By Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
Photo: Rich Hundley III
Friday night at the National Guard Armory, a raucous crowd of over 1, 000 strong, witnessed an epic rematch of two rising lightweights as Angel Ocasio (6-0-2, 1KO) and Jason Sosa (4-1-3) waged war over eight solid rounds of all out action. The crowd was on their feet as the fight teetered back and forth throughout. When the dust the dust finally settled, the all out war was once again called a majority draw, leaving both sides upset with the decision. In the co-feature of the card, promoted by Greg Robinson’s Power Productions in association with MAK Boxing Management and Battle strong Boxing, explosive Philly bantamweight sensation Miguel “No fear” Cartagena (5-0, 3KO’s) continued to step up his game with a commanding unanimous decision victory over Luis Ortiz (2-11).
The fight was a highly anticipated rematch of a disputed draw which occurred back on January 17, with Angel Ocasio capturing one scorecard 58-56 while the other two official saw it even at 57-57. Both fighters felt they had won the bout, setting up the highly anticipated rematch. Much to their surprise afterwards, the question of who was the best would not be answered in this one.
Both fighters looked confident and it showed at the prefight press conference and again as they looked to both be in the best shape of their careers at the weigh in.
The lines had been drawn and the rematch had finally arrived. This time the stake had been raised as the USBC lightweight title was on the round and the belt had been upped to six rounds.
Sosa came out strong in the opening round, as he pressed forward behind a strong jab and light combinations. Ocasio stepped back and landed a nice hook in mid round stop the Camden New Jersey native, in his tracks. It was give and take in the final moments of the round. Ocasio had a small cut over his left eye.
Round two was close as both fighters had their moments .Ocasio came out with the heavier shots, but Sosa was busier. The cut appeared to flow into the left eye of Ocasio, but he still made the round extremely close and really finished strong in the final ten seconds.
Ocasio began to really set down on his punches early in the third, while Sosa bounced several light combinations which slid over the gloves of the undefeated Ocasio who was picking his spots with heavy single shots, including a big overhead right that had the raucous crowd swaying from Sosa to Ocasio. The fans stood and chanted their fighter’s names. Ocasio closed the close round strong with a four punch combination in the closing seconds.
The fourth round was a give and take war with Sosa winning the exchanges on the outside, while Ocasio pounded away with sharp body shots. Sosa had really extended himself during the exchanges and looked a little gassed when the fourth round came to a close. However in the middle of the round an accidental head butt bothered Ocasio and he seemed to take a moment to regain his vision.
Ocasio dug deep body shots in the fifth, while Sosa tried to outwork him on the outside. The round seemed to swing back and forth with the fans standing and cheering on their favorite combatants. The deciding difference in the round may have been that Ocasio seemed to be holding back on his jabs.
Ocasio came back in the sixth with a big left uppercut. In the closing minute of the round, he stunned Sosa with a right on the button. Sosa immediately clinched and appeared to wobble as Ocasio stepped back. After Referee Blair Talmadge broke the combatants, Ocasio took his time carefully walked in before unloading another four punch combination. The couple seconds that Ocasio took to walk in allowed Sosa to get his feet back and fight back in the closing seconds of the round.
In Round seven Ocasio shot a big overhand right that pierced the defense of Sosa. A head butt seemed to bother him in mid round but he closed the round strong with a left hook.
The fight was close entering the eighth and final round with at least two or three rounds that could have swayed each way.
Sosa came out strong, but Ocasio was moving and jabbing. Sosa was pressing the attack and had his moments. Late in the round, Ocasio landed a left uppercut, but was off balance and a Sosa left up top landed on his chest forcing the North Philadelphian to be off balance and fall back into the ropes Referee Blair Talmadge had it ruled correctly as a slip, but it took Ocasio a few minutes to get back into a rhythm which allowed Sosa to take advantage and pile up the points with light combinations. Each fighter again traded away as the fight came to a close.
There was angst in both corners as the scores were tallied. The first judge had it 78-75 in favor of Jason Sosa. The other two officials saw it 56-56, resulting in the majority draw.
Ocasio seemed frustrated at the scoring. “I thought I won the fight the first time and again here tonight. I need to move on.”
Sosa was more confident in his responses. “I was the aggressor. He never hurt me and I felt that I control the fight and won every round. I would definitely welcome a rematch.”
The fight is a clear forerunner for Philly fight of the year. Could we have a trilogy to decide the fight once and for all? Only time will tell.
In the co-feature of the evening, former three time number one ranked US amateur, Miguel “No fear” Cartagena (5-0, 3KO’s) continued his impressive run a professional with a solid four round unanimous decision victory over late replacement Luis Ortiz (2-11).
The more experienced Ortiz immediately pushed forward in opening round trying to bang away on the inside. A short hook and then a right uppercut penetrated the defenses of Cartagena who had his back to the ropes. Cartagena was trained well and spun of the ropes and returned fire with a thudding left hook to the body and a right hand up top. As the rounds progressed, Cartagena showed why he is a true fighter to keep on your radar as he rained down with precision like combinations that thudded off the gloves and head of the wily veteran. By the third round Cartagena was the one pressing the action with lightning quick combinations, while mixing in head and bodywork. Ortiz was game though and stood in there, even landing a short uppercut on the button in the fourth and final round. The uppercut only angered Cartagena who unleashed a heavy ten punch combination that force Ortiz to cover against the ropes. He had an iron beard though and fought his way to the final bell. All three judges saw the bout in favor of Cartagena by scores of 40-36 across the board.
Georgiy “The Chemist” Guralnik (3-0, 1KO) continued to step up in class with a hard fought four round unanimous decision victory over twenty fight veteran Taffo Asongwed (2-11-7). Many fighters at just their third fight would not have taken on a veteran like Asongwed who owned seven draws and had never been stopped, but not Guralnik who welcomed the opportunity.
The opening two rounds saw Guralnik win the exchanges in the center of the ring with the cagey Canadian. The heavy inside work from Guralnik in the first two rounds forced him to take a break in the third as Asongwed surged forward with his own right hands. Guralnik would get his second wind in the fourth round and went back to winning the exchanges on the inside right up until the final bell. All three judges saw it the same way 39-37 for Georgiy Guralnik giving him the well deserved unanimous decision victory.
In the opening bout of the evening, undefeated super middleweight John “Church Boy” Bowman (3-0-1) made the trip up from Dover Delaware a successful one, with a solid four round unanimous decision victory over Philly’s Brian “Wildman” Donahue (2-2).
The 23 year old John Bowman took the fight to a surprised Brain Donahue in the opening two rounds, pushing him to the ropes and banging good bodywork and sharp hooks up top. The rugged Philly brawler seemed shocked and looked to load up with big shots and many glanced off while he fought with his back to the ropes. As with most inside fights, there were many head butts, which led to cut over Donahue’s left eye early in the third. The cut and the will of Donahue made a late charge with a heavy barrage of powerful shots, but just couldn’t land the big blow to hurt Bowman, thus sending the fight to the scorecards. All three judges saw the bout in favor of John “Church Boy” Bowman by scores of 40-36 x 2 and 39-37 respectively.
Though Donahue was disappointed in the defeat, he definitely learned from the experience. “I could take his power but the head butts were killing me and I had trouble seeing from them. I now know what to expect from him next time and would like an immediate rematch if he will give it to me. It will be an even better fight next time and the fans will love it.