On October 30 there was a Press Conference in Philadelphia to announce that Roy Jones Jr. would be fighting Bobby Gunn in a cruiserweight fight on December 4. I, like most people, shook my head with the thought, “This ain’t gonna end well.”
A few days later I saw a headline that the fight was moving to my hometown of Bethlehem.
I went on the Sands website for confirmation and soon found that there would be a pro boxing match with ringside seats going for $450.00. This is the same venue that I sat in a year ago when Tomas Adamek and Steve Cunningham fought their highly anticipated rematch in front of a sold out audience. Tickets for that NBC televised event were sold for $50 and $75.
As the weeks passed there was little discussed or written about Roy Jones Jr. coming to town. I was pretty sure that the plug would eventually get pulled on this card.
A few days later I saw boxing manager Marc Cipparone had posted on Facebook that his fighter Miguel Cartagena would be fighting in Bethlehem on December 18.
There were soon whispers of some other local fighters making up the undercard. I figured that even if the main event fell through, there seems to be a solid enough card to survive on its own.
Days later it was reported that Roy Jones would instead take a fight in Moscow, and that his spot against Gunn would be taken by Glen Johnson. Gunn went from fighting a legend to fighting a man that brutally knocked that legend out cold in 2004.
Johnson had also recently retired from the ring. His earned the nickname “Road Warrior” by fighting just about everyone in the super middleweight division; oftentimes in his opponent’s back yard and/or on short notice. His hard work paid off in 2004 when he knocked out Jones and then defeated Antonio Tarver en route to winning Fighter of the Year.
He remained relevant winning some and losing some, but almost always making tough competitive fights. He was a replacement in the Super Six tournament, but he came up short against Carl Froch. He soon found himself playing the role of gate keeper, so he decided it was time to retire.
A little time away from the ring energized him enough to take the challenge of fighting on the road in a different weight class.
Gunn claims that he completed the best camp of his career preparing for Jones. He may need to be at his best in what could wind up being an even tougher fight than what he originally signed up for against Jones.
The Sands has hosted several fight cards over the past two years. Hall of Fame promoter Russell Peltz has worked with Main Events and BAM Boxing to build a certain brand in the Events Center.
XFE Promotions has their work cut out for them to keep the momentum moving forward in 2014 as “The Christmas City” becomes more and more of a boxing town.
I have described the Sands Events Center as the “House that Ronald Built”. That was due to almost of all of the fight cards featuring the Bethlehem welterweight. On Wednesday night the local draw will be Alec Morales Jr., an 11 year-old Golden Gloves champion. The man in his corner will be his father Alec Morales Sr., the former trainer of Ronald Cruz.