Posted by George Hanson., Jr Esq. on Jan 29, 2012
Go Mommy, Hail to the King!

Go Mommy, Hail to the King!

The Mouthpiece
Go Mommy, Hail to the King!
Rosado Thrashes Karass & Jennings Outduels Byarm
By: George H. Hanson Jr., Esq.
Date:  Saturday, January 21, 2012
Venue: Asylum Arena – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Promoters: Main Events in association with Peltz Boxing and Greg Cohen Promotions
Coverage: NBC Sports Network
Commentators: Kenny Rice, BJ Flores, Freddie Roach & Chris Mannix
Ring Announcer: Joe Antonacci
Referee:   Steve Smoger, Gary Rosato & Blair Talmadge

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!” I come here to let you know that I have never been impressed with television executives or programming directors. Maybe it is because long gone are the days when the sweet science represented half of television programming in the 1950s and prize fighters reigned supreme. Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard gracing ABC’s Wide World of Sports is now a distant recollection, a fleeting illusion lost in the chronicles of our memories. Boxing aficionados and fans are oftentimes held hostage by pay-per-view, ponying up a small fortune to watch fights that couldn’t compete with what was readily available on regular television not too long ago. My grandmother, God bless her soul, always said that if you want something done right leave it to a woman!

Rosado (L.) landing a vicious uppercut.

Thus, when in November I got the press release that VERSUS was to become NBC Sports Network and was teaming up with Kathy Duva of Main Events and Hall of Fame matchmaker “Uncle Russell” – J. Russell Peltz, in an epiphany, I got from behind my desk, dropped down to one knee, and “Tebowed” thanking God that my prayers had been answered!  Boxing would be heading back to the networks and the first show of the NBC Sports Fight Night boxing series would be televised from the Boxing Capital of  the World—Philadelphia! Stepping into the ring with NBC and Duva as presenting sponsor would be Go Daddy, the world’s largest provider of web hosting and domain registration. To the ladies of Main Events, CEO Kathy Duva, Ellen Haley, and Jolene Mizzone – Go Mommy!

I have always been a fan of Philly junior-middleweight “King” Gabriel Rosado (18 wins – 5 losses – 0 draws – 10 kos).  The tall, rangy pugilist is the quintessential Philadelphia fighter—blue collar, fearless, always in the gym, willing and ready to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime! Like all the Philadelphia legends of lore, fighting in the squared circle is only a respite from punching the clock for a regular 9 to 5. Like “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, Jeff Chandler, Boogalo Watts and countless others, Rosado works a regular job, clocking in for the graveyard shift every night at Home Depot. And yes, he has a sage in trainer Billy Briscoe 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!

Rosado (R.) connecting with a laser right!

Therefore I anxiously awaited the co-feature as Rosado decked out in a gold outfit with his hair dyed the same color entered the ring to the adulation of the capacity crowd to face rough and rugged contender Jesus Soto-Karass (24 wins – 6 losses – 3 draws – 16 kos) of Los Mochis, Mexico in a scheduled 10-rounder. In his last two fights, both decision losses, Karass had welterweight contender and Rosado’s promotional stable mate, Mike Jones, looking like Fred Astaire in boxing gloves soft-shoeing around the ring at a frenetic pace trying to avoid the marauding Mexican who never took his foot off the gas pedal. Karass, who has never been stopped in 33 contests, has one gear—forward, and Rosado just doesn’t like when someone invades his space. Earlier in the dressing room, the man with the golden locks told me that 2012 was going to be his “take-off” year and tonight we were going to witness his speed and power.

