By Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
Photo: Gary Purfeld
Friday night before a near sellout crowd at Harrah’s Casino in Chester, PA, late replacement Dhafir “No Fear” Smith (26-22-7, 4 KOs) outworked Tony “Boom Boom” Ferrante (12-4, 7 KOs) over ten close rounds to capture the vacant PA State light heavyweight title. In the co-feature of the evening, exciting Philly Victor Vasquez (15-6-1, 7 KOs) avenged an earlier draw by dropping to fellow Philadelphian, Paul Fernandez (5-5-2, 3 KOs) twice to capture a hard fought unanimous decision victory that was one sided on the scorecards.
It was the classic boxer versus the puncher in the evenly matched ten round main event of the evening as Tony Boom Ferrante stepped into the ring with the slick jab and counter punching Dhafir “No Fear” Smith in the ten round main event of the evening, with the PA state title on the line.
Ferrante came in fresh off a hard fought ten round loss to Omar Sheika, which was much closer than the scorecards (99-90 x 2 and 95-94) indicated. Smith on the other hand owned a less than spectacular six round unanimous decision victory over Quinton Rankin in his last bout.
The hard punching Ferrante was originally scheduled to face Tommy Karpency, but he fell out due to an injury to his finger. In stepped late Dhafir “No Fear” Smith, who was in Florida helping Lucien Bute prepare for his upcoming title defense. Flying in on Wednesday, Dhafir looked surprisingly fresh and ready to fight.
The two combatants fought the opening two rounds in a chess like battle of styles, with the heavier handed Ferrante fainting charges, while Smith timed his advances with left jabs hooks and movement. Smith who is known as a slow starter, appeared to do just enough to capture both rounds, though Ferrante did find room for a couple of good right hands and some decent work on the inside.
Ferrante stepped up his power in the third as he caught Dhafir in the corner and banged a double right to the body and head, which forced Smith to try and fight his way off the ropes before clinching. Tony did also barely miss laying a few hug booms that would have really opened up the fight. It was Ferranti who upped the ante with a nice uppercut in the inside. Smith did make it close with a hard straight right hand on the button while on the retreat and a five punch combination in the closing seconds of the round. Ferranti ended the round with a good overhand right.
Ferrante came out strong early in the fourth round with three good combinations. Smith took over in mid round as he started to set down on his jabs and straight rights, winning the outside battle. The heavier handed Ferrante worked the body whenever inside on the clinches to make the round close. Smith controlled the final minute with his piston like jab and combinations which caught Ferranti on the way in.
Rounds five through eight were close as Dhafir tired but worked well on the outside and Ferrante did his best on the inside. Smith just appeared to be the busier fighter though to capture at least three of the close rounds.
Ferrante went for it in the ninth and stepped up the pressure with a few hard right hands up top throughout. The slick boxing Smith continued to circle, even landing a good one-two combination on the button late in the round. Ferrante would not throw anything while coming in as Smith tried to time the advances.
Smith appeared to be ahead though by a only a few points going into the tenth and looked to box and clinch his way to the bell. Ferranti continued to be the aggressor, but he just couldn’t find enough clean shots on the defensive minded fellow Philadelphian. Both fighters went at it but got tangled up. Referee Shawn Clarke had them get to their feet and wasted several seconds , which Ferrante could have used, but eventually called time and sent them to their neutral corners. Both corners urged their fighters to work as they screamed to get the last advantage. Neither could land a defining shot and the bout went to the scorecards.
All three judges saw the bout in favor of Dhafir Smith by scores of 99-91, 98-92 and a much more recognizable 97-93, giving him the unanimous decision victory and the PA light heavyweight title.
In the co-feature of the evening, exciting Philly lightweight Victor Vasquez (15-6-1, 7 KOs) got back on the winning track by dropping Paul Fernandez (5-5-2, 3 KOs) twice on his way to a six round unanimous decision victory of a long awaited rematch of previous draw fought by these two combatants.
Victor came out early in the opening round with a good two punch combination. Fernandez seemed to get his confidence as the round progressed, letting go of his right hands which found their mark. He got overconfident though, and squared up as he was releasing a big flurry. Victor seized the moment and unleashed a straight left which put the surprised Fernandez on the seat of his pants. Fernandez rose to his feet and quickly regained his senses before the bell sounded to end the round.
