By: Ken Hissner
There are twelve young prospects in Philadelphia that this writer calls ”The Talented Twelve”! This famous boxing city at present has no world champions but the best is yet to come!
The best looking prospect to come out of Philadelphia since 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Meldrick Taylor in this writer’s opinion is 20 year-old JARON “BOOTS” ENNIS, 17-0 (15), in just twenty months from the Germantown section. He was 58-3 in the amateurs. His father “Bozy” Ennis is his trainer. Cameron Dunkin is his manager and Chris Middendorf of Victory Promotions does the promoting for Dunkin.
Ennis won the 2015 in January and the National Golden Gloves in May. At the Olympic trials he ended up as an alternate.
Ennis defeated Gary Antuanne Russell in his first fight in the 2016 Olympic Trials. In the box-off he lost back to back matches to Russell. “Bozy” was not happy with the two losses and said “we beat him in the second bout but they stole it. I’d give Russell the third one”
Ennis made his professional debut in April in St. George Utah and stopped Cory Muldrew in 0:42 of the first round. He defeated Luis Ramos in 0:23 in Philadelphia in May for his second win.
In June he stopped Deshawn Debose in 0:20 of the first round in Springfield, VA, for his third win. Then in July for his third win he stopped Tavorus Teague at 1:38 of the fourth round in Rio Rancho, NM, for his fourth win.
In August in Ennis’ fifth win he stopped Matt Murphy at 2:52 of the second round in Bristol, PA. “Murphy had just stopped a 3-0 boxer in his previous. He won his sixth fight defeating Eddie Diaz, 2-4-2 at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia on September 15th. He is 5:10 and after competing at 141 in the amateurs he’s now a welterweight.
Ennis won his seventh fight on November 11th at the 2300 Arena where he stopped Chris Alexander, 4-3, in 4 rounds. Then he won his eighth fight on December 15th at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA, stopping Marcus Becker, 3-4-3, in the sixth and final round. On January 28th, of 2017 he knocked out Elvin Perez, 28-17-4, at 0:35 of the first round at the 2300 Arena. On March 31st at the 2300 Arena, he won his tenth straight in a rough and tumble bout against James “Shotgun” Winchester, 20-12, winning the entire six rounds on all judge’s score cards on a Victory Promotions show.
Ennis scored his eleventh win in thirteen months on May 13th at Norfolk, VA, where he stopped Eduardo Flores, 25-26-3 in the fourth of a six round bout. Flores had been in with some big names in boxing and either went the distance or wasn’t stopped inside of five rounds as he was by Ennis including former WBC champion Carlos Baldimor.
On June 2nd Ennis won his twelfth straight stopping Wilfredo Acuna, 16-20 of Mexico City in 2:53 of the first round. He defeated Robert Hill, 6-32-1, June 22nd at the Durham Armory, in N.C. when Hill retired at the end of the third round. In his fourteenth win he knocked out Ricardo Cano, 17-13-5, at 0:40 of the first round at the Howard Theatre, in DC.
Ennis in his fifteenth bout knocked out Lionel Jimenez, 3-18-1, in 2:43 of the first round in Hammond, IND. His sixteenth bout was October 14th in Springfield, VA, knocking out Ayi Bruce, 23-15, of Ghana, in 1:37 of the first round. In his seventeenth bout on December 1st he stopped George Rosa, 15-10-1 in the second round of a scheduled eight at the 2300 Arena.
Ennis’ two brothers were pro’s first. Farah “Quiet Storm”, 22-2 (12), won the NABF Super Middleweight title while the oldest brother Derek “Pooh” Ennis, 24-5-1 (13), won the USBA Super welterweight and the PA Super welterweight titles. Ennis has a combination of both brothers and then some of his own. He trains at “Bozy’s Dungeon” in North Philly run by his father over top of the Harrowgate Boxing Club on E. Venago Street off Kensington Avenue. He keeps his composure and is level headed.
DARMANI “SOLID” ROCK, 10-0 (6), is 21 and a super heavyweight at 6:05. He is trained by his father Wayne “Wiz”. They go between their own Rock Solid Boxing Gym at 2840 Chatman Street in the Frankford section of North Philly and Fred Jenkins 26th & Master ABC Recreation Center. His promoter is Jay Z’s Roc Nation. In 2014 he won the Youth World Title in Bulgaria and in 2015 the US Nationals. He also won the 2015 National Golden Gloves. He made it as far as the Olympic Trials semi-finals.
