Posted by George Hanson., Jr Esq. on Oct 5, 2012
Diplo Cayman—The King Stops the Killa

Diplo Cayman—The King Stops the Killa

The Mouthpiece

Diplo Cayman—The King Stops the Killa

By: George H. Hanson Jr., Esq.

Date:                       Friday, September 21, 2012
Venue:                    Sands Casino Resort – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Promoters:              Main Events in association with Peltz Boxing Promotions Inc.
Coverage:               NBC Sports Network
Commentators:       Kenny Rice, BJ Flores, Freddie Roach & Chris Mannix
Ring Announcer:    Joe Antonacci
Referee:                  Steve Smoger & Gary Rosato

I recall a few years ago a newspaperman told me that I wasn’t a journalist. Much to his surprise I agreed because he was absolutely right.  Like a disc jockey selects music to get the party started and going into the wee hours of the morning, I arrange words to get you from the dressing room to ringside and into the ring dodging, slipping and countering as part of the legalized violence that is boxing. Yes, I am the Diplo of pugilism! Who is Diplo?  Born Thomas Wesley Penz the eclectic American disc jockey turned producer is world renowned for his work with some of the biggest names in the music industry. Music feeds the soul and Diplo has no loyalty to any one genre or form.  No surprise that he honed his skill in the underground party scene in the City of Brotherly Love—Philadelphia.

Rosado (L.) shoulder rolls as Whittaker attacks.

It is a daunting task to arrange words to tell the story of junior- middleweight contender “King” Gabriel Rosado, his trainer Billy Briscoe and the man standing in their path to a world title shot—all the way from Georgetown, Grand Cayman—Charles “Killa” Whittaker.  However, I am never at a loss for words and like Diplo I will use the instruments of my trade to “get the party started” in other words—get you behind the scene, in the venue and up into the ring. No, I am no journalist. I am a literary jockey riding words all the way to the finish line of the story.

Three men begin their respective journey—three different times, two different countries, one goal—a world boxing championship! Nobody could have predicted that their crossroads would be the little town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It has been a circuitous ride for Grand Cayman’s favorite son and lone professional boxer Charles “Killa” Whittaker.  While spending time in reform school in Spanish Town, Jamaica the young Caymanian was inspired by the story of heavyweight champion Mike Tyson who was once similarly situated.  Whittaker believed he had found his calling and with the help of a local mentor back home he began his journey  learning the sweet science hoping to one day become Cayman’s first world boxing champion.

Rosado (L.) on the attack!

I met Whittaker seven years ago training in Georgetown, Grand Cayman in the old gym next to the bus park behind the old clock. Yes we West Indians have our own way of giving directions or describing a location. Whittaker would train there whenever he was on the island from his usual base in Miami, Florida. He was home and gladly shared the small gym with all the aspiring pugilists under the tutelage of trainer, Doonie Anglin. The little building— absent of a boxing ring—was my afternoon respite from work—a haven of parity—nobody cared what you did for a living—nobody asked. We all were fighters—and Whittaker was the resident celebrity carrying the flag of his country wherever he fought. I, despite being many years removed from my last fight, was the Philadelphia fighter.  What was glaringly obvious was that Charles Whittaker had learned his craft well and was “the thinking man’s fighter.”  The tall, lean, likeable pugilist with the rapier jab had one goal—winning a world title for Grand Cayman.

“King” Gabriel Rosado is a genetic freak because at first glance you are convinced that he is a light-heavyweight until he steps on the scale. I remember the first time I saw him when he came to my home turf—the Marian Anderson Recreation Center boxing gym in South Philadelphia on a Saturday in the summer of 2006. Barely six months in his professional career he was there taking off the gloves after a noon sparring session that I had just missed. Standing over six-feet tall, he not only had the size but also the demeanor of someone central casting has sent over to play the part of contender fighting for a world championship in an upcoming epic boxing film.

I was ringside on March 23, 2007 when Joshua Onyango took Rosado to school winning a six-round unanimous decision. On that fateful night, Onyango who had competed in 25 bouts (12 wins – 13 losses) losing to thirteen fighters with a combined record of 178 wins -10 losses, eight of whom were undefeated gave Rosado a lesson in the intricacies of the sweet science. It was Rosado’s eighth bout and his heart and chin carried him to the final bell in a contest in which he was outclassed. Despite the loss I saw through the quagmire of inexperience and wrote “Gabriel Rosado is a great prospect and has the heart of a lion. If he is managed properly – he could one day become a world champion.” (The Mouthpiece – March 23, 2007). Rosado must be a quick understudy because in his 10th bout he stopped Onyango in the third round of their rematch—April of the following year.

