PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                           April 25, 2013


Home Boxers Fights Arenas Non-Boxers Gyms Relics More About Contact


by John DiSanto


April is almost over and the city of Philadelphia has yet to host a professional boxing  card. Thankfully that is about to change. Friday night at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philly, Greg Robinson's Power Productions returns with a robust fight card featuring nine scheduled bouts.  

Headlining the show will be an 8-round lightweight fight between North Philly's undefeated Angel Ocasio, 7-0-2 (2 KO), and the far more experienced Ryan Belasco, 18-5-3 (3 KO), of Wilmington, DE. This looks like a good match, with Ocasio finally spreading his wings against an opponent that, at least on paper, seems to have a chance of beating him.

Belasco is a pretty solid scrapper and definitely no pushover. He always comes to fight, and although not a knockout puncher, often finds himself in rugged wars. For Ocasio the test will be if he can control the fight, and Belasco, with his superior boxing skills.

Ocasio looked his best in his last fight, a 2nd round TKO of Esteban Rodriguez in December. His most exciting fights of course were his pair of all-action draws against Jason Sosa last year. (Note: the rematch between Ocasio and Sosa is in the running for the 2012 Philly Fight of the Year Briscoe Award.) 

The exciting prospect of Ocasio's fight with Belasco on Friday is that it feels like it could be similar to the Sosa fights. Sosa is a harder puncher than Belsaco, but Ryan's pro experience far out weighs that of Sosa and Ocasio. Hopefully Friday night we'll have another battle that lives up to the "Barn Burner" name of Robinson's Armory series.

The fight is scheduled for 8 rounds with the USBC lightweight championship on the line. I'm not sure what that title is, but the fact that there is a belt at stake, even the USBC belt, usually makes the boxers fight harder. So be it. 

The rest of the card features a load of Philly fighters. There are two six rounders scheduled. 

The always exciting Philly southpaw Tevin Farmer, 9-4-1 (1 KO), takes on replacement lightweight Stephan Alexander, 6-5 (6 KO), of Norfolk, VA. Recently Farmer was sparring with junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia for the champ's defense against southpaw Zab Judah. Farmer did well in the gym with Garcia and always puts on a good show for the fans. He's got a fun, wild style that always entertains.

Farmer won his last fight, a little more than one month ago in Valley Forge, by unanimous decision over the same Esteban Rodriguez that Ocasio stopped last year. All of Alexander's wins are by KO, so clearly Farmer has to watch out for bombs.

In the other 6-round bout, New Jersey junior lightweight Tyrone Luckey, 5-2-1 (5 KO), faces North Philly's Wahid Raheem, 3-0 (1 KO). Luckey dropped a split decision to Tevin Farmer last year, but rebounded with a quick KO over Bryan Acaba in the summer. Raheem, the 32 year old brother of Zahir Raheem, has had an on-again-off-again career. This will be his first fight since 2009. He too worked with Garcia in his most recent training camp.

The remainder of the card is filled with an assortment of 4-round fights, that feature numerous Philly fighters, some pro debuts, a rising star, and two surprising comebacks.

Anthony Burgin, 3-0 (1 KO), looks like the class of the card. The outstanding amateur had a good first year in the pros in 2012, winning two bouts and looking solid in each. Of course it's too early to tell, but Bad Boy Burgin is a fighter that Philly has high hopes for. On Friday, he'll attempt to continue his rise against Nuwan Jayakody, 1-0 (1 KO) in a junior lightweight contest.

Philadelphia light heavyweight Charles Hayward, 7-5-1 (3 KO), makes his return to the ring (not one of the surprises) after losing by TKO to Richard Pierson one year ago. Hayward will fight New Yorker Abdellah Smith, 2-5 (2 KO) over 4 rounds.

Undefeated Atlantic City super middleweight Isiah Seldon (the son of Bruce), 6-0 (3 KO), away from the ring for more than one year himself, will take on Philly's Tommie "Big Poppa" Speller. It seemed that Speller was long past his boxing career, not having fought in almost three years. However, he surprised the local scene with his recent comeback announcement.

In the other surprising comeback, Jules Blackwell, that Jack Blackburn lookalike from Phoenixville, PA, returns after almost 4 years away. Southpaw Blackwell, 8-3-2 with 3 KOs, should have a stiff assignment against Philly's Frank "Nitty" Trader, 9-1 (2 KO) in a junior lightweight bout.

Turning pro Friday will be amateur standout Emmanuel Folly. He grew up at the Rock Ministries Gym in Kensington and collected many amateur titles, trophies and medals under the guidance of Buddy Osborne, who will continue to be his trainer in the professional ranks. Big things are expected from Folly, who starts his career off against Elvis Rodriguez, 0-2. Rodriguez lost to Anthony Burgin earlier this year. So it will be interesting to compare how Folly does against the same opponent.

Finally, a pair of debuting Philly heavyweights round out the card. Dante Selby makes his start against Aaron Leonard, who is in the same first-bout boat. Chances are these two will open the show Friday night.

It will be great to watch a fight in Philadelphia on Friday night. Although there has been some terrific ring action for our local fighters in nearby locations like Chester, Valley Forge, Wilmington, Dover, Atlantic City, and even New York, Philly has been in the dead zone this year. It seems that everyone has given up on the City of Brotherly Love except Greg Robinson.

Last year only seven pro fight cards took place in Philly (including three by Robinson).  We'll be lucky to see a total of three this year. Things really have changed since the Blue Horizon closed. Don't miss your chance to see boxing in Philly on Friday night. Who knows? It might be your last chance to do it this year.




John DiSanto - Northeast Philly - April 25, 2013