Yankees ballpark will host Cotto vs. Foreman

Staff reports


The well-worn names of Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton have been replaced by Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman, and the ballpark where they once fought stands as a shell of its former self just across the street.

Still, boxing is back at Yankee Stadium after more than three decades.

The dream of Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum to return to the big ballpark in the Bronx was realized on a blustery Friday morning, when Cotto and Foreman were introduced inside the new, $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium. They’ll meet for Foreman’s junior middleweight title June 5 in the first sports event besides baseball since the facility opened last spring.

“How can anybody that has any kind of feeling for momentous things not be here?” Arum said.

After the Yankees wrap up a three-game home series June 3 against the Baltimore Orioles, the stadium will be turned over to Top Rank promotions. The ring will be built in right-center field, under an enormous canopy, with about 7,000 field-level seats.

The rest of the seating will be in the outfield bleachers and down the first-base line, and promoters hope between 30,000 and 35,000 fans show up.

“It’s an honor fighting here,” said Foreman, the WBA titleholder, who was born in Belarus but makes his home in Brooklyn. “It’s a dream.”

Yankee Stadium has a proud tradition of hosting fights. Harry Greb fought under the famous facade, along with Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey and James Braddock — the Cinderella Man.

When the 1920s beget the ’30s, the great Joe Louis fought the first of his record 11 bouts at Yankee Stadium, including his famous victory over German champion Max Schmeling on June 22, 1938, that avenged an earlier loss in the same ballpark.

Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano and Sugar Ray Robinson were the marquee names on the front gate. Rocky Marciano won four straight fights there in the 1950s, before Ali and Norton fought on Sept. 28, 1976.

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