Avery Sparrow is one of the fastest-rising stars in boxing. After only 11 pro fights, he is ranked No. 13 in the world among junior lightweights (130 pounds) by the World Boxing Organization (WBO).
The 24-year-old Philadelphia scored his biggest win Nov. 30, 2017, when he upset Jose “Wonder Boy” Lopez, of Puerto Rico, at a time when Lopez was ranked No. 5 in the world by the WBO. To add to this success, Sparrow accepted the fight on 11 days’ notice and did it on the road in Oxon Hill, MD, in a fight televised by ESPN.
The win over Lopez capped a brilliant 2017 for Sparrow, who also defeated crosstown rival Anthony Burgin and two undefeated opponents, Isaelin Floridan, of the Dominican Republic, and Joey LaViolette, of Canada.
Fred Jenkins Jr.
The Facts...Jenkins, a junior middleweight, goes against crosstown rival Isaiah Wise in a six-round contest on Sept. 8 at the 2300 Arena. In his last fight March 10 at the 2300 Arena, Jenkins lost a six-round decision to Roque Zapata, of Culpeper, VA, dropping his record to 10-4, 3 K0s. It was Jenkins' third loss in his last four fights, all coming against solid opposition, including Ismael Garcia and Jeff Lentz. He had taken the Garcia fight on 72 hours' notice. Jenkins did score a four-round decision over lefty Ibrihim Shabazz, of Newark, NJ, in between the losses to Garcia and Zapata. Jenkins' best win in 2014 when he knocked out Jeremy Trussel, of Baltimore, MD, in two rounds at the 2300 Arena. A pro since 2011, the 30-year-old Jenkins shed more than 80 pounds in the last five years. He is managed and trained by his dad, Fred Jenkins, Sr, a member of the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame.
Atlantic City, NJ
This 34-year-old Haitian junior welterweight is one of boxing’s most colorful figures. A pro since 2009, Charles always can be counted on for entertainment despite his deceiving 12-19-1 record. In his last fight Feb. 8 at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia, he lost a four-round majority decision to Gerardo Martinez, of Coatesville, PA. Prior to that, Charles boxed Feb. 24, 2018, at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City where he exchanged knockdowns with Laquan Lewis, of New York, in the second round before eventually winning by knockout in the fourth round.
Charles’ four-fight series with Philadelphia’s Victor Vasquez stands at 2-2 and Charles would love to have a fifth and deciding contest.
When he is not training or fighting, Charles works at the Cedar Food Market in his Atlantic City, NJ, hometown. He makes the best subs in town, according to his favorite promoter, J Russell Peltz.
Charles is managed by Arnold Robbins and trained by Bill Johnson Those two, plus assistant Donnell Parker, have been together since Charles was an amateur.
This 31-year-old welterweight from North Philadelphia works as a foreman for Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) in between his training and his fights. He turned pro late in 2016 in order to provide a better future for his young son. Rivers is 7-0, 4 K0s, and he is managed and trained by Fred Jenkins, Sr., and Julius Goldsmith. In his last fight Feb. 8 at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia, he scored his best win, a six-round decision over previously unbeaten lefty Derrick Whitley, Jr., of Springfield, MA. Rivers also has defeated Jamal Gregory, of Durham, NC, and Osnel Charles, of Atlantic City, NJ.
The Facts...Junior lightweight contender Jason Sosa jumped back into the world title picture with a one-sided eight-round decision over Reynaldo Blanco, of the Dominican Republic, on Aug. 18 at the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. Sosa, 30, scored two knockdowns in the last round to cement his 21st victory against three losses, four draws. Nine months earlier, Sosa dropped a disputed 10-round majority decision to Yuriorkis Gamboa, of Cuba, on Nov. 25, 2017, in Madison Square Garden. Earlier in 2017, Sosa was stopped in nine rounds by Vasyl Lomachenko, of the Ukraine, for the latter's WBO world title. Sosa won rounds one and three, but could not contain Lomachenko, considered boxing's best. Sosa won the WBA title in 2016 when he knocked out defending champ Javier Fortuna, of the Dominican Republic, in the 11th round in Beijing, China. He defended the title later in 2016 in Monte Carlo with a unanimous 12-round decision over Stephen Smith, of England.
Gerardo Martinez, a 23-year-old lightweight, migrated from Mexico City to Philadelphia when he was 3 and has been here since and has obtained his legal residency. He currently resides in Coatesville, PA.
Martinez graduated from Delaware County Community College with an Associates Degree in Business Administration and he owns a small landscaping business. He also works as a trainer at the Title Boxing Club in Malvern, PA. He turned to boxing when he was 19 after an accident on the field ended his promising soccer career. He was a D1 soccer player.
Martinez is 4-1 as a pro, having scored a four-round decision over Nyrome Lynch, of North Philadelphia, last June 29 at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA, and a four-round decision over Osnel Charles, of Atlantic City, on Feb. 8 at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia.