A heat wave of boxing hits Philly
Although the “City of Brotherly Love” didn’t score “King” LeBron James to enhance the ’76ers’ process or land Manny Machado to boost the surprising first place Phillies’ stuttering offense, we here in the 215 are looking forward to the start of NFL training camp, and the Super Bowl defense of the city’s beloved Eagles. Hopefully we’ll head toward a “Red October” with a Phillies playoff run.
After a great winter and excellent spring for the boxing calendar in the Philadelphia region, tonight marks the return of important boxing for fighters and events pertaining to Philadelphia and the South Jersey region.
While the first live boxing event in the region won’t take place until August 4, starting tonight, there are a slew of major fights that will involve fighters that call the area their hometown or main base of training.
First up is Jaron “Boots” Ennis, 20-0 (18). His fight with Armando Alvarez, 18-0 (12), will main event tonight’s “ShoBox” tripleheader card (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/PT), from the WinnaVegas Casino & Resort, in Sloan, Iowa. Since his days as a highly-touted amateur, Ennis has been turning heads in the city. If you would like to learn more about his background, this article was written last summer about the young talent. It was mentioned to former world junior middleweight champion Raul Marquez (who will be calling tonight’s card), that Ennis has many in the city feeling he is its best pure prospect since Meldrick Taylor.
Concern was growing that Boots was making his busy fight schedule look a little too easy. This includes 10 straight stoppage victories against a variety of styles. It was believed that maybe his talent would be stunted since he wasn’t getting properly tested, while other Philadelphians felt he simply was making it look so easy, due to being just that good. Whatever the case, with this fight, Ennis looks to showcase his lightning-fast feet and hands against a tough undefeated fighter who is coming to win. “(Alvarez) made a mistake in saying that he is fighting a kid that ain’t ready for him,” Ennis, who turned 21 in June, recently stated. “That’s on him. I keep telling everyone on my team that’s what he is supposed to say. Of course he thinks he is going to win. It’s my job to prove to him, and the world, that won’t be the case.”
On July 28, Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz, 23-0 (15), will battle Masayuki Ito, 23-1-1 (12), for the vacant WBO junior lightweight strap, recently vacated by Vasiliy Lomachenko. Although he is from Puerto Rico, Diaz has made TKO Fitness in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, his base of operations. Cherry Hill is right across the river from the city. After a short, 15-minute drive over the Ben Franklin Bridge, your GPS will take you to a gym that has a continually growing stable that plies its trade under the watchful eye of coach Raul “Chino” Rivas.
Along with former world champion Jason Sosa, if Riva’s two other junior lightweights are successful on July 28 and August 3, he will be in charge of the best 130 pound stable in the world. In the Diaz-Masayuki fight, Top Rank’s Diaz looks to continue his streak of impressive victories. He has dominated quality opposition, and has been chomping at the bit to get his crack at a title. Masayuki has fought in Japan, at the famed Korakuen Hall, and has won seven straight fights since his lone defeat.
On August 3, Tevin “American Idol” Farmer, 25-4-1 (5), takes on Billy Dib, 43-4 (24), for the vacant IBF version of the junior lightweight championship. Farmer last fought on HBO and was robbed of a decision victory against Kenichi Ogawa, much to the chagrin of the network’s broadcast team. After the fight, Ogawa tested positive for banned substances, and the fight was ruled a no-contest. While the HBO team seemed to gush over the performance put on by Farmer, it’s good that he didn’t wait for them to showcase his talent again, and chose to chase after the title he was robbed of, against a quality opponent like Dib. For his part, Dib has won four straight fights, since being stopped in his last title shot against Takashi Miura, back in May 2015, in Japan.
Live boxing is back in Atlantic City, with the first major card taking place on August 4. Main Events returns to A.C. for the first time in four years, since the Sergey Kovalev-Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight unification fight in late-2014. This time the HBO show, featuring two light heavyweight championship fights, takes place at the brand new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Since 2014, there have been a bunch of fights in A.C.; however they were local promotions held in smaller venues.
WBO titlist Kovalev, 32-2-1 (28), vs. Eleider Alvarez, 23-0 (11), looks to bring the bright lights of championship boxing back to A.C., while Dmitry Bivol, 13-0 (11), defends his WBA portion of the light heavyweight championship against Isaac Chilemba, 25-5-2 (10), as the co-feature.
King’s Promotions is back in Philadelphia on August 10. SugarHouse Casino will play host to a local card that is shaping up to be action-packed, as usual. Marshall Kauffman, the owner of King’s Promotions, has consistently promoted cards that move quickly from fight to fight, which keeps the fans engaged with the action. He matches his fighters well, in terms of action for the fans. On the 10th, there is a trio of intriguing fights, along with the continued development of local, standout prospects.
