LAS VEGAS, April 8, 2016 – Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank works with boxers from many countries. A large share come from Mexico, where boxing is as much a national religion as a sport. Mexican boxers are the pride of the nation, and many first generation Mexican-American boxers have deep ties to their roots.
When a political candidate makes strong statements about Mexican immigrants as Donald Trump has, Arum takes issue. His background as a former Justice Department attorney in the Kennedy Administration and his own Jewish heritage heighten his sensitivities.
With four Mexican fighters featured on the undercard of the Pacquiao vs. Bradley III boxing event in Las Vegas this Saturday, plus a fifth boxer who calls himself “The Mexican Russian,” Arum decided to make a statement and express his opinion about immigration issues, naming Saturday’s undercard the “No Trump Undercard.”
Arum’s passion about the work ethic and dignity of his Mexican boxers springs from his long connection working with them. “It’s for us in the sport of boxing to speak out at this time when we have a presidential candidate who’s spewing the hate Mr. Trump is,” Arum said. “Boxing is a sport. Fun and games. It’s on the sports page. But we in boxing have an obligation to be heard, and to not allow our country to sink into fascism and demagoguery, which we’ve been witnessing for the past few months.”
Boxing fans care little for politics; what they really care about is the statement made with fists in the ring. The fighters on the undercard should make themselves heard loud and clear in several outstanding bouts.
Armenian born German fighter Arthur Abraham (44-4, 29 KOs) will put his WBO world super middleweight title on the line against undefeated Mexican Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (33-0. 24 KOs). This is a step up for Ramirez, who would become the highest weight division Mexican champion ever with a win. Mexican fighters dominate smaller weight divisions.
Abraham’s gotten a rap for getting friendly judges at home in Germany to help him win questionable narrow decisions. This time Abraham will fight without a net against the rising star Ramirez in Las Vegas. It’s youth versus experience and should produce an action packed bout.
Featherweights Oscar Valdez Jr. of Mexico (18-0, 16 KOs) and Evgeny Gradovich of Russia (21-1-1, 9 KOs) could steal the show Saturday. Gradovich works out of the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, California, and calls himself “the Mexican Russian” after adopting the Mexican style of boxing. These two come forward at all times and they will engage from the opening bell.
Lightweight Mexican-American Jose Ramirez of California (16-0, 12 KOs), a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team, will get a tough test from Manny Perez of Denver, Colorado (25-11-1, 6 KOs). Ramirez worked alongside his farmworker parents as a teenager in Central California, a symbol of the next generation Mexican boxer who chose to defer college, instead pursuing boxing as a ticket to a brighter future.
Live online streaming offered by Top Rank prior to the televised fights allows fans to see two-time Lithuanian Olympian Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (12-0, 11 KOs) against Deniz Ilbay (15-0, 8 KOs) of Germany in an eight-round welterweight bout. Kavaliauskas is an impressive young talent. His last five fights have all ended in two rounds or less. He is also working with Robert Garcia out of Oxnard.
Communities Digital News will sit ringside in Las Vegas Saturday to bring you all the action. Bookmark this column and return to see live streams of the undercard fights along with our insights on the main event and undercard fights.
See the Live Stream: Pacquiao-Bradley Non-Televised Undercards (6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT)
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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