They met in the center of the ring with Karass forging ahead and Rosado standing tall popping his classic jab, looking for an opening. The script was unfolding as expected— Karass marching forward trying to close the distance and impose his will as he had done in his two epic battles with Jones. Oblivious to the trap that was being laid, midway through the round the Mexican walked into a right uppercut that sent his head skywards, discombobulating his internal wiring, signaling to the Philadelphian that the apocalypse was upon his adversary and  it was time to go to work as the fat lady coughed clearing her throat ready to sing. Seizing the moment, Rosado swooped down on Karass raining down overhand rights, left hooks, and an array of punches from his arsenal. However, this was the opening round and Karass has granite in his chin and incredible recuperative powers as he kept his composure and was trading on even terms when Referee Smoger jumped in at the bell to ensure that both men knew that the round had concluded.

Rosado (R.) landing the left hook.

Rosado boxed niftily in the second stanza keeping the stick in the Mexican’s face and whacking him with a change of speed check hook—a move where the hands are rolled rapidly in front of the opponent’s face to divert the eyes before smashing him with the intended punch.  I told you that Briscoe was a sage and a savant and I am sure this little razzle-dazzle was part of tonight’s package.  Karass took a close third round as they stood toe-to-toe hammering away at the body, each trying to drive the other into the ground. It was classic trench warfare with both men emerging from the round with mementos of their valor —Karass with a cut over his left eye that was caused by a punch, and Rosado sporting a left eye that was beginning to swell.

From his ring walk to his sartorial splendor you just sensed that this was Rosado’s night and something spectacular was brewing.  With close to two minutes left in Round 4, Rosado, legs firmly planted on the canvas shifted his weight and uncorked an earth-shattering left hook that had Joe Frazier smiling in his grave. The punch ricocheted off Karass’ dome and short circuited his internal wiring. Yes, he was hurt and tried masking the damage, but Rosado’s instincts kicked in and he attacked like a bald eagle preying on a retreating rabbit swooping down on his prey, gloved talons ripping down destruction from every angle. He hit Karass with everything except Referee Smoger. It was eerily spectacular watching him trying to separate Karass from his senses with sweeping left hooks loaded with bad intentions.  The Mexican’s courage and toughness were on display, as he survived the onslaught and made it back to his corner at the round’s conclusion on unsteady legs.

“That is the oldest trick in the book and I am taking $100 out of his purse,” yelled Greg “Little But Bad” Sirb as he leaped from his ringside seat adjacent to mine enroute to Karass’ corner 10 feet away. Sirb, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission, was livid because Karass’ handlers “accidentally” toppled an ice bucket in their corner causing a minute delay as the bell rung to begin the fifth round as the referee ordered them to wipe the ice away. It was a veteran move to gain additional time to aid their fighter’s recovery, but it wasn’t going unnoticed by the ubiquitous Sirb who monitors the ringside like a North Korean border guard.  A shouting match ensued as Sirb made his point and rightfully stuck to his guns never wavering making sure that his message was delivered. His boss, Commissioner Rudy Battle stayed glued to his seat knowing that in a ringside war of words nobody was going to upstage Sirb whose moniker is well-deserved. Ironically, it is the quiet and reserved Battle who holds a Black belt in karate.

Rosado (L.) has Karass in deep trouble.

Karass’ corner delayed the inevitable as the round opened with their fighter $100 poorer— his noggin filled with cobwebs causing him to walk into a Claymore mine of a right hand midway through the round that exploded on the side of his face. Hell-bent on making a statement, Rosado wasn’t going to allow his adversary to survive with so much time left in the round. He unloaded like a Gatlin gun firing shots that found their target. Referee Smoger in an act of compassion called a halt to the bout saving Karass from further damage as he slumped into the ropes in an act of defiance, hurt but refusing to taste the canvas. It was over at 2:06. Hail to the King, go mommy!

I was geared up to be at ringside to watch heavyweight contender “Fast” Eddie Chambers give a boxing lesson to Sergei Liakhovich in the originally scheduled main event. However, for the second time, Chambers had to be sidelined due to an injury suffered during training. The two broken ribs that kept him from his hometown fans presented a golden opportunity for two undefeated Philly heavyweights—Maurice “Freight Train” Byarm (13 wins – 0 losses – 1 draw – 9 kos) and Bryant “By By” Jennings (11 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 5 kos), who were more than willing to welcome the chance for national exposure.

