Skip to main content

Ring City USA makes boxing history Thursday at West Point

Written By | Apr 21, 2021
Jelena Mrdjenovic of Canada (right) makes her sixth title defense against Erika Cruz of Mexico Thursday from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Ring City USA Thursday. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos

Jelena Mrdjenovic of Canada (right) makes her sixth title defense against Erika Cruz of Mexico Thursday from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Ring City USA Thursday. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos

SAN DIEGO, Calif., April 21, 2021 – Ring City USA has swiftly become must-see TV for hardcore boxing fans. The new promoter agnostic platform on NBC Sports Network provides a midweek menu of superb matchmaking, producing spectacular knockouts and several wild upsets.

This week’s card takes place live at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. It is the first professional boxing event in West Point’s history. The academy’s place in boxing history lends the card added significance. Every West Point cadet trains and fights in an amateur bout as a mandatory graduation requirement. President Theodore Roosevelt imposed the requirement in 1905; women joined the fight game in 2017.

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point requires all graduates to participate in boxing training and amateur competition. Photo: CDT Hannah Lamb

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point requires all graduates to participate in boxing training and amateur competition. Photo: CDT Hannah Lamb

West Point boxers compete in the NCAA system, and if you don’t think they take it seriously, you haven’t seen them in action. Prior to the main card at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT on NBC Sports Network, the undercard featuring several cadet bouts. They will stream on the Ring City USA Twitch.TV channel starting at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT. It’s a rare treat and privilege for boxing fans.

U.S. Marine Corps veteran, 2012 Olympic team captain, and current world junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring joins the broadcast team for the event.




Herring talked about Thursday’s card and military boxing with Communities Digital News.

“As a Marine Corps Sergeant, I am going to be hard on them because I expect nothing but the best effort from them,” said Herring. “I know what it takes to even get to that level, not even just in the Marines but in the military in general.

“A lot of people don’t see it, but during the amateurs, we have a target on our backs because they feel that we are privileged, I guess. That we had a ‘free ride,’ they would say, to the national tournaments. But in order for you to get to that level on any of the Armed Forces teams, you have to be the best of your branch. I am just happy for them and hope they take it as far as they want to take it.”

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point has an active collegiate level boxing program and all cadets undergo boxing training prior to graduation. Photo: CDT Hannah Lamb

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point has an active collegiate level boxing program, and all cadets undergo boxing training before graduation. Photo: CDT Hannah Lamb

Stephan Shaw opportunity put on pandemic hold

Ring City USA planned its first heavyweight main event, but as we have learned during the pandemic, COVID-19 had other plans.

Over the weekend, Jermain Franklin of Saginaw, Michigan (20-0, 13 KOs) tested positive for COVID-19 and dropped out of the bout. Rather than find opponent Stephan Shaw of St. Louis via San Diego (14-0, 10 KOs) another opponent, the bout will be postponed to another card. While both men and the fans are disappointed, it’s a terrific matchup of unbeaten American heavyweights and worth preserving.

Prior to the delay, Shaw talked with Communities Digital News about his family, his ambitions, and the fight he anticipated against his original opponent, Jermaine Franklin.

Jelena Mrdjenovic defends title in the main event

Jelena Mrdjenovich got a tough battle from Paola Torres in her Ring City USA debut in December. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos

The main event features a title defense. Jelena Mrdjenovic of Canada (41-10-2, 19 KOs) fights Erika Cruz of Mexico (11-1, 3 KOs) in defense of Mrdjenovic’s WBA World Featherweight title, a belt she has held for five years. It’s the second appearance for Mrdjenovic on a Ring City USA card. In December, Mrdjenovic battled another tough Mexican opponent, Paola Torres. The winner may get the opportunity for a unification fight against WBC and WBO champion Amanda Serrano, who put on an impressive show on Ring City USA’s last card from Puerto Rico.

Undefeated welterweight Bobirzhan Mominov of Kazakhstan (12-0, 8 KOs) will face Angel Ruiz of Tijuana, Mexico (16-1, 12 KOs).

Mominov is a former sparring partner of Canelo Alvarez and has extensive international experience but has been under the radar. Here comes another hungry young Mexican fighter trained by a notable name looking for the upset in Ruiz. The 23-year-old trains in Southern California with Manny Robles.



Undefeated welterweight Bobirzhan Mominov of Kazakhstan faces Angel Ruiz of Mexico. Could this be the upset of the night? Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos West Point

Undefeated welterweight Bobirzhan Mominov of Kazakhstan faces Angel Ruiz of Mexico. Could this be the upset of the night? Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos

Also on the undercard, U.S. Army veteran Daniel Bailey (3-0, 2 KOs) hopes to show out at West Point against Luis Alvarado (1-2) in a four-round junior lightweight fight. Bailey is a well-trained amateur who’s beginning to get some attention as a young pro.

All fighters scheduled on the card made weight on Wednesday.

“This will be the historic first-time professional bouts will occur at West Point,” said Dr. Ray Barone, Army West Point Boxing Coach. “We’ve been asked before, but never has a boxing event been brought to us the way Ring City and NBC has. We want to showcase the cadets. We want to demonstrate that amateur boxing when conducted properly is safe. And we hope that this will become an annual event.”

READ MORE: Jamel Herring retires Carl Frampton in six rounds

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on social media at @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

Copyright © 2021 by Falcon Valley Group

 

 

 

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.