Lee Groves

10: Notable Philadelphia title fights

5. November 30, 1976, Spectrum — Alfredo Escalera W 15 Tyrone Everett, WBC super featherweight title


Setting the Stage: “The Snake Man” was making the seventh defense of the belt he spectacularly won from Kuniaki Shibata 16 months earlier while the sensational southpaw Everett entered the ring with an impressive 34-0 (18 KOs) mark. The hostile environment didn’t bother Escalera, for he captured the belt in Japan and four of his six defenses had been away from home. Meanwhile, the surging Everett was an extremely popular attraction despite his relative lack of pop and appeared poised for a big night. Adding to the feeling was that Everett weighed a ready 128 ½ pounds while Escalera had to sweat off a pound to make the 130-pound junior lightweight limit.

What Happened: Everett’s polished ring craft, stinging counters and elusiveness tied Escalera in knots and opened a cut over the champ’s right eye early in the third. Escalera managed to slice Everett’s right eye later in the session but his moments of success were few and far between. Escalera’s attempts to intimidate were ineffective as Everett remained composed and businesslike, staggering Escalera with a sharp left in the fourth and opening a second cut under the left eye. In the fifth the pair punctuated head-snapping punches with bursts of trash talk and there would be much more non-verbal warfare the rest of the way.

Most observers believed Everett won at least 10 rounds but the judges had a far different view. Referee Ray Solis saw it 148-146 for Everett (scoring nine rounds even) while Ismael Fernandez (146-143) and Philadelphia’s own Lou Tress (145-143) had Escalera retaining the belt. The outrage sparked by this verdict has resonated for more than 35 years.

“It was like he got raped in front of 16,000 people,” Hall of Fame promoter J. Russell Peltz said in a 2007 MaxBoxing interview. “Everett came into my office a couple of days after the fight and he told me ‘I made Escalera s__k my d__k.’ And he did. It was terrible. It took Philly boxing a long time to recover and get over the stink of that fight.”

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