What would a night of boxing at Harrah's Philadelphia be without controversy? Last April Anthony Caputo Smith won a suspect decision over Dhafir Smith. Last September Mike Oliver was knocked out but won via disqualification against Eric Hunter. And at the end of January, 2014, Caputo Smith found himself fortunate once again. After overcoming a knockdown in round 6, Smith went on to eke out a 10 round split decision where each scorecard read 95-94. BLH felt the fight could have gone either way, but agreed that Smith earned the nod. Here's what the new Pennsylvania State cruiserweight champion had to say about his victory:
Caputo Smith explained his recent talk of retirement was a circumstance of killing himself to make the light heavyweight division. He by no means looks fit as a cruiserweight, but at least he's comfortable and hasn't appeared to have lost stamina with the extra weight. Ferrante was supposed to knock Smith out, and may have if not for the "long count" in round 6, but ultimately couldn't get the job done. Smith went on to win the majority of the remainder of the fight like the knockdown never happened. He pinned Ferrante against the ropes and went to work. Ferrante was easily the better man when he forced separation and punched in combination, but rarely did so. "The Bull" imposed his will and controlled the real estate throughout the fight.
We'll revisit the "long count" when we get to Ferrante's post fight interview (rated R). But before then, check out what happened with the remainder of the card:
1. Robert Irizarry  UD4 Arthur Parker  (39-37, 39-37, 39-37)
In an untidy fight, Irizarry won off his lead right hands and body shots, despite often waiting too long to let them go. Parker leaned in and held excessively but finally managed to incorporate good counter punches in the final round. But it was too little too late by then. Irizarry improved to 1-0-1.
2. Ievgen Khytrov  TKO3 Romon Barber [161.5] (0:42)
Khytrov, the 2011 world amateur champion and 2012 Olympian, easily blasted his way to 2-0, 2 KOs in his professional career. Barber was a tough and game opponent, but was simply overmatched in every way. Khytrov walked Barber down, made him bleed, and then dropped him in rounds 2 and 3. Barber beat both counts but was ruled unfit to continue. Barber didn't touch down the second time as the ropes supported him, but stopping the fight was the right call. His legs were gone. Here's what Khytrov had to say when BLH caught up with him backstage:
3. Jovan Sosa  UD4 Anthony Prescott [148.5] (39-37, 39-37, 39-37)
Prescott was able to outbox Sosa in the opening round but ultimately succumbed to Sosa's pressure after getting rocked by a right hand in round 2. Sosa bullied Prescott around the ring, mostly working behind a 1-2 combination, and mixed in uppercuts while Prescott clinched. Sosa advanced to 2-0.
4. Jarrel Miller  TKO3 Jon Hill  (2:38)
"Big Baby" Miller used his size and composure to wear a cardio-lacking Hill out. There wasn't much in the opening round but Miller brought the pain from the 2nd onward. By the end of the fight Hill was bloody and exhausted but had absolutely no quit in him. Fans pleaded for the fight to be stopped a minute before it officially ended. Hill finally had to hit the deck from one of Miller's many right hooks for the referee to take mercy. And Hill still beat the count and wanted to continue. Miller progressed to 8-0-1, 8 KOs.
5. Tevin Farmer [126.5] UD8 Noel Echevarria [125.5] (78-74, 79-73, 78-74)
In the most dominant performance of the evening, "The American Idol" Farmer was too fast and too slick for Echevarria to figure out. BLH had it a shutout for Farmer but the judges were a bit more generous to Echevarria, who took the best Farmer had and kept coming. Farmer, who won his 8th straight out of 15 total wins (with 4 losses and 1 draw), had the following to say after the fight:
The ABA featherweight title discussed in the interview wasn't announced off the table until the day of the fight. Just check out this press release. Otherwise this fight would have been a 10-round co-feature.
6. Naim Nelson  SD8 Chris Steele [137.4] (75-77, 78-74, 79-73)
And then there was the one truly unpopular decision of the night. BLH had it 77-76 for Steele (scoring the opening round even) but felt a draw would have been fair. Rounds 4 through 7 seemed clear for Steele as Nelson struggled with his timing and accuracy. His back foot was figuratively stuck in mud and he was often too square. Steele believes that Nelson "got 2 rounds at the most" and will duck a rematch:
On the other hand, Nelson believes he won the fight but not by the wide margins the judges awarded him. Naim had it 5 rounds to 3 when I talked to him later off camera. Judge Pierre Benoist, who had it 7-1, should be ashamed of himself. Dave Braslow's 6-2 score wasn't great either. It seems the only judge with a "good angle" of the fight was Dewey LaRosa (5-3 for Steele). BLH sat by the only side of the ring that the judges didn't use.
In other news, former world champion DeMarcus Corley could be found ringside cheering Steele on. Corley, who served as one of Tevin Farmer's sparring partners leading in, later revealed to BLH that he's got a showdown with John Molina coming up on Friday Night Fights within a few months. He sees himself winning by knockout. He's also very impressed with the progress Ruslan Provodnikov has made since their controversial meeting in 2011 (Corley believes he won the fight).
Tangent aside, Nelson kept his unbeaten record intact and picked up his 11th straight win. This was his first fight back since a leg injury in 2013. The 9+ month layoff is the longest of his pro career thus far.
7. Anthony Caputo Smith [199.5] SD10 Anthony Ferrante [196.5] (94-95, 95-94, 95-94)
And finally there was the main event, previously touched upon. BLH scored it 96-95 for Smith, scoring rounds 1 and 2 even, rounds 3, 5, 7, 9, and 10 for Smith, and rounds 4, 6, and 8 for Ferrante. The math works out to a 1 point difference due to the 10-8 round 6. Rounds 1 and 2 were scored even because despite Ferrante's inactivity, Smith was largely ineffective. And that's something Ferrante believes Smith remained throughout the fight:
Thanks to Ferrante's unfiltered trainer, the video is rated R but well worth a watch if you enjoy stand-up comedy. For example, he had the following to say about Steve Smoger:
He's like a ride at "Great Adventure." He's killed more fighters than ****ing brain damage.
Ferrante's trainer was not joking, but it was pretty funny, in a black comedy sort of way. Overall team Ferrante's complaints held weight but the way they carried on about them suggested they were bigger travesties than they actually were. The fight will not be a candidate for robbery of the year. Ringside one of Ferrante's friends could be seen yelling, "Uppercut you ****ing ***hole. Don't ****ing ignore me." That went down in round 9. Ferrante didn't throw the uppercut until the last 5 seconds of the round. His abysmal punch output then continued into the final round, which ultimately decided the fight. Ferrante claims he would have let his hands go more if Smith wasn't smothering him so much. But that only happened when Ferrante got pushed back to the ropes. He didn't have to let Smith put him there in the first place if his conditioning was good enough. Logically Ferrante would only want to fight in the middle of the ring since he easily had his best moments of the fight while there.
But let us not wrap up without acknowledging the "long count." In round 6 Smith was dropped by a flush right cross while he was off balance and he hit the deck hard. It looked like the fight may have been over but Steve Smoger stopped the 10-count to send Ferrante to a neutral corner (he was originally in his own corner). That took an extra 6 seconds or so before the count resumed. Smith beat the official count clearly. He was not obligated to beat any unofficial count. And Ferrante freely admits he was in the wrong corner. So what was Smoger supposed to do? Did he simply take too long to resume the count? See for yourself by catching a replay on GFL.TV.
Joey Eye’s “Friday Night Fights” at Harrah’s Philadelphia took place on January 31, 2014. A photo gallery of the event, courtesy of Darryl Cobb Jr, is available atop this page.