Posted by George Hanson., Jr Esq. on Oct 2, 2010
Boardwalk Empire—Kennedy Thrashes Becerra

Boardwalk Empire—Kennedy Thrashes Becerra

The Mouthpiece

Boardwalk Empire—Kennedy Thrashes Becerra

By: George Hanson Jr., Esq.

Date: Saturday, September 25, 2010
Venue: Bally’s, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Promoter: Peltz Boxing Promotion
Matchmaker: J. Russell Peltz
Ring Announcer: Joe Antonacci
Referees: Steve Smoger, David Franciosi & Ricardo Vera

On Sunday, September 19th HBO debuted its new blockbuster series—Boardwalk Empire—set in 1920 Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition, when the sale of alcohol became illegal in the United States. The show chronicles Enoch “Nucky” Thompson’s unfettered power over the city’s business operation from his perch as Town Treasurer or de facto Emperor. Played by Steve Buscemi, Nucky is so corrupt and amoral that he is delightfully intriguing, a walking paradox with whom you find some solace when he “rightfully” disposes of a wife beater at the bottom of the ocean shedding historical light on “sleeping with the fishes.” A widower with a fondness for the ladies, the opening episode documents his extra-curricular activities in the bedroom—living up to his moniker—“Nucky.” Thompson takes care of business, both fiscal and flesh, and nothing happens in Atlantic City without him “getting a piece of the action.”

Sitting at ringside I couldn’t help reflecting that four of the twelve scheduled fighters shared the same manager—the always dapper and genial Doc Nowicki. Over several years Nowicki has built an empire consisting primarily of Philly fighters, including welterweight contender Mike Jones who is on the cusp of fighting for a world championship. There is rarely a show in Philly or New Jersey without a Nowicki-managed fighter on the card and Bally’s was the perfect setting to witness his managerial acumen at work—Teon Kennedy, Dennis Hasson, Jason Sosa and Rashad Brown. However, in the aura of Atlantic City’s bright lights and ring card girls so stunning they’d make a blind man see, Nowicki’s comparison to Nucky begins and ends with their shared sartorial splendor and dominance.

In the main event Philadelphia’s own USBA super-bantamweight champion Teon “The Technician” Kennedy (15 wins – 0 losses – 1 draw – 6 kos) came out at the bell with a conscious air of anticipated triumph like a lion stalking a gazelle to face Alex “El Diablo” Becerra (20 wins – 8 losses – 0 draws – 9 kos) of El Paso, Texas in their scheduled twelve-rounder for the vacant NABA belt. Despite entering the ring with a picture of the Virgin Mary emblazoned on his orange poncho, you just got an inkling that the diminutive veteran from the Lone Star state did not have a prayer of a chance—this fight was not going to terminate in his favor.

In Round 1, Kennedy leading with check hooks and probing jabs followed by straight rights keeping his adversary at bay foreshadowed the forthcoming rounds. Thus, I leaned back in my press row seat, fastened my imaginary seat belt, popped a bud to myiPod in my left ear and turned up the volume on my reggae playlist, ready for the pugilistic ride with theTechnician on the sweet science highway. I left my right ear unplugged so I could hear “Uncle Russell,” promoter J. Russell Peltz, who was two seats away yelling instructions to Kennedy as his charge pressed the action. Peltz borrowed a page out of the incomparable promoter Tex Rickard’s book, who in a dual role not only promoted The Fight of the Century on July 4, 1910 between Jack Johnson and James J. Jeffries, he was also the referee. Like Dennis Hasson earlier, Kennedy listened to his press row “corner man” and promoter.

In the beginning of the second round, Kennedy rocked Becerra with a lead right followed by a quick combination that drove El Diablo into the ropes. However, the cagey veteran was able to survive and remain upright under attack for the rest of the way. Kennedy picked up where he left off to conclude the second stanza. It was the same story for subsequent rounds as Kennedy drove shots to Becerra’s head and body while abandoning the jab, cruising on the inside using the commonplace shoulder roll to evade the Texan’s counters.

Throughout the fight, it seemed as though Kennedy was riding punches as well as Jamaican reggae star Lady Saw, who was spitting her social commentary on female jealousy in my left ear. The music enhanced the symbiotic movement of the combatants like a movie soundtrack and enriched my boxing experience. Kennedy pulled everything out of his arsenal digging right uppercuts to Becerra’s side then immediately turning them over into precise, straight rights—a dangerous move because he is twice exposed for the counter left hook. However, under heavy attack the veteran was either too slow or never saw the openings. With his right eye swollen and closing since Round 5, the man from Texas showed much temerity and fought back despite being outgunned.

The bout was becoming target practice and I was beginning to wish that his corner would show compassion and stop the fight between rounds. The ringside physician visited Becerra’s corner after Round 9 to examine his swollen right eye. Never dissuaded and in spite of every disadvantage, with courage and ferocity Becerra was resolute and determined to fight on. He came out for the tenth round, his cranium defying all the pounding it had absorbed gallantly jetted forward as Kennedy planted shots to his head and body. Given the tragic backdrop of Kennedy’s fight with Francisco Rodriguez, it was a relief when referee Smoger prevented Becerra from answering the bell for the 11th round. Kennedy was declared the winner by a 10th round technical knockout and Becerra left the ring on his own accord.

