Matt Godfrey and Chris Henry Win at Philly’s Arena on ESPN2!
By Ken Hissner at ringside, Doghouse Boxing (July 12, 2009)    
Blaine Garner of Shalyte Entertainment made his promotional debut with a little help from Jimmy Burchfield’s CES Boxing Friday night at the Arena in Philly on ESPN2. Burchfield had his cruiserweight contender Matt “Too Smooth” Godfrey, 19-1 (10), of Providence, on top successfully defending his NABF title against previously unbeaten Shawn “Sioux Warrior” Hawk, 18-1 (16), of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, over 10 rounds.

With fellow Native American and former two division world champion Virgil Hill in the crowd. Hawk
entered the ring to the beat of his native drums. He knew it was a mountain sooner or later he would have to face, especially in such a skilled boxer as Godfrey. One might question why the contender he faced was not someone who would stand in front of him and trade punches but that wasn’t the hand he was dealt. “He won, and I’m kind of glad I got it (first loss) out of the way,” said Hawk. “When I was able to land my left hook, he would tie me up and simply got warnings from the referee,” he added. Hawk landed few right hands in the bout.

Godfrey, on the other hand is looking for a title bout. “I won every round and didn’t need to take any chances,” said Godfrey. Seems in between rounds at ringside ESPN’s Teddy Atlas was asking Godfrey’s trainer John “The Iceman” Scully if he felt his fighter should step up his activity and take some chances. “I could do that and he could get caught and I would look stupid,” said Scully. Though it seemed Godfrey won every round with the last one up for grabs, the judges were a little more kind to Hawk with scores of 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93. Top boxing judge Steve Weisfeld being the most generous gave Hawk 3 rounds. To be fair, Hawk tried and is not a bad fighter as the scores might imply. Only 7 of his 18 wins were against fighters with winning records, so it was a major step up.

Burchfield is looking for that title shot for his fighter Godfrey. “He’s #7 in the IBF with the top two spots open. With #3 Cunningham and #14 Braithwaite fighting Saturday night, the winner will probably get the mandatory. We tried to get Enzo Maccarinelli when he had the WBO title. Godfrey is also rated in the WBC at #6. Last year he lost to Rudolf Kraj in Germany in a WBC eliminator. Godfrey who himself has Native American blood, gave his Sovereign Nations Boxing Council belt to Hawk that he won in his last fight, in South Dakota. “He is a good fighter with a future,” said Godfrey. Godfrey also had Philly top amateur heavyweight Joey Dawejko entering the ring ahead of him holding his belts. Dawejko who has signed a managerial contract with former world heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, is looking forward to turning professional sometime in August. He will be a fan favorite wherever he fights.

The co-feature was a very exciting match as Shaun George, 18-3-2 (9), of Brooklyn, came out looking for an early ending with straight right hands and had his opponent Chris “Hard Hittin” Henry, 24-2 (19), of Houston, a dead ringer for Philly’s Bennie Briscoe, out on his feet at the bell ending the 1st round. Referee Steve Smoger was giving Henry a close look. Things seemed to change midway through the 2nd round as Henry kept applying the pressure with his own right hands that were landing on the left side and neck of George with authority. George’s trainer Tommy Brooks was getting quite frustrated with the way George was not using his jab along with very little activity in general after a quick start. “If you do it in the gym you’ll do it in the fight,” said Brooks. Brooks was on “The Contender” show along with working many a top fighters corners. Henry seemed to have the endurance that would eventually overcome George’s sneaky right hands. By the end of the 2nd round he had George in trouble at the bell. Again in the 5th round he had George hurt. In the 6th round a right hand dropped George. His head seemed clear as he was awaiting referee Smoger’s count to reach 8 before rising. Henry rushed George and connected with a left and right combination and down went Henry with his head outside the second rope from the bottom. Smoger wisely waved it off at 1:08 of the 6th round.

A jubilant Henry said “He came out to fight and I had to get closer with short shots.” He added, “I wasn’t hurt by his right hand. His manager, Bob Spagnola, was quite pleased with his fighter’s performance. “He used this as a sanctuary hoping to get an opportunity for another title chance. The light heavyweights division is wide open,” said Spagnola. Formerly with HBA, he now runs Bad Boyz, Inc. All of a sudden Virgil Hill entered the room and Spagnola shouts “aren’t you going to say hello? It has to be 25 years.” Both embraced and it seemed like old times since Hill himself did his share of training at the Abercrombe gym in Houston. Henry recently lost his NABF title to Philly’s Yusaf Mack by split decision. In 2008 he lost his other fight to Adrian Diaconu for the interim WBC title that Diaconu recently lost.

