Former four-time heavyweight world titleholder Evander Holyfield begins his career as a boxing promoter June 24 when his new company, Real Deal Sports & Entertainment, will put on its first card at famed Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, where Muhammad Ali turned pro in 1960.
The card, which will air live on CBS Sports Network at 10 p.m. ET, is called Evander’s Tribute to Ali and will be part of the six-week I Am Ali festival in Louisville, which is honoring its favorite son one year after his death.
“I am proud to bring this exciting card to Louisville, Kentucky, as well as to the boxing fans around the world,” said Holyfield, who will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on June 11 in Canastota, New York. “We have entertaining fights featuring fearless competitors, and this is how we want to set the standard for our company.
“I’m proud to bring the inaugural event for the Real Deal Championship Boxing series to Louisville, Kentucky, and I am especially pleased to have it take place during the I Am Ali festival. I share many of the same principles as Ali, and this event allows me to pay tribute to his legacy. Ali was an inspiration to me as I started my professional career. The integrity and sportsmanship that this event brings to boxing is one way I can give back to fighters to help them succeed, both in the ring and in life.”
The broadcast will open with a tribute to Ali. The card will be the first at Freedom Hall since Danny Williams knocked out Mike Tyson in the fourth round in a major upset on July 30, 2004. Laila Ali, Muhammad’s daughter, also boxed on that card.
Holyfield said part of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Muhammad Ali Center to help support youth development activities in the Louisville area.
“Louisville loves sports, and we love to win,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “This event is a big win for our city and another chance for us to welcome folks from around the nation and the world to the hometown of Muhammad Ali.”
Headlining the card will be a heavyweight bout between Derric Rossy (31-12, 15 KOs), of Medford, New York, and Carlos Negron (19-1, 15 KOs), a 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian. They will meet in a 10-round fight for a regional title.
Rossy was supposed to face top contender Luis Ortiz on April 22 on the Shawn Porter-Andre Berto undercard, but the bout was canceled because Ortiz suffered a thumb injury.
“Facing Negron is another great fight in the right direction for my career,” said Rossy, 36. “A tall, athletic and tough boxer like Negron is going to be a difficult task, but at this point in my career, there are no easy fights. I am looking forward to getting in the ring against Negron. There is a lot of excitement in the heavyweight division again, and a win on June 24 will get me back in the rankings and ready to make some noise.”
Negron, 29, has won six fights in a row and is returning to the heavyweight division after fighting as a cruiserweight in December.
“I’m very excited to be back and put up a great fight for the fans in Louisville,” Negron said. “Rossy is a good fighter, but I am ready to win this fight. I can’t wait to get to Louisville and get back in the ring on June 24.”
In the co-feature, Puerto Rican middleweight Enrique Collazo (11-0-1, 9 KOs), a 2012 Olympian, will square off against Steven Martinez (17-3, 13 KOs), 27, a Puerto Rico native fighting out of New York, in an eight-round bout.
There will be two additional eight-round bouts on the telecast: junior lightweight Toka Kahn Clary (21-1, 15 KOs), 24, of Providence, Rhode Island, against an opponent to be determined and Bronx, New York, welterweight Pete Dobson (8-0, 5 KOs), 27, against Jeremy Nichols (7-0-1, 2 KOs), 27, of Las Vegas.