Maybe there was a pogonological convention in town for the weekend because Dennis “The Assassin” Hasson (10 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) and Tommie ‘Big Poppa” Speller (5 wins – 4 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) both entered the ring sporting beards looking like stunt doubles from the set of Rip Van Winkle for their scheduled eight-round super-middleweight all-Philadelphia match. Not to be outdone, Speller laid claim to style points, decked out in his black and white trunks with frills rivaling those on a cotillion dress at a debutante ball. Hasson conceded in his trademark gold and black trunks. Besides his flair for fashion, Speller’s most decisive quality is his physical and mental toughness and granite chin—both on display tonight as he came out and took a close opening round by coming forward with a long jab and opening a cut over Hasson’s left eye creating a carmine trickle down the side of his face. Style points and the opening round were Hasson’s last concessions as he took charge in the subsequent rounds by boxing on the outside, using his advantage in speed, landing his jab and straight rights. Throughout the match “Uncle Russell” ensconced in his ringside seat shouted, “Double jab, right hand! Back him up Dennis!” And true to form, Hasson followed the instructions with such alacrity it begs the question, “Why isn’t Peltz training fighters?”

Hasson boxed and Speller came forward unable to corner his adversary, landing the occasional jab or hook. The cut over Hasson’s eye was never a factor as he maintained command of the action by picking his shots, never engaging the hard-nosed Speller in a shoot-out. Throwing caution to the wind, Hasson moved in for the kill in the final round and was met with three consecutive overhand rights that came south from Florida, swept up through the Carolinas and landed firmly on his chin in Philadelphia. Speller sent a powerful message that if someone was leaving the ring on a stretcher it wasn’t Big Poppa! Despite Speller’s valiant and exciting display, Hasson captured a unanimous decision by scores of 79-73 and 80-72 twice.

Other Results: Junior-welterweight southpaw Treysean “Trigger” Wiggins (1 win – 0 losses – 0 draws –1 ko) from Newburgh, New York dropped Jason “The Machine” Sosa (3 wins – 0 losses – 1 draw – 1 ko) from Camden, New Jersey twice forcing referee Ricardo Vera to call a halt at 2:02 of the opening round of this scheduled four-rounder. Sosa never glimpsed the brutal left hook; never saw it in flight crashing off his chin laying him on his back near his corner scoring the first knockdown. Surprisingly, Sosa was up at the count of five on unsteady legs, a compelling argument to stop the fight. However, it continued and he was reintroduced to the canvas with a barrage from Wiggins. Up immediately, he was rescued twenty seconds later by the referee as Wiggins punished him on the ropes.

In a battle of southpaws lightweight Chris “Smooth Operator” Green (3 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) of Ashbury Park, New Jersey captured a four-round decision 39-37 on all three scorecards over tough Deroy “Guyanese Gladiator” Beaton (1 win – 1 loss – 0 draws – 0 kos) of Toms River, New Jersey by way of Guyana. Green took command early with some nifty boxing, landing the straight left repeatedly, befuddling the taller Beaton who captured the second round by using his jab. As fate would have it Beaton dropped Green right before the bell to end the third round but slipped while landing the punch. Referee Franciosi missed the call in what should have been a 10-8 round for Beaton. Green took the final round and the decision.

Christmas came early for local favorite, junior-welterweight Linwood Hurd (2 wins – 2 losses – 3 draws – 0 kos) of Atlantic City, who got the gift of a majority draw in a four-rounder with Julio “Angel” DeJesus (4 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) of Franklinville, New Jersey. DeJesus dominated most of the action with his relentless pressure attack. With his right eye closing rapidly from the second round, DeJesus never stopped coming forward attacking the body and backing up Hurd who fought back, but was outworked. No surprise when one judge scored it correctly 40-36 for DeJesus. However, he was overruled by his two counterparts, arguably prime candidates for corrective lenses, who both scored it a draw at 38-38.

In the opening bout between two Philadelphians, debuting super-middleweight Rashad “It’s All Business” Brown won a unanimous four-round decision 40-36 on all three scorecards over talented Greg “Hot Shot” Hackett (0 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws), who despite the size disadvantage refuses to commit to serious training in order to compete in the welterweight division—his natural weight. I had it a draw at 38-38. Hackett at five-feet-six gave up seven inches in height to Brown, who was unable to defend against the overhand rights that rocked him several times in the bout. Brown’s offense consisted of primarily pinning his opponent to the ropes and attempting to land while holding.
It was an exciting night of boxing before a packed house as Teon Kennedy, ranked in the Top-10 by the various governing bodies, continued his march up the championship ladder. Sosa was the only Nowicki-managed fighter on the losing end. Notables of the boxing community enjoying the action included, the incomparable Harold Lederman, Vinny Pazienza, Robert “Bam Bam” Hines, Lajuan Simon, Mike Jones, Derek “Pooh” Ennis, Farah “The Quiet Storm” Ennis, Bozy Ennis, Keenan “Killa” Smith, Prince Badi Ajamu, John “The Eastern Beast” Brown and Ronald Cruz, another Nowicki boxer who was scheduled to fight, but his opponent was declared unfit to compete earlier in the day due to an alleged hand injury.

Although my judgment is governed by my excessive regard for period pieces, especially those set in the roaring 1920s, Boardwalk Empire is a run-away hit and will weave its way into the fabric of our culture to a greater extent than The Sopranos. Like lemmings, Americans will migrate to their couches every Sunday night to witness Nucky control the action in 1920 Atlantic City. And as certain as I am about this new blockbuster, I am positive that there will be at least one Doc Nowicki fighter on the next Philadelphia boxing card.

Continue to support the sweet science, and remember, always carry your mouthpiece!

About George Hanson., Jr Esq.

George Hanson., Jr Esq. has written 106 post in this blog.

Hailing from New Forest, Jamaica, Hanson started boxing as a teenager in Philadelphia under the tutelage of former welterweight contender, Dick Turner. He excelled, capturing four Pennsylvania State Amateur Championships—his last while a junior at Drexel University studying Accounting. According to most who have seen Hanson fight, “He is the best fighter never to have turned professional.”

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