| Bethlehem, PA-It’s the hottest ticket in town!
With a start-studded lineup scheduled for June, the Event Center at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem looks like the place to be in the Lehigh Valley.
But the one evening the local sports fans are talking about is Friday, June 1, when the NBC Sports Network Fight Night cameras invade the 1,832-seat Event Center for an evening of world-class professional boxing.
The double-header main event features Gabriel Rosado, of Philadelphia, PA, vs. Sechew Powell, of Brooklyn, in a 12-round contest for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental junior middleweight title, and Ronald Cruz, of Bethlehem, PA, vs. Prenice Brewer, of Cleveland, OH, for the vacant WBC Continental Americas welterweight crown.
The ticket demand has been so overwhelming that the Event Center this week added additional seats to accommodate those fans who still have not been able to purchase tickets to the first boxing card in the new building, which opened May 16 with Incubus and followed with the Beach Boys, Glen Frey and Alan Jackson to strong sales, but nothing like the demand for tickets for June 1
“This is what boxing should be about,” said J Russell Peltz, whose company, Peltz Boxing Promotions, Inc., is staging the seven-bout card with Main Events, of Totowa, NJ. “We may be next to a casino, but we are in a brand new state-of-the-art arena where fans buy tickets. It’s a beautiful building with seven luxury suite boxes and there’s not a bad seat in the house.
“Real boxing fans are coming to this show and they are buying tickets wherever they can find them. It’s just like the old days when the corner store put up posters and sold tickets from behind the cash register. That’s what we’ve done in Bethlehem. We have ticket outlets all over town. About a dozen businesses have purchased ads in the souvenir program.
“The NBC Sports Network series is about good fights in lively settings and that is what we have been doing this year-bringing boxing back to the real fans.
“We’ve got a hometown hero in Ronald Cruz and he comes from a very tight-knit community of adoring fans. They follow him to Philadelphia when he fights there and they gobble up hotel rooms and loads of tickets when he fights in Atlantic City.”
Last summer, on four weeks’ notice, Cruz vs. cross-state rival Doel Carrasquillo, of Lancaster, PA, sold out the 1,300-seat temporary tent erected on the grounds of the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem on the Friday evening of July 4 weekend. At that time, youngsters under 21 were not permitted to attend the fight since they would have had to go through the casino to get to the tent. With the Event Center standing alone, people of all ages can attend.
It does not figure to be an easy night for Cruz (16-0, 12 K0s) on June 1 when he takes on the slick-boxing Brewer, whose 16-1-1 record includes six knockouts and he has a history of winning away from home.
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In the TV main event, it should be another struggle for both Rosado and Powell, a pair of world-ranked contenders looking for a world title fight down the road.
The start time of the seven-fight card has been moved up to 7pm due to a taping for overseas television of an important light-heavyweight rematch between Russian puncher Sergey Kovalev and Darnell Boone, of Atlanta, GA.
Kovalev is 17-0-1, 15 K0s, but had his toughest fight 20 months ago when he eked out an eight-round split decision over Boone in Atlanta, GA.
Four additional bouts complete the card.