PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                          March 15, 2013


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by John DiSanto
Photos by Gary Purfield (Photo Gallery)


Harry Joe Yorgey returned home to Pennsylvania on Friday night for his first fight in the area in more than five years, and received a little local love from the three official, and very lenient, judges at the Valley Forge Convention Center. Two of the three officials gave the Bridgeport, PA middleweight the verdict, one of them by an outrageous shutout, in a hometown decision that left the loser stunned and in tears. Yorgey's main event bout against Julius Kennedy was a rough and tumble six rounder with some good, grueling action. However, it was Kennedy who controlled most of the conflict and should have been awarded the victory. 

Originally scheduled for eight rounds, the fight was truncated to six Friday morning after the official weigh in, apparently due to the general disparity in experience between the two fighters. Yorgey entered the ring with a seasoned and high-level 25-2-1 (12 KO) record, while Kennedy was just 7-3-1 (3 KO) against competition a notch or two lower than Yorgey's. On paper this was an easy comeback fight for Harry Joe, who was stopped in his last outing. But as it turned out, Yorgey, who came on late in the fight, could have used the extra two rounds. Then again, with the decision what it was, he really didn't need the extra time.

From the beginning of the fight, Yorgey spent the majority of his night with his back pressed up against the ropes. Kennedy was aggressive and bit sloppy with his attack, but he pressed the hometown fighter and kept him trapped with a consistent work rate. Yorgey slipped many of the incoming shots and tried to spin off the strands, but he wasn't very effective.

In round two Kennedy kept clubbing away at Yorgey, who clearly was having trouble getting his hands moving. As the round wound down, Yorgey landed a good right that briefly turned the tide and got Harry going. The bell, however, nipped Yorgey's surge in the bud.

Yorgey focused on the body in the third. The shift heated things up and led to some good exchanges, but Ken-nedy was more than willing  to rumble. He cracked Yorgey with a right hand blow that quieted Harry's activity. It took some time for Yorgey to loosen up and begin to trade again, and once he did, Kennedy stopped him in his tracks with another right. This became the pattern.

Watching the fight in middle rounds, I couldn't help but wonder if Yorgey was feeling a little gun shy as a result of that January KO loss to Jemell Charlo. Against Kennedy, Yorgey seemed to know what to do, but appeared to be playing it safe every time the punches started flowing freely.

Kennedy took the first four rounds on my card and was en route to an unlikely win. However, Yorgey dug deep in the final two rounds and fought for the victory - as well as his career. Late in the fight, he picked up the pace and began landing on Kennedy, who had begun to tire. Julius fired less often, but when he did, he landed with a jolt. However Yorgey had finally turned the tables in the fight and was winning the skirmishes.

Just before the final bell, both fighters let loose and traded punches fiercely. Each man landed, but Yorgey closed the show by hurting Kennedy with a hard right.

On my card, Yorgey took the fifth and sixth rounds to bring the score close, but I still felt Kennedy led 58-56, or 4-2 in rounds. One official judge, Pierre Benoist, agreed and also gave the fight to Kennedy 58-56. Judge Joe Pasquale favored Yorgey 58-56, in a reasonable tally. However judge Jimmy Condon turned in a scorecard so off base that it should serve as his resignation letter to the PA commission. Condon gave it to Yorgey all the way, giving him every round, despite what happened in the ring.

It is true that the scoring of a fight is an objective exercise. So perhaps it is not the case that Condon's call was biased. Maybe he just prefers when a fighter lies on the ropes, takes shots, and fails to throw punches of his own. We'll agree to disagree.

"It wasn't tougher than I thought," Yorgey said. "He's a strong guy. A physically strong guy. (But) I didn't think that he'd stay inside that long. He kept himself tucked under his gloves real nice. I had to work to get to his chin. I had to pick in between his punches and work to get my shots."

The victory improved Yorgey's record to 26-2-1 with 12 KOs. Kennedy (left) went home to Windsor Hill, MD disappointed at 7-4-1 with 3 KOs.

Yorgey said that he expected to return  in June at the same Valley Forge Convention Center. 


In the real main event of the evening, Naim Nelson turned back the tough challenge of Georgi Kevlishvili, a more experienced Georgian native now fighting out of the Harrowgate Boxing Club of Philadelphia. It was a tough test for Nelson, tougher than expected perhaps. After taking the lead in the first two rounds with his younger legs and quicker punches, Nelson went quiet and allowed Kevlishvili into the fight in round three.

For three rounds, Kevlishvili found a grinding groove, stayed busier and used his muscle to control the action. However in round six, Nelson woke up and began working harder. Suddenly his punches came in combination and he seemed looser. Georgi kept the fight close and landed a showy right uppercut that kept Nelson from running away with the round.

