Years from now when we look back at Philly boxing 2102, the
focus will be on the emergence of Danny Garcia as a world
champion and budding boxing star. Without question, he had an
incredible year, winning and defending titles, picking up belts
and fattening his bank account. However, Garcia wasn't the only
Philly fighter who had a great year. Bryant Jennings and Gabriel
Rosado also had banner years. In addition to this trio, a number
of other local boxers fought their way onto Philly's fistic map.
Once again boxing action within the city limits was limited, as
promoters searched for a venue to replace the Blue Horizon, now
more than two years dead. No other locale has yet to fill the
void as the backbone of Philly's boxing schedule. Instead venues
just outside the city limits have picked up the slack.
The nationally televised boxing series "Fight Night", on the NBC
Sports Network (NBCSN), provided two big Philly cards, and gave
many Philly fighters a platform on which to fight, either on TV
or off, both in Philly and out.
All in all, it was an interesting year of Philadelphia boxing,
full of big wins, bitter disappointments, title bouts, club
fights, and much, much more. So here is the 2012 wrap up.
BREAKOUT STARS (Garcia,
Jennings & Rosado)
DANNY GARCIA had the biggest year in 2012. He won three
fights, three titles, and emerged as a true boxing star. He is
not yet in the Pound-for-Pound discussion, but his fights have
been thrillers that provided fans with what they like - great
action, a little blood, definitive endings, and good looking
In March, Garcia won the WBC junior welterweight crown with a
dominant unanimous decision over legend Erik Morales. Garcia
fought his way through his first-title-fight-jitters early on to
take control of the fight, drop the legendary champion, and
wrap up the decision in Houston.
Garcia followed up his title-winning effort with a star-making
performance against Amir Khan in Las Vegas. After a slow start,
Garcia fought through a badly cut eye to blast Khan out in round
four. Garcia floored Khan at the end of round three and finished
the job moments later. The victory was sudden, brutal and clear
cut. A star was born. Garcia defended his WBC strap and picked
up the WBA and Ring titles with the win.
He closed his year by giving Morales a rematch to open the
Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Although few thought the aging
former champ had a chance against the young lion from Philly, it
was the way Garcia ended the fight that mattered. This time
there were no jitters. He walked Morales down and took him out
with a crushing Philly left hook, that spun "El Terrible"
completely around, down, and into retirement.
The best part about Garcia's year was that it is only the
beginning. There are a number of terrific matches for him in the
junior welterweight division, and above. His first fight of the
year will be a return to Brooklyn for a high-profile match with
former champion Zab Judah. The fight should be the first step of
a very big year for Philly's only current world champ.
Heavyweight BRYANT JENNINGS had a year like no one else.
He began 2012 as a 6-round preliminary fighter, 11-0 but nowhere
near making noise in the heavyweight division.
Or so we thought.
Jennings barged his way into boxing's consciousness in January
by stepping into his first main event on one week's notice. The
South Philly fight was also his first 10-rounder. He beat
fellow-Philadelphian Maurice Byarm in a battle of unbeaten
heavyweights. It was a terrific fight, full of action through
all 10 rounds, a rarity for heavyweights. Jennings won the close
verdict and picked up the Pennsylvania State Heavyweight Title
in the process. More importantly, he won the fight on national
TV, and made his name by showing his willingness to seize an
opportunity and back it up in the ring.
In his next start, Jennings managed to top himself. He pounded
former heavyweight champ Sergei Liakhovich, and stopped him
after nine rounds. The Brooklyn bout proved Jennings was one to
Jennings continued to impress. He won the USBA title with a
shutout of Steve Collins in June at the Prudential Center in
Newark, NJ, and returned to the venue for a 35-second blowout of
Chris Koval in September.
Jennings finished his year with a bang before his North Philly
hometown fans, with a thudding KO of Bowie Tupou at Temple
University. The victory retained Jennings' USBA title, and
pushed him up to the #4 spot in the IBF rankings.
