By: William Holmes
So much has been made of the “Cold War” that boxing fans forget that other promotions exist and some of the sports’ top prospects fight for someone other than Bob Arum or Richard Schaefer.
Main Events, Gary Shaw, Lou DiBella, 50 Cent, Goosen Tutor, Jimmy Birchfield, and Russell Peltz all have talented fighters on their rosters that too many fans overlook,
A promoter’s job is to get their fighters as much exposure as possible and give them an opportunity to fight for a title. Main Events deal with NBC Sports and their willingness to work with other promoters has only led to more opportunities for fighters. Light Heavyweight Sergei Kovalev is a budding star and is quickly becoming a fan favorite, but he got his start on NBC Sports. Curtis Stevens and Gabriel Rosado got to compete for a title in 2013 mainly because of their impressive showings on NBC Sports. Even Bryant Jennings, who is now being promoted by Gary Shaw, owes his name recognition to the collaboration between NBC Sports and Main Events
On Saturday night, Resorts Casino in Atlantic City will be the host site for another group of talented but often overlooked boxers that are looking to make a name for themselves.
The undercard features the return of Steve Cunningham and undefeated heavyweight David Rodriguez against opponents that few expect them to lose to. But the top two bills on the card are intriguing matchups.
The following is a preview of the main and co-main events.
Ryan Coyne (21-1) vs. Lionell Thompson (14-2); Light Heavyweights
Ryan Coyne is more famous for his battles outside of the ring than his battles inside of it. He had a much publicized legal battle with promoter Don King that resulted in a cancelled title shot against then WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Nathan Cleverly.
Coyne is still looking for his first title shot, but he’s coming off of a 11th round TKO to Marcus Oliveira in April of this year and he’s fighting an opponent that is three years younger than him.
Coyne seems to recognize that another loss on national television could hinder and hopes for a future title shot.
“This is a great opportunity for me. Coming off a defeat in my last fight. I fought an eliminator for number one in the world and I came up a little bit short. I went blood and guts in the last round, wasn’t victorious, and after 21 wins defeat was very hard, but this is a chance for redemption. It’s a great opportunity; he’s a great fighter, a very accomplished fighter. Lionell Thompson has shown that he takes on all challengers fighting a very tough man like Kovalev on very short notice. I’ve got my work cut out for me but I trained hard and I worked hard, I always work hard. Like I said this is a great opportunity for me and I fully intend on taking advantage of it.
Lionell Thompson is currently riding a two fight win streak, including a 2nd round TKO over New Jersey native Chuck Mussachio in Atlantic City in February of this year. He has previously fought on NBC Sports but was viciously knocked out by Sergey Kovalev in the second round.
Thompson has the edge in power, he has nine knockouts out of his fourteen victories while Coyne has nine knockouts out of his twenty one victories. Thompson also has a slight edge in quality of opponents. Coyne’s biggest victory was over a then undefeated David McNemar in June of 2011. All of his victories since then have come against opponents with at least six losses. After Thompson beat Mussachio he went back out and tested himself against the undefeated Yathomas Riley at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington, New York.
Even Thompson seems to recognize that Coyne has only tested himself once and came up short.
“I respect Ryan Coyne, he’s got 21 wins and 9 KO’s but I mean, who has he fought? The guys he knocked out, he was supposed to knock out, they were bums. And when he did step up just a little bit, he got stopped. Trust me; whatever he do I’ll be ready. I’m too quick, too strong.”
It’s a hard fight to pick, but Coyne has had to deal with a draining legal battle since his last fight while Thompson has been gaining momentum. A slight edge should be given to Thompson.
Amir “Hardcore” Mansour (19-0) vs. Kelvin Price (14-1); Heavyweights
Amir Mansour is 41 and might be considered the oldest prospect in boxing today. But he’s undefeated, a southpaw, and carries considerable power in his hands. He recent signing of a management contract with Joe Hand has carried him to main event an NBC Sports Network card.
Mansour served 8 ½ years on a narcotics charge which took away his prime athletic years in boxing. However, he obviously didn’t take any physical damage to his body while he was serving his time and he now fights much younger than his official age.
“A lot of people up here (on the dais) have stories of their own, getting through trials and tribulations. A lot of people know my story. They know I had a rough road to get to this point. Eight and a half years in prison, honestly, 16 years and 7 months altogether in prison, almost half my life. So nobody is going to get in that ring with me and deny me of any opportunity that I’ve been working hard half of my life for… If he ain’t got no 9mm, no shotgun in that ring, ain’t no stopping me. Saturday night it’ll be intensity, it’ll be “Hardcore” Mansour at his best, doin’ what I do.”
Mansour holds or has held several regional titles. He’s a short and powerful heavyweight. He has stopped fourteen of his opponents including three of his last five fights. His biggest victory to date was a decision victory over Dominick Guinn in August of 2011. Most of his opponents have had winning records, but none of them can be considered world class opponents
Kelvin Price will tower over Mansour when they step into the ring. He stands at 6’7” and will have nearly eight inches in height over Mansour. He’s also four years younger than Mansour. Price will have to use his height and reach to stay on the outside and take Mansour to the later rounds if he wants to win.
Price has a good win over Tor Hamer in May of 2010 and Danny Williams in May of 2013. He can box, but he is open to a knockout punch. Deontay Wilder nearly knocked Price’s head off in 2012 on a Showtime televised event.
Despite the loss, Price hopes to take advantage of his main event status.
“For me, to get to this point has been a long, hard road, especially coming from another sport, pro basketball, the seeds, and everything. In this fight I’m just coming out here to put on a great show for you guys. Hopefully he’s prepared. I’m prepared and we can put on a great show in Atlantic City. I came up short in one fight, you know we only have one referee and there’s no replays in this sport, but you have to deal with it and keep on, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
This is another tough fight to pick and a competitive matchup. But Mansour is a local fighter and he will have a large crowd in attendance cheering him on. That will be enough to consider him a slight favorite on Saturday night.