Fight of the Year! – Ennis Schools Rosado
By: George Hanson Jr., Esq.
Date: Friday, July 30, 2010
I left The Arena feeling like a lion that just devoured a gazelle on the plains of the Serengeti—full, satiated and at peace because I was amongst the standing-room-only-crowd that shared an eight-course meal of the sweet science served up by our chef, “Uncle” Russell. Not only were four of the entrees knockouts, but the main course was absolutely delectable leaving diners unconcerned about future opportunities to feast in the squared circle. After the gastronomical gorge, if I never tasted or smelled another fiery, pugilistic pot of punches for the remainder of 2010 I would be just fine. Nothing is comparable to Master Chef Peltz’s smorgasbord that packed the Arena for a throwback recipe with the main ingredients being plucked right from our local gardens—Germantown and North Philadelphia.
At the pre-fight press conference our cook, Promoter J. Russell Peltz mounted his soapbox, like Denzel Washington in the movie Malcolm X, to address a July 23rd article by Daily News sports columnist Stan Hochman that talked about Peltz and “the damage done every time he wants to match Philadelphia fighters in a main event.” Firmly on top of the imaginary contraption and gaining momentum, I could swear that I heard Peltz deliver the famous line from Malcolm X, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.” Once again I was swept up in the moment and came back to reality as he proclaimed, “Philly fighters fighting each other made Philly what it is—Briscoe vs. Hart, Hart vs. “Boogaloo” Watts.” If Peltz ever decides to run for political office he has the oratorical skills to command a room because all eyes were on him as he made several salient points. Like World Record holder Usain Bolt at top speed at the 70 meter mark, Peltz blazed to the finish line with, “If one fight knocks a fighter out of his career then he never had a career. These are the fights Philly want to see!” Truer words could not have been spoken as there was not an empty seat in The Arena as the crowd anxiously awaited the main event which pitted cross-town rivals—USBA Junior-Middleweight Champion Derek “Pooh” Ennis (21 wins – 2 losses – 1 draw – 13 kos) of Germantown against North Philadelphia’s “King” Gabriel Rosado (14 wins – 4 losses – 0 draws – 8 kos).
I hope that this article serves as my proxy for the Briscoe Awards 2010 Philadelphia Fight of the Year, created by John DiSanto, founder of www.phillyboxinghistory.com. I know that we are only at the end of July, but my vote has been cast and it will be virtually impossible to upstage Ennis and Rosado. The first round was the classical feeling out stanza that could have gone either way with Ennis landing early with the jab and rights to the body and head. However, Rosado landed a blistering right hand seconds before the bell, ending the round. His momentum carried over to the next round in which he hurt Ennis with a straight right hand forcing him to clutch to clear his head. It appeared that Rosado was about to take charge.
School is out for summer recess but Ennis, a 2002 graduate of Cheyney University, pried open the classroom doors in the third round and took Rosado to school—countering with right hands and left hooks. It was evident that he was just too quick and fleet-footed for Rosado who had no answer as he was being dissected by Ennis’ gloves posing as scalpels. The taller man was a lonely target on a football field being picked apart by a sniper in the luxury boxes as Ennis repeatedly placed shots to his head and body. Rosado would win the sixth by using the jab and boxing on his toes. Despite Ennis lecturing with his gloves, the fight kept everyone on the edge of their seats because there was the possibility that Rosado could turn the tide with one punch as he did in the first, second and sixth rounds. Knowing he needed a knockout, Rosado stormed out of his corner in the eleventh round and took charge. Again he was able to get the champion’s attention with a right hand which forced Ennis to hold and use his legs to avoid serious punishment. Employing angles Ennis was able to deliver his combinations while moving out of harm’s way.
I don’t know if anyone could have anticipated the twelfth round because Ennis had to be way ahead on the scorecards and just had to dance for three minutes to get the decision. But Bozy Ennis, the champion’s trainer and father, would later tell me—his son has a big heart and machismo. Instead of putting on his dancing shoes, Ennis laced up his combat boots and walked out in the final round and landed a left hook that almost decapitated Rosado, whose gloves came closer to touching the canvas than the belly of a pregnant ant to the ground. Hurt and reeling, Rosado fought off of instinct and stayed upright as Ennis landed more shots. A hurt fighter is like a wounded animal fighting for survival and the proud Puerto Rican was no different as he launched a desperate right hand that bounced off the advancing Ennis’ chin—now we had two shaken fighters with about a minute to go in the round. With the crowd on its feet screaming both men threw caution to the wind and went toe-to-toe in the Round of the Year. The only people seated at the final bell were the three judges that had to mark their scorecards. Ennis captured a majority decision 117-111, same as my scorecard, 116-112 and 114-114—a compelling argument for annual mandatory eye exams for judges.
