Ready to rumble

Philly native Avery Sparrow will take on Jesus Serrano in first-ever Xcite Fight Night on March 9 at Parx Casino

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Packing a punch: Avery Sparrow, a 5-foot-7 super featherweight, has a record of 9–1, three knockouts and is unbeaten in his last five fights. SAMANTHA BAMBINO / TIMES PHOTO

Avery Sparrow was all smiles as he strolled into Northern Liberties’ Fight Firm Boxing Gym, massive duffle bag slung over his shoulder. To the average passerby, Sparrow looked like your normal 24-year-old joining his buddies for a workout. But those inside the gym knew better.

To them, he’s “A Plus,” one of the fastest-rising boxing prospects in the Philadelphia area. On March 9, Sparrow will take on Jesus Serrano of Nogales, Mexico, in the main event of Xcite Fight Night, the first collaboration of its kind between Parx Casino and Feasterville’s Joe Hand Promotions.

Seasoned veteran Serrano may be a pressure fighter with a 17–5–2 record and 12 KOs, but Sparrow plans to give him a run for his money. Hailing from the northeast section of Philadelphia, the 5-foot-7 super featherweight has a record of 9–1 and three KOs. He’s also unbeaten in his last five fights, including four wins last year that earned him a top-15 ranking as a junior lightweight with the World Boxing Organization.

According to Sparrow, 2017 was the year that truly catapulted his boxing career. Things began with the defeat of fellow Philadelphian Anthony Burgin, followed by another massive victory over the then-undefeated Isaelin Florian of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

In September, Sparrow came out victorious against Canadian standout Joey Laviolette, a fight that really put him on the map.

“People saw I had the potential to be someone,” Sparrow said.

His whirlwind year ended with a major upset win over WBO world-ranked Jose Lopez of Carolina, Puerto Rico, a fight Sparrow had only 11-days notice of. By that point, Sparrow had officially made a name for himself in the world of boxing. He was no longer the underdog and closer than ever to achieving his childhood dream.

Growing up, Sparrow was surrounded by boxing as he watched both his father and grandfather, who fought at the professional and amateur levels, respectively, in the ring. By the age of 5, the gym was already his second home. Though he briefly considered attending law school, Sparrow couldn’t deny his passion and talent for the sport and has worked diligently to uphold the family tradition.

“I’m hopeful to be the next boxing superstar coming out of Philly,” he said.

After the most successful year of his career, Sparrow knows he has a lot to live up to in 2018. He’s not only ready to meet these expectations, but surpass them. A top-15 ranking was all well and good, but to Sparrow, top-3 sounds even better. If he’s able to keep up last year’s momentum, this coveted title is a definite possibility.

“I’m taking it as it comes,” he said. “I’m trying to stay humble and well-rounded.”

Until then, Sparrow is putting his all into preparing for the upcoming fight against Serrano. Though he explained boxing is a year-round sport, he typically puts in six-to-eight weeks of serious training before a major event. His regime involves cutting weight and daily practice, both of which can be draining. But at the end of the day, it’s all worth it for his hometown fans.

“I’m happy to be back in the ring,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be the first fighter to bring world-class boxing to Parx Casino and to give the fans what they came out to see — a knockout.”

Keep up with Sparrow on Instagram at @aplus_ave.

Xcite Fight Night will be a seven-fight card packed with local talent including lightweight Jerome Conquest, junior middleweight Isaiah Wise, welterweight Marcel Rivers, junior welterweight Nahir Albright and lightweight Gerardo Martinez.

Also slated to fight is John Joe Nevin, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist from Mullingar, Ireland, who will take on four-time Canadian national amateur champion Alex Torres Rynn. ••

If you go…

Xcite Fight Night will take place March 9, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. This event is for adults 21 and older. Tickets priced at $50, $75 and $100 are on sale at joehandpromotions.com or by calling 215–364–9000. Tickets can also be purchased from the Hold My Ticket Call Center at 1–877–466–3404 or parxcasino.com. Parx Casino and its Xcite Center are located at 2999 Street Road in Bensalem.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com