Story by John DiSanto – PhillyBoxingHistory.com
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. / dcobbjr.com
The two main bouts, Friday night at the 2300 Arena in South Philly, were both high-end, nationally televised, beat downs that brought plenty of action and drama to the overheated live crowd as well as the TV audience watching at home.
Undefeated super middleweight, David Benavidez (16-0, 15 KOs) overwhelmed a game Denis Douglin (20-5, 13 KOs) in the tenth and final round of their ESPN-broadcast main event. Prior to that, Alejandro Luna, 21-0, 15 KOs, won a 10-round unanimous decision over Naim Nelson, 13-2, 1 KO, in a brutal, over the limit junior welterweight fight that was pulled together on one day’s notice after each of the two combatant’s opponents had fallen out at the last minute.
The main event was a grueling, fast-paced battle with southpaw Denis Douglin, Marlboro, NJ, jumping out to a quick start, before Benavidez, Phoenix, turned the tide beginning in round three with his heavier punches. Benavidez hurt Douglin twice in the third, but Douglin kept coming. He stayed busy throughout the fight, rarely retreated, but slowly wore down as the rounds went by.
Benavidez banked four straight rounds and hurt Douglin with a consistent body attack in round six. The assault slowed Douglin to a crawl, but he survived the round. When the bell started the seventh, Benavidez picked things right back up and again appeared on the brink of a stoppage. But suddenly, as he pressed Douglin against the ropes, the top strand came loose and the fighters nearly fell out of the ring.
There was a temporary delay while the ring was repaired. The job was surprisingly quick and seemingly effective. However, when the action resumed, referee Garry Rosato had to help keep the boxers penned by hooking his arm around the still-saggy top rope when the fighters leaned against it.
After the rope repair, a refreshed Douglin roared back in the final minute of the seventh round, and his rally earned him the round on all three official scorecards. However, the surge was short lived.
In round eight, Benavidez regained control as Douglin faded once again. The Phoenix fighter resumed his savage body attack and began landing hard uppercuts as well. In the ninth with Douglin looking gassed, Benavidez landed a pair of left uppercuts that put the exhausted “Mamma’s Boy” on the canvas. Douglin struggled to his feet, and luckily for him, the bell rang one second later.
No one would have been upset if Douglin’s team, including his mother Saphya, had stopped the fight in the corner, but Douglin was permitted to continue and he marched out for the final and fatal tenth.
Benavidez met him at ring center and went to work closing the show. A hard, hurtful right hand send Douglin sagging on the droopy ropes, and Gary Rosato stepped in to save him. The time was 45 seconds of the final round. It was a solid, workmanlike victory for Benavidez, and the usual gutsy effort by Douglin.
In the co-feature, Californian Alejandro Luna and Philadelphian Naim Nelson clashed from the opening bell. They met in the middle of the ring and more or less went toe-to-toe for the next ten rounds. This strategy made sense for the hard-hitting Luna. However for Nelson, never known as a puncher, it seemed like a losing game plan right off the bat. The result was certainly entertaining to watch.
Nelson took the opening round, but Luna took charge in the second. Luna’s power was the difference in this one. The fighters dug in and threw everything they had at each other. Both landed, but Luna’s heavier blows meant more. Nelson held his own, but his punches did not deter Luna from engaging, which was exactly what the rising pro wanted.
Nelson stayed competitive and never took a backward step, but the constant pounding from Luna slowly wore him down. Luna took round after round on my scorecard. Nelson was proving his grit, but failing to win the fight.
By the seventh, a trickle of blood seeped from Nelson’s hairline, and by the end of the eighth Naim seemed to be out of gas. Nelson finally got on his bicycle in the ninth, and in doing so, took a respite from Luna’s relentless beating. If he had only used his legs a bit more before this final stretch, he might have kept the score closer.
In round ten, Luna came on strong and Nelson had little left. It was an agonizing three minutes for Nelson fans as he took blow after blow. However, Naim hung tough and survived until the final bell.
There was no surprise in the one-sided official scores. Luna won by tallies of 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93. My score was also 98-92.