Byarm, whose father Lionel in 1984 gave a debuting Evander Holyfield all that he could handle in a losing effort, campaigns out of Washington, D.C. and would be fighting for the first time in his hometown. I don’t know how to explain Jennings meteoric rise up the pugilistic ladder after less than three years of being introduced to the squared circle. A former high school football player, he started boxing in 2009 spent a year in the amateurs before joining the punch-for-pay ranks and is improving with every fight under the tutelage of legendary North Philadelphia trainer, Fred Jenkins.

Jennings patiently waited in the ring as Byarm made the ring walk with his father who was decked out in a blue pinstripe suit and a black Borsalino hat adorning his head, the house speakers blared Edwin Starr’s War, the most popular protest song every recorded—a 1969 response to the Vietnam War. Excitement was in the air with the entrance song being a harbinger of what was about to unfold in the scheduled 10-rounder for the Pennsylvania State Heavyweight championship.

The gong sounded and the southpaw, Byarm, stalked Jennings who kept his distance bouncing on his toes trying to discern or adjust to the tempo of the fight. Working from behind the jab, Byarm occasionally went downstairs to the body as his adversary stayed airborne responding sporadically. With approximately 20 seconds remaining, Jennings seized the moment and unleashed twice with a one-two combination pinning Byarm to the ropes. Call it strategy or gamesmanship but Jennings would follow a similar pattern each round— like Sugar Ray Leonard in his epic test of wills with Marvelous Marvin Hagler—he would finish strong in the final 30 seconds of each round.

Round-after-round Byarm stalked his prey going down to the body with hard shots to the midsection and ribcage. Maybe the hardest punch that connected came in the fifth stanza when Byarm landed a murderous right hook to Jennings’ side. It was evident to me that Jennings was hurt but played possum by keeping his composure. Oblivious to the circumstances at hand, Byarm, unlike Rosado earlier, never seized the moment and turned the heat up in an attempt to bring closure to action. Instead he continued to fight at the same pace and allowed Jennings to make it back to his corner. Instead of standing between rounds as he was doing in order to gain a psychological edge, he gladly welcomed the stool placed in his corner and some water from his corner man.

Byarm (L.) and Jennings in the heat of battle.

You have to love both these young pugilists who were fighting like they had been headliners their entire career. There was never a boring moment as they waged war in front of their hometown fans, each making a statement to the viewing audience, sending a message to young guns in the division. Jennings captured the sixth round and continued his strategy of rallying to close each round. At the end of the tenth and final round they both received a well-deserved round of applause from the audience as we all waited with bated breath for the decision. Jennings was awarded a unanimous decision 96-94 twice and 97-93.  It was a closely contested fight depending upon your preference with all three judges reaching consensus on only six rounds. Had Byarm pressed the action and captured the final round which he lost due to inactivity and fighting on “cruise control” the bout would have ended in a majority draw.  Go mommy!

Welterweight “The New” Ray Robinson (12 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws – 5 kos), who is always nattily dressed, told me earlier in the dressing room that he was “looking for a suit sponsor” when I mentioned his penchant for being immaculately dressed just like the original whose tailor oftentimes traveled with him. New or original, the name Ray Robinson is synonymous with class, style, and smart boxing as was the case tonight. In a scheduled eight-rounder the southpaw Robinson of Philadelphia kept his distance, used lateral movement, out boxed, and out foxed rugged, upset-minded Doel Carrasquillo  (16 wins – 18 losses – 1 draw – 46 kos) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The 38-year old veteran, who has as many knockouts as Robinson has fights, is well-known for sending many young prospects back to the drawing board, reevaluating their boxing future. Previously undefeated junior-middleweight Denis “Momma Boy” Douglin was Carrasquillo’s latest victim. Maybe this weighted heavily on Robinson’s mind and dictated his strategy, but he was rarely stationary and knew when to unload and disappear. Carrasquillo just walked forward with absolutely no fear of getting hit with every intention of rendering his opponent unconscious on the canvas.