The will of Paul Fernandez showed once again in the second as he continued to put the pressure on with short lefts up top and right hands to the body. The aggressive Fernandez even appeared to back Vasquez up with a right, but didn’t follow up quickly enough. Vasquez countered with a hard counter right. Paul jab helped him win the closing second. Each fighter did take their turns with good combinations as the round came to a close.
Victor boxed well throughout the third and appeared to gain confidence as the round progressed. Fernandez did have his moment late with a good four punch flurry to the body.
The confidence of Vasquez continued to go in the fourth as he caught Fernandez with short uppercuts on the inside. It was clear that Victor was setting down on his shots and Fernandez was force to retreat to the corner. Late in the round Fernandez appeared to stun Vasquez with a right up top but didn’t realize it. Vasquez recovered quickly and a counter right slowed the advances.
Victor was back on his game and winning the exchanges. Paul tried to open up but Victor again found the opening and ripped a huge right hand through the guard. Fernandez fell on his back. This time it was clear Paul was stunned, but he was able to get up and finish the round,
Paul tried to make a last charge in the last round, but Vasquez boxed his way to the final bell, sending the fight to the scorecards. Surprisingly all three judges saw the bout 60-52 in favor of Vasquez, though the fight appeared to be much closer than that.
Late sub Brian The “Wild man” Donahue appeared to take a hard fought four round unanimous decision victory over fellow Philadelphian in the scheduled four round light heavyweight contest, but the officials did not see it that way.
Donahue, who took the fight on just three day notice, looked like a new fighter as he boxed in and out of the pocket with good combinations and heavy hooks to the body during the opening three rounds. Goyko had his moments but Donahue was the cleaner puncher. The fourth was a different story as Donahue’s tank appeared to be on empty. Goyko was able to finally control a round landing the cleaner shots as Donahue went looking for his second wind. A head-butt opened a cut over the left eye of Donahue which seemed to get him to let out the rage. In the closing minute, Donahue stepped up with one last charge ripping heavy hooks to the body of Goyko. The bout was forced to go to the scorecards. One judge saw the fight in favor of Brian Donahue, but was overruled as the other two officials had it 38-38 even for the majority draw.
Undefeated Philly heavyweight “Big” John Mercurio up his record to 5-0, with 4 Knockouts as a professional with an impressive fourth round stoppage of Allentown PA’s William “Big Stuff” Miranda, in their scheduled four round contest.
The fight was a rematch of a slugfest, in which Mercurio used his weight advantage as he pushed Miranda against the ropes and banged shots off the off balance fighter, to win the slugfest. The Mercurio that fought Miranda last night was a far different fighter than the one in his previous contest. Having slimmed down by losing almost thirty pounds since then and looking in fantastic shape, Mercurio used his new found stamina and boxing abilities to wear down Miranda instead of out muscling him in this highly contested early battle. Several times during the contest, Mercurio’s clean right hands appeared to force Miranda to get on the defensive. Miranda who is known for his toe-to-toe action style actually had a few good moments but clearly looked to be wearing down heading into the fourth and final round. Even though badly tired, Miranda tried to turn the tide, but Mercurio wouldn’t let that happen as he blasted left-right combination off the face of Miranda the two powerful shots spun Miranda into the ropes and then down to his knees. Miranda beat the eight count, but referee Benjy Esteves Jr waived the bout off at the fifty nine second mark of the fourth and final round.
Philly super bantamweight Alex Barbosa raised his record to 3-0, 1KO with a majority decision victory over winless Jonathan Ocassio (0-9) .
The long reach of Ocassio helped him take the opening round with combinations as the shorter Barbosa walked into punching range . From that point on in the scheduled four round contest, Barbosa was clearly the aggressor and controlled the final three rounds as he pushed the lighter punching Ocassio on the retreat. Ocassio could only land the occasional uppercut as Barbosa dropped his hands and pressed forward throughout. Surprisingly one judge scored the bout 38-38 even, but was overruled as the other two officials, saw it in favor of Alex Barbosa by score of 40-36 and 39-37 respectively.
In the opening fight of the evening undefeated Philly welterweight, Tyrone Crawley Jr. (2-0) . Crawley boxed his way to a clean cut four round unanimous over a game but outclassed veteran Luis Antonio Lopez (2-11-1, 1KO) . Crawley, like his father former NABF champ and world title challenger Tyrone “Butterfly” Crawley, looked fluid as he switched in an out of the southpaw stance with lightning quick hands.