By Rick Scharmberg at ringside
Photos: Juan Marshall/JM Photography
Frankie “The Freight Train” Filippone and “The New” Ray Robinson both won NABA title belts Friday night on the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware. In the main event, Filippone (13-2-1, 2 KOs) won a ten round unanimous decision over the bigger and more experienced Kevin “Hitman” Engel (20-7, 16 KOs) to take the interim NABA light heavyweight title. The scores were 99-93, 98-92, and 97-93. In the co-feature, Robinson (15-2, 6 KOs) dropped tough Alberto Morales (11-2-1, 8 KOs) in the opening round, and then boxed his way to a ten round unanimous decision to win the interim NABA welterweight title. The scores were 100-89, 99-91, and 98-91. A crowd of about 1,800, which included Hall-of-Fame Delaware resident Michael Spinks, enjoyed the 7-bout card called “Champs at the Chase.”
Virginia Beach policeman Frankie Filippone stepped in on short notice to face hard-hitting Kevin Engel, and he made the most of his opportunity by winning the NABA light heavyweight title. In Engel, he was facing a taller fighter with power in his right hand, as evidenced by his sixteen knockouts. He was also fighting in his first ten round bout, and for the second time in two weeks.
Engel pressed the action from the start, but Filippone stood his ground and slipped much of what Engel threw. Fighting out of his southpaw stance, Filippone worked his left to the head and body of Engel to take the opening round.
In round two, Filippone worked his jab and fired his left hand to the body, while Engel established his primary weapon, the right hand. Filppone landed a nice three-punch combination and Engel landed a hard lead right hand near the end of the round.
Rounds three and four were close, but Filippone appeared to have the edge. Engel had the power advantage, but he just didn’t seem to be punching enough. Even though Filippone was right there in front of him, Engel respected Filippone’s defensive acumen and countering ability, and may have been a little hesitant to punch.
Engel finally got on the board, taking the fifth round, which was a slow one. Filippone outworked Engel in the sixth, although Engel landed several uppercuts with both hands. The seventh round was close, and Engel did enough to win it.
Although Filippone seemed to have a comfortable lead after seven rounds, there were several rounds that were close and could have gone either way. Filippone left nothing to chance, and displayed his fighting heart by turning up the heat over the final three rounds.
Filippone continued to use Engel’s aggression to his advantage by countering Engel’s lead right hands with crisp three-punch combinations. Filippone landed a flush left-right combination a minute into the eighth round, and controlled Engel with solid lead lefts. By now, Engel was primarily going with his right hand, but landing it on Filippone was like trying to catch a fly.
Engel landed some nice right hands in the ninth, but was trumped by the lead left from Filippone. Frankie landed enough of them to take the round handily.
Engel went for broke with his right hand in the tenth and final round. He fired it exclusively, and landed several hard ones, but Filippone stood his ground and countered with hard combinations from the opening seconds of the round. There was exciting toe-to-toe action until the final bell.
The bout may have started slow, but in the end, both men gave the crowd the action they came to see.
Back story: Former IBC middleweight champion and partner in Champs Management, Dave Tiberi has strong ties with the Delaware State Police. To open the evening, a ceremony to honor Delaware police officers who were killed in the line of duty took place. This hit home to ten-year police department veteran Frankie Filippone. On the day of the fight, Frankie visited Wilmington police officer Justin Wilkers at Christiana Hospital. Officer Wilkers was shot while apprehending a suspect in the Southbridge section of the city earlier in the week.
Robinson claims NABA welterweight belt
When classy welterweight Ray Robinson dropped Alberto Morales with a counter right uppercut in the closing seconds of the opening round, it looked like it would be another early night for him. But Morales proved gritty and determined, so Robinson settled in and pounded out a unanimous decision in the co-feature.
Long and lean, Robinson puts his reach to good use. Add in his boxing skills and heavy hands, and you have the complete package. To make matters worse for his opponents, Ray is also a lefty.
Morales owns a big punch too and he applied the pressure throughout, but Robinson easily dominated the first half of the fight and swept the first five rounds. Morales paid a heavy toll trying to find a way inside Robinson’s long arms. After the fourth and fifth rounds, Morales went back to his corner with a look of frustration on his face.
Morales came out more determined in round six, and landed some nice right hands to the head and lefts to the body, while Robinson worked his own left to the body. It was a close round, but Morales held a slight edge.
Round seven was another close one, but contained more action than in round six. Morales went to work exclusively on Robinson’s body, but a big left uppercut from Robinson stunned Morales and took the play away. Robinson introduced his right hook near the end of the round, and Morales went back to working the body.
