There will definitely be a connection between Salem’s Rockingham Park and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday when New Hampshire hosts the first International Boxing Association (AIBA)-sanctioned amateur boxing event on American soil between the talented Cuba Domadores and the United States Knockouts.
“Boxing fans throughout the state and region will have an opportunity to watch some of the best amateurs in the world who will be competing for a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics,” said 30-year boxing promoter Al Valenti.
Doors at Rockingham Park open at 6:30 p.m., the bouts begin at 8 p.m. and an hour later, Univision will televise the last two hours to 88 countries.
“When you consider there’s a huge Hispanic base throughout the world, if I had to attach a number to it, they’ll be millions of viewers watching the bouts at Rockingham Park Saturday,” said Valenti. Highlighting the card are the heavyweight, light flyweight and lightweight division bouts.
Undefeated, World Series of Boxing (WSB) No. 1-rated light flyweight, Cuba’s Yosbany Veitia (5-0), will battle unbeaten USA 108-pound Anthony Chacon (2-0, 1 KO), the WSB No. 5-rated boxer from Puerto Rico.
In the lightweight match, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Yasner Toledo (3-1), the WSB No. 2-rated Cuban, meets USA 132-pound and WSB No. 5 ranked Carlos Adames. Toledo captured a gold medal at the 2011 Pan-Am champion and was a two-time silver medalist at the World Championships.
American heavyweight Joshua Temple (0-2) challenges undefeated, WSB No. 1 201-pound Erislandy Savon (5-0, 2 KOs). The 6-foot-4 Temple, of St. Louis, is a 2014 USA Boxing National champion. Savon’s uncle is three-time Olympic gold medalist Felix Savon, who was also a Cuban heavyweight.
The 23-year-old left-handed Savon took a gold medal home to Cuba from the 2008 World Youth Amateur Boxing Championships and 2009 Pan-American Games.
“As for the rosters, one has to remember that today Cuba’s boxing program is the most prominent powerhouse in the world,” said Valenti. “Boxing is to Cuba what ice hockey is to Canada. Boxing is part of Cuba’s culture. Because this event is in the United States, there’s a great opportunity on Saturday for an American boxer to make a statement and beat one of the best Cuban boxers in the world. They have a chance to seize that moment because when the Olympics roll around in Brazil in two years, Cuba will be favored to win the medals.”
Three USA New England boxing matches start at 8 p.m. Middleweight John Xafaris of Nashua will be featured against Brian Paulino of Providence, R.I. After the card is completed, Rockingham Park will show the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley pay-per-view fight live from Las Vegas on closed circuit screens. Saturday’s fights are also sanctioned by the New Hampshire Boxing & Wrestling Commission, headed by chairman Bobby Stephen. Ticket prices at Rockingham Park are $50 for VIP reserved ringside (first two rows) and $20 for general admission. For more information online, visit www.worldseriesboxing.com or www.rockinghampark.com.