By Jake Donovan
Saturday’s fight card at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. invokes fond memories for Kathy Duva for a number of reasons.
The show represents the one-year anniversary of the launching of NBC Sports Network Fight Night series. Tonight’s edition – the eighth of the series thus far – is headlined by a light heavyweight scrap between unbeaten Sergei Kovalev (19-0-1, 17KO) and former champ Gabriel Campillo (21-4-1, 8KO).
As fond as she is of what the series has become, the location is what prompts Duva to travel back down memory lane.
“Main Events promoted the first ever boxing show on this property. I guess that goes to show how old I am,” jokes the tireless promoter. Main Events in its previous form helped cut the ribbon at Mohegan Sun in presenting a Dec. ’96 card which aired live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.
The main event saw Phillip Holiday outpoint Ivan Robinson in a lightweight title fight which saw non-stop punching. In the co-feature, then-unbeaten David Tua rallied to stop David Izon in the 12th and final round. It was the closest the Samoan had ever come to losing at the time, trailing on one scorecard before ending the fight with just a minute to go.
More than 16 years later, Main Events kicks off its second season of ‘Fight Night’ at the same venue. Plenty of memories have come of the relationship in between. The first fight between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward was the only one of the series to take place at the venue. It didn’t quite turn out as hoped for Gatti and Main Events, but served as arguably the best bout of the trilogy, including the legendary ninth round.
It also served as the last time Main Events has hosted a fight card in the building, more than a decade ago. Prior to then, the New Jersey-based company staged several prospect-loaded shows at the venue. Saturday’s night is a return to the way things were for the company, a move they are able to make with fighters like the unbeaten Kovalev in their stable.
“The thing I love about Sergei is that when he signed with us, the first thing he asked was ‘How fast can you get me to the title?’ Not, ‘How many tune-ups can you offer me?’ He just wants to know how fast we can get him to the title,” insists Duva. “After he wins, Sergei will be making a statement saying ‘Yes, I am ready to fight for the light heavyweight title.’”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox