Boxing: Pham, Seldon Score Big Victories in Atlantic City
ATLANTIC CITY - Pleasantville boxer Gabriel Pham finally fought somebody his own size Saturday night.
The 6-foot-3 super-middleweight proved up to the challenge.
Pham earned the biggest victory of his career, scoring two knockdowns en route to an eight-round, unanimous decision over 6-4 Derrick Webster of Glassboro at Bally's Atlantic City.
Judge Henry Grant gave Pham a 77-73 advantage while Larry Layton and Alan Rubenstein both favored Pham 78=72, as did 973espn.com.
"That's the first time I fought someone taller than me," Pham said. "I focused on standing my ground, keeping my composure and not backing up. And it worked."
Pham (12-2, 5 KOs) brought a roaring crowd to its feet in the opening round, connecting on a crisp right jab that put Webster (28-3, 14 KOs) on one knee.
Two rounds later, Pham hit Webster on the chin with a straight left, dropping him to the canvas. Webster was clearly shaken by the blow and never seemed able to gain any momentum the rest of the way.
Saturday's bout served as a measure of revenge of sorts for Pham. He said he lost to Webster in the amateurs about 10 years ago and had also sparred with him a few times as a pro while developing a friendship.
That relationship showed up after the fight. Webster ventured over to Pham in the dressing room area to chat, then ended the conversation by kissing him on the forehead.
"When we're in the ring, we're trying to take each other's head off," Pham said. "But at the end of the day, we're still friends. That's the way boxing is."
On the undercard, Isiah Seldon didn't need mouthwash to cure a case of halitosis.
His fists did the trick.
The Atlantic City middleweight earned a much-needed victory with a second-round TKO over Asbury Park's Darryl Bunting.
"I've had a bad taste in my mouth for a while," Seldon said. "It felt good to get rid of it."
Seldon (14-3-1, 5 KOs), 31, had lost two of his last three fights via first-round knockouts against Tyler Howard and Nikita Ababiy, respectively and was unimpressive in a decision victory over Bryan Goldsby last year.
He was much more impressive on Saturday.
Seldon dropped Bunting (4-7-2, 2 KOs) with an on-the-button, straight right early in the second round. Bunting staggered into the ropes on rubbery legs upon rising, but referee Eric Dali let the bout continue. Seldon hammered him with a half dozen punches, including a pair of overhand rights and a left hook that prompted Dali to stop it at 34 seconds of the round.
"I was surprised the ref let it continue," Seldon said. "I let him come toward me and then I just put my foot on the gas."
Seldon was acting on the advice of his trainer.
After the first round, Bill Johnson told him the knockout was there if he would just relax and throw combinations instead of looking for a one-punch ending.
"He could have stopped him in the first round, but he was loading up with one punch at a time," Johnson said. "I told him to just let the punches flow. The right hand was there, but he had to throw combinations and that's what he did."
Seldon relied on an aggressive, exciting style that he hadn't shown in recent fights.
Once known as a crowd-pleasing brawler, he had sought to become more of a defensive-minded, counterpunching boxer with mixed results. Saturday's TKO was his first stoppage since a 2016 bout.
Fans cheered and screamed when he let loose against Bunting.
"I was focused to much on trying not to get hit before," Seldon said. "I don't worry about that, anymore. I know what I signed up for. I'm a fighter and if I get hit, so what? It's part of the game."
In other bouts, Philadelphia lightweight Jeremy Cuevas (13-1, 10 KOs) posted a second-round knockout over Argentina's Nestor Paniagua (26-10-2, 17 KOs). Puerto Rican super-featherweight Christian Tapia (11-0, 10 KOs) scored a fourth-round knockout over Puerto Rico's Carlos Colon (5-3, 3 KOs). Philadelphia lightweight Thomas Velasquez (10-0-1, 6 KOs) gained a third-round TKO over Mexico's Gustavo Molina (24-22, 9 KOs). Philadelphia light-heavyweight Benjamin Sinakin (6-0, 3 KOs) opened the card wit a four-round, unanimous decision over St. Louis' Larry Jones (3-8, 2 KOs).
Notes: Boxing is scheduled to return to Atlantic City on March 19 when New York promoter Lou DiBella brings a card to Showboat Hotel. DiBella hasn't promoted in town in a while but has strong ties to the area. He served as promoter for the late Leavander Johnson, the former IBF lightweight champion from Atlantic City. DiBella also promoted former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, who had four bouts in Atlantic City.
Bantamweight Christian Carto, a St. Augustine Prep graduate, is scheduled to return to action for the first time in 13 months on March 27 at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. Carto (17-1, 11 KOs) will take on Mexico's Roberto Pucheta (10-18-2, 6 KOs).