Legendary boxing promoter Don King said it best on Wednesday as he took the stage at The Grand Resort.
Saturday’s boxing feature at the WD Packard Music Hall in downtown Warren is a “Return to greatness” for boxing in the area.
For the first time in a long time, the town of Warren will be the center of the boxing world.
As it should be.
Seeing as I grew up in Western New York and not just new to the area, I never got to experience the great events that were held at the Struthers Fieldhouse or the previous demonstrations that were held in Packard. But since moving here, I’ve heard multiple stories of what the sport used to be like in the Mahoning Valley.
I was told by Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, who will be an analyst and color commentator for the event on Saturday, will be lighting up Mollenkopf Stadium along with several other venues in the area, including Packard Hall. I was told about the legendary Golden Gloves fights in the area and that if you wanted to succeed in the tournament you had to go through the boxers in this area.
The stories I’ve heard are endless because the boxers who came here gave younger boxers from this area something to look up to and achieve.
During a phone call with Mancini on Thursday, the former world champion described boxers as fighters who would give you a headache if you were up against them. So it was, and rightly so. The worker attitude was transferred from the staff to the boxing ring.
The Valley spawned several talented boxers, but since then some of those names have made their way into the history of the sport and the stories told are less and less recent.
But King’s event on Saturday should mark the start of something new for the sport in the area, as King has brought some big names to Warren.
WBC World Cruiserweight Champion Ilunga Makabu (28-2, 25 KOs) will defend his title against WBC Silver Champion Thabiso Mchunu (23-5, 13 KOs) with the winner set to face World Champion Canelo Alvarez later this year.
A chance to see a boxer who could fight on the biggest boxing podium is one way to try and bring the sport back to Warren.
Not only that, but WBA World Heavyweight Champion Trevor Bryan, who is undefeated with a record 21-0 and 15 KOs, will also be putting his title on the line against Jonathan Guidry (17-0-2, 10 KOs).
In recent years, the sport has been kept alive by area gyms that have boxers who want to keep the rich tradition going, and we’ve seen some of them have success at the amateur level this year. But an event like Saturday’s is something that could help bring boxing back to the area on a large scale and Mancini hopes so too.
The legendary boxer wants to see events like this happen regularly. So this could be just the beginning, and it should be.
Doors open 6pm Saturday with first fight scheduled for 7pm
Tickets are available from Ticketmaster or through WD Packard Music Hall at 330-841-2619. The tickets cost $550, $350, $250, $175 and $80. The fights will be available for pay-per-view on Donking.com, DKPBoxing.com or itube247.com for $49.99.