Tevin Farmer, 129 ¾, Phila defended his IBF Jr Lightweight title against Jono Carroll, 129 ¼, Dublin at Philadelphia’s Liacouras Center, 12. Carroll quickly established his game of crowding inside and whacking the body with both hands.
J.R. Jowett reporting from ringside: For most of the 20thcentury, Philadelphia was one of the top fight towns in the world. Rocky Marciano won the title here in one of the great fights in heavyweight history. “Sugar” Ray Robinson, “Kid” Gavilan, Bob Montgomery, Ike Williams, Harold Johnson, Joe Frazier, Joey Giardello, and Matthew Saad Muhammad defended their crowns here. But in the last quarter of the century, as boxing moved to the virtual world of PPV, young talents developed in the amateur system increasingly left town after a bout or two, returning only sparingly. Headliners like Bernard Hopkins, Danny Garcia and Steve Cunningham rarely appeared. But occasionally, the Fates would smile and one of their fights would land here, an echo of the historical past.
And so on 3/15/19, British promoter Eddie Hearn (Matchroom Boxing), bent on taking the US by storm, landed at Temple University’s Liacouras Center with a star-studded extravaganza…well, of minor stars, that is. The main draw was an unlikely one; Tevin Farmer, a guy who came into the pros without fanfare, struggled in the local prelims, can’t punch, yet continued undaunted, learned his trade, got an opportunity as an underdog and won the title in an upset in Australia. A kind of Rocky story, peculiarly appropriate to Philly. An appreciative crowd of some 4000 filled the floor and lower deck of the arena and hung in through the long evening enjoying the show. Eric Bottjer, not too reliable for press passes but a fine matchmaker, and The Great J. Russell Peltz did the matchmaking. Freddie Blumstein and Madra Clay kept time, and Michael Buffer and “Diamond Dave” Diamante shared as ring announcer. The show was carried by Da Zone.
Tevin Farmer, 129 ¾, Phila., 29-4-1 (6)), defended his IBF Jr Lightweight title against Jono Carroll, 129 ¼, Dublin, 16-1-1 (3), in a close, tight and tense 12. The challenger, a lefty fighting out of a nearly squared stance, quickly established his game of crowding inside and whacking the body with both hands. The slippery Farmer couldn’t hold him off but lashed back with crisp counters throughout a lively and crowd pleasing contest. In an action packed third, Carroll worked the body well but Tevin’s counters were sharp and cut Jono’s right eye. The cut would reopen throughout the contest but never seemed a factor. In the fourth, Tevin had trouble holding Jono off and had to stand and mix in a trade war. By the fifth, Carroll was only pushing his punches while Farmer outscored him with counters, sending Jono’s mouthpiece flying out of the ring. In the hectic sixth, Jono scored more while Tevin landed the cleaner blows. This was a pattern throughout and made the contest difficult to score. Carroll then bore down with his crowding body attack and gave Farmer a rough night over the next three rounds. The challenger’s cut reappeared in the ninth, but he was by no means losing the fight and looked in position to take the title, as the local hero was being hard pressed and at times fighting a defensive battle and failing to take control. But in the closing rounds, Farmer pulled out the stops and asserted himself well. He had a good tenth by keeping some distance and getting off with his shots. The eleventh was a pitched battle back and forth until Tevin got some room to land a jarring right that had Jono going limp and struggling to stay on his feet. Carroll gamely made it to the bell but the round was pivotal. Farmer had a good final round and prepared the stage for a dramatic announcement of the decision, as this could have gone either way. The judges were unanimous for Farmer and surprised some by wider scores than expected. John Poturaj had 117-110 while Dave Braslow and Sylvain Leblanc had 117-111. Jono would have won this in Ireland, but it was neither a bad call nor a homer. Just a close fight. Gary Rosato refereed.
“Tevin Farmer was very good tonight,” commented the challenger. “He was stronger than I thought he would be. I was supposed to block his jab. I did it well the first two rounds, but I swayed off the game plan.” The winner stated succinctly, “He was tough, but I was ready for it.”
Katie Taylor, 133 ¾, with an unquestionably English surname but fighting out of Bray, Ireland, 13-0, had the perfect foil in Rose Volante, 133 ¼, Sao Paulo, 14-1, in a scheduled women’s 10 for the world lightweight title by the WBA and IBF. The game Volante trudged unimaginatively forward while Taylor took target practice with quicker hands. The writing was on the wall as early as the first when Volante stumbled into a cuffing left hook and went down, not badly hurt. Taylor’s quick counters won virtually every exchange into the fifth, when the persistent Volante started to show signs of wear and began giving ground after some crunching left hooks to the body. By the eighth, the Brazilian was taking a beating and bleeding from a scalp cut. Action had been steady, but not dramatic as Volante was unable to put together a game plan. In the ninth, referee Benjy Esteves had seen enough and stopped the fight at 1:40.