In the opening bout of the night, heavyweight prospect Bryant “Bye Bye” Jennings (3 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 2 kos) of Philadelphia won a unanimous four-round decision by scores of 40-36 twice and 39-37 over Bernell Stewart (1 win – 1 loss – 0 draws – 0 kos) from Columbus, Ohio. The aggressive Jennings pressed the action as the slick-boxing Stewart appeared to be winded after only the second round. Stewart’s trainer, former light-heavyweight contender Vonzell Johnson, implored him to stay busy and avoid the ropes to no avail. Stewart, six-feet tall and 223.5 pounds, is probably fighting two divisions above his ideal weight. Jennings came forward throwing with bad intentions in hope of sending the Ohio native “bye bye.” The best punch of the fight was a right in Round 3 by Jennings that caught Stewart who cushioned the shot, taking off some of the steam, by rolling with the punch. He then shook his head pretending that it had little or no effect. Had the punch landed flush the fight would have been over. We could ask John Bolden but he is still orbiting the earth after being lifted off his feet by a Jennings uppercut last April at The Legendary Blue Horizon.
Philadelphia light-heavyweight Andre “Da Heat” Hemphill (8 wins – 16 losses – 2 draws – 5 kos) used a stiff consistent jab complemented by a good body attack to outwork tough Tony “The Italian Nightmare” Pietrantonio (6 wins – 5 losses – 1 draw – 5 kos) of Youngstown, Ohio over six rounds. Hemphill never let off the gas with his jab going downstairs with the left hook to his opponent’s rib cage. Pietrantonio waited in hopes of landing the big punch, but Hemphill controlled the action with his left hand. No surprise that Hemphill won a unanimous decision by scores of 60-54 and 59-55 twice.
With “Psalms 144:1” emblazoned on the belt-line of his trunks 40-year-old veteran Demetrius Davis (20 wins – 23 losses – 5 draws – 8 kos) of Washington, D.C. entered the ring to face undefeated 27-year-old super-middleweight prospect Farah “The Quiet Storm” Ennis (14 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 8 kos) of Philadelphia in the third bout of the night—scheduled for six rounds. Psalms 144:1 states “Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.” I never cared too much for fighters invoking religion into pugilism. Fighters should fight, not proselytize. Call me blasphemous, crazy or the prime candidate for fire insurance since many will say that I will need some after my earthly demise for what I am about to say. I am convinced that the Big Guy upstairs is not a boxing fan. However, he’s a strong proponent of people exercising freewill. Therefore, I did not believe that the words on Davis’ trunks would have any bearing on the outcome because I know that Ennis 144:1 states “Praise Bozy, who is my father and trainer. He trains my hands down at the Dungeon Gym for war and equips me with the skills to whip your ass.”
Ennis came out of his corner looking for an early ending so he could go back in the dressing room and have time to change for the main event featuring his brother. Twenty seconds into the fight he hurt the veteran with a left hook, right cross combination that forced him to grab the ropes with a gloved hand for support. The cagey Davis used his survival skills to make it to the bell. I guess he didn’t wanted to sustain any injuries that could derail his upcoming opportunity to fly to Germany as a sparring partner for “King” Arthur Abraham, who is gearing up for his October showdown against Carl Froch in the Super Six tournament. Ennis took the second round by going downstairs to the body as Davis used a pesky jab like a dog uses its tail to fend off flies. Maybe Davis didn’t realize that Ennis had already decided he was not going to hear the final bell. Well, he quickly got the message 27 seconds into Round 3 as Ennis delivered a right hand that landed on Davis’ chin like a wrecking ball on a dilapidated building—crashing him to the canvas. Up at the count of five, Davis was saved from further abuse by Talmadge who knew that the fighter was in no shape to continue. Ennis briskly made his way back to the dressing room to change and get ready for the ring-walk with his brother, Derek. If Jesus were in the building to witness the embarrassing evisceration of Davis, we would’ve seen the action in the shortest scripture in the Bible, John 11:35, demonstrated—Jesus weeping. However, this time princely tears would have be shed for the demise of Davis, not Jesus’ friend Lazarus.
