Portland fights hinge on turnout, promoter says

The third of three Fight Night at the Rose Garden events Jan. 30 probably will determine whether arena boxing fades or flourishes in Portland.

'It's up to Portland,' says Roy Englebrecht, chief operating offer for Golden Boy Promotions. 'I want to come back. The decider will be how the Rose Quarter views their fight night series.'

About 4,000 fans attended the first card in July, but only about 2,500 went to the second show in November, even with Oscar De La Hoya sitting at ringside. Many fans seemed more interested in getting his autograph than watching the bouts.

'That's thin,' Golden Boy publicist Ed Steinfeld says.

Are the Rose Quarter and Spirit Mountain Casino taking a bath with their boxing experiment?

Stan Sittser, Rose Quarter marketing manager, won't say: 'I'll talk about that on Jan. 31. We're just glad we can put it on. We're excited about how it's going. The crowds haven't been gigantic, but they've been passionate.'

Sittser says that while the November crowd was small, most of the fans bought $75 floor-level spots rather than $15 tickets. He says few complimentary tickets have been given out.

'We haven't made a whole lot of money,' Englebrecht says. 'We've invested because we want it to continue. Boxing is a business. We'd love to do another series, but we lost some momentum with the November show.'

The second fight night was postponed from September because a Roy Jones Jr. fight stole the boxing community's attention. The night's best fight was Para Draine's upset decision over Bridgett 'Baby Doll' Riley.

The first bout ended after a couple of punches as Mike Sams knocked out an overmatched and unprepared opponent. It was embarrassing. Portland heavyweight Joe Gusman tap-danced and rabbit-punched his opponent, improving to 4-0. And then the main event between Marcos Licona and Ricardo Medina went the distance, with Licona getting the decision. It lacked excitement and fury, however.

'Yes, by Round 7 and 8, I was yawning a little bit, too, but Medina wasn't going to be stopped,' Sittser says. 'You've got to salute his courage.'

The main event Jan. 30 will feature contending heavyweight Jeremy Williams (35-4 with 32 knockouts) against an as-yet unnamed opponent for 10 rounds. Draine, of Spokane, who went on to win the IFBA World Junior Bantamweight title, takes on Anastasia Toktaulova for six rounds. Gusman looks to go 5-0 against Troy Beets of Biloxi, Miss., in one of four expected undercard bouts.

Sittser was asked about Tonya Harding and whether he would include her in an event now that Harding wants to be a pro boxer.

'We're trying to establish this as a legitimate event and not a spectacle. It's no joke,' he says. 'It's easy to have the pink elephant boxing the clown from the rodeo. É

'If she can beat Para Draine, we'll talk.'

Contact Jason Vondersmith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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