By Jimmy Burchfield Snr: Twenty-five years in professional boxing is no small feat. At times, it’s felt like an entire century, but we wouldn’t trade this lifestyle, or these incredible experiences, for anything.
I’ve always felt boxing, whether you’re a professional aiming for championship glory or a novice looking to vent frustrations on the heavy bag, demands respect, teaches accountability and breeds camaraderie among those who’ve stepped through the ropes.
To have done this as long as we have at Classic Entertainment & Sports is a testament to our longevity and will to compete. Much like those fighters who answer the bell, our job is to handle what life throws at us and continue punching, even when the sports hit back harder than expected.
Boxing can be a cruel, fickle game. Over the years, new promoters have burst onto the scene, only to fade away without ever leaving their mark, unaware of the relentless drama and deceit that often plagues the Sweet Science. Many great men and women have ventured into the deep end just to get their foot in the door or build a foundation.
We’ve never left.
Twenty-five years ago, we promoted our first event at the Rocky Point Palladium, a now-defunct landmark at the historic Rocky Point Park in Rhode Island, headlined by New Bedford, Mass., legend "Sucra" Ray Oliveira.
In 48 hours, we promote our first event of 2017 to kick off our year-long 25
th anniversary celebration and, in a small twist of irony, one of our featured bouts includes "Sucra" Ray’s son, Ray Oliveira Jr., in his toughest test to date against undefeated Connecticut prospect Jose Rivera.
At CES, we pride ourselves on promoting a family-friendly environment for fighters past and present. Our entire staff, myself included, treats our fighters and their families with the respect they deserve. Once you join Team CES, you’re part of our team for life.
Our reputation speaks for itself. We’ve developed and built champions from all over the world. We’ve brought fighters to the brink of stardom and beyond, including five-time world champion Vinny Paz and fellow Rhode Island icon Peter Manfredo Jr.
On Saturday night, we celebrate our past while looking toward our bright future; we’re excited to present the next generation of championship talent, starting with our reigning UBF International and Northeast Junior Middleweight Champion Khiary Gray of Worcester, Mass., and stablemate Jamaine Ortiz, also of Worcester, an amateur star who competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials.
What has set us apart from others through the years is our commitment to not only building fighters from contenders into world champions, but challenging them to be at their best and to push themselves harder than any trainer or coach can push them. Our fighters fight
real fights. We’ve survived and thrived for a quarter of a century because we’ve perfected the delicate balance between developing our fighters the right way and providing our fans with a quality product that will keep them coming back for more.
We’re not just interested in fleeting success. We want to build lifelong relationships with our fighters and fans, all of whom we consider family. Saturday night will be a celebration of our rich history with an eye on our remarkable present and even brighter future.
Promoters come and go, but those truly dedicated to making this sport great and keeping it alive and well in this current climate are the ones who will leave a lasting impression years, decades and even centuries from now.
We are honored to have served you, our loyal fans, for 25 years, and we genuinely could not have done this without you.
Here’s to 25 more!
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February 2, 2017