The knockout fest began in the second bout with lightweight prospect Angel “The Razor” Ocasio (2 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) of Philadelphia. The 20-year-old Ocasio, who works for a court reporting firm and is trained by his father entered the ring decked out in teal blue striped trunks ala Hector “Macho” Camacho with white biker’s shorts peeking from under the “curtains.” His opponent, 29-year-old Sidell Blocker (0 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws) of Pleasantville, New Jersey standing five-feet-nine and sporting black trunks with red stripes was in direct contrast—four inches taller and wearing a more conservative ensemble. However, we were at The Arena and not in Milan for Fashion Week. Therefore, the judges would not be allocating points for sartorial ingenuity. This meeting would be decided on pugilistic proficiency as Ocasio came out stalking from the opening bell working behind a stiff jab.
The compact Ocasio wasted no motion as he countered every movement and punch of Blocker who was beginning to look like a deer caught in the headlights of oncoming traffic on Interstate 95. The round ended as Ocasio hurt Blocker at the bell with a combination that ended with a sharp left hook. Maybe this was the sign of things to come because midway through the second round Ocasio countered over a lazy jab by Blocker with a devastating right hand that sent the thin man falling backwards to the canvas like he was being baptized in the Mississippi River at a revival. Only problem, there would be no splash of his body displacing water, rather a bone-curdling thud as his head hit the tarmac. Unconscious before the canvas greeted him, the Pleasantville native, flat on his back did not move for almost two minutes. The audience held its breath. Finally, Blocker was able to sit up on a stool under the watchful eye of the ringside doctor as Ocasio was declared the winner by knockout at 1:24 of Round 2. Wow!!
Undefeated super-middleweight Dennis Hasson (9 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) of Philadelphia won six-round unanimous decision by scores of 60-54 and 59-55 twice over journeyman Alberto Mercedes (14 wins – 15 losses – 1 draw – 10 kos) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Again, sometimes you have to wonder if you and the judges are watching the same fight. This contest was much closer than the scores indicated. Hasson boxed from outside using his jab. However, oftentimes he was countered by Mercedes’ right hand that had the left side of his face swollen. The fighters at no point were in trouble and I had it a draw 57-57. Mercedes won three rounds with his aggression and busy right hand.
Flores vs. Dailey is probably the closest we are ever going to come to understanding the 15-round beating that heavyweight champion Larry Holmes dished out to Randall “Tex” Cobb in 1982— a match so one-sided that it forced long-time boxing commentator Howard Cosell to walk away from the sport for good. In a scheduled six-round junior-lightweight bout, a rematch between Philadelphia rivals, Anthony “Flawless” Flores (8 wins – 1 loss – 1 draw – 5 kos) punished lion-hearted Gustavo Dailey (4 wins – 8 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) for five rounds. He ended this one-sided affair by dropping Dailey with a left uppercut followed by a right hand that forced Referee Talmadge to finally stop the carnage at 43 seconds of the final round. At least Dailey lasted five more rounds than he did in their initial meeting, Flores’ debut, two years ago. This fight should have been over in the second round when Flores trapped Dailey in a corner and wailed away with both hands. When you thought the fight was over, the bobbing and weaving Dailey would fire a warning shot letting everyone know that he was still alive. He was in trouble on four occasions and only a sadist would have wanted this fight to continue after the second round.
But Dailey’s corner ushered him out for the third round and he began attacking like he had taken a shot of espresso. His attack was ephemeral as Flores picked up where he left off in the previous round, landing punches at will. However, he provided his opponent with a respite; compliments of an unintentional low blow. The brief rest made no difference but delayed the inevitable as Flores resumed his target practice. The next two rounds saw Dailey, a father of four, who works full-time at the downtown Marriott hotel fighting with all his energy despite absorbing plenty of punishment. He told me earlier that he was fighting for his kids. By this time, many in the audience were clamoring for the referee to stop the fight. To my amazement and many at ringside, the referee didn’t stop the fight and Dailey’s corner sent him out for the sixth round. Their logic, or the lack thereof, was stunning. Flores finished him off quickly and you have to question the judgment of not only the referee but of Dailey’s corner.