All five of Bryant's 2012 fights were televised, four by NBCSN,
and one (Koval) by Wealth TV. He starts 2013 at 16-0, 8 KOs, and
in a very different place than he was 12 months ago.
GABRIEL ROSADO, North Philly junior middleweight, put it
all together in 2012. After six years as a popular attraction
with a lot of potential, Rosado suddenly looked like a future
champion in 2012.
It all started on the same January NBCSN show that served as
Bryant Jennings breakthrough platform. That night Rosado became
the first man to stop tough gatekeeper Jesus Soto Karass (TKO5).
Gaby did the job so impressively (so brutally) that the TV
audience and NBC wanted to see more. NBCSN ordered up another
Rosado performance and provided an extra date of the Fight
Night series to make it happen.
In June, Rosado halted slick southpaw Sechew Powell in nine
rounds at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, PA. Once again,
this was a new Rosado, in concentrated form. He was a dangerous
pressure fighter working for the knockout who effectively used
his size, power and conditioning to fight his way into the title
picture. Rosado picked up the WBO Continental Americas 154-pound
title with the win. Already in the IBF rankings, Rosado began
climbing quickly after this night.
His third and final fight of the year was back in Bethlehem, and
back on NBCSN. The fight was a 12-round IBF title elimination
fight for the #1 spot in the ratings and a mandatory shot
against champion Cornelius Bundrage. His opponent was the
veteran Charles Whittaker, unbeaten in eight years and 14 bouts.
Whitaker was a tough nut to crack, but Rosado lower the boom in
the tenth round.
Instead of waiting for his shot at Bundrage, which would clearly take longer than the mandated six months, Rosado elected
to challenge phenom Gennady Golovkin for the WBA & IBO
middleweight championship on January 19th. The risky move showed
Rosado's confidence and willingness to fight the best, as did
his refusal to accept the catchweight offered to him. He's been
doing this his whole career, but in 2012 the rest of the country
was finally let in on the secret.
TITLE FIGHTS (8)
In addition to Danny Garcia's three world title bouts (W12
Morales, TKO4 Khan, KO3 Morales), five other Philly fighters
fought for world titles.
Yoan Pablo Hernandez W12 Steve Cunningham - February 4, 2012
West Philly's Steve "USS" Cunningham attempted to take back his
cruiserweight crown with a February rematch with Yoan Pablo
Hernandez. Cunningham dropped the unanimous decision and in the
aftermath, decided to move up to the heavyweight division.
Danny Garcia W12 Erik Morales - March 24, 2012
Garcia becomes the WBC junior welterweight champion with a
Chad Dawson W12 Bernard Hopkins II - April 28, 2012
An unusually lackluster Hopkins finally seemed to be at the end
of his glorious line as an A-list fighter. As he'd done with so
many young fighters, Hopkins couldn't hypnotize Dawson, but
managed the feat with one of the three judges, who scored the
fight even. The ageless Hopkins will fight on however.
Guillermo Rigondeaux TKO5 Teon Kennedy - June 9, 2012
North Philly's Teon Kennedy faced Cuban phenomenon Guillermo
Rigondeaux for the WBA junior featherweight title in Las Vegas
on the big Manny Pacquiao - Timothy Bradley PPV card. Teon
fought relatively well but found himself in with one of the
sport's very best. Gutsy Teon climbed off the canvas five times,
and was ready for more, but the bout was stopped in the 5th
Randall Bailey KO11 Mike Jones - June 9, 2012
Undefeated Mike Jones, North Philly, was brutally knocked out by
Bailey in a fight for the vacant IBF welterweight championship
in Las Vegas. Most thought Jones had this one in the bag after
winning the first nine rounds, but you can never count out a
huge puncher like Bailey. Bailey floored Jones in the tenth and
finished the job the following round.
Danny Garcia TKO4 Amir Khan - July 14, 2012
Garcia retained his WBC belt and won the WBA & Ring Magazine
straps in this action-packed war.
