- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

When did Washington become the center of the boxing universe?

It’s not Las Vegas or Madison Square Garden, but the DMV is in the midst of a series of boxing events, including four nationally televised shows, to be held at the classic hall, the D.C. Armory.

Friday night’s card will be the latest one, featuring the controversial 140-pound champion, Adrien Broner, defending his WBA crown against Ashley Theophane in a show nationally televised on Spike.

“I’m very excited to fight in Washington, D.C.,” said Broner, who trains often in the area. “My following is huge in D.C. It’s my second home, and I think we’re going to give the fans what they are looking for.”



Just four weeks ago, HBO set up shop in Washington with a “Boxing After Dark” show that featured a heavyweight matchup between Washington’s Tony Thompson and contender Luis Ortiz and a welterweight title bout between Jesse Vargas and Sadam Ali.

Four weeks from now, on April 30, Showtime Boxing returns to the D.C. Armory with super middleweight title co-main events — Badou Jack defending his WBC 154-pound championship against former champion Lucian Bute and IBF titleholder James DeGale defending his belt against Rogelio Medina.

Two weeks later, the D.C. Armory will be the site of yet another nationally televised show, this one on BET and starring hometown welterweight title contender Dusty Hernandez-Harrison.

Off the national stage, there’s a local show on April 9 by Jeter Promotions at the ABC Sports Complex in Springfield, Virginia.

The very active and successful local amateur boxing program, the Washington Golden Gloves, will be hosting its finals Saturday night at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, along with a harness racing program that night as well. Amateur boxing returns to Rosecroft on April 30 for the Golden Gloves regional championships.

Is it 1947?

I’d venture to say that there will be more live boxing in the area over the next six weeks than there will NBA playoff games.

Friday night’s Spike card at the D.C. Armory is a Mayweather Promotions event and is expected to include the presence of boxing great Floyd Mayweather, although not in the ring.

“D.C. isn’t a good city, it’s a great city,” Mayweather said at the press conference announcing the fight. “We couldn’t choose a better place to have the fight.”

Mayweather hasn’t fought since September, when he beat Andre Berto by unanimous decision for his 49th career win — with zero defeats. That fight followed his win over Manny Pacquiao last May in the long-awaited showdown — a fight that proved to be a lucrative but disappointing bout.

It is a homecoming for Leonard Ellerbe, a Washington native and former local fighter who has been Mayweather’s friend and right-hand man and is the CEO of Mayweather Promotions.

The show is a “Premiere Boxing Champions” telecast, the controversial and ambitious television campaign by the behind-the-scenes power broker in boxing, Al Haymon.

The last time a PBC show was in the area, it left carnage in its wake.

Local lightweight contender Anthony Peterson — who is scheduled to face Sameul Neequaye in a scheduled 10-round bout on Friday — compared boxing to organized crime after dispatching of an opponent who had no business being in the ring in just one round on that show at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax in October.

He proved to be prophetic, since it got far worse — and tragic — after that. Welterweight Pritchard Colon collapsed after a foul-filled, nine-round bout against Terrel Williams in which the 23-year-old Colon took repeated blows to the back of the head. Colon wound up in a coma and had to undergo emergency surgery at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He has remained in a coma and last month had another surgery.

In keeping with the theme of organized crime, Friday night’s main attraction, Broner is facing arrest back in Cincinnati, where a warrant was recently issued charging the fighter with felonious assault and aggravated robbery in connection with a Jan. 21 incident outside a bowling alley.

The fight is still going on, though, because apparently there is no extradition treaty between Washington and Ohio.

“I love training camp in D.C. because it takes me out of my element,” Broner told reporters during training. “I can get rid of the distractions and focus on boxing.”

Warrants can be distracting.

That’s boxing, though. It ain’t the circus or “Disney On Ice” — and it is on an extended run in Washington.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.

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