Robinson contained Morales with his jab in round eight, keeping him on the outside looking in. In the final minute, Ray went back to the lead left hand, and rocked Morales with a right hook-left hand combination at the bell.
Robinson bloodied the nose of Morales with jabs and lead lefts as he dominated round nine. He nearly overwhelmed Morales in round ten, working him over with right hands to the body and hard lefts to the head. Morales appeared to be ready to go as the fight ended.
This fight was Robinson’s debut under the Champs Management banner, and he made the most of it by winning the NABA welterweight title. He also owns the Pennsylvania State welterweight title.
Belasco outpoints Green
“Rockin” Ryan Belasco (18-5-3, 3KOs) avenged a controversial split decision defeat to Bryne Green (7-6-1, 3 KOs) with a split decision of his own in a six round lightweight match.
Green was able to clip Belasco with a few hard right hands and power jabs during the bout, but Belasco was able to control most of the action with his jab and ring generalship.
Green advanced behind a high guard, while Belasco worked his jab to the head and body to win the first two rounds. Green blocked some with his gloves but many of Belasco’s jabs got through. Green landed two nice rights near the end of round two.
Green got down to business in round three. He came forward behind his own jab, and with more determination. Near the end of the round, Green landed a stiff power jab and followed it up with a big right hand that stunned Belasco. Green threw Belasco down at the bell.
Round four was close, as Belasco went back to sticking and moving. He was able to slip Green’s power shots, while landing his jab in an otherwise slow round.
Round five was really close as well, with Green landing heavier shots, and Belasco keeping him off with the jab. Ryan was busier in round six, working his jab, and going to the body of Green. Belasco closed the bout with four lead right hands.
The result was another split decision, this time in favor of Belasco by the scores of 59-55 (twice) for Belasco and 58-56 in favor of Green.
With their styles and competitive nature, every fight between these two fighters will be heavily contested and close. Afterwards, you could sense the mutual respect they have for each other.
Tiberi dominates Molina
“Jolt’N” Joey Tiberi (8-1, 5 KOs) is the latest fighter to emerge from the Tiberi fight factory, and his dominating performance against Moses Molina (1-3, 1 KO) in a four round lightweight battle showed that fighting is in his blood.
Molina and Tiberi came right at each other, with Molina landing a left hook, and Tiberi a left hook and an overhand right. They came right back at each other, but this time they clashed heads and Joey emerged with a cut on the corner of his left eye.
The cut would bleed on and off the rest of the way, but one of the best cut-men in the business, Joey Eye, was easily able to prevent it from being a factor in the fight. Tiberi closed the opening round with a left hook-right hand followed by a three-punch combination at the bell.
Tiberi began loading up on Molina in round two. He followed a right to the body with a big left-right combination to the head. Tiberi then closed the round out with a four-punch combination to the head.
Tiberi continued to dominate over the final two rounds. Molina and Tiberi would frequently get into exchanges, but Tiberi got the better of them every time. Tiberi closed the show with a hard right-left combination that had Molina holding on at the final bell.
The scores were all 39-37 in favor of “Jolt’N” Joey Tiberi.
Tiberi showed overall improvement in his game, racking up six straight wins since suffering his only pro defeat two years ago. His defense has improved, and he commits to his punches. Joey is trained by his dad Joe, a former middleweight contender.
The bout’s referee, Mark D’Atillio deserves mention for letting the fighters fight their way out of clinches and breaking them only when necessary, not only in this bout, but in every bout he worked on the card.
Hernandez fends off Morton
Luis “Chuche” Hernandez (1-0) made a successful pro debut, taking a split decision over Curtis Morton (1-4-2) in a four round light welterweight bout.
Morton took it right to the taller Hernandez, pinning himself to his chest and mauling Hernandez on the inside. Morton took the opening round, out-landing Hernandez and not giving him any room to punch.
Hernandez kept his cool though, and began to find openings in round two. It was a very close round, but Hernandez landed some nice shots to Morton’s body, as well as several rights and left hooks to the head. Morton had some success in this round, as well. He landed a couple of left hooks and a three-punch combination, but Hernandez appeared to do just a shade more.
With Morton glued to his chest, Hernandez continued to work the body in round three. Morton managed to land two lefts to the body a couple of left hooks to the body and two right hands during the round, but the body shots from Hernandez appeared to be paying dividends as Morton’s punches lost some steam, and his output dropped off a bit. Morton lost his mouthpiece at the end of the round.
The fight was still taking place on the inside in round four, but Hernandez continued to fire both hands, often in combination, to Morton’s body. Morton was still game, but Hernandez brought his right uppercut into play in the final minute, and Hernandez soon had his first professional win.