Danny Garcia KO4 Erik Morales - October 20, 2012
Garcia retained his titles with a picture perfect left hook KO
of the boxing legend.
Carl Froch TKO3 Yusaf Mack - November 17, 2012
West Philly's Yusaf Mack, a former light heavyweight title
challenger, dropped down to 168 to face the formidable Froch for
the IBF super middleweight belt. Mack was a massive underdog and
the odds turned out to be correct. Froch floored Mack in round
one and ended the fight in the third.
THE BEST IN-PHILLY FIGHTS (7)
Only seven fight cards happened inside Philadelphia city limits
in 2012. Thanks to NBCSN, two of them were major events. The
other five were club shows promoted by Power Productions (3x) and
Shuler Gym (2x). Quality fights occurred throughout the year. The
best were as follows:
Tevin Farmer W6 Tim Witherspoon Jr. - January 13, 2012
From the opening bell, this one was a barn-burner, with Farmer
the aggressor and Witherspoon the jabbing boxer. They went at
each other all night, and Farmer came out with a terrific upset
Gabriel Rosado TKO5 Jesus Soto Karass - January 21, 2012
Rosado broke through with this brutal beat down. A little too
one-sided for "Fight of the Year" consideration, but still an
important and exciting prize fight.
Bryant Jennings W10 Maurice Byarm - January 21, 2012
After ten tough rounds of consistent action, Jennings won this
battle of undefeated prospects by a whisker and hasn't looked
back since. An excellent heavyweight fight that broke the mold
with non-stop punching and excellent conditioning.
Angel Ocasio D8 Jason Sosa (II) - April 20, 2012
This was a rematch of their January first fight, and it was
bigger and better than the original in every way. Ocasio & Sosa
picked up where they left off and produced a high-energy, give
and take brawl that was gritty and entertaining the whole way.
Ramon Ellis W6 Tim Witherspoon Jr. - October 12, 2012
It didn't take long for this one to heat up. Once again a
jabbing Witherspoon had to fight off another aggressive puncher
(like Farmer). It was a grinding fight with Ellis stronger at
the finish where he pulled out the win.
Eric Hunter W10 Jerry Belmontes - December 8, 2012
Enigmatic West Philadelphian Eric Hunter breathed new life into
his career with a brilliant schooling of tough and undefeated
Jerry Belmontes. Hunter fully bloomed and showed his stuff in
this very high-level, well-matched fight. This was a very good
Bryant Jennings TKO5 Bowie Tupou - December 8, 2012
Jennings picked himself off the floor to crush Tupou with a
booming uppercut in round five. It was an exciting heavyweight
fight with a real heavyweight ending.
THE BEST OUT OF TOWN FIGHTS (15)
Philly relied on nearby venues to provide much of the action in
2012. Although a disturbing trend, the fights at these
neighboring sites were top-flight.
HARRAH'S CHESTER - CHESTER, PA
Really Joey Eye's fights at nearby Harrah's Chester have become
the replacement for the Blue Horizon. The only problem is the
venue is just outside Philadelphia's boarder. Still attending
these shows are just a quick ride away. Eye produced three
boxing shows and all three main events were excellent.
Omar Sheika W10 Tony Ferrante - February 24, 2012
Thrilling club fight classic was all action war with the BAM
light heavyweight belt at stake (pictured above).
Dhafir Smith W10 Tony Ferrante - May 4, 2012
Old school road warrior Smith takes young gun Ferrante to
school and wins the PA State light heavyweight title.
Naim Nelson W10 Victor Vasquez - September 14, 2012
Undefeated but somewhat untested Nelson proves he is the real
thing with his 10-round win over Philly's favorite blood and
guts brawler, Vasquez. Nelson wins PA state lightweight belt.
SANDS RESORTS - BETHLEHEM, PA
Thanks to NBCSN Bethlehem bloomed as a major fight venue. Their
new Events Center is the perfect place to watch a fight.
