By Kurt Wolfheimer
Friday night at the Legendary Blue Horizon in North Philadelphia, USBA junior middleweight champion Derek “Pooh Ennis (21-2-1, 13 KOs) had to overcome a cut over his right eye and a tremendous effort by late replacement Jose Gonzalez (13-7-1, 11 KOs) to capture a hard fought ten round majority decision victory in the non title main event of the evening. His brother, undefeated super middleweight prospect Farah Ennis (13-0, 7 KOs) had a much easier time of it as he needed just two rounds to stop veteran Frankie Santos (17-9-4, 8 KOs) in the eight-round co-feature.
It was supposed to be a night to see Derek Ennis defend his USBA belt, unfortunately the belt was scratched when a ranked opponent in the top fifteen could not make an agreement for the fight. Managers Moz Gonzalez and Eddie Woods worked tirelessly to get someone to take the fight. It wasn’t to be, so they settled first on veteran Frankie Santos. Things don’t always turn out as planned, because it was found out that Santos was too heavy to fight Derek just two weeks before the fight, so they agreed that he could fight his brother super middleweight Farah Ennis, who was looking for a worthy opponent on the same card. To replace Santos in the main event, a late replacement was finally found. In stepped a hardnosed fighter Jose Adelaydo Gonzalez. Many in the audience looked at his record and thought it would be an easy night for the USBA champ, but they were definitely wrong.
Gonzalez, out of Garden City Kansas immediately forced the slick Philadelphian to fight off the ropes in the opening round with constant pressure. Ennis weathered the early storm and threw strong counters.
It looked like the hands of Ennis were doing their damage early as he unloaded several heavy two punch combinations in between the constant light flurries from Gonzalez. Derek looked to finish the show in round two but dropped his left hand to throw a big right and Gonzalez stunned him with a counter right on the button. This was the type of punch that would have floored Ennis earlier in his career, but he covered well, regained his senses and went on the attack as the round came to a close.
From round three on, it was a war that could have been fought in a phone booth. Gonzalez would constantly keep the pressure on, mixing in a couple heavier shots with multiple punch combinations. Many of those shots bounced of the gloves and arm of Ennis, but several got through. Ennis was smart though and pick his spots with hard two and three punch combinations both to the body and head of his opponent.
As the fight progressed, both fighters took their turns landing on the inside, making the rounds close. The heavier shots of Ennis were beginning to show their damage as the face of Gonzalez began to welt up. Ennis also went to the body and the thuds could be heard throughout the arena. It would not deter Gonzalez though, who just kept coming with several punch combinations to make most rounds tough to score.
The fight turned a little in the seventh due to an accidental head butt which caused a cut on the right eye of the champ. “I had trouble seeing because of the cut, so I stayed inside and continued to fight there,” said Ennis
Gonzalez seemed to get his second win in the eighth and the ninth rounds as Ennis looked for his. The Kansas native continued to rain down combinations making the bout very close, but Ennis gained his second wind in the tenth round and pushed his opponent back with several heavy body shots. Both fighters went toe to toe in the final ten seconds as the crowd rose in appreciation for what could be the considered the PA fight of the year so far.
One judge scored the bout even, but was overruled as the other two saw it 98-92 in favor of Derek Ennis.
“I tried to get the fight on the outside, but he was constantly on top of me,” said Ennis afterward. “He was a tough fighter, but his punches lost their steam after the third. The cut hurt me because I couldn’t see out of the eye so I fought on the inside as the fight wore on.”
These are the types of fights that define a fighter. Derek Ennis showed he has the grit and fortitude move to graduate to the next level and top ten competition.
Jose Gonzalez was reported to have said he was retiring from the ring afterward, just before he went to the hospital to check out a severe swelling on the jaw line.
In the co-feature of the evening, Derek’s brother, Farah Ennis returned to fight in his hometown of Philadelphia for the first time in over three years and made it a resounding one, easily stopping overweight Frankie Santos in just two rounds.
