Don King excited to put on championship night of boxing in native northeast Ohio

WARREN, Ohio — Legendary boxing promoter and Cleveland native Don King may be 90 years old, but he’s as boisterous as ever when it comes to his work.

King is returning to his northeast Ohio roots on Saturday night, hosting a championship night of boxing at the WD Packard Music Hall in Warren. He is excited to be putting on this card locally, he told cleveland.com.

“Ohio is my home,” King said. “It means a lot to me, I’m going to tell you it means everything. … what we’re doing is for the people, it’s not about money. Las Vegas offered me $3 million upfront and I wouldn’t take it. I kept the show together right here in Warren.”

Throughout his career, King has promoted fights headlined by some of the most prominent names in boxing. In 1972 King started his career in Cleveland, convincing Muhammad Ali to fight in a charity exhibition at Cleveland for Forest City Hospital.

Two years later, King promoted “The Rumble in the Jungle” between Ali and George Foreman in Zaire. In 1975, he also promoted the “Thrilla in Manila,” the third and final fight between Ali and Joe Frazier.

While those may be two of the most well-known fights in the sport’s history, King recalled the Cleveland charity exhibition fondly this week.

“I called on my friend, Muhammad Ali … I invited him down, he came down and he boxed five or six guys and he demonstrated to the world that we were raising money,” King said. “Goodyear and Goodrich, the two tire companies, they jumped in and became our sponsors and so we had a fundraiser that was second to none.”

Saturday night’s event features a six championship fight card. Doors open at 6 pm with the first fight slated for 7 pm

The co-main events will feature two world championships. Ilunga Makabu (28-2 with 25 knockouts) of South Africa will defend his WBC cruiserweight title against Thabiso Mchunu (23-5, 13 KOs) of South Africa. The other co-main event will pit WBA heavyweight champion Trevor Bryan (21-0, 15 KOs) of Ft. Lauderdale against Jonathan Guidry (17-0-2, 10 KOs) of Dulca, La.

“I’m very thankful to Don King Productions for making this event happen because plenty of events have been disturbed by COVID,” Makabu said this week. “I’m very happy to be here and to have the opportunity to defend our title on January 29.”

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster or via WD Packard Music Hall at 330-841-2619. The tickets will be priced at $550, $350, $250, $175 and $80. The fights will be available on Donking.com, DKPBoxing.com or itube247.com. Retail price is $49.99.

Using his strengths as a promoter, King promised that it will be an evening of fun whether the card is attended in person or streamed live.

“A spectacular evening of boxing,” he said. “Those who are at home, they’ll be able to see it on pay-per-view on the screen and it’s at DonKing.com. They can purchase it to stream where they can have their family and their friends at home and take a moment of respite from this pandemic.

“I want to make certain that everybody has some fun. This is going to be an evening of fun.”

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