Evander Holyfield to produce Real Deal Championship Boxing Series in Louisville
Four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and his company Real Deal Sports & Entertainment have announced plans to kick off Holyfield's Real Deal Championship Boxing series June 24 at Freedom Hall in Louisville in partnership with locally-based Top Knotch Boxing and Kentucky Venues.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and his company Real Deal Sports & Entertainment have announced plans to kick off Holyfield's Real Deal Championship Boxing series at Freedom Hall.
Holyfield's company will partner with locally-based Top Knotch Boxing and Kentucky Venues. Holyfield was joined by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer when making the announcement at the Ali Center in downtown Louisville Friday morning.
During Friday's announcement, Holyfield said he wanted to produce the series in Louisville because of the inspiration he received from watching Muhammad Ali.
"If it wasn't for him, then what would I have been?" Holyfield asked, adding that each generation should get better, and that's what he tried to do in his boxing career as he emulated The Greatest.
"He was the first three-time heavyweight champion," Holyfield said. "I'm the first four-time (champ)."
Holyfield said he hopes that he is able to inspire someone else to become a five-time heavyweight champion.
The undercard for the June 24 event will be made up of three amateur and eight professional bouts, including local boxers. Participants in the main card and the undercard will be announced within the next 10 days.
The first installment of the Real Deal Championship Boxing series will be branded "Evander’s Tribute to Ali" with the main bout a CBS Sports Spectacular Broadcast Event. It will air live from 10 p.m. to midnight.
The fight card will be part of the locally based “I Am Ali” Festival, a six-week celebration of the one-year anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s passing and his global impact and legacy.
"We are thrilled to welcome Evander Holyfield and Real Deal Sports & Entertainment to Kentucky for this exciting championship bout," said Governor Matt Bevin. "Our state has a rich boxing heritage, and we have worked hard in recent months to cut red tape and remove unnecessary bureaucracy hampering the industry.
"As a result, Kentucky is able to once again host large scale, combat sports events. We anticipate that this will be the first of many to come and are grateful to Real Deal Sports & Entertainment for their vote of confidence."
The CBS Sports broadcast of the fights will open with a tribute to Muhammad Ali, which will be hosted by Holyfield and narrated by CBS Sports commentator Benny Ricardo.
"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."
Fischer noted that boxing has been a part of Louisville's history even longer than the Kentucky Derby, all the way back to 1781. He says the first public boxing match was on Main Street just three years after the city was founded.
The most-recent professional boxing event held in Freedom Hall was on July 30, 2004, when a relative unknown from England named Danny Williams shocked Mike Tyson by stopping him in the fourth round. Among fights on the undercard that night, Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali, kept her I.W.B.F. super-middleweight title with a ninth-round technical knockout against Monica Nuñez.
“Freedom Hall is a major venue in boxing history, starting with Muhammad Ali’s professional debut in 1960 through Jimmy Ellis’ fight in 1967 and Mike Tyson’s defeat in 2004,” said Jason Rittenberry, president and CEO of Kentucky Venues. “We are very proud and excited to partner with Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Promotions and Joe Reeves’ Top Knotch Boxing to bring the next generation of champion boxers to Freedom Hall and to the world.”
“I’m thrilled to be able to play a role in bringing championship-level boxing back to Louisville,” said Joe Reeves, founding partner of Top Knotch Boxing and board member of Louisville TKO, one of two beneficiaries of the event. “Louisville TKO strives every day to empower young men and women to build positive futures by offering a structured boxing program, positive reinforcement, academic support, and connection to the community. This event allows us to continue this focus on youth development.”
Part of the proceeds from the event will be donated to Louisville TKO and the Muhammad Ali Center to help support youth development activities in the Louisville area.
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