PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                            June 01, 2013


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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Katie Warburton


Teon Kennedy made a successful return to the ring Saturday night with a workmanlike 10-round unanimous decision over Carlos Vinan at Bally's Atlantic City. Teon dominated the fight on all the cards winning most of the action with his greater speed and better boxing skills.

Kennedy started the bout a bit rusty, but still he gained control early on and never let the tide shift the other way. Vinan pressed Kennedy and had his moments during many exchanges throughout the fight, but found he couldn't do much. Although Teon's output was restricted to one punch at a time most of the way, Vinan had difficulties getting close.

In round three, the fighters traded hard right hands, but both kept fighting in perhaps the closest round of the fight.

The fight played out methodically, with round after round passing with the same pattern. Vinan attempted to get something going, while Kennedy jabbed and landed his increasingly shaper power shots.

In round seven, Kennedy's left hook began landing well, and seemed to signal that he was hitting his groove. However in a desperate attempt to turn the tables, Vinan slammed a hard right into Kennedy's face near the  bell. Teon ate the punch and kept fighting until the round was over.

Teon started putting his punches together in round eight, and improved his output in round nine. It was a very good round for Kennedy as he shifted his attack to the body. At one point, Vinan complained about a low blow to referee Ricky Vera, but no warning was issued, and Teon kept punching and punishing Carlos' body. Vinan appeared hurt as the round came to a close. 

In the final three minutes, Kennedy resumed his body attack and had Vinan wearing down. With the clock ticking away, both fighters' agendas were clear. Vinan desperately tried to survive, while a suddenly springy Ken-nedy went for the kill.

Along the ropes, Kennedy buckled Vinan with a body shot and followed with a vicious left hook. Vinan tried to hold Teon, in an attempt to stay on his feet, but the power of the blow dropped Carlos to the canvas. However, the ever-tough Newark, NJ fighter climbed to his feet and made it to the final bell.

There was no drama to the decision. Kennedy had clearly won the fight, and the official tallies proved it. Judges Hilton Whitaker and Debbie Barnes scored the bout 99-90, while Alan Rubenstein had it a hair closer at 98-91. My card was a shutout for Kennedy 100-89. 

The fact that Teon was coming off a one-year layoff, after his TKO title fight loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux last June, and that he was fighting at a career-high weight, a few important questions loomed around this comeback fight. 

Kennedy answered those questions with his solid performance.

It was very clear that Kennedy performed well at 130 pounds, two weight classes and eight pounds higher than ever before. He showed speed and power against Vinan, and appeared more affected by his layoff than the additional pounds.

Vinan did not necessarily have the power to test Teon for any lingering ghosts from the resounding Rigondeaux loss, but he was tough enough to gauge Kennedy's desire to fight. Teon also passed this test, and set the stage for the next step in his comeback.

The victory, Kennedy's first since 2011, raised the Philadelphian's record to 18-2-2 with 7 KOs. Vinan slid to 10-10-5 with 2 KOs.

In the scheduled 8-round semi-final bout, Camden, NJ's Jason Sosa won his wild junior lightweight fight with Georgi Kevlishvili by TKO in round four. However, Sosa had to climb off the canvas in round two to do it.

After winning the first round, Sosa took a stiff right hand from Kevlishvili in round two that deposited him on the floor with a jolt. Sosa regained his feet and looked hurt. However this did not prevent him from leaping back into the fight the moment referee Steve Smoger waved the fighters back to center ring. Kevlishvili kept punching, but Sosa's aggression thwarted his attack.

In the third, Sosa made a good comeback, landing a brutal right uppercut early in the bout, but by the time the round had closed, Kevlishvili had fought back and made the round a close one.

However, in the fourth, a fully recovered and determined Sosa hurt his opponent to the body and then dropped Kevlishvili with a crushing right. The Philly-based Georgian got up but staggered and rippled as he tried to move forward, leaving Smoger no choice but to stop the fight. The time was 2:41 of round four.

The decision to stop it angered Kevlishvili, 12-6, 3 KOs, who ranted after the bout, and complained all the way to his dressing room. Sosa, 9-1-3, 5 KOs, celebrated after winning the most dramatic fight of his career. 

