By Jason Pribila: Boxing returns to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on Saturday Night when Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik defends the middleweight crown against Sergio Martinez. HBO will broadcast the main event live, but their audience’s attention will first focus on a Super-Middleweight bout between Lucian Bute and Edison Miranda in Montreal, Canada.
Fans at Boardwalk Hall will be treated to a full fight card featuring plenty of prospects including Matt Korobov, Jeremy Bryan, and an appearance by Ronald Hearns. The main support is expected to be provided by Secondsout.com’s 2009 “Prospect of the Year”, Mike “MJ” Jones (20-0, 16 KO).
Jones began his 2009 campaign by finally receiving the opportunity to perform on national television, courtesy of Fox Sports Net’s “Top Rank Live”. Jones sold out a room at Bally’s Hotel and Casino on February 27, and after some rough early moments, he boxed his way to a unanimous decision over veteran Henry Bruseles.
While Jones was his toughest critic after that fight, his performance earned him an invite to perform as Saturday’s co-feature. Jones’ bout against Hector Munoz (18-2-1, 11 KO) will not be televised, but he will have the opportunity to impress the HBO suits, as well as a packed house that could approach 10,000 fans.
Jones was also invited to the pre-fight press conference in New York City, where he was introduced by Bob Arum as, “A young man who is making waves in a city that constantly turns out terrific professional boxers.”
Jones added, “My name is Mike Jones. This is my first time on an HBO undercard. I’m going to do my best to excite all the fans out there. I’m from Philly. I’m here. I’ve arrived.”
The opportunity to fight on HBO is a benchmark for boxers around the world. Jones’ performance on Saturday could pay immediate dividends, as there are discussions about matching him up against Antwone Smith on June 5. Jones-Smith would open the HBO telecast from Yankee Stadium featuring the Yuri Foreman – Miguel Cotto title fight.
Jones’ Hall of Fame Promoter, Russell Peltz has set him up with an opportunity to shine on Saturday. Munoz is a tough, straight ahead fighter that should be much easier to find than Bruseles was in February. Such fighters have previously brought out the best in Jones.
“He comes straight forward and likes to bully you,” Jones said of his opponent on TopRank.com. “I don’t see any problems with this fight. I think I will look great. Expect to see a lot of fireworks.”
Munoz will be fighting for the first time since he was stopped by Canadian contender, Antonin Decarie, in December 2008. Stepping up against a fresh Mike Jones is not going to be an easy assignment for the Mexican.
Jones described himself as a boxer/puncher who likes to counter-punch and use his speed. On Saturday he may feel added pressure to show off his power, especially since he may be fighting in front of the man that he is most often compared.
“People say I’m the next Tommy Hearns because I got knockout power, and I’m tall (5’11”) and lanky like him,” Jones humbly continued. “I can’t fill his shoes. He’s an all-time great, a Hall of Famer. Only person I could be is the first Mike Jones.”
Saturday night will be the next step in determining how far the “first” Mike Jones will go. So far he has had to settle for being Philly’s best kept secret, but he is hoping that 2009 will the year that will change.
“I would like to fight Andre Berto around the end of the year for a title shot. I’ll be ready by the end of the year. I’m in the gym. This (boxing) is what I do, so I’m doing it every day – 24 hours a day.”
April 16, 2010