In May Rock turned pro in D.C. stopping Carlos Black at 1:54 in round one in D.C. In June he stopped Bobby Favors who weighed 402 lbs. at 1:46 of round one in Quincy, MASS. In July he stopped Hassan Lee at 2:21 in round one in Pittsburgh. In August he won over Mike Kyle in Oakland 40-35 and a pair of 39-37’s. In October he stopped John Orr in Winchester, VA. On November 19th in Las Vegas, NV, he defeated Brice Ritani Coe, 4-4-1, by decision, November 19th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Rock knocked out Solomon Maye, 3-7-2, January 20th at Bally’s Event Center in Atlantic City, NJ. “My dad has trained me since I started at 12 or 13. I feel that I will get better and better with each fight,” said Rock. On March 18th he won a 6 round decision over Jon Bolden, 8-10-1, at the Mountaineer Casino Ballroom, in New Cumberland, WV. At the 2300 Arena show he had his right hand bandaged which he said the injury went back to the Maye knockout.
In October he went south to Durham, NC, and won every round in a six round decision over Juan Goode, 8-6. On December 1st at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia he made his hometown debut stopping Carlos Cotto, 8-1-1, of PR, in the first round improving his record to 10-0
Bantamweight CHRISTIAN CARTO, 13-0 (11), of South Philadelphia was an Olympic Alternate. He is trained by Mickey Rosati, Jr. Mickey was a PA State GG champion. His gym is over his Business Rosati’s Auto Repair Shop at 1937 S. Chadwick St., in South Philly. “He is a rare breed who comes in the gym six days a week. I’ve trained him for the past 3 years. He’s a pleasure to train because he listens. He’s up to bantamweight,” said Rosati. Carto’s original manager Jimmy Binns, Jr., passed away in 2017 so Carto’s older brother Frank, a former Golden Gloves Novice champion took over as manager.
Carto’s twelfth win took him the full distance for the first time winning every round on the judge’s scorecards defeating Alonso Melendez, 14-1, of Mexico over 8 rounds in the main event at the 2300 Arena in South Philly. In his thirteenth and last fight on December 1st at the SugarHouse Casino he defeated Luis Fernando Saavedra, 7-3, of PR, over eight rounds scoring a knockdown and pitching a shutout.
Carto was the 108 National Golden Gloves Champion in 2014. “I was with him when he beat Leroy Davila who was the best in the country,” said Rosati. Carto finished third in the 2015 Golden Gloves. Carto turned pro at the Santander Arena in Reading, PA, stopping Rahkeem Parker who wouldn’t come out after three rounds. In his second bout he stopped Christopher Nelson at the Claridge Casino in Atlantic City in the third round just 20 days later after his debut. In August in his third bout he stopped Jonathan Hernandez at 1:02 of the second round at the SugarHouse Casino in Philly. In his fourth bout on October 28th Carto stopped Angel Carvajal, 2-4, in the second round.
In his fifth fight on November 12th he stopped Leonardo Reyes, 5-10, in the second round. Carto has a big following which showed in his last fight with all the Carto shirts. He boxes well with good balance and is finding some punching power in the professionals. He won his sixth straight at the SugarHouse Casino in Philly on December 16th. He knocked out Harold Reyes, 2-6-1, in the second round. During the referee’s instructions to start the bout Reye’s trainer said “now you are in with a man.” Carto’s trainer Rosati said “I can’t believe he said that. That’s just not right.” After the first round of which Carto won big he pointed to the trainer of Reye’s in the corner saying something. After knocking Reye’s out in the second round Carto again pointed to the trainer with some choice words.
In his seventh fight he stopped Sergio Najera, 12-28-2, of Mexico, at 2:06 of the third round at the SugarHouse Casino. In his eighth fight he stopped Rudolph “the Cutting Edge” Hedge, 10-4-3, of Jamaica after four rounds and not coming out for fifth round at the Fillmore, in Philly. Carto on April 29th at the Liacouras Center won his 9th straight by stoppage over Samuel Gutierrez, 14-18-5 at the end of 5 in a scheduled 6.
Carto continued his knockout streak at ten defeating Juan Guzman, 22-7, at 2:30 of the first round at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. In his eleventh fight he stopped Philip Adyaka, 7-9, at 2:43 of the second round at the SugarHouse Casino, in Phildelphia. That made it 11 straight stoppages from the start of his career.
Super bantamweight MANNY “MAJOR PAIN” FOLLY, 10-0 (8), of Philadelphia, now trains at Bozy’s Dungeon under “Bozy” Ennis. He was with Buddy Osborn’s Rock Ministry since the amateurs through his ten fights. He hasn’t fought since March when he defeated Luis Hinojosa, 30-10 at the 2300 Arena. He should be returning to the ring in January of 2018 per his trainer. At 25 he has a style like those Philly boxers back in the 70’s. He’s the complete package. Since turning pro has fought twice a year.