Farah a super middleweight who recently signed with promoter Mike Fingerman, was known as a slick fighter who did just enough to win rounds, but not on this night as he exploded with a fury.
Santos seemed to be carrying over twenty pounds too much on his frame and Farah took advantage and immediately he backed him up with big combinations early. By the middle of the opening round Santos looked like a moving heavy bag which was constantly being pounded away at with very few shots coming back in return.
Ennis started to let his hands go, but went back to boxing in round two. Santos seemed to wither from the combinations as the round wore on. Finally with just moments to go in the round, Ennis forced Santos to the ropes and stunned him with a left hook-right hand combination. Santos covered, but a right uppercut sent him to the canvas as the bell sounded. Santos tried to get up, but could not beat the count. The time of the knockout came at 3:10 of the second round.
King outboxes Al-Olabi
It was the classic battle of “someone’s “0” must go” as two winless middleweights put on an awkward four round tussle, but in the end Reidsville North Carolina’s Duane King (1-1) was able to score a majority decision victory over Saudi Arabian Kamel Al-Olabi
King seemed to be the more fluid fighter as he fought well on the outside. Al-Olabi looked dry in the early going and was caught with several counters as he fought with his head straight up. The Saudi Arabian was game though and started to land behind a left jabs in the second followed by a few good right hands force King to cover.
The North Carolinian seemed to gain the advantage in the final two razor thin rounds with short two punch combinations and then covering. One judge scored it even at 38-38, but the other two saw it 39-37 x 2 in favor Duane King, giving him the first victory of his professional career.
Jennings blasts out Bolden
Unbeaten Philly heavyweight Bryant Jennings raised his record to 2-0, 1KO with a spectacular third round knockout of New York, NY’s John Bolden (1-1).
The fight started slowly as each tested the waters to see their opponent’s power and boxing repertoires.
Jennings took over in round three as he had Bolden covering from stiff left jabs with right hands behind them. Bolen tried to fight inside and negate the jabs, but it would be his undoing. Bryant saw an opening on the inside and unleashed a right uppercut on the chin which sent John Bolden sprawling on his back. Bolden was in no shape to reach his feet and the bout was stopped at 3:06 of the third round. Jennings will be back in action at the Arena in South Philadelphia on Friday April thirtieth.
Bethea outlasts Sia
Camden. New Jersey’s Clemente “Strictly Business” Bethea (2-0) had to get off the canvas to capture a come from behind unanimous decision victory over Philly’s Jason Sia (0-2) in their four round junior welterweight contest.
Sia surprised Bethea early with a quick four punch combination which caught him off balance and he fell to the canvas. It was a flash knockdown and Bethea was able to get his feet and box his way out of trouble.
Sia was still busy with his combinations in round two, but Bethea began to find his mark as he set down on his punches. Bethea closed the round with two hard right hands up top.
Bethea seemed to gain confidence and attacked in round three bloodying his opponent’s nose with several hard shots. Jason Sia seemed dazed and Clemente attacked as he covered. The only thing that stopped the onslaught was a low blow landed by Bethea, which gave Sia time to recover.
It wouldn’t matter though as Bethea continued to bang away and eventually dropped Sia in the corner with a left hook on the button in the fourth and final round. Jason was game though and rose to his feet and fought well enough to reach the final bell. All three judges saw it 38-36 in favor of Clemente Bethea
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In the opening bout of the evening, Jose Ortiz of Jersey City, New Jersey moved above the 500 mark at 3-2, 1KO with a four round unanimous decision victory over Philly welterweight Luis “Smurf” Esquilin (1-3-1). Ortiz seemed to be in better shape and outworked him in the last two rounds to capture the fight by scores of 40-36 x2 and 39-37 respectively.
Vernocha Michael’s Blue Horizon Boxing Promotions Inc will be back in action with another exciting card at the legendary venue on Friday June 4th. Headlining the show be exciting welterweight prospect Steve Upsher Chambers (21-1-1, 6KO’s).