It started like the hot prospect beating up on the washed up old star when Maciej Sulecki, 159 ½, Warsaw, 28-1 (11), took on Gabe Rosado, 159 ½, Phila., 24-12-1 (4), in a 10. But it turned into a sensational battle that had the crowd going crazy. Rosado went down in the first from a right to the ear as he tried to pull away. Maciej set the pace and forced the fight. But Rosado hung in and gradually edged his way into the contest. By the sixth they were mixing briskly and by the seventh Sulecki was starting to give ground while Rosado came on. Rosado was having a good round in the eighth until he got too loose, missed a right and was dropped by a left-right combo. Sulecki tried to smoke him in a neutral corner but Gabe artfully dodged the barrage. Sulecki circled and went behind the jab in the ninth until he stuck out a lazy left and Gabe brought up a right over the top to floor him. With local fans going crazy, Sulecki had trouble regaining his feet and nearly fell back down. But he made it out of the round. The tenth was all-out war, with Sulecki winning the unanimous decision. Lynne Carter scored 95-93, Braslow and John McKaie 95-91. Shawn Clark refereed.
Hank Lundy, 134 ½, Phila., 29-8-1 (14) and Avery Sparrow, 134 ¼, Phila., 10-1 (3), engaged in a good local showdown over 10 rounds that could have stood on its own at the 2300. Unfortunately it was lost as the second bout on the undercard, but at least a halfway decent number of fans got there to see it. Known as a boxer rather than a banger, Sparrow took the high ground quickly in a fast start. Lundy came out forcing the action and shook Sparrow late in the first with a right and left hook as Avery tried to pull away. But in the second, Sparrow beat Hank to the punch with a short, straight right as he charged in, buckling his knees and causing his right glove to touch canvas for a knockdown call from referee Clark. That would have been enough to cement the round, but as the two mixed it up late, Hank got too loose with his swings and another straight right drilled him to the floor, a solid knockdown this time. After taking a round to get untracked, Lundy again began forcing the fight while Sparrow circled and looked for payoff punches. The rest of the contest was tight boxing and close rounds, with Lundy edging forward. Action picked up some in the last two, with Hank trying to make it a mugging in the ninth while Avery tied him up. Sparrow kept his hands free and clearly won the final round, with Hank no longer trying to maul. Dewey LaRosa scored 94-94, Poturaj 96-92, and Braslow 95-93, giving Sparrow a deserved majority win in a close fight.
Highly touted Luke Campbell, 137 ¾, Hull, Eng., 20-2 (16) romped over Adrian Yung, 138 ¼, Los Mochis, MX, 26-6-2 (20), in a scheduled 10. The lanky southpaw favorite kept the plodding Mexican on the end of long punches throughout while completely dominating. In the third, a left to the body doubled Yung over and had him close to taking a knee. By end of round, he was getting rocked. In the fourth, a long left had the underdog stumble back and then crumble to the canvas, left eye bleeding. It was still bleeding as he came hopelessly out for the fifth, unable to mount any effective battle plan against the favorite’s long reach and stance. A sitting duck, Adrian was frozen when nailed by a booming left cross, wobbling back into a neutral corner and then pounded and stumbling when referee Eric Dali rescued him with a TKO at 1:37.
Daniyar Yeleussinov, 148 ¼, Berezino, Kazakhstan, 6-0 (3), got a good workout from Silverio Ortiz, 150 ¾, Merida, Yucatan, 37-24 (18), in a punishing 8. The rangy southpaw favorite alternated between keeping the action at bay with long rights or moving inside and mixing, where he still had a notable advantage. In the fifth, Daniyar started to settle down on his punches and dish out punishment. In the seventh, the game Mexican was under pressure and hammered down by a two-hand volley, but Daniyar finished it with a cheap shot to the back of the head. Esteves gave a count but then took a point from Yeleussinov while allowing Silverio a rest. The enflamed Ortiz then roared back with a vengeance and made a fight of it for the final two rounds, adding some drama and excitement to what otherwise was a record builder. Yeleussinov won the unanimous verdict, 79-70 from Carter and 79-71 from McKaie and Allen Rubenstein.
Overseas TV forced the start to 5:15 and no more than a handful of fans saw D’Mitrius Ballard, 162 ¾, Temple Hills, MD, 20-0 (13), have a workout against well-worn Victor Fonseca, 167 ½, Tijuana, 17-10-1 (14), in a scheduled 10. The fight was rugged but an uninspiring grind. Ballard did a nice job of flat-footed mixing at mid range, going over and under with short and punishing punches. The underdog hung tough for a couple rounds and mixed, but by the third, he’d had it. Victor was being hurt to the body and giving ground. He toughed it into the fifth, but after a rest from referee Dali for a low blow, he was taking a heavy beating and Dali stopped it.
Debuting southpaw Raymond Ford, 127 ½, Camden, won a good scrap from Weusi Johnson, 128 ¼, Wilmington, 3-11, in the only four. They were sizing each other up in the first when a sneak left sent Weusi to the canvas. He boxed out of it well to give the favorite a good contest for the distance. All scores 39-36 (Carter, LaRosa and Steve Weisfeld).
John Joe Nevin, 132 ¾, Mullingar, Ire., 12-0 (4), beat up but couldn’t stop Andres Figueroa, 133 ½, Bogota, 9-4 (5), in a walkout six the next day. Most of the crowd had left and the faithful crowded excitedly around ringside for what was actually a spirited contest. The rangy Nevin tattooed freely the hapless Colombian with long, looping punches that landed almost at will even when telegraphed around Cape Horn. Figgy was jolted numerous times but nothing if not game. By the later rounds, John Joe was wilting a bit from hitting him while Figueroa was resolutely still trying to mount a charge and turn the action. McKaie and Rubenstein scored 60-54, Ron McNair 59-55.