Hot prospect Jesse Hart (above in blue trunks) extended his winning streak to 7-0 with a speedy TKO of Thomas Turner of Caldwell, ID, in a scheduled 6-round super middleweight bout. Hart floored Thomas and then pounded away at him with no return until referee Ricky Vera ended the massacre after 2:15. Turner fell to 3-4 with 2 KOs. 

Millville, NJ middleweight Ismael Garcia (above left) halted Trenton's Alando Swain at 2:22 of the sixth and final round. The fight was all Garcia, who won every round and scored a knockdown in round four with a heavy right. Swain got up, but continued to take a beating until Garcia lowered the boom in round six.

The final attack put Swain down in the red corner. He climbed up at around the count of 7 or 8, nodding his head, but appeared badly hurt. He draped his arms over the ropes for support with his back to referee Steve Smoger. After a beat, Smoger said "No", and stopped the fight at 2:22 of the sixth round.

Garcia's only obstacle in the fight came in round one when an apparent clash of heads left him with a cut over his left eye. The wound bled intermittently throughout the bout, and was streaming heavily at the end of the fight, but it did not seem to slow Garcia in the slightest. 

Garcia remained undefeated at 5-0. This was his second knockout. Swain's record fell to 5-3 with 1 KO.

Philly junior lightweight Anthony Burgin won a shutout 4-round decision over Nuwan Jayakody of DC in a four rounder. Burgin had complete control of the fight, but was never on the verge of stopping the visitor. Jayakody surged in the final round by landing hard a few times. However, I still thought  Burgin took the  round.

Judges Alan Rubenstein and Debbie Barnes agreed that Burgin had won every round, each turning in scores of 40-36. Hilton Whittaker gave Jayakody one  round, and scored it 39-37.

The win improved Burgin's record to 4-0, 1 KO. Jayakody lost for the first time. Now he's 1-1, 1 KO.

Touted Philly lightweight newbie Sultan Staton won his second bout in a row, 2-0, 2 KOs, by beating hard-luck Atlantic City boxer Sidell Blocker, 1-6-1. Blocker surprised Staton early with a hard combination. Shortly afterward, the fighters butted heads and Staton came away with a cut over his left eye. After the clash, Staton pawed at the eye with his glove, and when he saw that he was indeed bleeding, he became enraged.

Staton immediately lashed out at Blocker and went for the kill. He eventually hurt him late in the round and then finished him off with a booming right hand that sent Blocker straight down on his back with his right leg pinned behind him. With Blocker flat on his back and struggling to get up, referee Ricky Vera counted him out. The official time was 2:59.

Staton never celebrated his sudden victory, still obviously angered by the head butt and the cut that it had caused. He stormed out of the ring fuming, and it wasn't until promoter J Russell Peltz reminded him that he had just scored his second win (and KO), that Staton's mood lifted and a slight smile spread across his face. Staton may very well be one to watch.

In the opening bout of the evening, heavyweights Dante Selby, Philadelphia, (above in red trunks) and Dan Pasciolla, Brick, NJ, fought four full rounds. The bout was slow moving until the final round when each fighter took turns hurting the other. Selby struck first, staggering his opponent, but Pasciolla fired back and wobbled Selby.

Overall, Selby had the better of the action, and did plenty to win for the first time as a pro, 1-0-1. This was Pasciolla's professional debut. He won the last round on my card, but went home 0-1. Judges Hilton Whittaker (who once fought George Benton at the Arena) and Debbie Barnes both scored the fight 39-37 (same as my tally), while Alan Rubenstein had Selby in a landslide, 40-36.

The overall show was a good mix of action, with plenty of KOs to excite the crowd and move the schedule along nicely. The main event began just after 9:30PM. The Bally's ballroom was quite full, if not quite sold out.

One scheduled bout between middleweights Fred Jenkins Jr. and Alex Sanchez was scratched after Jenkins fell ill with food poisoning shortly after the weigh in on Friday night. On fight night, Jenkins' trainer and father, Fred Sr., said that his son was resting in the hotel, but that his illness came suddenly and was a bit scary. Hopefully Fred Jr. will be okay soon. The lesson is stay away from the salmon cakes at Bally's. Peltz Boxing returns to Bally's AC on August 24th.




John DiSanto - Atlantic City - June 01, 2013
Photos by Katie Warburton