Title fight coming to Times Union Center
By TIM WILKIN, Staff writer
ALBANY – After a 15-year hiatus, professional boxing will return to Times Union Center the first weekend in February. And, Bob Belber, the general manager of the TU Center, hopes the pugilistic sport becomes a semi-regular event at the downtown arena.
On Saturday, Feb. 4, the TU Center, partnering with Star Boxing of New Yok City, will host "KO at the TU,'' with the featured bout being the IBA heavyweight championship fight between 28-year-old title holder Joe Hanks (18-0-0, 12 knockouts) and 34-year-old Rafael Pedro (21-9-1,15 knockouts).
"The Capital Region has long been a source of world class boxers and terrific fights,'' Joe DeGuardia, president of Star Boxing, said in a statement. "Fans in that area of upstate New York have always been very supportive of the sport, and we look forward to a long-standing relationship with the Times Union Center to provide sensational evenings of entertainment.''
The last time pro boxing was held downtown was Dec. 4, 1997 when the headline fight at the then Pepsi Arena was between heavyweights Hasim Rahman and Tui Toia. Rahman, who would eventually become heavyweight champ of the world, knocked out Toia in the first round.
That fight was promoted by longtime New York promoter Cedric Kushner, who has had a history with Belber for years. Kushner got Belber in touch with DeGuardia and Star Boxing, and the fight game is back in Albany.
Belber said he would like to see "three, maybe four'' pro-caliber fights in the TU Center this year. Capacity at the TU Center for the Feb. 4 fight will be 8,300. Tickets will go on sale Saturday and are priced at $75, $50, $40 and $30.
"I do think this will be a big hit,'' Belber said Monday night. "People who used to love going out to boxing events will go again.''
Belber said that it also helps that the main event is a heavyweight fight. The 6-foot-4 Hanks, who is from Newark, New Jersey, is getting raves through the boxing industry for his overpowering punching style, Belber said. And Pedro, originally from Havana, Cuba and now living in Golden Meadows, La., is 6-foot-7.
"Everyone I have talked to in the business says that he (Hanks) is the real deal,'' Belber said. "Having a title fight with this caliber of boxes and the industry talking ... I think people will look forward to it.''
Also scheduled to appear on the Feb. 4 card is Kevin Rooney Jr., the 27-year-old son of Catskill's Kevin Rooney, the trainer of former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Rooney will train his son, who has had three pro fights (2-1), for the bout in Albany.
Also scheduled on the card is a cruiserweight bout between fomer world title challenger David Telesco and prospect Vincent Miranda.Telesco is 30-7-1 (25 knockouts) and is coming off a long layoff. Mianda is 14-1-0 (eight knockouts); all four of his wins this year have come via knockout.
Additional bouts are expected to be announced in the next few days.
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