Gabriel Rosado TKO9 Sechew Powell - June 1, 2012
Rosado is big, brutal and beautiful in chopping down the slick
Ronald Cruz W12 Prenice Brewer - June 1, 2012
Cruz thrills his hometown crowd with a sophisticated chess match
victory over the talented and temperamental Brewer.
Gabriel Rosado TKO10 Charles Whittaker - September 21, 2012
Rosado becomes #1 with a methodical beat down. Whittaker was
cagey, but Rosado was just too strong.
Antwone Smith W10 Ronald Cruz - September 21, 2012
Smith surprises Cruz and dishes him his first defeat before his
hometown crowd. Cruz fought hard and learned a lot, but had to
pay some dues in this one.
Tomasz Adamek W12 Steve Cunningham - December 22, 2012
Great fight, terrible decision. Cunningham fights the perfect
fight to avenge a prior defeat to Adamek, but gets seriously
jobbed by the judges. Dramatic, important and exciting.
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ
As usual, Atlantic City casino provided much action for the
Philly boxing scene.
Dorin Spivey TKO7 Victor Vasquez -
February 4, 2012 - Tropicana - Dee Lee Promotions
Spivey stopped the unstoppable Vasquez for the vacant NABA light
weight title. The stoppage was too quick, but Dorin was on
course to win anyway.
Ronald Cruz W10 Allen Conyers -
February 25, 2012 - Bally's - Peltz Boxing
Cruz struggled but won clearly against the dangerous Conyers.
Yusaf Mack W12 Omar Sheika -
April 27, 2012 - Resorts - Nedal Promotions
Mack out boxed Sheika in an entertaining fight. Mack boxed while
Sheika body punched and tried to make it a brawl.
Raymundo Beltran W10 Hank Lundy -
July 27, 2012 - Resorts - CES Boxing
Lundy blew his #1 ranking and mandatory contender status with
this grueling loss to Beltran, who pinned Lundy on the ropes all
night and pounded away. Lundy made it competitive with many
thinking Hank had at least earned a draw.
Patrick Majewski W10 Latif Mundy -
September 29, 2012 - Resorts - Global Promotions & Peltz
Mundy extends Majewski in a spirited rematch full of action.
Majority decision for Majewski was much tougher than the first
Emanuel Colon TKO4 Hasan Young -
September 29, 2012 - Resorts - Global Promotions & Peltz Boxing
One of the best brawls of the year. These young rising prospects
went to war.
BAM Boxing brought a fight to the Newtown Athletic Center in a
highly experimental suburban boxing show. The crowd was
disappointing, but the main event was a beauty.
Ray Robinson TKO2 Terrance Cauthen -
May 12, 2012 - Newtown Athletic Center - BAM Boxing
What figured to be a tactical chess match turned out to be one
of the best KOs of the year. Robinson turned killer and took out
the old veteran.
Steve Cunningham and
Eddie Chambers both found themselves on the short end of a
controversial decision against the same man, Tomasz Adamek. Both
fights were dramatic encounters, and it's difficult to select
which of the two was the bigger outrage. It should be noted that
Adamek was not at fault here. He always puts in an honest
night's work, and fights his best. However, these were still the
two most annoying Philly fights of the year.
In June, Eddie Chambers took on Adamek on Tomasz' home turf of
Newark, NJ's Prudential Center. As round one wound down,
Chambers threw a left hand that tore his biceps muscle. Instead
of packing it in, Chambers constructed a most fascinating
one-armed style over the next eleven rounds. He continued to
slip and slide masterfully, as he usually does, but had to find
a way to mount an offense without his best weapon, the left jab.
Chambers switched back and forth from orthodox to southpaw. He
jabbed with his right, and jumped back to fire a power shot with
the same hand. His left did nothing more than block Adamek's
occasional punches for the remainder of the fight.
Adamek pressed the action, and swung at his addled foe, but
mostly caught air. Chambers was gutsy and brilliant, and Adamek
was mostly frustrated. Punch Stat numbers showed that Tomasz
landed just 15% of his punches. Yet when the scores were read,
he somehow had taken the unanimous decision.
