to action in a tough assignment against Cade Rodriguez, 293 ¾, Monroe, GA, 2-3 (2), four. It proved a heavyweight huff & puffer, but action was withering if not quick and stylish. Round one started vigorously, with the attacking visitor stumbling forward off balance and getting hooked around the back of the neck and ridden down to the canvas. Referee Chris Riskus ruled a knockdown, but it really wasn’t. Nonetheless the local favorite dominated the first two rounds with sharper hands while the underdog relied on roundhouses. Cade appeared to be wilting from the rugged physical pace, but Koon showed rust and never really took over the fight. The last two rounds were mostly a game of playing ‘possum, waiting for the other to commit and land a big punch. Rodriguez had one flurry in the third. Scappoose, anyone? Gail Jasper gave him a round, 39-36, while Jimmy Kinney and Dewey LaRosa both had it 40-35, unanimous for Koon.
In an exciting slugfest, Isaiah Wise, 155 ¾, Phila., 7-2-1 (4),took the measure of dangerous Andy Gonzales, 151 ½, Worcester, 6-4 (5), with a TKO at 40 seconds of the second round of a scheduled six. It was total war from first bell with both fighters letting their hands go full tilt. But the advantage was to Wise with straight punches while the taller and rangy visitor looped his shots. Nonetheless, Andy’s spirited and reckless attack wasn’t without reward, as he rallied and bombed Isaiah along the ropes with long, roundhouse shots. Wise saved himself with a jarring counter right that swung the action back in his favor. Isaiah then rose to the occasion, jolting Andy with a solid lead right that buckled the visitor’s knees. Righting himself, Gonzales looked to his corner and got leveled with a booming right! He gamely arose, but paid no attention to either his opponent or referee Esteves, but instead walked straight to his corner. This could have been cause for stopping the bout, but instead, he was saved by a timely bell. Not for long! Isaiah poured it on full bore in round two, driving Gonzales to a neutral corner and blistering him at length until Benjy had little choice but to stop it, over a mild protest.
Popular Romuel Cruz, 122, Phila., 3-0-1, shut out game but hopelessly small Hugo Rodriguez, 120 ¾, Nuevo Leon, MX, 0-2, four. The underdog was feisty and showed some good fundamentals, but bailing out from long range wasn’t the best plan against the calm and poised local favorite. Hugo couldn’t infight effectively and was unable to overcome Romuel’s reach advantage. After three rounds of picking his shots from long range, Romuel finished the fight on the inside, outmuscling Rodriguez in spirited action to the entertainment of his supporters. All 40-36.
In a tame but still interesting four, James Bernadin, 139 ½, Lancaster, 1-0-1 (1), and Sheldon Deverteuil, 137 ¼, Phila., 1-0-2, boxed a split draw. In the first, Bernadin managed to catch the stubby Deverteuil trying to come in. In the second, Sheldon was finding the range and ducking James’ counters, but Bernadin did rally late off one good right. The third was close and made up mostly by misses by both, but Deverteuil did force the fight and held an edge. Bernadin regrouped in the fourth and had his best round, letting his hands go without waiting for Sheldon to commit. The judges came up with the right decision by three different routes; Jasper 39-37 Deverteuil, Kinney the same score for Bernadin, and Adam Friscia tying it at 38-38. No round was clearly decided and the outcome was the best of the options.
In a zero affair, Travis “Holy” Toledo, 173 ¼, Washington Hgts, NYC, 4-0 (4), got rid of Ronnie Lawrence, 174 ½, Phila., 0-3, in 2:30 of the first, scheduled four. Lawrence made no discernible effort other than to try to maul. Toledo bored in, managed to dig some body shots when he could keep his hands free, and twice dropped Lawrence with routine left hooks to the head while Ronnie was trying to tie him up. On the second knockdown, the loser made a mock effort to rise but didn’t beat ref Riskus’ count, and seemingly didn’t want to.