Mayor Touts Return Of Pro Boxing Card To City
WILKES-BARRE — City Mayor Tony George has a sentimental connection with boxing.
George thinks back to his cousins who boxed, as well as his father and grandfather taking in the action at the former Ninth Regiment Armory on South Main Street, which featured hundreds of cards through 1959.
“The hallmark of any city is the activities it provides its residents,” George said Thursday at a news conference. “We have everything from the arts, music, theater, sports. We do it all. I want to make the city a destination, and boxing will bring another avenue for people to come in.”
Boxing will return to Luzerne County with 10 professional bouts March 3 at Genetti’s Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Prominent Scranton-area boxers Ryan Wilczak (5-0), Rocky Marzan (6-0) and Jimmy Kelleher (5-0), as well as former world champion Hector Camacho’s son, Christian Camacho (6-1), are among the featured fighters.
Drawing on the nostalgic emotions of boxing fans, promoters Chris Coyne and Doug Long spoke Thursday in front of giant retro-themed posters.
“It harkens the nostalgia days of boxing,” Coyne said of the poster design.
“And, we have the nostalgia fighters. We have guys that like to go in there and bang. ... Don’t be deceived by the size — they are going to bang. I don’t want nothing to do with either one of them. I outweigh Rocky by 100 pounds and I’m scared to death of him.”
Marzan, who was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Scranton, was a surprise guest at Thursday’s event inside Genetti’s.
The 23-year-old Marzan had just arrived in town from Las Vegas, where he trains at Mayweather Boxing Club.
“The weather is tough out there. I was taking a flight to Wilkes-Barre and I had to transfer out in Allentown, so the ride was a little rocky,” Marzan quipped. “I look forward to giving everybody a great performance, another knockout — my seventh knockout straight.”
While Lackawanna County has hosted recent boxing events, this is believed to be Wilkes-Barre’s first professional card in many years.
Coyne said he anticipates a good turnout and atmosphere.
“I believe we could, clearly, fill the ballroom,” Coyne said. “We’re going to have approximately 900 reserved seats, another couple hundred in general seating, and a significant amount of people standing. So we’re looking at between 1,200 to 1,400 people for a ballroom event, which is fantastic. That’s a general estimation for most ballroom-sized shows.”
In addition to Marzan’s local ties, Wilczak was born and raised in Scranton, while Kelleher is from Bethlehem but now lives in Scranton.
“The local flare and the local fighters are the backbone of this event,” Coyne said. “They’re bringing the crowds, they’re bringing the fanfare, and they’re going to build their records along with us.”
Other top-billed boxers are Omar Kabary Salem, James Martin, Jimmy Jordan and Rex Harris, though head-to-head bouts have not yet been announced.
Tickets range from $30 to $75. For more information, visit facebook.com/northeastboxing.
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