By Jake Donovan
Time will tell if Christian Carto can one day follow in the footsteps of Jeff Chandler, the last boxer from South Philadelphia to claim world championship status.
For now, the unbeaten bantamweight prospect can take pride in knowing he will headline a sold-out show in his hometown.
The aptly dubbed “Philly Special” show—which marks the Philadelphia promotional debut for Michelle Rosado’s Raging Babe Events—will officially play to a sold-out crowd this Friday at 2300 Arena in South Philly.
Tickets to the venue—which seats roughly 1,500 for a boxing event—officially sold out this past Monday, with another 200 Standing Room Only tickets also purchased in full.
“This show is for South Philly,” insists Rosado. “The 2300 Arena is in South Philly and it’s headlined by Christian Carto, the hottest fighter to come out of South Philly in years.
“I look forward to getting him the recognition he deserves locally and nationally through this “Philly Special” card. He is the Philly Special!”
The show will stream live on Facebook through Fight Night Live.
Carto (17-0, 11KOs) will take on Mexican southpaw Victor Ruiz (22-10, 15KOs) in the evening’s main event, making his 2019 debut after winning all four of his fights in 2018.
“This is going to be a special night for me,” said Carto (17-0, 11KOs), whose grandfather and two uncles—Nunzio, Frankie and Joe Carto—were all prominent Philly fighters in the 1930s and 1940s. “It’s only my second time fighting at the 2300 Arena as pro and I enjoy the atmosphere even when I’m just there to support other fighters.”
Carto’s headliner tops a seven-fight card loaded with local flavor. Also included on the show, unbeaten Philly heavyweight Darmani Rock 13-0, 6KOs) faces Steven Lyons in a scheduled six-round contest, while Philly’s Marcel Rivers (6-0, 4KOs) tangles with Derrick Whitley Jr. (4-0-1) in a six-round battle of unbeaten super welterweights.
One of the more compelling stories on the show is that of Alejandro Jimenez. The 26-year old bantamweight is the first boxer to come out of New Hope, Penn., but the far greater headline is his continued fight to stay in the United States.
Jimenez (4-0, 1KO) came to the states from Mexico with his family at age 15, having been granted DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status in Nov. ’16. His upcoming showdown with Vineland, New Jersey’s Edgar Joe Cortes (6-4, 0KOs) is a fight serving dual purpose—to prove his worth as a rising prospect, and to prove to today’s presidential administration that he deserves to stay here.
“We are going to prove that we belong where we’re going,” Jimenez promises. “I want to win a world title. To show other Dreamers, other immigrants, what they can achieve if they keep dreaming, and keep working hard.”
All in all, there were plenty of stories to tell for Rosado’s first promotion in her original hometown. But just as she learned in several promotional ventures in Arizona and North Carolina, it takes a lot more than a fight poster and a press release to move a product.
“This is what happens when you have good, competitive matches and you promote the show and its fighters,” Rosado told BoxingScene.com. “You can't just depend on the (participants) to sell tickets. Promoters promote!”
"I'm obviously thrilled the show sold out, but am sorry for people who waited and won't be in the building on Friday.”
Those who purchased their tickets in advance can consider themselves Philly Special indeed.