You probably think that all I do is go to rock shows and museums. You would be wrong. I generally don’t write about attending sporting events, as they are heavily televised and stories on individual games are easily found. I go to a fair amount of baseball, hockey and football games. If Philly had an NBA team, I might even go to those games. But who wants to read my amateur take on those events? How about something different?
I went to my first professional boxing bout on Friday at the 2300 Arena in South Philly, and figured that was worth writing about. Yes, boxing is physical and brutal. But it’s not brutal like UFC, and it’s highly regulated for safety purposes. I saw no blood. And I had a much better time than I expected to have. In fact, it was good enough that I’m planning on going back. I don’t always do that – I went to a NASCAR race in Dover last year, and while it was interesting, it’s not my thing. Boxing? I doubt I will follow it like I do Hokie football, but going to see it live was great. And where better than in Philly, the hometown of Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston, Jack O’Brien, and even a fictional character named Rocky Balboa. It’s a great boxing town!
Here is the deal. The 2300 Arena is a small warehouse-like facility in South Philly off of Columbus Avenue. It’s not in the best part of town, but it seems safe, and the parking is close and free. It’s small, holding maybe 2000 people, and no seat is bad. The crowd was the most diverse crowd that I have ever been in for a paid event. All races and income levels were represented, and the ages ranged from infants to ancients. And they were into it – it was a very active and mouthy crowd, with lots of advice hollered at the fighters during the bout, and lots of cheering during the action.
There were actually 8 bouts on the card. Six of them were 4 rounders, one was 6 rounds, and the main event, a title bout for the NABF Junior Lightweight Title, was 10 rounds. A few of the bouts didn’t even last a round – quick and decisive victories were the case in two bouts. And with the exception of the one 6 round bout, all were highly interesting and entertaining. One involved heavyweights, but most involved much lighter fighters, in the range of 125 – 155 pounds and representing different weight classifications.
The best fight of the night involved a local Philly guy, Isaiah Wise, versus Roque Zapata from Culpeper, Virginia. Wise has a hard punch. Zapata could take that punch, and was aggressive and counter-attacking all the time. We were sitting about 8 rows back from the ring, and when Wise came out, a bunch of locals who knew him filled in around us. Their cheering didn’t really help. Zapata was clearly the winner, but that fight was really competitive and fun to watch.
The main championship event was also a great bout. Tevin Farmer was the defending champ and a North Philly guy. He went up against Dardan Zenuinaj from Kosovo. Both of these guys were experienced fighters with strong professional records, and the fight went the distance. Both guys landed a lot of punches, but neither seemed able to hurt the other guy. In fact, at various times, both fighters taunted the other with gestures of “is that all you’ve got” or “bring it on, big boy.” It was a good bout, with Farmer successfully (and correctly) defending his title.
One guy to watch is Joseph Adorno, a junior lightweight out of Allentown. He went up against Guy Newman from Lynchburg, Virginia, and Adorno knocked him out in the first round. Adorno has a big following of Dominicans wearing “Blessed Hands” gear, and he is quite the showman. He is also lightning fast, punches hard, and clearly has significant talent.
There are some pictures below. Note that most of the pictures are of the fights, but one is of a ring girl. The 2300 Arena has the ring girls who prance around the ring in tiny bikinis and high heels while holding up a large card informing the crowd of the round. It’s a boxing tradition.
Oh, and on the way home, we stopped at the original Tony Luke’s for a cheesesteak. TL’s had a sizeable crowd at 10:30 at night, and it’s going to have to be part of the experience going forward. By the way, it’s a damned good cheesesteak, far better than the more famous Pat’s and Geno’s. And it was the perfect finish to a night that is quintessentially Philly.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.