After six rounds, my card was even at three rounds apiece.

Nelson continued to keep the edge as the fight hit the stretch. His combinations grew into extended flurries that sent Kevlishvili into a shell.

In the final round, the fighters traded body shots which opened up some of the best action of the fight. They traded hard rights to the chin before Nelson punched his opponent to the ropes. Naim landed a sharp right and a pair of body blows that cinched the round, but Kevlishvili drove home one last hard right before the last bell.

All three judges scored the fight for Nelson. Pierre Benoist and Jimmy Condon gave him every round, and turned in 80-72 scores. Joe Pasquale had it 79-73. My score was the closest at 77-75.

The win pushes Nelson's record to 10-0 with 1 KO. He has made serious advances in the past six months. Apparently his drop to lightweight and insistence that his management team match him only in tough fights, have brought out the best in him.

"Georgi is a rough guy," Nelson said after the fight. "We know that he only lost to undefeated fighters. So we figured it would be a rough fight. Thankfully, we were in great shape."

Kevlishvili made a good showing, but lost for the fourth time in a row. He goes back to the drawing board at 12-5 with 3 KOs.


Lightweight Tevin Farmer (9-4-1 / 1 KO) won a unanimous 6-round decision over Esteban Rodriguez (6-6-1 / 1 KO) in his preliminary bout. Farmer started well with his typically energetic style, and showed a good work rate in the first two rounds. However, Rodriguez began measuring Farmer toward the end of the second round. He started to land, and this sudden success prompted Farmer to fight less and showboat more.

The middle rounds were rather uneventful. Both fighters missed many of their punches, but Farmer maintained an edge by generally doing more. His showboating tactics persisted however, and began to wear thin.

By round  five Farmer was doing little, and allowed Rodriguez to start winning rounds. Rodriguez nipped the last two sessions on my card, but the official judges gave every round to Farmer for a landslide 60-54 (x3) victory. Farmer's record was boosted to 9-4-1 (1 KO); Rodriguez evened out at 6-6-1 (1 KO).


In another six-rounder, Jerome Rodriguez took a majority decision over Rafael Montalvo. The individual rounds felt close between the welterweights, but Rodriguez seemed to do just enough to win each period by a whisker. After five rounds, Jerome was way ahead. I gave the final round to Montavlo, mostly because of a rocket of a right hand that caught and stunned a tiring Rodriguez.

The judges all favored Rodriguez by 60-54 shutout scores, keeping him unbeaten at 3-0-1 (1 KO). Montalvo fell below .500 at 2-3 (2 KO).


Joshua Arocha (3-6-3 / 2 KO) (above right) and Travis Thompson (4-9-2 / 3 KO) fought to a 4-round draw in their jr. lightweight bout. It was a bruising fight that left both fighters' faces marked from the punishment they received in frequent two way exchanges.

Each of the judges scored the bout differently. Joe Pasquale saw it 39-37 for Arocha. Jimmy Condon tabulated a 40-36 score for Thompson. And Pierre Benoist called it even at  38-38. My score mirrored Pasquale's, but in retrospect, maybe it was Benoist that got the squeaker of a fight right.


Jr. welterweight Sam Quinones (above left) zipped through his 4-rounder with Korey Sloane to post unanimous decision victory and raise his record to 2-1 (1  KO). Quiniones used effective pressure and a variety of power shots to maintain control throughout the fight. Sloane is a hard-luck Philly fighter who just can't seem to turn a corner in his career. He always gives an honest effort, but has been out fought in the majority of his bouts. The loss on this night moved his record to 2-6-2 (No KOs). Benoist and Condon scored the fight 40-36, while Pasquale saw it 39-37, giving Sloane one round.


In the opening fight of the night, Sultan Staton (above right) made a successful pro debut by  halting Kenny Brown after two full  rounds of action. Staton hurt Brown with a right hand in round two, and wobbled him again before bell. Apparently the blows got Brown thinking, and he packed it in before the third began. The surrender knocked Brown's record back to 0-2.

This was the first boxing event at the Valley Forge Convention Center which is nestled in the Valley Forge Casino, but promoter Marshall Kauffman (Kings Promotions) plans to set up shop here. The next event is scheduled for June 15th. The show was promoted in association with Peltz Boxing. Approximately 1,800 fans attended.

The alternate referees were Blair Talmadge and Hurley McCall. Joe Pasquale, Pierre Benoist and Jimmy Condon judged all seven bouts. The ring announcer was Larry Tournambe. 




John DiSanto - Valley Forge, PA - March 15, 2013

Photos by Gary Purfield