Ringside coverage by Gary Purfield
In what will definitely be in the running for Philadelphia Fight of the year when the Briscoe Awards roll around, Angel Ocasio and Jason Sosa gave the crowd an electric fight in their rematch Friday night. After a disputed draw in January at the National Guard Armory, where both Ocasio and Sosa felt they won, they returned to same venue to settle the score.
Fortunately for the fans both fighters wanted it bad enough they were willing to lay it all on the line for eight rounds in a back and forth battle. Unfortunately for everyone involved, these two are oil and water and picking a winner is no simple task. Once again, rounds were close and hard to call. These two could fight twenty more times without ever having a clear winner.
The action started fast from the opening bell. In a battle of the bridge with Ocasio from Philadelphia and Sosa coming over the water from Camden, NJ, the two young fighters were eager to take control from the start. The smoother boxer, Ocasio used fluid footwork to move in and out to operate. Ocasio had a good jab working that he used to set up a solid body to head attack. Meanwhile, the pressure fighting Sosa used determination to make up for his opponent’s skill and marched forward throwing hard punches at every opportunity.
The majority of rounds were difficult to call. After two rounds, the Boxing Tribune had it two to nothing for Ocasio. Other ringside media had it one to one or two to nothing Sosa. It was obvious early on this fight would need a knockout to have a decisive winner.
But neither fighter was going to allow himself to be put out of this one. Each side had a large and vocal following in the audience that made for an electric atmosphere. From the moment the fighters entered the ring to the final bell you had to scream to be heard when talking to the person next to you. Every punch drew a roar from the crowd. Every chant of Sosa-Sosa was combated by chants of Angel-Angel.
The action only got hotter as the rounds went by. Sosa was at his best in rounds three and five, applying pressure. Ocasio was at his best early in the fight and then was tremendous in round six where he used boxing and brawling to punch Sosa around the ring. It appeared several times in round six Ocasio might have his man hurt. But Sosa was not going to go away.
Rounds seven and eight were close and, again, tough to score. The crowd clearly played a part as each man fought through fatigue. Both warriors fired combinations and attacked with bad intentions up until the final bell.
When it ended, nearly everyone had differing scorecards, but the three that mattered once again could not determine a winner. In the first fight it was one card for Ocasio and two for a draw. Tonight it was one card for Sosa 77-75 and two cards a draw at 76-76 (the Boxing Tribune also scored the bout a draw 76-76).
Each man believed he had won the fight. Ocasio 6-0-2 (1 KO) discussed his opinion.
“I thought I won the fight. Five rounds, maybe six. I don’t know what’s going on with the judges right now, I don’t know if the promoters just want to make money. I think I did a better show than the last fight. I feel as though I won the fight five rounds to three.”
When asked if Sosa’s pressure swayed the judges, Ocasio believed that boxing skills are more valuable than pressure.
“Pressure doesn’t mean anything to me because if I’m boxing right, landing clean shots, working the jab. This sport is called boxing. Pressure doesn’t mean anything if you know how to box and control it with your footwork. I thought I did that enough but the judges were watching something else but I thought I came out victorious.
Sosa 4-1-3 (1 KO) was clear as well that in his mind he won the fight and was unable to get a fair shake coming to Philadelphia from his home across the bridge in Camden, NJ.
“Disappointment, I believe I had control of the fight. It’s disappointment man. I can’t even say any more.
“I won. I mean I won the first fight. I won this one, but you know what, I won’t ever fight here again cause it’s always favoritism. I don’t know what I have to do to win this fight. Do I really have to knock him out to win the fight. Favoritism, he’s from Philadelphia, I’m from the city of Camden.”
Where they go from here is not certain. Fans would certainly be up for a third fight, but each fighter had their take when asked afterwards. Ocasio stated that he had no reason to fight Sosa again. Sosa stated that he would fight a third time but it would have to be in his home town of Camden, NJ.
It was a bitter pill for both fighters to swallow after giving everything for eight hard fought rounds. It is always bitter-sweet in boxing when a great fight fails to deliver a great, decisive ending. But easily lost in the disappointment of a draw is the fact that everyone was treated to a great fight, fantastic action, and an electric atmosphere that is not seen often enough in this sport.
Well regarded prospect, Miguel Cartagena 5-0 (3 KO) got what was probably the best test of his young career thus far from late substitute, Luis Ortiz 2-11 fighting out of Puerto Rico. Cartagena, a highly decorated amateur and one of Philadelphia’s top young boxing talents was scheduled to take on Jose Rivera in a six rounder. He learned this week he would have a different opponent and the bout had been dropped to four rounds.
Ortiz came out attacking and put pressure on the young talent that he has not seen thus far as a pro. Cartagena quickly adjusted and began gaining tactical control of what turned out to be a one-sided, but exciting fight. Cartagena won every round, 40-36 on all three cards, but each round was competitive with back and forth action. Ortiz was badly outclassed, but made a fight of it by applying pressure and absorbing Cartagena’s hard shots well.
By round three, Cartagena started to really pull ahead and land heavy shots at will, but still Ortiz came forward and landed some punches of his own. Cartagena assessed his performance after the fight.
“I would say an eight. Of course I wanted to land a lot more punches, get hit with a lot less punches. It’s all stuff I’m going to work on in the gym. It’s a moving process. I didn’t know anything of him. I just found out his name today. I’m not too angry at myself, I’m not angry at myself at all but I am going to work on some things when I get back to the gym.”
For Cartagena, it will go down as a good win and more importantly a solid learning experience. He showed he can fight through some pressure and adversity. He came out well ahead despite a difficult matchup from a late notice opponent and can gain far more from this win than steam rolling an easy opponent.
Georgiy Guralnik 3-0 (1 KO) of Philadelphia took a unanimous decision over Taffo Asongwed 2-11-7 (0 KO) of Montreal, Canada in a four round heavyweight bout by scores of 39-37 on all three cards. Guralnik came out strong and Asongwed had no interest in engaging early as he ran around the ring avoiding the taller Guralnik. Asongwed came on in the last rounds as Guralnik tired from his pursuit, but couldn’t do enough to get out of the early hole.
In the opening bout of the evening John Bowman 2-0-1 (0 KO) of Dover, DE won a unanimous decision over Brian Donahue 2-2 (0 KO) of Philadelphia in a four round Super Middleweight bout. Bowman was the more complete boxer and his skill allowed him to control the fight. Donahue, who is coming back from some tough years including being homeless and drug addicted, looked to land the equalizer, but Bowman was a step ahead at every turn. Bowman won by scores of 40-36 twice and 39-37.
- The ten bout card was cut to four on fight day due to several drop outs and cancellations for various reasons.
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