In the final bout of the night, a scheduled four-rounder between Philadelphians, cruiserweight Garrett “The Ultimate Warrior” Wilson (7 wins – 5 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) sent shockwaves throughout the building as he scored one of the most devastating knockouts ever, over tough ReShawn Scott (2 wins – 4 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos). This was a rematch from their bout back in 2008 in which Wilson took a close four-round decision. In the first fight, the taller Scott did not utilize his jab in keeping his shorter opponent at bay. This fight, however, he came out working behind a crisp jab as Wilson, shoulder tucked, picked them off on his gloves laying like a lion in the tall grass ready to pounce at the opportune moment.
As fate would have it, Scott threw a jab,
Wilson slipped his head to the left taking a short step in that
direction while bringing the overhand right in a straight somewhat
circular crisp motion off the rotator cuff. Scott paying attention to
his opponent’s step and head movement never saw the overhand right that
made its way over his jab exploding off his exposed chin. This was the
text-book overhand right reminiscent of the one 22-year-old phenom
Wilfredo Benitez used to render Maurice Hope unconscious in winning the
WBC Junior-Middleweight Championship—his third in as many weight
divisions. Time stood still as Scott spun sideways then crashed face
first like a man who had ran at top speed into a steel wall, unconscious
before his head bounced off the canvas. There was no need for Referee
Talmadge to count because Scott was somewhere else and I would surmise
that his ancestors must have been telling him to make his way to them by
walking towards the white light. Thank God after a minute he was able to
get to a sitting position on the ring corner stool. Wilson was declared
the winner by knockout at 1:29 of Round 1.
“Who wants to change?” was the question posed at Monday’s press conference by Peltz. “These are the fights that Philadelphia wants to see.” It would be safe to surmise that a packed Arena provided the answer. It was an exciting night of action as fight fans feasted on the sweet science. Philadelphia is the fight capital of this country and we love our boxing even more so when cross-town rivals are in the stew. Enjoying the action were many from the boxing community, including, Jerome “Silky” Jackson, Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, Tyrone “Butterfly” Crawley, IBF Cruiserweight Champion Steve “USS” Cunningham, Mike Jones, Teon “The Technician” Kennedy, Harry Joe Yorgey, Hammerin’ Hank Lundy, “Dangerous” Darrell Jones, Olivia “The Great” Fonseca, Kimmberli Stowe, Coy “Pretty Boy” Evans, Rashiem “Rich and Famous” Jefferson, Simon “Punchline” Carr and Greg Hackett.
Early next year John Disanto and www.phillyboxinghistory.com will host the Briscoe Awards and I am certain that Ennis and Rosado will be joining him on the dais for 2010 Philadelphia Fight of the Year. This is the second time that Billy Briscoe, Rosado’s trainer will have a fighter receive this honor—Lenny DeVictoria walked away with the inaugural award for his 2007 barnburner with Elad Shmouel at The Legendary Blue Horizon. I am beginning to believe that Billy Briscoe is the namesake for the award and not Philly middleweight legend—“Bad” Bennie Briscoe as originally reported.
Stan Hochman must realize that damage is done every time a fighter gets hit in the head regardless of whom he is facing. Boxing is the hurt business. It is the promoter’s responsibility to provide entertaining matches to the fans regardless of the combatants’ zip codes. Maybe he should address the managerial acumen of many of these charlatans who do nothing more than collect 23-percent or more of their fighters’ purses. Or better yet, write an expose on several of the trainers whose only preparation for imparting the sweet science is the ability to throw towels over their shoulders and look the part.
See you back at The Arena on Friday, August 13th for another action-packed card by promoter Blaine Garner’s Shalyte Entertainment featuring Victor “The Fighting Barber” Vasquez, Coy “Pretty Boy” Evans, Angel “The Razor” Ocasio and Ms. Excitement-Jacqui “The Jamaican Sensation” Davis, Tommie “Big Poppa” Speller, Derrick “Taking it to the Bank” Webster and Keenan “Killa” Smith.
Continue to support the sweet science, and
remember, always carry your mouthpiece!