The Philadelphia Eagles were 3-6 going into Sunday night’s game against the New York Giants. Eagles fans had just about had it with the team, but seeing them win Sunday brought back their spirits and they fell in love with the Eagles all over again.
That’s exactly how boxing fans felt Saturday night at Bally’s Atlantic City.
The seven-fight card topped by Garrett Wilson vs. Chuck Mussachio was exactly what fans and people involved in the business needed. It was a meaty card stocked with exciting fights and matches that meant something. From the opening bout, where Philadelphia junior welterweight Naim Nelson handled Deroy Beaton, a tall southpaw from Toms River, NJ, to the walk-out bout where Atlantic City’s super middleweight Antowyan Aikens defeated Philadelphia’s Charles Kirby, there was excitement.
It was one of those nights where anything was possible. It was one of those nights where each fight, except the heavyweight prelim, was a tossup. By the time the main event fight began, everyone was hyped up and you could feel the energy in the crowd. The Philadelphia Phillies are considered the comeback kids because they have the ability to come from behind and win games. It is common to find fans in the stands with their hats turned inside out to make rally caps for the last inning of a Phillies game. That unity shows support when their team is losing and needs all the support it can get. On Saturday night, Wilson went with the Phillies motto and became the comeback kid.
The USBA cruiserweight title bout between Wilson, of South Philadelphia, and Mussachio, of Wildwood, NJ, was exactly what makes boxing the wonderful sport it can be. Entering the ring, Mussachio was 17-1-2, 5 K0s, and he fought just like his record indicates. He controlled majority of the fight, working his left jab and following with crisp combinations. The fight seemed to go back and forth, but it was clear that Mussachio was ahead going into the 12th round.
It reminded me of the USBA junior-middleweight title bout two summers ago between two Philadelphia fighters, Gabriel Rosado and Derek Ennis. The crowd that night at the South Philly Arena was back and forth, chanting each fighter’s name. The atmosphere was electric, like a Big Five basketball game at The Palestra. Having the Wilson-Mussachio fight in New Jersey, where the challenger was the underdog as well as the hometown fighter, made Saturday’s rivalry between the two more distinct.
The judges had it scored 105-104 Wilson, 105-104 Mussachio, 107-102 Mussachio going into the 12th round and press row, along with the crowd, seemed to agree. Wilson calls himself the Ultimate Warrior and he knows when to dig deep. Some fans said he got lucky with one smashing right-hand shot that put Mussachio down and out 41 seconds into the round.. I say Wilson did what any real fighter would do–he put it all on the table and did everything and anything necessary to win.
Boxing is not about luck, it’s about heart. It’s about the fighters who have been tested time and time again and have been pushed to their limits countless times and keep coming back. Naturally, any fighter would hate the idea of going into the 12th of a title fight behind on points and with the belt on the line. Wilson knew where he stood and did what any classic Philly fighter would do–he went for broke. After the fight the two men took turns at the microphone, thanking each other and the fans and everyone in the room could feel the bond between the two combatants.
Other results: Junior welterweight Dontre King, of Cambridge, MD, earned a unanimous four-round decision over Julio DeJesus, of Franklinville, NJ; welterweight DeCarlo Perez, of Atlantic City, was awarded a controversial six-round decision over the more experienced Manuel Guzman, of Lancaster, PA; heavyweight Bryant Jennings, of Philadelphia, PA, blitzed Kevin Franklin, of Charleston, WV, in one round; welterweight Ronald Cruz, of Bethlehem, PA, stopped Anges Adjaho, of Buffalo, NY in the 5th round of an 8-round bout.
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.