On January 7, the 2023 boxing calendar kicked off with major bout featuring WBA Super Featherweight Champion Héctor Luis García and unbeaten superstar Gervonta “Tank” Davis. It would be an understatement to say that the atmosphere was electric. Lil’ Baby, Meek Mill and nearly 20,000 other fans packed into Capital One Arena to see Davis stop García in the ninth round.
It is not an uncommon occurrence to see Davis use his power to stop an opponent before the final bell. However, it is an uncommon occurrence to see a pay-per-view boxing event placed in the nation’s capital. While the unbeaten fighter is originally from Baltimore, he has spent a lot of time in “Chocolate City” and has made himself at home in the area. In fact, he went as far as to have Washington, D.C.’s Shy Glizzy walk him out to the ring as he rapped. To top it all off, Washington, D.C. boxing legends like Lamont Peterson fought on the same card as rising stars like Jalil Hackett.
On Saturday, Davis not only proved that he can sell out a venue just about anywhere, but he also showed that there is an appetite for high-quality boxing events in areas that do not usually get to host them. Many, if not all, major pay-per-view boxing events in the U.S. take place in the following states: Texas, California, New York and Nevada. The business infrastructure, athletic commissions and variety of venues make it easier to place fights in these areas. However, the sport can only grow in the U.S. if more people are able to experience the best of it nearby. Not every boxing fan has the money to fly out to Las Vegas or Los Angeles to see a major fight. Moving forward, it would be helpful to the sport if major televised cards are spread out around the nation when possible. With that said, here are three cities that could use a major boxing event in the future.
Venue: Liacouras Center
Promotion: Premier Boxing Champions
Co-Feature(s): Jaron “Boots” Ennis, Stephen “Cool Boy” Fulton Jr.
Two months before the nation shut down due to the spread of COVID-19, Jeison Rosario traveled to the hometown of Julian “J Roc” Williams and stopped him in the fifth round to claim a few 154-pound titles. Since then, two stars have emerged from the city of Brotherly Love, Jaron Ennis and Stephen Fulton Jr. Ennis is only 25 years old with a record of 30-0 and he is on the verge of landing a fight with either Terence Crawford or Errol Spence Jr. Meanwhile, Stephen Fulton Jr. has put together a perfect record of 28-0 while grabbing a pair of world titles.
Fulton Jr. and Ennis appear to have a friendly relationship and would likely be happy to co-headline an event together in their hometown. While neither fighter has proven to be a solo pay-per-view draw, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the two can co-headline a televised event on Showtime at Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University. The university sits right in the heart of Philadelphia and could attract a few of the celebrities spotted on Saturday in the nation’s capital like Wallo, Gillie Da Kid and Meek Mill. Not to mention, a few members of the 76ers of Eagles may show up. To top it all off, the duo could appear on Million Dollarz Worth Of Game or any of the non-traditional boxing outlets in the city and add to the promotion. If an investment is made in building up Ennis and Fulton Jr. in the City of Brotherly Love, it will pay off for years to come.
Venue: Dort Financial Center
Promotion: Matchroom Boxing
Main or Co-Feature(s): Claressa “The GWOAT” Alycia “The Bomb” Baumgardner
Since Laila Ali, it’s hard to think of American women in boxing who have become more commercially viable than Alycia Baumgardner and Claress Shields. Interestingly enough, the two both have ties to the same area, Detroit. Shields was born and raised in Flint, Michigan before becoming a multi-division champion with two Olympic gold medals. While Wikipedia lists Baumgardner’s hometown as Freemonth, Ohio, it’s not hard to see how she has become entrenched within the Detroit community. On any given day, she could be going back and forth with Detroit rapper Sada Baby or collaborating with Detroit Boxing Company. Unfortunately, she has not had the opportunity to fight in Detroit or any other U.S. city until now. With Baumgardner’s undeniable appeal as a star in and out of the ring, there is no reason why she should not be fighting in the U.S. more often in the future.
Both Baumgardner and Shields have fought on DAZN on the same card through their respective promotions. Shields has also expressed an interest in bringing Savannah Marshall to the U.S. if the two were to fight again. Why not fight at the Dort Financial Center right outside of Detroit? Shields fought Marie Eve Dicaire there not long ago and there is no telling how the event would do with the added star power of Baumgardner. In fact, Baumgardner is set to fight for the undisputed super featherweight title in New York next month. If she emerges with all four belts, Baumgardner could fight Mikaela Mayer in a rematch while Shields shares the ring with Marshall for a second time. There would be only one difference. This time around, the two champions would have home turf.
Venue: Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center
Promotion: Top Rank
Main or Co-Feature(s): Devin Haney v. Vasiliy Lomachenko
Yes, the state of California is no stranger to major fights. However, the majority of major fights in the Golden State take place in the southern region. With that said, one of the fastest-rising names in the sport, Devin Haney, comes from Oakland. Not to mention, his dad and trainer, Bill Haney, also has roots in the Bay Area. Adding on, Haney is entering the last portion of his three-fight deal with Top Rank and by extension, ESPN. ESPN currently employs the greatest fighter from the area, Andre Ward. Haney’s next potential opponent, Vasiliy Lomachenko, primarily trains in California. If Haney has the opportunity to fight in his most high-profile fight to date with Ward on the call, it would be a major win for Bay Area boxing and its fans.
On social media, Haney is often criticized and ridiculed for the number of tickets he is able to sell to his fights. Casual fans love knockouts and Haney is not necessarily delivering those often. However, it may be a bit easier to sell fans on the idea of a homecoming fight. Furthermore, the press loves a story and few stories are more endearing than a homecoming story for a father and son.
To top it all off, the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, a 6,000-seat venue in Oakland, is set to reopen in late spring 2023. What would be better to open the venue than a night of fights, culminating with the undisputed lightweight championship of the world? The world, Craig!