ATLANTIC CITY — Saturday’s boxing card at Ocean Resort Casino means Top Rank President Bob Arum is back in his old stomping grounds.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, when Atlantic City rivaled Las Vegas as the “Boxing Capital of the World,” Arum was known to promote as many as three cards a week on the Boardwalk.
“When you get to be my age (86), you remember all the great times you’ve had in boxing,” Arum said Thursday at Ocean Resort. “For me, a lot of those great times happened in Atlantic City. I remember weeks when I would do a show at Bally’s on CBS in the afternoon, cross the street and do a show at the Sands on ABC at night, then sleep over and do a show on NBC the next day.”
Saturday’s card at Ocean’s Ovation Hall marks Top Rank’s first major show in Atlantic City in five years.
Arum, who is close friends with Ocean Resort owner Bruce Deifik, is hoping to make the property a big part of his series with ESPN, which calls for Top Rank to promote 30 shows a year on the network.
Saturday’s show marks an anniversary of sorts. Arum and Philadelphia-based promoter Russell Peltz brought the first ESPN show to Atlantic City in April of 1980 at Resorts Casino Hotel.
Peltz was part of the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2017, along with legends such as promoter Frank Gelb, New Jersey Athletic Control Board Commissioner Larry Hazzard and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.
Arum was inducted in June, along with former heavyweight champion Bruce Seldon, President Donald Trump and others.
Arum was unable to attend the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony, so ACBHOF founder and President Ray McCline presented him with his medal and plaque during Thursday’s news conference at Ocean.
Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam also presented Arum with a key to the city in recognition of his contributions. Arum has promoted an estimated 400 fights in Atlantic City over 38 years.
“Bob Arum is back in Atlantic City and that means there is a buzz around town again,” Gilliam said.
Hazzard, who was also one of boxing’s top referees, also received a key as a reward for his efforts to bring big-time boxing back to Atlantic City.
Thursday’s card is the second major show held in town in the last two weeks. On Aug. 4, Main Events staged a HBO-televised show featuring Eleider Alvarez’s stunning, seventh-round knockout over WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City
“I was a referee and then commissioner when Atlantic City was on top of the boxing world, and now we’re getting ready for a new ride,” Hazzard said. “This is a resurgence and Atlantic City is headed back to the top.”
Notes: Saturday’s main event pits Philadelphia heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings (23-2, 20 KOs) against Germany’s Alexander Dimitrenko (41-3, 26 KOs) ... The eight-bout card also features popular local boxers Christian Carto (15-0, 11 KOs) and Thomas LaManna (25-2-1, 9 KOs). Carto, a St. Augustine Prep graduate, faces Mexico’s Javier Gallo (25-15-1, 13 KOs) in an eight-round, bantamweight fight. LaManna, a Millville High School graduate, meets Matthew Strode (25-6, 9 KOs), of Marion, South Carolina, in an eight-round, super-welterweight bout.
Tickets for the card range from $37 to $127 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.com or at the Ovation Hall box office.