Folly’s last three opponents had winning records. His last four fights have been at the 2300 Arena in Philly. In March of 2016 he knocked out Hungarian Tibor Nadori, 9-3. Then in January of 2017 he scored a first round knockout over Carlos Morgan, 13-4. Folly turned professional in April of 2013. Being on the Philadelphia police force at that time he was more or less a part time boxer due to his shift work which accounts for his limited amount of fights entering his fifth year having turned pro in April of 2013. He won four of his first five fights by stoppage with four of those bouts being in his hometown.
A diamond in the rough is Philadelphia southpaw super lightweight JEREMY CUEVAS, 6-0 (5), who hasn’t gotten all the notoriety of the others. He is trained by Tony Bersani. He turns twenty-two December and turned pro scoring a pair of stoppages in October and December of 2016 at the SugarHouse Casino in Philly. He’s had four bouts in 2017 in March, then in June in Atlantic City. In his last two bouts making it four at the SugarHouse Casino he stopped Justin Saavi, 31-13-2 in September and on December 1st stopped Jose Miguel Castro, 5-9, in his first six rounder in the fifth round.
Featherweight STEPHEN “SCOOTER” FULTON, 11-0 (5), is a former amateur champion and is fighting Adam Lopez, 8-0, this Friday on FS1 in Hialeah Park Racing & Casino, Hialeah, FL. He is twenty-three and trains at the James Shuler Gym in West Philadelphia and trained by Hamza Muhammad.
Fulton like some other Philadelphia fighters rarely fights at home. He has only fought at home once in his eleven bouts yet seven times in PA. He turned pro in October of 2014. In his last bout in April he had his first eight rounder defeating Louis Rosario, 8-0-1 at the Sands in Bethlehem, PA, for the third time.
Lightweight DAMON “LIL’ DAME” ALLEN is 13-0-1 (5), trained by his father Damon at the Mitch Allen Gym names after the grandfather who still runs the gym at 56th & Haverford. Allen is with Golden Boy Promotions.
The 25 year-old Allen turned pro in 2013 only fighting in Philadelphia in three of his fourteen fights. In his lone non victory he fought a draw with Luis Arceo and was medically suspended due to a possible fractured right hand and left shoulder. He defeated the former WBC featherweight champion Gamaliel Diaz then 40-16-3 in June of 2017 with a TD6 of a scheduled eight.
Super Featherweight AVERY SPARROW, 9-1 (3), in his first ten rounder just defeated the WBO No. 5 contender Jose Lopez, 19-1-1, on ESPN last week. He trains out of the Joe Hand Gym and trained by Vaughn Jackson and promoted by Peltz Boxing.
In his four fights in 2017 he defeated fellow Philly boxer Anthony Burgin, 10-2, and then defeated a pair of 6-0 boxers in Isaelin Florian and Joey Laviolette.
The final two boxers are the Pizarro brothers. The youngest of the group is BRANDEN “THE GIFT”, 8-1 (4), at eighteen who came off the floor losing for the first time in a close fight this writer called a draw but the judges didn’t agree. It was his toughest opponent in Christian Rivera, a southpaw at 6-0 (5) from PR. This hopefully will be the best thing for this youngster who is a senior in high school who wants to be a world champion by the time he is 21. He is trained by his father Angel, Sr. and promoted by Hard Hitting Promotions.
Branden was put in tough because he kept asking for better opposition and he got it. He is expected to come back more serious (show boater) and even better. His father just opened a new gym in Philly where he trains. He has fought seven of his nine fights in Philly.
The other Pizarro is Super bantamweight ANGEL, JR., Jr., 3-0 (2), who at twenty-two turned pro in August of 2016 winning every round. His three bouts have all been at the SugarHouse Casino with his last two bouts being in October of 2016 and didn’t come back until September of 2017 due to an injury. He stopped Joseph Cole, 1-2, and has had his opponents pull out in his last two scheduled fights at the last moment. He is trained by “Bozy” Ennis at “Bozy’s Dungeon in Philly.
THOMAS “T.J.” VELASQUEZ, 9-0-1 (5), who fights for DSG which is Danny and Angel Garcia’s group. Now twenty-two he turned pro in August of 2015.
Velasquez has fought four of his ten fights in Philadelphia. After winning his first nine bouts he was held to a draw in his last bout in September at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA, by Tyrome Jones, 4-2. He is trained by Angel Garcia at the DSG Gym in Philadelphia.
STEVEN ORTIZ, 7-0 (2), 24 year-old lightweight turned pro in February of 2015 with only two fights in 2017. He defeated Tyrome Jones, 4-0, in his last fight who fought a draw with T.J. Velasquez. The previous fight he defeated 3-1 Hector Rivera. His last four fights were at the 2300 Arena. He is 3-0-1 in 2017. He trains at the DSG gym in Philly and is trained by Raul “Chino” Rivas in Cherry Hill, NJ.
That wraps up Philadelphia’s “Talented Twelve” who are all destined to be world contenders in the near future and possible world champions!