Neighborhood rivalries once made Philadelphia a great fight town. Why can’t we return to those days? When junior middleweights Derek Ennis and Gabriel Rosado met July 30, 2010, at the Asylum Arena, it marked the last all-Philadelphia showdown in a major fight. Each fighter brought a strong fan base which added to the intensity of the evening.
Even though he lost a 12-round majority decision to Ennis, Rosado took part in another all-Philadelphia matchup in February when he took against Jamaal Davis, though this time the fight took place at Bally’s Atlantic City with Rosado scoring a 12th-round knockout. Despite the fierceness and importance of the recent showdowns, it is not unusual to see Rosado and Davis or Rosado and Ennis hanging out together at local shows. It seems as if their fights helped them form a bond which no one can take from them.
Prior to those two recent all-Philadelphia fights, I have to dig deep into my memory to recall others. In 1992, lightweights Anthony Boyle and Frankie Mitchell drew a standing-room-only crowd to the Blue Horizon. Ten years earlier, Jeff Chandler defended his bantamweight title against former Bok Vocational classmate Johnny Carter at the Civic Center.
The 60s and 70s were full of all-Philadelphia fights: Kitten Hayward vs. Percy Manning, Dick Turner, Bennie Briscoe and Gypsy Joe Harris; Harris vs.ohnny Knight; Briscoe vs. George Benton and Cyclone Hart; Hart vs. Willie Monroe and Boogaloo Watts; Benton vs. Joey Giardello; Giardello vs. Jesse Smith; Augie Pantellas vs. Sammy Goss; Goss vs. Tyrone Everett; William Watson vs. Alfonso Hayman and Mario Saurennann. You can go on and on, back to the days of the great lightweights Bob Montgomery, Wesley Mouzon and Ike Williams in the 1940s and further back than that. Big crowds witnessed those matches. How times have changed!
Today, it seems as if not only the managers, but also the fighters themselves do not want to fight each despite the fact that such fights help to build their fan base. If a local fighter can win over his rival’s fan base, so much the better. When that same fighter gets back into the ring, his fan base grows.
In the last Golden Age of Philadelphia boxing–the 1970s–The Spectrum averaged between 7,000 and 10,000 for fights, many of them being all-Philadelphia showdowns. Now, promoters are happy if they can fill up the Asylum Arena, which seats 1,100, or the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia, which holds 2,000. We also have fights at Harrah’s Chester and that only seats about 1,000 people. Get the picture?
Currently, there are several appealing all-Philadelphia match-ups in several weight divisions. These fights once were the backbone of boxing in Philadelphia. Then along came the new breed of manager who is more focused on protecting his (or her) fighter than in testing the fighter to find out how good he is. Imagine being a manager and protecting a fighter all the way to a title and having no idea what he is about to step in with. Testing a fighter at the right time is crucial to the fighter’s career. Mull these local matchups in your mind: light heavyweights Charles Hayward and Anthony Ferrante; junior middleweights Gabriel Rosado and Harry Yorgey; welterweights Raymond Serrano and Ronald Cruz, or throw Ray Robinson in there unless Serrano is staying at junior welterweight. If so, put Serrano in with Steve Chambers.
What about super bantamweights Teon Kennedy and Rogers Mtagwa? There are many others that could be put together and draw attention and make for exciting fights. Even though many Philadelphia fighters want to fight outside of the city, what could be better and more advantageous than fighting at home in front of your own friends and family? To do it against another local fighter is better yet. It will build your own fan base and help Philadelphia once again become a major fight city. Each fighter will gain not only ring experience but also friends and fans along the way.
Brittany Rogers contributes the BAM on Boxing column to PSC. You can also check her out, as well as everything else you need to know on Philly boxing, at PeltzBoxing.com. Follow Brittany on Twitter @bamonboxing and Peltz Boxing @PeltzBoxing.