Story & Photos by John DiSanto – PhillyBoxingHistory.com
Angel Ocasio was a no show for his scheduled 8-round main event with Ryan Belasco Friday night at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia. Ocasio, 7-0-2, 2 KOs, made weight Friday morning and ultimately passed his PA Commission medical tests, although it was reported that he originally had an accelerated heart rate. After Ocasio was cleared by PA Commission doctors, the USBC lightweight title bout was expected to proceed as planned. However, Ocasio never came to the arena, deciding instead to bail out of his main event bout. Unsubstantiated reports circulated at ringside that Ocasio was concerned with his initial tests, and made the decision not to fight Belasco, 18-5-3, 3 KOs.
“The commissioner came back to my dressing room and said, you’re guy (Ocasio) still hasn’t shown up,” Belasco said. “I honestly thought they were kidding, but apparently the guy just didn’t show up. I know he put a lot of time in that gym. I don’t know what happens for a fighter to make him not want to show up for his own main event, especially for a belt. It sounds like a lot more than a high heart rate to me.”
Belasco was still paid for the evening, and Ocasio is expected to be fined and suspended by the PA Commission. Neither Ocasio or any of his representatives were available for comment.
Seven bouts did happen before the large Armory crowd.
In the opening bout of the evening, Philadelphian Charles Hayward, 8-5, 4 KOs, stopped Abdellah Smith, 2-6, 2 KOs, at 2:11 of the 4th and final round of a light heavyweight fight. Hayward softened Smith up with a hard right hand in round four before a combination of punches sent the New Yorker to the canvas. As soon as he went down, he made it clear to referee Gary Rosato that he did not want to continue.
Amateur standout Emmanuel Folly, 1-0, 1 KO, of the Rock Ministries Gym in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, made a successful transition to the professional ranks with a 2nd round TKO of Elvis Rodriguez, 0-3, of Manchester, CT. Folly looked fast and strong from the opening bell, dropping his foe twice in the first round before ending the bout at 1:52 of round two of the junior featherweight bout .
Super middleweight Isiah Seldon, 7-0, 3 KOs, of Somers Point, NJ, took a 4-round unanimous decision over Tommie Speller, 5-6, 3 KOs. Speller, of Philadelphia, returned to the ring after more than a two year absence. Seldon had the edge throughout the fight, but Speller shook off the rust in the final two rounds and traded punches with the son of the former heavyweight champion (Bruce Seldon). Judges Bernard Bruni and Joe Pasquale scored the fight 40-36, and Lynn Cater tallied 39-37, all for Seldon.
Philly southpaw Wahid Raheem, 4-0, 1 KO, beat Tyrone Luckey, 5-3-1, 5 KOs, by unanimous decision over six rounds to remain undefeated. Raheem’s tighter defense and greater accuracy impressed all three judges, who awarded him the decision in the lightweight bout, by scores of 60-54, 59-55, and 58-56.
In a battle of Philly heavyweights both making their professional debut, Dante Selby and Aaron Leonard fought to a 4-round majority draw. Judges Bruni and Carter scored the fight 38-38, while Joe Pasquale favored Selby, 40-36. Both fighters went home 0-0-1.
Lefty Tevin Farmer, 10-4-1, 1 KO, Philadelphia, was as energetic as ever in winning his 4-round lightweight contest against last minute substitute Jesus Bayron, 5-7, 4 KOs, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Farmer won all four rounds, but was penalized one point in round two after lifting his opponent in the air and dropping him to the canvas. It looked like Farmer almost tried the tactic again later in the fight, but kept his cool and stayed on track to win the bout. All three judges scored the fight 39-36 for Farmer.
In the final fight of the night, West Philly’s Frank Trader, 9-2-0, 2 KOs, won a 4-round unanimous decision over come-backing Jules Blackwell, 8-4-2, 3 KOs, of Phoenixville, PA. The fast-paced junior lightweight bout appeared closer than the easy win tallied by the three judges. Bernard Bruni and Joe Pasquale scored 40-36, giving all four round to Trader. Lynn Carter’s score was a round closer, 39-37 for Trader. Blackwell started well, and it seemed Trader was having difficulty solving his southpaw style. However, Trader got things cooking in the second half of the fight and hurt Blackwell a few times with his sharp power shots.
The large crowd at the National Guard Armory was quietly stunned when announcer Larry Tornambe let them know that there would be no main event. Ryan Belasco was brought into the ring to address the crowd, and received a supportive round of applause. The show, promoted by Power Productions, was just the first fight card held in the city of Philadelphia so far this year.
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