I have no recollection of my first meeting with Billy Briscoe, Rosado’s trainer. It is as though he has been part of the Philadelphia Boxing scene since the bare knuckles era. At the age when most youngsters were playing games, Briscoe was learning how to master the art of training fighters. Under the tutelage of legendary trainer, Wesley Mouzon who passed in 2003 Briscoe blossomed as a trainer becoming the mad scientist behind Rosado’s ascendency.  In him the fighter “has a sage who I am convinced was frozen in a cryogenic chamber during the heydays of Jack Johnson and Stanley Ketchel and defrosted ten years ago. It is safe to assume that Briscoe is not yet 40-years-old, but he is so old school you might think that he is at least 150!” (The Mouthpiece – January 21, 2012).

Whittaker (R.) working to the body.

I am convinced that boxing’s major sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, WBO & IBF) are ruled by people with the integrity and moral fiber of Nucky Thompson and Chalky Wright—main characters of HBO’s blockbuster drama Boardwalk Empire). How else can one explain and justify The World Boxing Council handing their vacant title to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez after a career built on beating little Mexican cabdrivers and 12 boring rounds against Matthew Hatton, a welterweight and brother of Ricky Hatton on March 5, 2011? Yet, despite a 19-year professional career and a current 14-fight win streak Whittaker the USBA junior-middleweight champion wasn’t in a title fight but a title eliminator for the opportunity to face IBF junior-middleweight champion Cornelius Bundrage. Rosado, the NABA belt holder, had to steam-roll perennial contender Sechew Powell in nine rounds back in June to keep his title hopes alive. Yet, the red-haired freckled faced Alvarez, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions headed by reported cross-dresser Oscar DeLahoya got to the front of the line based widely on his physcical appearance and propensity to destroy much smaller opponents.

It was evident from the opening bell that Rosado’s intent was to overpower the 38-year-old Whittaker and score a knockout. However, the Caymanian fighter boxed brilliantly in the opening stanza working from behind his long jab while circling and hooking to the body and head. The chase was on and the roles established —the bull and the matador. The rounds were close until Rosado (20 wins – 5 losses – 0 draw – 12 kos) clocked Whittaker (36 wins – 12 losses – 2 draws – 21 kos) with a well-timed right hand over the Caymanian’s jab late in the fifth round sending him momentarily to the canvas. With ten second remaining in the round, Rosado threw caution to the wind and raced in for the kill oblivious to the danger that was ahead as the seasoned veteran landed a “good night” left hook on his cranium that wobbled him. Fortunately the bell sounded because Rosado was frozen dead in his tracks for a split-second leaving me to wonder what could have happened had the bell not rang and there were at least 30 seconds remaining in the round.

Rosado (L.) lands a crushing left hook.

Rosado continued to stalk his prey cornering him in the ropes on several occasions. But, Whittaker used every trick in his bag to gain separation, avoid punishment and counter with short shots on the inside. However, Rosado was getting closer and dropped Whittaker in the seventh round with another right hand counter over his jab.  Rising at the count of seven, Whittaker boxed wisely to finish the round and continued his pugilistic prowess in the next two rounds. Rosado was looking for the big knockout punch and Whittaker was comfortable in taking advantage landing short punches on the inside countering his stronger, younger opponent.  I gave Whittaker both the eighth and ninth rounds.

Whittaker’s success was ephemeral as the tenth round would be his undoing. Thirty seconds in the round and another short right deposited Whittaker on the canvas. Up at the count of three, referee Smoger dusted his gloves off and the fight resumed. Whittaker was cornered and Rosado wasn’t going to allow him to escape and make it to the bell.  The fight resumed at closed quarters and a left hook and two rights crashed off the top of Whittaker’s dome sending him to the canvas on his haunches. Referee Smoger immediately called a halt to the action at 1:50. The fight was over and one dream realized while it appears that another is deferred.  Then again, with Nucky and Chalky Wright running the various sanctioning bodies don’t be surprised if Whittaker is next in line to face Canelo Alvarez for the WBC junior-middleweight belt.

The  story reported that the emperor paraded around the street nude “dressed” in his sartorial splendor—invisible clothes made by a so-called tailor who understood everything about ego and nothing about garment construction. Nobody wanted to tell the emperor that he was stark-naked, his family jewels showing, in fear of falling out of favor. The decision was announced 96-94 twice for Antwone Smith and 96-94 for Ronald Cruz. Aside from the lone delusional judge and many of Cruz’s sycophantic followers who booed and screamed profanity you couldn’t find one person in press-row who thought that Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s hometown hero had remotely won the 10-round contest against Antwone Smith of Miami, Florida.

Smith (L.) keeping Cruz on the end of his jab.

The fight was originally sanctioned for 12 rounds and Cruz’s WBC Continental Americas welterweight belt. However, with Smith tipping the scales at 157 pounds at the weigh-ins, finally sweating off seven pounds the fight was reduced to ten rounds and the belt no longer a part of the equation. His inability to make weight raises more questions about Smith’s preparation and dedication to his chosen profession.  I am sure many supporters of Cruz will use this as fuel for their contention that the weight had an adverse impact on the outcome. However, I am cut from the same cloth as legendary matchmaker Don “Legend” Elbaum that weight and age are the two most overrated factors in boxing!

