Puerto Rican Fight Festival at Madison Square Garden

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Puerto Rican Week Fight Festival at Madison Square Garden

BoxingGlove Notes

Distinio Lois, Jr.

Just like life imitating art, Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions will once more celebrate Puerto Rican Day Parade festivities with an international boxing fight card worthy of the Cannes International Film Festival which is held in Cannes, France, every year in the 11th day of the month of May.

Arum’s Top Rank fight card coincidentally will be held on Saturday, June 11th 2016 at the mecca of boxing Madison Square Garden’s Theatre, Manhattan, New York.

This fight program is a long standing event promoted by Top Rank commemorating the Puerto Rican Day Parade festivities that years ago featured former 5 time world champ Miguel Cotto in 6 championship main events.

The international flavor of this great fight card will be on display when the fight fans will see fighters from not only Puerto Rico, but also Mexico, China, Nicaragua, Spain, Hungary, the Ukraine, in addition to local up and coming talented prospects from New Jersey, Maryland, and Florida.

Adding to the “Latino” flavor of this fight card we will see 4 fighters from Puerto Rico and 4 fighters from Mexico in this 8 bout fight card.

Just as the actors in the Cannes Festival will present their best performances on film, the Top Rank boxers will display their best future championship boxing talents in person and in the ring in a variety of weight levels.

To the delight of the fight fan there are 3 world championship title fights that will feature 3 top ranking world champs challenged by 3 of the world’s top contenders, with one, Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, already the W.B.O. Featherweight Champ.

Lomachenko, 5-1, 3 knockouts and a 2 time Olympic Gold medalist boasting of 397 international amateur fights will fight Roman “Rocky” Martinez, 29-2-3, 17 k.o.’s, the current W.B.O. Super Featherweight-130 pound- champ, in the main event.

In the semi-final Felix “El Diamante”-The Diamond-Verdejo, 21-0, 14 knockouts will defend his 135 pound W.B.O. Latino Crown against Juan Jose “Piquet” Martinez, Mexico City, Mexico, 25-2, 17 k.o.’s, highlighting the Mexican vs. Puerto Rican decades-long boxing rivalry.

The third championship fight will feature Zou Shiming, 7-1, 2 k.o.’s China’s most decorated amateur fighter who is also an Olympic Gold Medalist challenging Josef Ajtai, 15-2, 10 knockouts from Hungary, for the Vacant W.B.O. International Flyweight Title.

At the open to the public and Media workout at the Mendez Gym in lower Manhattan, N.Y., every fighter present demonstrated their talents and readiness which will be on display , Saturday night to the boxing fans satisfaction.

A standout-my observation-was Zou Shiming 2 time Olympic gold medalist who moves with a lot of speed but throws punches almost like a Martial Artist as he boxed with his Hall of Fame trainer Freddy Roach.

The fists were flying, the bags were pounded and punished as these elite fighters present, Felix “Diamante”-Diamond- Verdejo, Vasly Lomachenko, Roman “Rocky” Martinez, Julian “Hammer Time” Rodriguez, Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz, Juan Jose“Piquet” Martinez, Zou Shiming, sharpened their skills in their final preparation which also includes their ring battle plans to help defeat their opponents.

During the interviews the champs as well as the challengers predicted that they would be victorious. "There is no way that I will lose", Verdejo stated confidently.

The atmosphere at the Mendez gym was electric with the excitement created by these talented fighters some of whom were visiting New York for the first time and happy that they are finally fighting in the mecca of boxing Madison Square Garden.

They are all well aware that boxing history was made in the Garden by Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Roberto Duran, Jake La Motta, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Frazier, Emile Griffith, Geraldo “Kid Gavilan” Gonzalez, Carmen Basilio, Willie Pep, Mike Tyson, just to list a few.

Added to this international fight card is the excitement of the Puerto Rican Day Parade festivities, this joint-M.S.G.-will be rocking and led by the pride of Puerto Rico, Felix Verdejo who knows that he symbolically replaces his Puerto Rican countryman Miguel Cotto as the house fighter on the eve of the Parade.

It is anticipated that if Verdejo is victorious he will be in line for a world title fight either at the end of this year 2016 or definitely in the year 2017.

It seems that the fight fans are getting ready for a 4th of July of fisticuffs right in the middle of June and they certainly will not be disappointed from what I observed at the Mendez gym.

Would these fights at Madison Square Garden be as festive and exciting as the Cannes Film Festival display of acting talents? No one knows but rest assured, actors are acting, but, boxers are not actors they are the real deal.

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