Shades of Ali-Liston II in South Philly!
By Ken Hissner at ringside, DoghouseBoxing (May 12, 2009)  
Philly’s Brian “the Bionic Bull” Cohen, 10-2 (9) scored 4 knockdowns in stopping Robbie Tovar, 15-5-1 (5), of Indiana, at 1:06, of the 1st round at South Philly High School Saturday night. This 8 round main event was Cohen’s defense of his WBC Inter-Continental light heavyweight title.

Many of Cohen’s fans awaited his return to the ring since being felled by an asthma attack in January during his fight with Billy Bailey that caused him to lose in the 2nd round. With a new trainer in Sloan Harrison Cohen seemed fit at 169 to his opponents 176 and ready to go in the Bionic Bull Promotions third show this year. When his opponent, Tovar, entered the ring he looked like a Mexican hula dancer, with several layers of tassels. He also looked very intimidated by the vocal crowd of Cohen backers.

What seemed like a grazing left hook by Cohen on the first punch, down went Tovar. A fellow writer and I just looked at each other like “did you see the punch?” It was like shades of Ali-Liston II. But wait. This would happen two more times. Only the third knockdown, a straight right to Tovar’s mid-section was most visible. In all it took referee Eddie Cotton 66 seconds to decide Tovar did not come to fight. In spite of the disappointing ending, the Cohen fans seemed quite pleased with their man.

“I have a new trainer and I guess I hit harder than I thought. I might have to start calling guys out,” said Cohen. Commissioner Greg Sirb was overheard saying he wouldn’t hold up Tovar’s purse, but you can bet Tovar will not be fighting in Pennsylvania rings again.

In the 6 round semi-windup Philly’s Dhafir Smith, 21-19-6 (4), defeated a lack luster William Gill, 9-23 (7), of Trenton, New Jersey, in a light heavyweight bout. Smith won the fight with his jab. Judges Rose Vargas and Rich Hopkins, Jr. had it 59-55 and Joe De Pasquale 60-54 for Smith. This writer had it 58-56 Smith. Smith has ability but needs to be more self motivated. But after 46 fights it may be too late. Ron Aurit was the referee.

The show opener was a brawl from the opening bell as Raphael Luna, 4-3-1 (1), out of Albany, New York, won a close one point decision over Jesus Barbosa, 4-3-1 (3), out of Allentown in a 4 round junior welterweight match. In the 2nd round Barbosa was hit with a right and left but it seemed more like a slip than a knockdown and it cost him the fight. Barbosa tried to pull out all stops in the 4th round but it was too little too late. All three judges scored it 38-37 for Luna. This writer had it 39-36 for Luna. Referee was Cotton.

Cruiserweight Pedro Martinez, 4-2 (2), won in a spirited 4 round bout over Lamont Barnes, 2-3 (0), both of Philadelphia. Martinez was going for the knockout from the opening bell rocking Barnes who tried holding him off with some fire power of his own but was simply outworked. In the 3rd round with Barnes doing more retreating than fighting, he caught Martinez coming in and rocked his opponent just before the bell. Martinez was back on the attack in the final round to easily win this one by scores of 40-36, 40-35 and 39-37. This writer had it a shut out win for Martinez who needs to work on his defense. The referee was Cotton.

Delaware’s Mike Tiberi continued his winning ways, 9-1 (4), but not without some resistance in the first two rounds by Frank Gill, 2-5 (1), in this middleweight 4 round bout. In the 3rd and 4th rounds Gill was doing all he could just to hang in there as Tiberi was encouraged by his corner to throw more uppercuts. Tiberi won by scores of 40-36 and 39-37 twice. This writer had it 40-36 Tiberi. The referee was Aurit.

An interesting exhibition occurred when Muy-Thai boxer Cynthia Smith showed up weighing 121 to Philly’s debuting Liz Sherman’s 130, which was the contracted weight. It was turned into an exhibition due to the weight difference. Every time the popular Sherman hit Smith her knee came up in the kicking position. After this happening about three times the referee Eddie Cotton had seen enough. Smith seemed to have many fans considering it was her debut and it will be interesting to see her in an official fight.

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