Jack Dempsey. Boom Boom Mancini. George Foreman. Sugar Ray Leonard. Promoter Joey Gilbert recalled a litany of boxers whose legendary careers included memorable bouts held in Reno, location of the Independence Day 1908 Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries “Fight of the Century.”
“Reno has always been a boxing city and we are proud to be bringing it back,” said Gilbert — a renowned former pro boxer himself — on Wednesday at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino.
More than any other sport, boxing has a penchant for comebacks and it will be presented in the Silver Legacy’s 1,600-seat Grande Exposition Hall on Friday, Oct. 25. It’s the first in a series of boxing and MMA cards planned by Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions, Joey Gilbert Promotions and the Eldorado Group, which includes The Row: downtown casinos Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus. Another card is tentatively planned for January.
RJJ Promotions with CEO Keith Veltre of Las Vegas is teamed with UFC Fight Pass, an online service that Gilbert said streams to “130 countries and a million eyeballs.”
Veltre, the co-founder of RJJ Productions, was the second to speak at the press conference: “Everybody says Las Vegas is the home of boxing. I think people forget about Reno. Eldorado is bringing it back to Reno. This is going to open a lot of eyes. Just by seeing ticket sales alone, people want to see it. With our partnership, it’s going to be a great, everlasting future here.”
So, who will be the next to join the pantheon of pugilistic stars to shine amid the neon-lighted Biggest Little City? Kendro “Tremendo” Castaneda is the favored fighter in main event. He will face Stan “The Man” Martyniouk, an Estonian living in the Bay Area, in a 10-round super lightweight (140 pound) bout. Also, Reno boxers super flyweight Oscar Vasquez and featherweight Ricardo Lucio-Galvan will have what can be considered comeback fights on the Oct. 25 card.
[pullquote]I bring the grace and the pace, the razzle and the dazzle, the rock ‘em and sock ’em. I will confuse and abuse.”[/pullquote]A resident of San Antonio, Texas, Castaneda has won all 16 of his boxing matches, seven by knockout. During his first visit to Reno and after a morning run around Virginia Lake, he said, “I wouldn’t mind living out here. I prefer the elevation. In San Antonio everyone litters. It’s bad out there.”
Castanada used plenty of the fresh High Desert air at the press conference.
Introducing himself from the podium, the 25-year old boasted, “I bring the grace and the pace, the razzle and the dazzle, the rock ‘em and sock ’em. I will confuse and abuse.” When asked about his style, he said, “It’s tremendous. It’s all over the place. I can box. I can brawl. I can bang. I can throw about 100 punches in a round. Whichever one lands can cause a rattling in the legs.”
“Your slow,” interrupted Martyniouk, landing a verbal blow from his chair across the room.
Martyniouk, 20-2 with 6 wins by knockout, fought in Reno on the undercard of Joey Gilbert’s 2009 bout (“The Civil War”) with Jesse Brinkley.
With a goal of presenting an entertaining main event, Gilbert hand-picked Martiyniouk, who he remembers as being extremely tough. After offering the bout, Martiyniouk told Gilbert, “I guarantee he’ll (Castaneda) back out.”
However, Martiyniouk’s 34 — an advanced age for a fighter in his weight category — and his last three fights were held in Tijuana against dubious competition.
“I became a free agent at the end of last year and I wanted to stay busy,” Martyniouk said. “So, I went to Mexico and had a few tune-up fights.
“Everybody keeps saying at 34 I’m old and I’m a veteran. But I haven’t taken any punishment in this sport. I am young. I am 34 years young. I feel I am in my prime right now. I will defeat Kendo and make a name for myself. I want to move up the 140-pound rankings and fight for a world title. That’s my goal.”
If Martyniouk appeared a bit testy on Wednesday, it was understandable.
Earlier, RJJ Promotions’ Veltre summarized the main event.
“Kendo is three or four fights away from a title fight and Stan needs to win this fight to stay relevant,” Veltre said. “I think they are both going to bring a great fight and Kendo is probably going to win. He’s my guy and I am probably a little biased but we’re hoping for the best.”
Afterward, Martyniouk told a reporter, “I understand I am the B side. But the promoter won’t be able to go in there and fight for him. I am going to go out there and destroy him.”
The loquacious and boastful Castaneda let his persona’s guard down for a moment.
“It is a tremendous opportunity and we are in front of a huge spotlight with this man, Stan,” he said. “He is in a place in his life where he is very hungry. Starving. And I have been starving for as long as I remember. That’s why it’s going to be such a great fight.”
— Tim Parsons
Up next: Sweet science — student-athlete Ricardo Lucio-Galvan has senior moment and a bell to answer on Oct. 25.
- Fight Night at The Row
5:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at the Silver Legacy, Reno
- Kendro “Tremendo” Castaneda, 16-0, vs. Stan “The Man” Martyniouk, 20-2, 10 rounds, super lightweights
Oscar Vasquez, 15-2, vs. Gilberto Mendoza, 15-7-2, eight rounds, bantamweights
Blake McKernan, 13-0, vs. Francisco Rivas, 15-2, eight rounds, cruiserweights
Ricardo Lucio-Galvan, 2-0, vs. Samir McQueen (debut) 4 rounds, featherweights
Rosalinda Rodriguez, 10-0, vs. Jaimy “The Miracle” Mitchell, 5-0-2, 3KOs, six rounds, super flyweights
Daquan Mays, 3-0, 1 KO vs. TBA, four rounds, lightweights
Sergio Vega, 2-0-2, 2 KOs vs. TBA, four rounds, lightweights
- The card will be streamed live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS, the world’s leading digital subscription service for combat sports, starting at 7 p.m. Pacific Time, from inside the Grande Exposition Hall at Silver Legacy. Tickets are available for $25, $45 and $65 and can be purchased at the Silver Legacy Box Office, Ticketmaster.com or by calling 775-325-7401 or 1-800-MUST-SEE.
Silver Legacy Resort Casino is offering a special RJJ Boxing room rate at its hotel as well as its connected sister properties, Eldorado Resort Casino and Circus Circus Reno. Click on the respective property links for more information.
Doors open at 5 p.m. PT, first bout 5:45 p.m., and UFC FIGHT PASS starts at 7 p.m.