By Carlos Costa
PANAMA CITY, Panama - International boxing promoter Sampson Lewkowicz announced his double world title mega promotion in which # 1 mandatory challenger Luis Alberto "Pan Blanco" Rios of Panama will battle Filipino IBF Jr. Flyweight World champion Johnriel Casimero and former 2-division champ Roberto "La Araña" Vasquez will fight again pinoy John Mark Apolinario for the vacant WBA interim bantamweight title on 16 March at the Megapolis Convention Center, Hard Rock Hotel here in Panama.
"Saturday, March 16 will be a memorable day of boxing in Panama and the reason i double: two Panamanian boxers will fight for world titles against two tough Filipino warriors in a setting of unparalleled Vegas-style comfort at the Megapolis Convention Center of the 5-star Hard Rock Hotel, one of the most spectacular convention centers in Latin America," commented Lewkowicz.
"I am so delighted to have this boxing card in Panama that one month before the fight I have already sent full payment of his purse to the Filipino world champion Johnriel Casimero," revealed the successful Las Vegas-based promoter.
"Yes, I already paid his purse to the Filipino team and you can ask them. How many promoters do that? Why I did it? Because I trust them. They (the Filipinos) already got their money. I believe that they will come to Panama to fight."
Some fans may think that it was not necessary. But Lewkowicz is no ordinary promoter. Not as well known as Bob Arum or Don King. But he feels as much passion for the sport of boxing as anyone and every person do business their own way.
In addition, Lewkowicz said "The Casimero-Rios will be a great title fight. May the best man win. To assure that, the officials will be neutral, all from the United States and Puerto Rico, appointed by the IBF," shared Lewkowicz today.
The officials for the Casimero-Rios IBF title fight are:
Referee: Benjy Esteves Jr. of New York City. The three judge Levi Martinez of New Mexico, Nelson Vazquez of Puerto Rico and Joe Garcia of Tucson, Arizona. The supervisor will be the IBF President himself, Mr. Darryl Peoples of New Jersey.
"PAN BLANCO" RIOS: AFTER TRAINING MY WEIGHT FLUCTUATES AROUND 117 LBS
"I have been training hard under the guidance of my handlers, doing things right and that after each workout I keep on weighing 117 lbs, and we are still about a month before the title fight," said the Panamanian challenger Luis "Pan Blanco" Rios during the plush presser.
The coaches of "Pan Blanco" are experienced trainer Orlando Soto and Jacinto "Chinto" Palacios and fitness and conditioning coach is Professor Arauz. In addition, the Panamanian is being cared for in every detail of his preparation by his managers Gerardo Herrera (manager of the year in Panama) and his distinguished father don Melchor Herrera, a financially well off veteran man of boxing who looked at the audience and said:
"With a team of professionals like the one we have, plus the talent and determination of "Pan Blanco" Rios, we have faith that our home country of Panama will get its boxing world champion # 30."
This far, Panama has had 29 world champions since his first one hall of fame Alfonso Panama Al Brown in the 1920's till Anselmo Moreno and Guillermo Jones today.
In addition, the promoter disclosed that Casimero will be traveling from the Philippines to Panama via Los Angeles. "In Los Angeles he'll stay for awhile for the Filipino figther to get acquainted with the time zone here in the western hemisphere. Then Casimero and team will travel to Panama, the land of boxing legend Roberto Duran, aboard the Panama flag carrier airline, COPA, on Tuesday 12 March. COPA is a major sponsor of the March 16 and its CEO was present during the luxurious conference.
Furthermore, the card will aired on throughout the whole Latin American continent and LIVE to every city and town in the land of the Philippines. The telecast will start on March 16 at 9pm (Panama Time).
At the main table during the important announcement the successful Lewkowicz was accompanied by Panamanian real estate mogul Jacobo Torres, owner of Megapolis Convention Center and other hotels in Panama, the director of the Panamanian Airline COPA, the director of the Panama Tourism authority, as well as Panama Boxing commissioner Mr. Jose Oliver Gomez.
"There will be available parking space for 3,000 cars and logistics to accommodate all with comfort" stated the owner of the huge newly built Megapolis Convention Center, Jacobo Torres.
Present was former 2-division world champion Roberto "La Araña" Vasquez who said that he "knows well his Filipino opponent Apolinario. Before, I had no idea about him. Today I have no doubt that on March 16 I will defeat Apolinario to capture my third world crown."
COMFORT BUT ALSO TICKET PRICE ARE LIKE IN LAS VEGAS
"Equal to or better than in Las Vegas. There will be big screens in the convention center, as well as orchestras, food, drinks...It will be a unique and exciting boxing show." added Sampson Lewkowicz, also the promoter of the best middleweight fighter in the world, Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez.
Ticket prices are this ones:
GENERAL ADMISSION $ 100 UNITED STATES Dollars (about PHP 4,200 Filipino Pesos)
DELUXE SEATS $ 150 dollars
PREMIUM SEATS $ 200 dollars
RINGSIDE SEATS $ 250 dollars (about PHP 10,500 Filipino Pesos)
Tickets for this mega show can be purchased at Ticket Plus, Farmacias Metro, E Charges, and at the Megapolis Convention Center at the following prices
BOTH 23-YEARS-OLD, WHO WILL WIN, CASIMERO OR RÍOS?
Will Panama get its world boxing champion # 30 on March 16? Meaning that Luis Alberto "Pan Blanco" Rios subdue the more experienced Filipino world champion and give the greatest satisfaction and joy to the people of Panama?
"If the great Manny Pacquiao got knocked out cold leaving his die hard fans dumbfound, why can't Casimero be knocked out cold as well. The way I see things, Casimero will taste sour defeat again, the same as he did in South Africa," reasons coach Orlando Soto, the head trainer of Luis "Pan Blanco" Rios.
Soto can think as he things but, he is not the one to climb the ring and there could be another point:
Will the Filipino Johnriel Casimero outbox "Pan Blanco" Ríos in his own country of Panama, as he did to Pedro "Dragoncito" Rodriguez eight months ago in Mexico?
Fans in the Philippines and Panama will find out on March 16 at the Megapolis Convention Center of the plush Hard Rock Hotel in Panama.