“I stayed on the ropes too much. He was the better man tonight. I didn’t throw enough punches,” said George. George had made a name for himself winning 5 straight including the demolishing of former heavyweight champion Chris Byrd in a light heavyweight match last year.

Germantown’s light middleweight Derek “Pooh” Ennis, 18-2-1 (12), gave the local fans something to cheer about as he won an 8 round decision over southpaw John Mackey, 11-4-2 (5), of Montgomery, Alabama, who was coming off a draw with Jessie Nicklow, 19-1-1, in Maryland. Ennis seemed to get rocked just before the bell ending the 1st round. He came back in the 2nd round and dropped Mackey with a right hand. Ennis has a lot of potential but sometimes seems to lose concentration. His brother, Farah, an unbeaten super middleweight, kept yelling to him to stay off the ropes. Mackey had problems in the middle of the ring with the hand speed of Ennis. It seemed the bell came to the rescue of Mackey in the 8th and final round. Another 10 seconds and Ennis probably would have stopped him. “I hope to have another fight in August and look for something bigger,” said Ennis. His management of Moz Gonzalez and Eddie Woods are determined to keep him busy and look to break into the top ten of one of the organizations. All scores favored Ennis by 59-53 (twice) and 58-54. Gary Rosato was the referee.

Fan favorite Tony “Boom Boom” Ferrante, 8-0 (4), of North Philly got more than he bargained for in winning a majority decision over Billy Bailey, 9-4 (3), of Bakersfield, California. This fight was a solid 8 round light heavyweight match that had both fighters spilling a little blood. Bailey from a cut over the right eye in the 8th and last round while Ferrante, a bloody nose around the 7th round. That was the round that had the people on their feet. The body shots on both ends were power punches with Ferrante rocking Bailey several times with right uppercuts. While I was sitting next to former IBF light middleweight champion Buster Drayton, he ran up to Ferrante’s cut man, Joey I, telling him to tell his fighter to throw the left uppercut. It seems Bailey was leaning to his right begging for that punch. Scores of 78-74 (twice) and 76-76 gave Ferrante the majority decision. This writer had it 77-75 Ferrante. Bailey’s corner thought they had scored their second victory in Philly this year but it wasn’t to be. Ferrante didn’t see it that way. “I was surprised how good a punch Bailey could take,” said Ferrante. Both fighters were marked up after this battle. This was Ferrante’s first 8 rounder. His trainer Chris Rotella was concerned before the fight, not with the opponent but the ESPN2 roving camera that took up the section that Ferrante’s many fans were to be sitting. A bus load came and they found their way mostly along the walls cheering their fighter to victory. The referee was Smoger.

The show opened with southpaw Rachel Clark, 2-3-1 (2), of Columbia, South Carolina, dropping Jackie Davis, 2-0 (1), of Philly, in the 1st round. Davis, a former USA amateur champion, re-grouped in her corner with former contender Ivan Robinson between rounds. She came out like a buzzsaw, pounding Clark into the ropes and busting her up with body shots. The 2nd round could have been a 10-8 round for Davis. She continued her assault in the next two rounds to take the win on all score cards 38-37. “This was a rematch from the amateurs. I just got caught in the 1st round,” said Davis.

Welterweight Olivia Fonseca, 3-2-2 (2) showed much improvement with new trainer Derrick “Bozy” Ennis, working her corner in stopping Lisa Bolin, 2-3 (2), of South Carolina, at 1:51 of the 2nd round. Her jab set up the straight right hand that had Bolin out on her feet. Referee Rosato was wise to stop it at 1:51 of the 2nd round of a 4.

Glassboro, New Jersey’s southpaw Derrick Webster, 2-0 (1), easily stopped Roger Locklear, 1-3, of South Carolina, at 1:14 of the 1st round of this middleweight 4.

Two bouts with all boxer’s making their debut featured Philly’s Angel Ocasio, 1-0 (0), easily outpointing Dan Morales, 0-4 (0), of Albany, New York, in a lightweight 4. Ocasio showed some nice combinations and was a crowd favorite. What looked like a shut out from here, ended up 40-36, and 39-37 (twice). Smoger was the referee.

For heavyweights it was bombs away as Winston Thorpe, 1-0 (1), stopped Kareem Harrison, 0-1, at 1:14 of the1st round when referee Rosato stepped in with Harrison against the ropes. Harrison thought it was stopped too soon.

All in all it was a good first promotion for Shalyte Entertainment with Nick Tiberi doing the matchmaking. Former world champions Bernard Hopkins and “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon (back from the UK) were in attendance. The Arena will again feature boxing on August 14th.

Ken at:

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