It was a relatively easy fight for Smith (21 wins – 4 losses – 1 draw – 12 kos) who stood dead smack right in front of Cruz (17 wins – 0 losses – 0 draw – 12 kos) snapping his head back with a stiff jab all the time barking like a warring Banshee warrior occasionally hooking to the body and head shoulder rolling and side-stepping to block, parry and evade any counters.  Smith was in control from start to finish losing a few rounds due to inactivity and apparent boredom. I don’t know of any other boxer who has ever had it so stress free with such a basic fight plan.  Smith kept the jab working, pausing momentarily to hook to the body, which appears like he was placing a cork into a wine bottle.  Maybe I am wrong but Cruz couldn’t or didn’t know how to block the jab or counter over top or even beat Smith to the punch with a straight right as soon as he saw any movement in the Floridian’s shoulder muscles. Then again, what do I know about boxing?

Round after round Smith barked while jabbing as thought he was a gloved Doberman leading a canine army through the California desert.  Cruz’s retort was a move that made absolutely no sense and whoever taught it should be banned from boxing. Whenever they were in closed quarters Cruz tried to gain an advantage by grabbing Smith’s left hand pinning it to the fighter’s body with his right hand and then throwing the left hook to the head. The result was that both fighters had one free hand— Cruz his left and Smith his right. However Smith’s right was already protecting his chin in the shoulder roll always in position to block Cruz’s left hook. What do I know about boxing?

One loss doesn’t make a career. Gabriel Rosado has been on the losing end on five occasions and he now sits atop the IBF ranking eagerly awaiting his shot at the belt. He has been able to learn more from his setbacks than he has from his victories.  Billy Briscoe has never taken comfort in any performance always finding flaws and areas for improvement.  However, it will be difficult for Cruz in an environment where I doubt anyone will tell the emperor that he is exposed.  Bethlehem is so enamored with their favorite son that security made no attempts to restrain fans that made their way to press row to hurl expletives at the judges.

Smith (R.) on the attack, barking and punching.

Other Action: Undefeated Russian light-heavyweight Sergey Kovalev (18 wins – 0 losses – 1 draw – 16 kos) needed just 14 seconds in the third round to dispose of Lionell Thompson (12 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws – 8 kos) of Buffalo, New York who accepted the fight two weeks ago after Garbriel Campillo, Kovalev’s original opponent was injured.  Even though they both are light-heavyweights, the tall Russian towered over his shorter opponent and stepped to him at the opening bell as thought he was on a morning walk through Central Park dropping him twice in the second round and again in the third forcing referee Rosato to call an end to the scheduled ten-rounder. In the opening bout  Alex Sanchez (1 win – 1 loss – 0 draw – 1 ko) of Camden, New Jersey dropped Philadelphia’s  Fitzgerald “Nasty Boy” Johnson (3 wins – 6 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) twice in the second round bringing an end to their action-packed scheduled four-rounder at 2:14 of the round. Johnson won the opening stanza and was mixing it up with Sanchez when a right deposited him on the canvas.  He made it to his feet when another right sent him back to the canvas where referee Rosato counted him out. I am confident that Johnson is a future thespian or stuntman. The knockout punch wouldn’t have anchored a wino amped up on a quart of cheap whiskey. Allentown, Pennsylvania’s junior-welterweight Jerome Rodriguez (0 wins – 1 loss – 1 draw) was impressive in winning a unanimous four-round decision by scores of 40-36 on all three scorecards over Philadelphia’s Kywayne Hill (1 win – 9 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko). The southpaw Rodriguez worked from behind a stiff jab and was artistic in his body punching hammering away at Hill’s core round after round.  In what resembled a tough man contest instead of a boxing match the always entertaining heavyweight William “Big Stuff” Miranda (5 wins – 5 losses – 1 draw – 0 kos) of Allentown, Pennsylvania won a unanimous four-round decision over Philadelphia’s Pedro Martinez (6 wins – 6 losses – 0 draw – 3 kos) by scores of 59-54, 59-55 and 58-55. In a bout that I scored a draw junior-lightweight Jason Sosa (4 wins – 1 loss – 3 draws – 1 ko) of Camden, New Jersey got a majority decision over Esteban Rodriguez (5 wins – 2 losses – 1 draw – 1 ko) of Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  Two judges scored it 39-37 for Sosa while the third reflected my score of 38-38.

Miranda (R.) mixing it up with Martinez.

“Back then, no one was thinking about having David Banner over the Eurythmics” stated Diplo in a recent Vibe magazine article. Even back then, nobody was thinking about Grand Cayman producing a world champion. Or even recently, nobody was giving a pugilist with five losses a chance at winning a world championship.  Like Diplo, Charles Whittaker did the inconceivable by reaching one-step away from the world championship door. And with his performance it is highly probably that he will fight for a world title. Gabriel Rosado is at the most six months away from living up to his moniker. He will be crowned king of the division by stopping IBF junior-middleweight champion Cornelius Bundrage. Diplo……….!

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

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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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