By Kurt Wolfheimer
The New Alhambra in South Philadelphia, PA changed its name to the Arena, but the fights inside continued to entertain as a nearly packed housed witnessed a well fought seven bout card promoted by Xtreme Promoters on Friday night. In the six round main event, Wilmington, Delaware’s Ryan Belasco (10-2-3, 3KO’s) fought a phone style war with hometown favorite Jesus Barbosa (4-2-1, 3KO’s) and had to pull out all the stops to squeeze out a razor thin unanimous decision victory. Also light heavyweight prospect Tony “Boom Boom” Ferrante (6-0, 3KO’s) continued his rise up the light heavyweight ladder with an impressive fifth round stoppage of Pittsburgh, PA’s Chris Archer (10-7, 6KO’s) in the co-feature of the evening.
Belasco entered the ring confident off an impressive stoppage of Lenny DeVictoria and continued, where he left off early in round one with good combinations on the inside. The shorter Barbosa finally found his range while working the body on the inside during the clinches in rounds two and three. A cut appeared on the eye of Belasco due to an accidental clash of heads, but it was contained in the corner and was not much of a factor.
Each round was a microcosm of the previous, as both fighters traded throughout on the inside in a bout that could have been fought in a phone booth. Barbosa used his ring generalship to frustrate Belasco on the inside. Belasco would not be denied and forced Belasco to the ropes where he could land uppercuts and heavier shots. Barbosa’s face showed from the pounding done by Belasco.
Barbosa continued to be the busier fighter on the inside in a close round five while effectively clamping the arms of Belasco.
The fight was on the line in round six as Belasco went for it with heavier shots on the up top that had Barbosa’s face badly swollen. Barbosa did not let up either and continued to work the body on the inside right up to the final bell.
All three judges saw the bout 58-56 in favor of Ryan Belasco. Fightnews saw it the opposite way, 58-56 in favor of Jesus Barbosa.
“He was tough,” said Belasco. He kept holding me on the inside, but I kept digging to the body also. He was also wide open for the uppercuts all day. I really didn’t fight my best fight, but I came away with the victory.”
Ferrante stops Archer
Philly fan favorite Tony “Boom Boom” Ferrante sent his fans home happy with convincing fifth round stoppage of Pittsburgh, PA’s Chris Archer in the six round cruiserweight co-feature.
Ferrante, known for his big right hands, gained the attention of Archer in round one with a couple of big right hands on the button. Archer calmed down though and began to put together lighter combinations as the fight went inside late in round two. An accidental clash of heads put a huge swelling on the left side of Ferrante’s forehead.
Ferrante’s corner handled the swelling. His right hands began to find the face of in round four as he reestablished his left jab. The game but overwhelmed Archer began to cover, which opened the space for two big uppercuts near the end of the round.
A Ferrante right uppercut in round five stunned and forced Archer back into the corner. Ferrante seized the opportunity and attacked the body as Archer covered. After a break by referee Steve Smoger, Ferrante continued batter the body and finally sent Archer to the canvas with an uppercut. Archer rose to his feet and survived the final seconds. He went back to his corner, squinting as he couldn’t see out of his left eye. Referee Steve Smoger felt he could not continue and waved to bout off at three minutes of round five.
“I tried to take his head off early, which was a stupid mistake,” said Ferrante. “My corner finally told me in round four to relax and get back to my combinations and in round five everything fell into place.”
Raheem edges Diaz
It was billed as the fight of the night, featuring two Philly warriors that really could do battle as shown in the gyms. The fight lived up to its hype as junior lightweight, Wahib Raheem and Gabriel Diaz did battle in a give and take fight that see-sawed back and forth throughout.
Raheem, having won his two fights as a professional, looked loose and in control early in the opening round against the debuting Diaz. As the round closed Diaz found his range with his flashing right hands. Both tried to gain control of the ring as they exchanged wild flurries until the bell sounded to end the opening round.
Diaz opened the second with a five punch combination, which sent his fans into a screaming frenzy, but he backed up, allowing Raheem to go back on the attack behind his bristling jabs. Once again Diaz connected with a hard right hand that appeared to temporarily stun Raheem late and closed out the round strong.
Round three was extremely close as both landed heated exchanges throughout. A mouse formed over the right eye of Diaz from the shots up top from Raheem.
Diaz appeared to tire in the final round but traded in his spots to make the round almost even.
The fight went to the scorecards. One judge scored the bout 38-38, but was overruled, as the other two had it 39-37 for the majority decision victory in favor of Wahid Raheem, who moves to 3-0. Gabriel Diaz unfortunately drops to 0-1. Both fighters could really make some noise on the regional and possible national levels in the upcoming years.
Cruz Crushes Cloak
Bethlehem PA welterweight Ronald Cruz put together the best effort in his three fight professional career, dropping the debuting Russell Cloak three times en-route to a devastating first round knockout.
Cruz opened the fight with good left hooks which set up an overhand right that put Cloak on the canvas. The taller Cloak of Philadelphia, PA immediately rose to his feet and returned fire from distance. The Bethlehem native continued to attack and unloaded another overhand right which forced Ronald Cloak to fall back into the ropes. Referee Steve Smoger stepped in and gave the eight count. Cloak again got caught in the corner and was forced to trade punches with the heavy handed welterweight. Cruz stunned him with a left hook and fired a vicious overhand right on the button which had Cloak unconscious before he hit the canvas. Referee Steve Smoger immediately waved the bout off without a count at 2:41 of the opening round. There were several anxious moments as Cloak laid trembling on the canvas before he came to. Eventually Cloak rose to his feet and was able to leave the ring on his own recognizance.
Davis looks impressive in debut
Philly female welterweight Jackie Davis put together a near perfect performance in her debut, scoring a third round TKO of Columbus, Ohio’s Natoya Ervin.
Davis dominated the opening round with vicious two and three punch combinations that Ervin just had no answer for. Ervin looked to be crumbling as Davis pinned her in the corner and unloaded a big five punch combination up top. She tried to fight on the retreat, but Davis just wouldn’t let her off the hook and continued the vicious onslaught with heavy combination after combination. Ervin looked dead tired and beaten as she returned to her corner in round two. The ringside physician took a look at her in the corner advised referee Hurley McCall, who called a halt to the bout at one second of round three. Natoyah Ervin falls to 0-3. Davis looks to have a bright future and will be a good prospect to watch as she climbs through the ranks.
Pasley outboxes Burgos
Philly cruiserweight Kamarah Pasley (3-3, 1KO) continued his improvement as a boxer, reaching the five hundred mark with a convincing victory over the debuting John Burgos.
Pasley, a tall southpaw who is known for his good reach, appeared confident right from the opening bell with strong right jabs and movement. Burgos looked to be a short and powerful slugger as he pinned Pasley in the corner late in the opening round and swung away with wild abandon which set his fans into a frenzy.
The bout once again went back into Pasley’s favor as Burgos just couldn’t find the answer for the movement and combinations that had him frustrated. Late in the round Burgos did spin Pasley in the corner with a counter right on the chin. Pasley was not hurt and went back to boxing effectively. The left eye of Burgos began to puff up from the continual jabs of Pasley.
Burgos continued to press forward looking for the big shot early in round three. Pasley saw an opening and uncorked a straight left, which put Burgos on the seat of his pants. Burgos rose to his feet, but Pasley continued to land bigger combinations.
Once again Burgos looked for the big knockout as he ran across the ring and lunged with big right hands. Pasley showed his confidence as he got on the bicycle and boxed his way to the final bell.