By Barry Sankey, firstname.lastname@example.org
KING OF PRUSSIA >> Opening-night jitters were definitely apparent for Collegeville boxer Sammy Berman Saturday night at the Valley Forge Casino Resort.
Berman, the 18-year-old Methacton High School senior, made his professional boxing debut in the welterweight division against Jamikey Woods of Statesville, N.C.
Berman even found himself on the canvas for a few seconds in the first round of the scheduled four-round bout. But Berman shrugged it off, kept his composure, got right back up and proceeded to score a first-round knockout over Woods at the 2:34 mark of the opening round. The fights were staged at the Waterford Ballroom.
Berman won the co-main event of the seven-bout card arranged by Marshall Kauffman of King’s Promotions for the War at the Forge. Berman spent the previous five years as an amateur with the Phoenixville Area Police Athletic League (PAL) program, directed by former pro boxer Jimmy Deoria, who is now a veteran Schuylkill Township police officer.
“Once I got knocked down, I thought I can’t pity, pity this thing,” said Berman. “I knew I had to knock him out or win all four rounds. I had to keep my hands up and get off the canvas.”
He did just that and finished off Woods (0-2) quickly by mainly using an array of combination punches to the body.
“We saw on line from him sparring that he does not throw any jabs,” said Berman. “I knew I had my jab. My range was a lot farther than his because he is small. I stood back up. I had to knock him down. I thought he would get back up, but he didn’t. He didn’t want to be in there so I had to take him out.”
The crowd was filled with a throng of Berman’s family and friends since he was boxing in his backyard. The fans were vocal, too, chanting his name, “Sammy B! Sammy B!”
“I had a lot of support and that really helped me out,” said Berman. “Without them being there, I couldn’t have done it. That’s why won it, for them. Now it is back to work.”
That means more hard training at the Phoenixville Civic Center and with sparring partners that Deoria arranges from outside places like Philadelphia and Reading. Berman also works out under the direction of Joe Rowan and Willis “Skeebie” Foreman at the Civic Center.
“The jitters showed at the beginning,” said Berman. “I was hopping around. But once I settled down, I knew what I had to do. Tonight was perfect because of the adrenaline.”
Deoria was proud of his young pupil.
“He just had to settle into the fight a little bit,” said Deoria. “He has to get more experience. It’s a learning curve. The advantage is that he is only 18 years old, and he didn’t have much amateur experience. Today was a good start. We have to get him exposure to different styles to get him confidence. This was a nice win for his confidence. He got hit on the chin a little bit, but he got right up and focused. Once he focused, he worked well.”
Deoria instructed Berman to not go for head punches because of Woods’ style. Instead, he wanted Berman to work the body with constant pounding.
“We felt confident he could hurt the kid,” said Deoria.
Deoria was glad to see the large gathering who came out to watch Berman fight.
“We got calls for tickets all week,” said Deoria. “He is real popular with his friends and family who came out to support him. The crowd erupted when they called his name. He has a real bright future. The positive thing is that he got knocked down, but he got back up. He showed tonight that he has a lot of determination to go to the top.”