Fan favorite Christopher Brooker, 13-5 (5), takes on Eric Moon, 7-1 (6), in a super middleweight fight, in which these two won’t provide many dull moments. Javier Oquendo, 3-0 (1), and Joshafat Ortiz, 4-0 (2), are a pair of exciting junior lightweights, who have agreed to test their skills early in their careers, instead of being matched easy. In the main event, Tyrone Crawley, 7-1, battles Ricardo Garcia, 14-3 (9), in a do-or-die junior welterweight match-up for both fighters.
A fight card for the following night, Saturday, August 11, is being worked on by Hard Hitting Promotions. This will take place at the 2300 Arena, and will feature its stable of young talent. Super middleweight Derrick Webster, 26-1 (13), is scheduled to fight in the main event, while local top junior welterweight prospects Branden Pizzaro, 10-1 (4), and Jeremy Cuevas, 9-0 (7), will be back in action, continuing their busy schedules. Junior welterweight Samuel Teah, 13-2-1 (6), and junior lightweight Gadwin Rosa, 6-0 (5), will also fight in separate bouts, and featherweight Eric “Outlaw” Hunter, 21-4 (11), will make his long anticipated return, fighting for the first time, since his controversial loss of the IBF featherweight championship to Lee Selby, in 2016.
On August 18, Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, will put on a card from the Ocean Resort Casino, which, like the Hard Rock, is a renovated venue that is trying to rise from the ashes of the outdated casinos that preceded them. As was the case, when Top Rank promoted a successful show from the campus of Temple University, back in April, this card, which will be broadcast on ESPN, will see Philadelphia heavyweight and former championship challenger Bryant Jennings, 23-2 (13), in the main event, when he fights Alexander Dimitrenko, 41-3 (26). Jesse Hart, 24-1 (20), takes on Mike Gavronski, 24-2-1 (15), for Hart’s NABF super middleweight belt, with Hart’s eye still on a rematch with WBO champion Gilberto Ramirez. Jason Sosa, 20-3-4 (15), looks to rebound from his controversial loss to Yuriorkis Gamboa and undefeated featherweight Shakur Stevenson, 7-0 (4), continues his rise.
On ESPN+, the undercard will be shown, and, like in April, it’s a show fight fans shouldn’t miss. It will feature bantamweight Christian Carto, 15-0 (11), lightweight Joseph Adorno, 8-0 (8), and welterweight contender Thomas LaManna, 25-2-1 (9). Carto and Adorno are both hard-punching power boxers, who can end a fight with a variety of punches, while LaManna looks to make a statement, as he continues to rise up the 147 pound rankings.
Last but not least, on the same day, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center, Main Events and Golden Boy Promotions will team up to put on a card streamed live on Facebook. Sullivan Barrera, 21-2 (14), and Sean Monaghan, 29-1 (17), square off in the light heavyweight main event. A solid undercard is currently being worked on,that will feature local fighters from both stables.
* More coverage to come, in the near future, pertaining to the live events.
Tonight, July 20, WinnaVegas Casino & Resort, Sloan, Iowa: Jaron Ennis vs. Armando Alvarez (ShoBox)
July 28: Christopher Diaz vs. Masayuki Ito (ESPN+)
(WBO junior lightweight championship)
August 3: Billy Dib vs. Tevin Farmer (ESPN+)
(IBF junior lightweight championship)
August 4, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey: Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider Alvarez (HBO/Main Events)
(WBO light heavyweight championship)
Dmitry Bivol vs. Isaac Chilemba
(WBA light heavyweight championship)
August 10, SugarHouse Casino, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Tyrone Crawley vs. Ricardo Garcia (King’s Promotions)
August 11, 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Hard Hitting stable (Hard Hitting Promotions)
August 18, Ocean Resort Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey: Bryant Jennings vs. Alexander Dimitrenko (ESPN/Top Rank)
Jesse Hart vs. Mike Gavronski
Jason Sosa vs. Reynaldo Blanco
Shakur Stevenson vs. Carlos Ruiz
Christian Carto vs. Javier Gallo
Thomas LaManna vs. Matthew Strode
Joseph Adorno vs. Augustine Mauras
August 18, Sands Bethlehem Event Center, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Sullivan Barrera vs. Sean Monaghan (Main Events/Golden Boy/Facebook Live)
Feel free to contact me with comments at Luisacortes83@gmail.com.