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Facebook FightNight Live: Behind the scenes in Philadelphia

A look at what went on last Saturday in Philadelphia.


“Damn, if I knew I was working with you, I would have said no,” said my analyst partner Steve Cunningham as he laid eyes on me at the Met in Philly on Saturday.

Props to me for counter-punching quickly: “That’s exactly what I told them when they said I’d be working with you,” I told the PBC cruiserweight/heavyweight, whereupon we both grinned and shook hands.

This was the second Facebook FightNight Live in as many nights. Friday, we hit the Paramount on Long Island, and Saturday Hard Hitting Promotions put together a card in a refurbished event center which looked almost too pretty to hold boxing in.

It cost over $50 million to make the building look so stellar, for the record.

To kick things off, I almost — almost — nailed the TV open, but then I started swallowing hard. A producer asked me to button my top color before we started taping and, um, it’s February. The fit was a little tight, and by the end of the open, the neck felt like I was getting Luca Brasi’d. So, I needed a take two. Cunningham was flawless. He told me he likes second takes because he knows he can do better in the second round. Spoken like an elite athlete.

Tamar Israeli took on 3-16 Karen Dullin in our FNL opener, and the 27-year-old Israeli loaded up too much and only got the draw against the 43-year-old underdog. “Most of the time I root for the person who’s supposed to lose,” Cunningham told watchers.

”The Jewish Bulldog” Benny Sinakin impressed Cunningham with his aggression. TJB scored a KO-1 win, chewing up the 0-3 Ronald Lawrence.

Next up, Christian Tapia met up wih Davis Veras Pena in a lightweight tango. Pena was turning away while getting whacked and he didn’t make it out of the second.

Then Gadwin Rosa snagged a W; he went to 10-0 with a TKO-2 win over Jorge Luis Santos from Mexico. Rosa blasted him hard and he was sagged on the ropes, so the ref waved it off.

Branden Pizarro went to 14-1 in taking out 8-5 Zack Ramsey, who’d lost four in a row. It was easy work for Pizarro. “I like that fluidity,” I said, as Pizarro smacked the loser. “He looks to be on message tonight.”

Samuel Teah and Tre’Sean Wiggins met and Cunningham told us Wiggins shouldn’t be dismissed because of his 10-4-1 record. Teah dropped to 15-3-1 after Wiggins gave him a bit of a boxing lesson. The lefty Wiggins took a Pennsylvania 140-pound crown to Newburgh, NY with him. Teah was “fighting at Wiggins’ distance,” Cunningham noted. The judges agreed: 80-72, 79-73, 78-74.

Gledwin Ortiz and Malik Hawkins scrapped next; Hawkins took a decision which not everyone agreed with. He’s now 14-0 and Ortiz from the Bronx is 6-3. Cunningham gave a shoutout to the matchmakers for making this one. “We got a coin-flip fight here,” I said before the fifth and USS agreed. Then the judges had their say, and they liked the unbeaten man. “Maybe Hawkins won the fight, I think it’s a draw,” USS said, and I opined that “I wouldn’t be at all unhappy if Ortiz got the nod.”

The main event pitted Steven Ortiz (9-0) against 11-0 Jeremy Cuevas, in a battle for the PA lightweight title. Me and Cunningham were again on the same page — we saw Cuevas make Ortiz miss but not always make him pay. The righty Ortiz saw openings for his right on the lefty. “I think the height of Ortiz is causing problems for Cuevas,” said the PBC boxer. Ortiz looked a weight class bigger, and yep, he was just better. I’d have been shocked if Ortiz didn’t get the win after scoring two knockdowns. And my heart didn’t skip a beat — Ortiz was the winner.

All in all, the fans seemed happy and we got 127,000 views and counting on Facebook, so I think most all were happy. Except, that is, for one of the dads of one of the fighters.

“Hey Mr. Woods just want to bring it to your attention that you should start hanging around Steve cuttinham a little bit more often so you can learn more about boxing. That’s my personal opinion and I don’t know what do you have against my son Mr. X but you always criticizing him really badly during all his fights once again start watching TV and learn more about real boxing we need more better commentators unfortunately.. once again you should know more about boxing before you start talking nonsense on the microphone.”

I replied to this text, which came Sunday morning, while I sipped coffee: “Noted. Thanks for your input.” Then I went to watch his fight, see what I said. Weird, I was not at all critical. Maybe he heard the international call of the broadcast?

“You free to do a phone hit on my podcast tomorrow? Tuesday 12:30 pm ET,” I invited the guy to come on my pod.

“Good morning Mr. Woods hope all is well,” he said. “Yes I have the tax but I cannot attend I have a meeting at 11:30 until this meeting is very important to us and I so sorry therefore I cannot attend your phone conference. Maybe next time we’ll get together, have a great day Mr. Woods.”

”I watched the fight, didn’t say one negative thing. So I was going to discuss with you on air what you were referring to. Share with me now, what was negative,” I asked, my curiosity raised.

No answer, as yet.

That aside, Fratto was kind enough to get a couple pizzas for the crew so I had a slice before driving back to Brooklyn. Of course, Cunningham didn’t, being the committed athlete.

We chowed slices, and talked about how the show went, how nice the venue is, and then it was to the car. It’s raining out, so I take it nice and easy back to NY, and take a melatonin. Asleep by 2:30.

Hey, see you next week on FNL, we are back in Philly, Friday night. Shhh, don’t tell the promoter I’m telling you, they like to sell all the tix before they announce streaming.

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