Story by John DiSanto – PhillyBoxingHistory.com
Photos by Gary Purfield
An interesting crossroads fight tops Friday’s card at Harrah’s Chester. In the scheduled 8-round junior welterweight main event, promoter Joey Eye has put his old war horse, 38-year old Julio De Jesus, up against one of today’s best young local up-and-comers, 22-year old Hasan Young. On the surface, the bout may look like the typical career-decider, with the weak fighter fed to the strong. The launch of one career while another ends. Boxing tradition usually dictates that the older fighter be served up as a meal for the young lion, but this coupling is not that clear cut.
If you look closely at the pairing of De Jesus and Young, it is difficult to determine which combatant is being fed to the other. So we shouldn’t jump to any hasty conclusions here.
It is true that Hasan Young, 3-1-1, 1 KO, looks like a real prospect, but he is not a golden child being groomed for greatness. There have been no easy-pickings-type fights for Young. He has been matched tough thus far, and has done quite well.
The Germantown native has an exciting style and seems to be a natural fighter. He can box but also has that little bell inside his head that goes off when the action gets hot. Young has the stomach for battle and is more than willing to mix it up, whether or not it makes sense to do so. This might hurt him against De Jesus.
Fighters like this are the most fun to watch, and usually generate the chills and spills for which fight fans like to lay down their money. Think Teon Kennedy and Meldrick Taylor, both of whom could have boxed circles around most of their opposition were it not for that little bell inside their heads.
By no means is Young in their league yet, but his style and fighting instincts suggest that he should be watched closely as his career unfolds. If he eventually makes it to the national scene, it will be after a labor-intensive climb filled with memorable steps along the way.
Already a TKO victim in the pros, Young is no fast-tracker. He’s a worker and appears to be cut from the same cloth as Gabriel Rosado, another hard road traveler who learned on the job and made it all the way to a world title shot.
Although not necessarily on a fast track, Young’s match with De Jesus shows his willingness to step up early. Given his willingness to engage, Young takes on much more risk against De Jesus than most youngsters with five bouts are usually willing to do. It is a calculated gamble, but Young is confident that he’s holding the right hand to cope with the heat.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” Young said. “I want to shine under the bright lights with all eyes on me. This is my first big opportunity, and God willing, if I win it impressively, there will be a lot more opportunities to move forward.”
Nearing 40 years of age and with a modest record of 8-3-3, 4 KOs, Julio De Jesus’ resume does not exactly inspire nervous sweat in potential opponents. However in the ring, it is an entirely different story. De Jesus is your typical sleeping dog in there. For his opponents, he is an accident waiting to happen. The Chester native is the guy you are supposed to beat, but by no means is he a man you should take for granted. Anyone who witnessed his one-punch, near decapitation of Ramon Ellis in the same Chester ring nine months ago can attest to that.
That wrecking job was vintage De Jesus. He’s a club show regular who is always in shape, brings a terrific attitude, and is capable of dusting off a punch that can make him a player just when you thought he was a perfectly harmless. If he can’t land the knockout blow, De Jesus is also able to go to work and carve out a solid points victory. His last start against New Yorker Ariel Duran is an example.
“It’s just a blessing just to reach this point,” De Jesus said. “This will be my first main event. To be able to showcase your talents and abilities that God has given. I think it’s a great opportunity for anyone just to be at this level. It feels great. It feels great.”
Against Hasan Young, De Jesus will probably be in with the most talented opponent of his eight year career. But by the same token, he probably presents Young’s toughest challenge as well. That’s what makes this such a good match.
“To me, it’s a 50/50 shot on either guy’s chances,” said promoter Joey Eye. “Styles make fights. You’ve got Julio coming to bang and you’ve got Hasan moving. That’s a great fight.”
“It’s a risky fight, I think, for Hasan,” the promoter continued. “He’s only got a few fights. Julio’s coming in to cut off the ring and bang it out with him. Hasan’s never been eight rounds. If he starts to wear down from the constant pressure that Julio can put on him, I think Julio has the power to stop him. I can also see it going the other way, where Julio never catches Hasan. We’ve got a poor man’s Ali-Frazier type of a match up.”
The fighters show a great deal of respect for each other, not surprising given the fact that they are two of the nicer guys currently lacing on gloves. If nice guys finish last, then these two gentlemen could battle to the bottom. However, when you pick at the surface of each, you find two competitors who know they have to win this fight. So clearly a clash will occur once the bell rings.
“I know he’s a great fighter,” De Jesus said of Young. “I do not underestimate anyone who steps in the ring. I respect everyone. I heard that he had a great amateur career, and so those things you have to respect. I’ve seen him fight before and yes, he is a crafty fighter. But I don’t know his heart. Some fighters can be crafty but don’t have the heart. You don’t understand a person’s heart, determination and abilities until you are in the ring on that night.”
“I know he’s a tough guy,” Young said. “He comes to fight. He’s a strong guy, but I’ve seen a tape on him. I don’t see much punching power there. But I won’t be there to get hit. So he won’t be hitting me with shots. He can have all the punching power in the world, but if never hits you, it won’t matter. I’m going to box him smart. He comes out with that head moving like Smokin’ Joe Frazier. So I’m going to be Ali.”
When two undefeated pros collide in the boxing ring, they sometimes say, “somebody’s “O” has to go”. But that phrase doesn’t come up too often at the club fights. Usually the “O’s” are long gone and the stakes of the fight are far less frivolous than a pretty record. Such is the case with Julio De Jesus vs. Hasan Young. Forget the records. Both of them need to win Friday night, and if they can’t win, they will lose a lot more than a notch on their record. This crossroads fight could truly tell the tale of whether they have a future in the ring. And that should make for a good fight.
Also scheduled for Friday is a 10-round bout for the vacant NABA featherweight title between Eric “Outlaw” Hunter, of West Philly, 17-2, 9 KOs, and Mike Oliver of Hartford, CT, 25-5, 8 KOs. Hunter is one of the City’s best boxers, but his career has been plagued by inactivity. Like many of his other scheduled bout’s, this fight almost didn’t happen either. The promoter labored to find a viable opponent for the brilliant but finicky fighter that the strict PA Commission and Team Hunter would approve. It turned out to be a difficult task, and things were not resolved until just days before fight night. And this 11th-hour match looks like a good one.
Also on the card are a trio of boxers making their professional debut in four round bouts. Welterweight Carlos Moore of Virginia gets started against Cherry Hill’s Anthony Prescott, 1-2, 1 KO. Featherweight Richard Irizarry debuts against Joshua Arocha, 3-7-3, 2 KOs. Welterweight Jesus Barbosa faces Josue Rivera, 1-2, 1 KO, who grabbed his first win last month with a trilling KO over Tyson Maher.
Welterweight Tyrone Crawley Jr. is also scheduled to fight in another four-rounder is a suitable opponent can be found this week.
To read more on the Philly fight scene – past and present – visit www.phillyboxinghistory.com.