In the fight of the night, hard luck Philly junior middleweight Tyrone Brunson appeared to have an easy evening head of him. His opponent, Carlos Garcia, came into the bout with an unassuming record of (10-16-1, 8 KOs). The Puerto Rican opponent stuck to the script in the opening round when he went down like a ton of bricks from a Brunson right hand, just before the bell. Brunson did his victory dance, but Garcia got up and returned with a surprise in the second.
Midway through round two, Garcia nailed Brunson with a left hook and Tyrone fell to the canvas. He struggled upward and looked wobbly when he regained his feet. Suddenly Brunson was in danger of being knocked out, which was the last thing he needed while searching for one last run toward a big fight.
At this point in his career, every time Brunson gets hit hard, you can’t help but wince for him. His future is cloudy and convincing losses against anyone, let alone a sub-500 foe, could prove to be a sudden end of the road. So the drama was high, and the pressure was on, as Brunson stepped back into the fray.
Garcia didn’t look to let him off the hook. He chased and landed for the rest of the round. Then, just before the bell, two hard right hands found Brunson’s chin and put him down again. Tyrone crawled to his feet and luckily the bell saved him.
Garcia won the third, but couldn’t finish Brunson off. This was a big mistake!
Early in round four, Brunson landed a brutal left to Garcia’s body and the Puerto Rican crumbled to the mat. Referee Shawn Clark began to count as Garcia struggled to rise. For a moment, he looked like he’d make it, but around the count of eight, he let his mouthpiece, bloody and slimy, drop to the canvas. He remained there, on the floor, with his mouthpiece for the rest of the count, taking Clark’s knockout call on his hands and knees.
With the thrilling victory, Brunson improved to 23-6-1, 22 KOs, lived to fight another day, and probably earned a nomination for the Philly Knockout of the Year. The fight itself could even get a nod as one of the best Philly fights of 2016. Garcia slid to 10-17-1, 8 KOs. Too bad this one wasn’t televised.
Super middleweights Edward Ortiz, San Antonio, and Darryl Bunting, Asbury Park, battled to a four round majority draw. The fighters didn’t even bother with the middle of the ring in this fight. This war was waged against the ropes, while the center of the ring was ignored like a doughnut hole.
Bunting’s back was pressed against the ropes most of the time, but he still managed to land plenty of shots. Ortiz was more aggressive and won the first two rounds on my card. Bunting, still pinned for much of the last six minutes, managed to win the final two rounds.
My score read 38-38 after four rounds, the same as two of the official judges. Bunting led on one of the official tallies, 39-37. Thus the fight turned out even by majority, and both fighters remained unbeaten. Ortiz left 1-0-1, 1 KO, and Bunting went home 2-0-2, 1 KO.
Philadelphian Kieran Hooks made a memorable professional debut in his junior middleweight bout with Miguel Martinez of Reading, PA. Martinez dropped the lanky Hooks with a right hand in round one, nearly ending the local’s first bout in a hurry.
However, Hooks survived and went on to win the next three rounds to claim his first pro win. It wasn’t easy or pretty, but he got the job done. All three official scores were 38-37 for Hooks. Martinez slipped to 2-1-1.
The show-opener pitted two debuting lightweights in a scheduled four-rounder. Reading’s Mariano Rolon, 1-0, 1 KO, spoiled the debut of Philly’s Jeffery Torres, 0-1, with an early burst of power. Rolon dropped Torres three times in the first round, with the final trip to the canvas lasting the full ten count. Referee Eric Dali reached the count of ten at 2:23 of the first.
In the walkout bout, Victor Vasquez, 6-2, 2 KOs, Yonkers, NY, outworked Philly’s Jerome Conquest, 6-2, 1 KO, over six rounds to close out the seven-bout boxing show. All three judges scores the final fight of the night 58-56 for Vasquez. This fight was on the back burner for possible insertion into the TV broadcast, but time did not permit. Instead, the boxers fought at the end of the evening, before a suddenly empty arena, as the fans raced for some fresh air on this hot night at the fights.
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