The judges scored 39-37 (twice) for Hernandez, and 39-37 in favor of Morton.
St Vil edges Spence
Melissa “Little Miss Tyson” St Vil (4-1-2) took a majority decision over previously unbeaten Natasha “The Nightmare” Spence (6-1-1, 5 KOs) in an action-packed eight round super featherweight bout.
St Vil weighed in six pounds over the 130-pound limit, and was forced to shed a few pounds the night before the fight, but her energy level did not appear to be affected.
St Vil, the shorter of the two, opened with a right to the body, and Spence countered with a left hook to the head. Perceived as the harder puncher, Spence tried to impose her will with several more left hooks during the round.
St Vil came out for round two more aggressive, and again fired a right to the body. Spence landed a hard right of her own, and St Vil responded with two left hooks. St Vil landed a hard right, and Spence came back with a solid left hook. Spence landed another solid right near the end of the round, as the fighters traded heavily over the last 20 seconds.
Round three picked up where round two left off, with nice two-way action. Again, St Vil threw a right to the body, followed by a left hook and two rights to the head. During the exchange, Spence landed a hard left and a right to the body. Spence then connected with a solid left-right combination that only seemed to inspire St Vil. Melissa landed a hard right-left combination, a left hook, and two solid right hands in the last thirty seconds of what was another close round.
Round four was an excellent one for St Vil. She opened the round with a hard right to the head followed by a jab to the body. Spence and St Vil traded solid rights before St Vil shook Spence with a hard left hook-right hand combination. Spence took her first backward steps in the fight, and St Vil rocked her again with a right hand-left hook combo. Melissa landed another combination at the bell.
Spence came back in round five in this ebb-and-flow battle. St Vil got a little wild early in the round, and Spence connected with three straight right hands followed by a double left hook. Spence responded to a three-punch combo from St Vil with a right to the body-right uppercut combination, and punctuated the round with a solid right hand.
Round six was another close one that was fought with skill and featured some nice exchanges. St Vil opened with a right followed by a hard left hook, and Spence responded with a right hand-left hook. It was back-and-forth, as St Vil landed a three-punch combination followed by a big right hand, all in the opening minute. Spence countered with a right and then delivered a power jab that stopped St Vil in her tracks. St Vil regrouped and landed a nice left hook off a jab, while Spence landed several right hands in the final ten seconds.
St Vil stepped up her energy level even further in round eight. She worked her right hand overtime right from the opening bell. A right to the body followed by a four-punch combination slowed Spence down, and St Vil went on to take the round.
Both fighters fought the eighth and final round as if the fight depended on it. Spence led with a right-left-left combination, before trading hard rights with St Vil. After exchanging left hooks, St Vil landed a four-punch combination and two rights, but Spence still had more in the tank and landed a nice right uppercut followed by a straight right at the bell.
The bout seemed closer than the scorecards indicated. St Vil took the decision with scores of 79-73 and 78-74, with the third card even at 76-76 in what was a hard fought, crowd pleasing rumble.
Hernandez-Harrison dusts off Wright
Eighteen-year-old phenom, Dusty Hernandez-Harrison (12-0, 8 KOs) was a welcomed late addition to the show. The College of Southern Maryland student warmed up the crowd by stopping former Golden Gloves National Champion Kelly Wright (4-11, 3 KOs) at 1:39 of the third round of a scheduled six round welterweight bout.
After measuring Wright with a double jab in the opening seconds, Hernandez-Harrison quickly found a home for his right hand against his shorter, southpaw opponent. A six-foot welterweight, Hernandez-Harrison had no problem keeping Wright on the outside with his jab. Wright tried to work the body, but was usually discouraged by straight rights and left hooks from Hernandez-Harrison as he tried to get inside.
Dusty briefly shifted to southpaw to open round two, and his jabs were just as good coming from the other side. After digging two right hooks to Wrights side, Hernandez-Harrison went conventional again, and basically shut Wright down completely with an assortment of power shots. Wright was strong, but he was wilting from the pounding he was taking.
Hernandez-Harrison opened round three with four jabs, before landing a right to the body. A stiff right to the chin was the beginning of the end for Wright. Dusty landed a right hand bomb followed by a left to the body that dropped Wright. After rising, a series of right hands fro Dusty rendered Wright defenseless, and referee Mark D’Atillio stopped it at 1:39 of the round.
Hernandez-Harrison fights out of Washington D.C., and is starting to make some noise in the region. He fights again on February 23 at Bally’s Atlantic City.
Nick Tiberi once again did a superb job of matchmaking.
Larry Tornambe was the ring announcer.
Dave Tiberi and the rest of his Champs Management team delivered a well-organized and highly successful event.