Robinson (R.) boxing from a distance.

It was the classic case of the bull and the matador as Robinson jabbed, countered, parried, and changed directions never allowing Carrasquillo to goad him into a shoot-out. We can all pass judgment that it wasn’t an aesthetically pleasing fight, but we weren’t in the ring feeling the heat of the cagey veteran closing the distance, smiling diabolically hoping to land that one shot that would bring down the curtains of one’s eyelids. Boxing is the art of hitting without being hit and tonight Robinson was an evasive artist, pitching a virtual shut-out despite not causing much damage to Carrasquillo’s physical dimensions or ego. Unlike 14 of Carrasquillo’s opponents, he left the ring unharmed, intact and victorious winning a unanimous decision, 79-73 and 78-74 twice.

Other Results: In a scheduled six-round welterweight bout, Jose Peralta Alejo (6 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws – 4 kos) of Jersey City, New Jersey sounded like a Banshee warrior, yelling with every punch he threw in winning a unanimous decision 60-54 on all three scorecards over Lenwood “Mr. Composure” Dozier (7 wins – 3 losses – 1 draw – 3 kos) of Glen Burnie, Maryland. It was obvious that Dozier was the more skilled and crafty fighter. However, he was content on shoulder rolling, slipping and side-stepping seemingly uninterested in doing much. It is one thing to be composed but another to be so relaxed that you believe that you are engaged in a defensive display instead of a prize-fight. Philadelphia lightweight prospect Naim “The Dream” Nelson (3 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) was impressive in pitching a shut-out 40-36 on all scorecards over tough debuting Pedro Andres of Bridgeton, New Jersey. Nelson landed every punch in his arsenal. However, Andres refused to surrender and showed his mettle by making it to the final bell.  With his countryman, and most exciting figher in boxing—WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa giving instructions from his ringside seat behind me, undefeated Cuban light-heavyweight prospect Sullivan Barrera (8 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 6 kos) took a unanimous six-round decision by scores of 60-54 twice and 59-55 over “Dangerous” Damar Singleton (7 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) of Toledo, Ohio. Singleton who had the edge in hand and foot speed waited allowing the Cuban who now resides in Miami to dictate the pace and literally “steal” rounds. Despite his first loss, it is evident that Singleton has a world of talent and just needs to be more aggressive and purposeful in his attack.

It was a sensational night of boxing in front of a packed house with Kathy Duva and Uncle Russell providing further proof supporting my rebuttable presumption that Philadelphia is the Boxing Capital of the World. Enjoying the action were many dignitaries from the boxing community including Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Robert “Bam Bam” Hines, Jerome “Silky” Jackson, Marvin “Mack Attack” Mack, Garrett “The Ultimate Warrior” Wilson, Travis Kauffman, Marshall Kauffman, Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna, Clem “Strictly Business” Bethea, Bryan “Boogaloo” Jones, Marvin “Machine Gun” Garris, Dave  Price, Steven Foster Sr., Jimmy Binns Jr., Rick El, Gerald “The Jedi” Nobles, and boxing prodigy, pint-sized pugilist— nine-year old Steven Foster Jr. who was immediately recognized by Gamboa and his management team in the dressing room.

Earlier in the dressing room Gabriel Rosado jokingly told me that he woke up and his hair was gold. But he was as serious as a heart attack when he stated that “2012 is going to be my year!”   And tonight he sent shock waves throughout the junior-middleweight division in stopping a contender who has never failed to answer the final bell. One of the junior-middleweight belts will soon be resting on his hips.  Hail to the King!

On a more somber note I want to dedicate this article to another remarkable woman—my friend Lisa A. Smith who lost her courageous battle with cancer on January 9th.  She will live forever in our hearts, our minds and our stories. Rest in Peace my sister.

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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