Farmer returns with win over Sparrow

Story by John DiSanto –

Former world champion Tevin Farmer bounced back from an extended layoff with a fluid and speedy unanimous decision over Avery Sparrow in the 10-round lightweight main event at the 2300 Arena. The entertaining, five-bout show was promoted by Hard Hitting Promotions.

On Saturday night, all eyes were on Farmer after his three-and-one-half year career pause. Questions were aplenty regarding how Farmer, after such a lengthy respite, would perform against a tough opponent like fellow-Philadelphian Avery Sparrow. However, the former junior lightweight world champion displayed quick hands and feet, an energetic and elusive head, good stamina, and plenty of offense over the 10-round distance. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but given the layoff, it was impressive and suggested that Farmer is ready to return to the thick of either the 130 or 135-pound division. Sparrow, a tough assignment for any fighter, showed up and gave a good account of his ability. He pressed Farmer and landed his share of punches. However, Sparrow appeared in less-than-perfect condition, and this became a factor late in the fight.

The bout quickly settled into its pattern at the opening bell. Southpaw Farmer moved in and out flicking his right jab at Sparrow, who pressed forward looking to land. Avery had his best success when the action was in close quarters, and he did his best to trap Farmer along the ropes where he could fire away. However, Farmer was elusive throughout. He moved his head well, and in most cases spun out of any trap Sparrow managed to set. Farmer landed left hand power shots while Sparrow scored well with his right and occasional combinations.

This script stayed consistent over the first four rounds, with Farmer remaining one step ahead most of the way. He won the first and the third rounds, and Sparrow took the fourth. The second round was so close it could have gone either way – and probably impacted the surprising final scorecards.

The action changed in round five. It started like all the others, but as the round ticked away, Sparrow began to look tired. The two exchanged fire in mid-ring and then Farmer suddenly cracked Sparrow with a left hand that sent Avery down. He weathered the knockdown well, but when he returned to the fight, he appeared winded.

During the second half of the fight, Sparrow was fighting not only Farmer, but himself as well. As if Tevin wasn’t enough to deal with, Sparrow had to push himself with while his gas tank was running low. You could see the struggle in his eyes. He was working hard but was chugging uphill. However, Sparrow kept fighting and kept the fight close. He continued to land his right and keep Farmer from running away with the fight.

Farmer was clearly in great shape and kept working Sparrow with his jab. As Sparrow tired, Farmer looked quicker and quicker. He spun away from every exchange and stayed in control.

In round eight, with Farmer stacking up rounds ever since the knockdown, Sparrow dug down and looked stronger in the final minute of the session. He landed a combination as the round wound down showing he was still in the fight.

The final two rounds were the most interesting. Farmer, ahead on the scorecards, punched less and moved more while Sparrow continued to push hard, trying to turn the tide. He did not put Farmer in any danger, but his grit made these final six minutes close. The tenth round featured a lot of action. Farmer landed a good left and later scored with a sharp left-right combination. Meanwhile, Sparrow landed well to the body and suddenly began scoring with a jagged right uppercut. At least twice, he snapped Farmer’s head toward the lights. It was probably Sparrow’s round, but Tevin was loose and fluid and finished the fight with ease. This was his night and Sparrow’s solid professional tactics were only speedbumps.

On my card, Farmer had a comfortable lead with the knockdown providing an extra point of breathing room. While waiting for the official announcement, there was no question that Farmer would take the decision. However, the official scorecards provided some intrigue and excitement. Judge Adam Friscia had Farmer ahead 97-92. This score breaks down to seven rounds to three in Farmer’s favor, plus the extra point for the knockdown. 97-92 was a very reasonable score and closely matched mine. However, judges Ron McNair and Dewey LaRosa both scored the fight a narrow 95-94 for Farmer.

The 95-94 scores were announced first and added a dash of drama to a fight that was entertaining but not very dramatic. The 95-94 margin means that two of the three judges scored the fight even except for the knockdown. I can see Sparrow being credited with four rounds (two, four nine, and ten), but can’t figure out which of the remaining six could have gone against Farmer.

None the less, the fight was fun to watch and the right boxer won. So, no arguments here. Farmer, 31-5-1, 6 KOs, 1 No Contest, made a successful comeback and set the stage for the next chapter of his career. He certainly has some big (and interesting) potential bouts before him if he remains active and continues to shake off what little rust remains. Sparrow slid to 11-5, 4 KOs, 1 No Contest, losing his second in a row and the fourth time in his last five fights. He is still a viable opponent, but the lightweight division is not the right weight class for him.


