ATLANTIC CITY — It appears as if boxing is finally starting to come back in Atlantic City.
After being on the canvas for a few years, the sport is beginning to rebound. The rally will continue this weekend with three boxing cards — including one presented by former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield — leading up to the second induction ceremony for the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday at The Claridge — A Radisson Hotel.
“People have said that boxing would never be back in Atlantic City,” Hall of Fame president Ray McCline said Thursday at Kelsey’s restaurant. “But now we’re seeing it flourish, and I’m happy the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame is a part of that.”
The weekend starts with two cards on the same day Friday, something that hasn’t happened in Atlantic City since the 1980s.
North Jersey promoter Mis Downing will be staging a show at the Claridge while Millville-based Rising Star Promotions is holding one a few blocks away at Showboat Atlantic City Hotel.
At the Claridge Friday, Glassboro super-middleweight Derrick Webster (25-1, 13 KOs) will take on Mexico’s Oscar Rioas (16-9-1, 5 KOs) in the 10-round main event.
Mullica Township middleweight Isiah Seldon (11-1-1, 4 KOs), son of former heavyweight champion and new Atlantic City Hall of Famer Bruce Seldon, will meet St. Louis’ Lamar Harris (9-14-4, 5 KOs) in a six-round bout on the card.
Isiah Seldon, 29, is looking to bounce back from a controversial draw against Rudy Lozano in Humble, Texas, in February.
“I thought I won the fight, but it’s a learning experience,” Seldon said Thursday. “I’m happy to be fighting in Atlantic City again since it’s been a while (two years).”
At Showboat, Atlantic City welterweight Mike Arnaoutis (26-10-2, 13 KOs) will face Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (19-0, 17 KOs) in a 12-round main event. Arnoutis, 37, who trains at the Atlantic City Police Athletic League with Bill Johnson, is seeking his third straight win.
Arnaoutis is among four local boxers on the card, which is promoted by Rising Star president Debbie LaManna and her son, welterweight prospect Thomas LaManna.
Mays Landing’s Quian Davis (4-0-2, 2 KOs) a former two-sport standout at Buena Regional High School, will fight Brick Township’s Dan Pasciolla (9-3-3, 0 KOs) for the vacant New Jersey heavyweight title.
The winner will become the first state heavyweight champion in more than 35 years. According to the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, no one has held the title since former Oakland (Bergen County) heavyweight Scott Frank in 1981.
“I wasn’t ex pecting to get this opportunity,” Davis said last week. “But I’m planning on taking advantage of it.”
Atlantic City light-heavyweight Joel De La Paz (7-1, 4 KOs) will end a two-year layoff in a six-rounder against Freeport, New York’s Talik Taylor (3-10-1, 1 KO). Vineland super-welterweight Ernesto Perez (1-0, 0 KOs) is also scheduled to be on the card.
Former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion Holyfield, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, is also promoting a card Saturday at Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Ballroom as head of Real Deal Promotions.
Featherweight Toka Kahn-Clary (24-1, 16 KOs), from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is in the 10-round main event against Mexico’s Emmanuel Dominquez (22-6-2, 14 KOs). Pleasantville welterweight Anthony Young (18-2, 6 KOs) is on the undercard against Bronx, New York’s Enver Haili (10-1, 3 KOs) in a six-rounder.
Holyfield fought 11 times in Atlantic City, compiling a 10-1 record. His appearances included one of the biggest fights in the town’s history, when 20,000 fans saw his 12-round, unanimous decision over George Foreman on June 19, 1991.
“I love boxing,” Holyfield said Thursday at The Press’ offices. “My momma (Annie) always told me that the best way to show appreciation for something is to give back. That’s what I’m trying to do as a promoter.”