Action at Terminal 5 last Friday. AUBURN PHOTOGRAPHY

BOXING: Finest beat Bravest 7-3 in NYC

At a sold-out 3,000-capacity Terminal 5 in Manhattan, FDNY’s bravest fought like furies on a 10-bout card last Friday.  FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, her NYPD counterpart Keechant Sewell, and New York Mayor Eric Adams attended the first FDNY-NYPD scrap in eight years, won 7-3 by the cops. 

FDNY’s Julian Gonzalez [Station 17] lost a decision to the NYPD’s Anthony Santos [40th Pct.] in the opening bout.

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Then Matt Blewitt of Engine Co. 48 tried, at 5-foot-4, his best to nullify Andrew Serrano’s six-inch advantage with aggression and head movement. But Serrano [69th Pct.] boxed deftly with straight punches and movement to eke it out in a keen contest.

 Hard punching Danny Quinn [Ladder 9]  gave FDNY its first win in a light heavyweight scrap with Jesse Peterford [61st Pct.]. He landed some big punches early but the granite-chinned Peterford made a fight of it. He continued to move forward and throw punches, only to receive a standing eight in the first and third rounds. That would be enough to earn Quinn the decision.

Evan Bakal [Ladder 38] won a three-round fire fight against veteran boxer Rob Cruz of the NYPD’s ESU. “With no holding, the two pugilists boxed in a proverbial  phone booth,” said FDNY’s Michael Reno.  

When the dust had settled, Bakal was declared the winner.

In the only women’s fight on the card, Nicole Malpeso [Engine 76] battled Nisa Rodriguez [1st Pct.], an eight-time Golden Gloves champion.  “There was a lot of talk and hype behind this fight and the women did not disappoint. The firefighter’s relentless pressure gave the Police Officer a tough battle,” noted Reno. 

But it was Rodriguez who got the nod after three rounds. 

Next, FDNY’s very game Fabien Zavala from Ladder Company 6 was stopped in two stanzas by Kevin Young of the 120th Precinct. Young came out charging at the first bell. He scored two knockdowns before the referee halted the contest.

Brooklyn Firefighter Andrew Tanzi [Ladder 174] came up short against Abe Ahmed of the NYPD’s communications division despite unleashing some crisp combinations early. Ahmed stayed in the fight in the second, setting the stage for a back and forth third stanza marked by a furious exchange before the final bell. Ahmed got the nod. 

In the open class category, FDNY veteran Jeffrey Barreau squared off with Frank Russo, son of Pat Russo, the head of NYPD Boxing and the Cops and Kids Program.

“The two experienced pugilists measured their blows and made sure to not to make any mistakes,” said Reno. “Barreau caught Russo in the first round with some clean punches. In rounds two and three, [Russo] seemed to be unable to find his range and never really had a chance to engage, but according to the judges did enough to earn himself the victory.”

Sean Dillon [Engine 283] ended FDNY’s losing streak in the penultimate bout. Using great footwork, head movement, and counter punching, he bested the MTA PD’s Michael Damiani. “The game Damiani gave Dillon a tough bout, but the firefighter was able to meet and overcome the challenge and give the FDNY a much needed win,” said Reno.

“For the last bout of the night, the fans would be would be treated to an unbelievable boxing match,” said Reno. “James Gennari [Ladder 24] met up with Jovanny Concepcion [14th Pct. Midtown South]. James worked the first round with great movement and constant punches being thrown. Not to be out done Jovanny moved forward trying to keep up with Gennari’s work rate.

“Rounds two and three continued to see tremendous amounts of punches being thrown. Gennari seemed comfortable boxing both on the move and when inside. However, at the end of this slugfest, which easily won fight of the night, the firefighter did not get a decision from the judges and lost.”

All fights were well matched and extremely close, said Reno. The NYPD’s  fighting finest won even matches to the FDNY’s three wins, giving the police bragging rights until next year.

For the FDNY fighters, the contest was not just the resumption of an old rivalry, but also a tune-up ahead of their annual fisticuffs with Ireland’s Garda side this summer.

“We have the Garda coming here for our annual "Thrilla in Camilla" charity boxing event on Friday, June 30th. It's held outdoors and under the stars at St. Camillus in beautiful Rockaway Beach,” said McGuire, the FDNY team manager. “Proceeds go to The Tunnel to Towers Foundation.”  

McGuire will then lead the FDNY side to Dublin in August on a reciprocal tour. They’ll tackle the Garda fighters at the National Stadium on Aug. 25. The show will be on the eve of the University of Notre Dame vs. Naval Academy college gridiron game at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Aug. 26. The  match will be broadcast States-side on NBC and simul-streamed on Peacock.

“The FDNY Emerald Society has close to 200 people already committed to making the trip and going to both the fights and the football game,” said McGuire.

The Notre Dame-Navy package, featuring five nights of luxury accommodation in Dublin [Aug. 24-29] is available for 1,260 Euros. For details, email: Tickets to the FDNY-Garda boxing at the National Stadium will be available for 23 Euros.