In another comeback bout, Philadelphia junior middleweight Elijah Vines returned after nearly six years away with a thrilling second round TKO of Dezmond Lucas in a scheduled six-rounder. After a brief warm-up, Vines landed a few heavy blows to both the head and body of Lucas toward the end of the first. In the second round, Lucas appeared to get on track, landing better than he did in the first. However, this mini surge stopped short when Vines hammered Lucas with a crushing right hand punch that sent the New Yorker crashing to the canvas. To his credit, Lucas struggled his way to his feet. However, as referee Eric Dali gave him the eight count the ringside physician entered the ring from Lucas’ red corner. Dali motioned for her to leave the square, but by this time Dezmond’s seconds were climbing the steps and Pennsylvania Athletic Commission Executive Director was bellowing for the stoppage. While Lucas was rising, his corner had asked for the fight to be stopped – all outside of Dali’s peripheral vision. Dali finally waived the fight over at 2:52 of round two. The TKO was a terrific and resounding return for Vines, now 6-0, with 6 KOs. Lucas fell to 6-2, 3 KOs. This was the first time he was stopped.


In a scheduled six-round featherweight fight, Romuel “Cuco” Cruz remained unbeaten with a fourth-round TKO of Nicaraguan Jenn Gonzalez. Gonzalez came to Philly looking for a fight. He was aggressive and fearless, but Cruz was just too skilled to allow the visitor any opportunity to win. As Gonzalez pressured and swung wildly, Cruz dissected him with neat, sharp punches. In the second round, Gonzalez raised a welt over Cuco’s right eye that eventually sprung a bloody leak, but this fight was all Cruz. In the third, he brutalized Gonzalez in the corner as the round wound down. Cruz ran out of time but jumped right out in the fourth round to resume the beating. Cruz hurt Gonzalez along the ropes and referee Eric Dali stepped right in to halt the contest. The stoppage felt a little quick, but Cruz was landing freely and Gonzalez was not returning his fire. The official time was 22 seconds into round four. Cruz improved to 9-0-1, 4 KOs. Gonzalez, 9-20-1, 5 KOs, was stopped for the ninth time.


Florida-based New Yorker, Efrain Cruz upset Luis Gonzalez Colon in a four-round junior welterweight contest. The action was close and back-and-forth from the opening bell. Colon edged the first round and Cruz evened the score in the second. Cruz out-worked Colon to take the lead after three rounds but this was an tight fight that was tricky to score. It wasn’t far-fetched to imagine that Colon was up on the cards when the fight entered the final round. So, Cruz, who was brought in to lose, took matters into his own fists. Cruz pressured and threw punches like the fight depended on it – which it surely did. He opened a cut over Colon’s left eye and then scored a combination that sent Colon sprawling to the ropes. Colon did not fall to the canvas, but referee Shawn Clark correctly called the incident a knockdown since only the ropes kept him up. The fight continued but the knockdown locked up the win for Cruz. He won the fight by two scores of 39-36 (Adam Friscia and Ron McNair) and 38-37 (Gail Jasper). My score was 39-36 for the gritty and determined Cruz, 5-6-1, 1 KO. Colon, Aibonito, PR, 5-2, 4 KOs, lost for the first time since his pro debut.


Texas bantamweight Trnindad Vargas won his third straight fight with a four-round unanimous decision over gutsy. Late sub Luis Rivera of New York. Vargas won all four rounds and took the official decision by three scores of 40-36. Switch-hitter Vargas, 3-0, 1 KO, looked strong and aggressive. Rivera lost his first fight (0-1) but was tough and willing. Both fighters are crowd-pleasers.

A crowd of about 900 watched the entertaining fight card. Manny Rivera and Hard Hitting Promotions returns at the end of September with a show in Atlantic City that is part of the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame weekend.

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To read more about the Philly fight scene – past and present – please visit

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  • Time for Sparrow to hang them up. Farmer should be top 15 rated and get a title show after this victory.

  • Three and a half year lay off? That’s basically giving away half your career as a fighter in this sport. Great for his body/brain, bad for his pocketbook/success.

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