Boom-Boom boxing: Remembering the last title fight in Valley

By John Bassetti

YOUNGSTOWN — If you think this weekend’s middleweight fight at the Chevrolet Centre is this area’s first big boxing event, think again.

Back in 1982, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini defended his World Boxing Association lightweight title for the first time by beating Ernesto Espana at Warren’s Mollenkopf Stadium before a crowd of at least 15,000.

It was quite an outdoor spectacle, something along the lines of the heavyweight title fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman — better known as the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire, in 1974 — only on U.S. soil.

Not that the Kelly Pavlik-Marco Antonio Rubio fight wouldn’t attract as many, or more, if their bout were scheduled here, in mid-summer, at a bigger venue outdoors.

Many Mahoning Valley residents can recall the buzz surrounding that sunny Saturday, July 24, 1982, when the “Pride of Youngstown” dispatched Espana via a sixth-round TKO in the canopy-covered ring.

Besides his title-winning fight over Arturo Frias in Las Vegas on May 8, 1982, and his victory over Peru’s Orlando Romero at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 15, 1983, Mancini considers the fight at Mollenkopf among his career highlights.

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on

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