The loss was disappointing for Chambers, but it prompted him to
make what seems to be a smart career decision. Once his arm
heals completely, he will return to the ring as a cruiserweight.
He'll only have a few pounds to cut to make the 200-pound limit.
So the move should be a breeze. Chambers is expected to return
in February or March.
Six months later, newly minted heavyweight Steve Cunningham took
on Adamek in a rematch of their classic cruiserweight contest of
2008. It was just the second time Cunningham fought at the
higher weight. Most felt that the rematch just two fights into
Cunningham's heavyweight campaign would seriously favor Adamek,
a comfortable heavyweight for years now.
However, Cunningham fought a near masterpiece against his old
foe, and crafted a brilliant fight. Adamek was strong in the
first two rounds as well as the last two, but it was all
Cunningham in between. At worst, Cunningham won 8 of the 12
rounds. Adamek flurried effectively in the final 10 seconds of
most of the rounds, a tactic that apparently swayed the judges.
Tomasz escaped Bethlehem, PA with his very own Christmas
miracle, a split decision victory. The win earned him the #2
spot in the IBF, and set him up for a final eliminator to become
the #1 and mandatory challenger for Wladimir Klitschko.
The bitter loss was a stocking full of coal for Cunningham, but
he probably won more fans and received more goodwill than he's
seen in his entire career. The fight was broadcast on an old
fashioned Saturday afternoon NBC network telecast, and was
watched by millions. Cunningham may not have gotten the decision
that he deserved, but he proved without a doubt that he is a
true heavyweight and at 36, has plenty more to do in the sport.
A number of young Philly fighters garnered attention as the next
wave of local talent to watch. Only some of them made their
debuts in 2012, but all of them made an impression.
The amateur star turned professional and ended the year at 2-0,
1 KO. He signed with Peltz Boxing after his first fight, and
figures to make a race to the top of the 130-pound division. He
looks good so far, which is no surprise.
This little bantamweight killer finished his second year as a
pro at 6-0, 3 KOs. Miguel, who was truly a great amateur, looks
like a future champ, although his matching has been fairly safe
thus far. He's exciting to watch and has the attitude to build a
Son of the former title challenger Tyrone Sr, Junior is also a
southpaw. He turned pro in February and won a total of two easy
bouts (2-0. 0 KOs).
The son of Philly legend, Cyclone Hart, Jesse "Hard Work" Hart
was another of Philly's recent amateur standouts. He's part of
the strong D&D Management stable, and was signed by Top Rank
right out of the gate. Super middleweight Hart turned
professional in June on a Manny Pacquiao undercard, and won a
total of five bouts in 2012 (5-0, 4 KOs). He looks like a lock
to win a title sometime in the future.
Hardly a new face to Philly fight fans, Hunter turned pro back
in 2005 after an amazing amateur career. "Outlaw" seemed a sure
bet to fly up the pro ranks, but his career was marred with
streaks of inactivity and soft competition. He never seemed to
achieve his potential, but still built a solid record through
2010. Hunter won an easy comeback fight in July and then had the
best performance of his career in December when he defeated
then-undefeated Jerry Belmontes by masterful 10-round decision.
The win looked like a turning point in Hunter's 17-2, 9
KO, career. Let's hope it was and that 2013 will be a big year
A pro since 2011, Nelson moved down a division to lightweight
and took on Philly tough guy Victor Vasquez for the PA title.
He'd never gone more than six rounds prior, but Nelson handled
the 10-round distance in stride and withstood Vasquez' signature
heat of the battle just as well. Their fight was excellent, and
Nelson proved that he really has the stuff. He followed up this
with another mature victory (W8 Osnel Charles) in December. 2013
should be a pivotal year for Nelson, now 9-0, 1 KO.
This welterweight is also no new face, but he received a real
facelift in the past year or so. Starting with his comeback
fight in 2011, Robinson, 14-2, 6 KOs, has looked renewed and
extremely capable. He fought twice in 2012, beating the
dangerous Doel Carrasquillo, and scoring a stunning KO of
Terrance Cauthen. Injury and a management shift kept him idle
during the second half of the year, but Robinson should be back
in the mix before long.
Junior welterweight Young turned pro in May with a fan-friendly
win, but then immediately began paying his dues in extremely
tough fights. He finished the year 2-1-1, 1 KO, but impressed us
with his thrilling style. His TKO loss to Emanuel Colon in
September was described as a little Thrilla in Manila. Young
came up short in the grueling battle, but rebounded with a KO
before the end of the year. We should find out in 2013 which way
his career will go, but one thing is for sure, either way he is
someone we want to watch fight.
A number of Philly favorites stayed active in 2012, but mostly
treaded water during the year. All five of these fighters are
still punching and poised for a good 2013.
After going 1-3-1 in the past two years, Jamaal Davis had an
terrific year. He won two bouts in 2012, and looked good doing
it. After almost one year off, Davis defeated Eberto Medina
(5/19) in a rematch of their 2011 draw, and followed it up with
a very strong showing against heartbreaker Doel Carrasquillo in
June. Davis looked renewed and ready for more. Next up for Davis
is a main event with Patrick Majewski in February.
Ennis rebounded from his first loss with a trio of 2012 wins,
beating Grover Young (TKO5), Shujaa El Amin (W10) & Richard
Pierson (W10). The Pierson fight was a real challenge and was
Ennis' ESPN2 debut. The Quiet Storm should make a move in 2013,
although as yet he has nothing scheduled.
The Executioner lost his only fight of the year when he was
out-boxed and out-worked by Chad Dawson in a WBC light
heavyweight title bout in Atlantic City. Nowhere was Hopkins'
uncanny ability to hypnotize his opponent, or his usual
advanced-age chess mastery. In this fight, he finally looked
like the end was near. But as we've learned watching Hopkins,
his career is not over until he says it is. The majority
decision loss only slowed Hopkins' roll. By the end of the 2012,
Hopkins announced that he would challenge IBF 175-pound titlist
Tavoris Cloud in March.
West Philly's road warrior stayed close to home through much of
2012. He beat Quinton Rankin (W6) in Philly, won the PA state
light heavyweight title against Tony Ferrante (W10) in Chester,
and lost a 10-rounder to Umberto Savigne in a Florida road trip.
The Savigne fight was for the WBA Fedelatin 175-pound belt.
Philly's answer to Arturo Gatti kept fighting in 2012, and like
Gatti, wins or losses didn't really matter when it came to
drawing crowds and pleasing fans. Vasquez went 1-2 in the year.
He looked great beating Paul Fernandez in a rematch (W6),
between losses to Dorin Spivey (TKO by 7) in February and Naim
Nelson (L10) in September.
The Ultimate Warrior won two bouts in 2012, TKO3 Pedro Martinez
& KO12 Andres Taylor. The Taylor fight was a big event in April,
with Wilson defending his USBA cruiserweight title and winning
the NABF title with the same KO. However, Wilson remained idle
for the remaining 8 months of the year, while playing the
political waiting game. He was scheduled to fight an IBF title
eliminator in December, but that bout was pushed off to
February. Wilson built a lot of momentum in the past few years,
but in 2012, that momentum slowed a bit due to that ratings
chess game. If Wilson can win his February eliminator in
Romania, 2013 could be a big year for him.
The final bell rung for middleweight Jesse Smith (1/22) (above),
light heavyweight Will Taylor (3/04), welterweight Tommy
Marciano (4/23), boxer & personality Bobby Morgano (4/25),
manager Rob Murray (6/03), judge Richard Hopkins, Jr. (8/04),
light heavyweight John Calcinore (8/10), and trainer Willie Folk
PA HALL OF FAME
Johnny Carter, Jesse Smith, Dorsey Lay (above), Eddie Corma, Joe
Rowan, Steve Little, Frank Moran, Nigel Collins, and Joe Hand
Sr. were all inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame