When Jack Loew held his first “Thanksgiving Feast” boxing card at the old Christy Armory on Victoria Road, he knew he had stumbled onto something special and an event that if handled correctly, could withstand the test of time.
That was 1989 and while it took a lot of calls to piece together that first card, his pool of amateur fighters hailed basically from the tri-county area.
Fast forward 24 years to find that his fighting pool has expanded to the tri-state area with up-and-coming amateurs inquiring from as far away as New York and Indiana.
On Friday, his 15-bout card at the Saxon Club is expected to be as memorable as that very first show in that it will mark the final time area fans will be able to witness Alejandro “Popo” Salinas as an amateur.
Salinas will take on Glenn Mitchell of Toronto, Ohio in the night’s 132-pound main event while Matt Conway, a Pittsburgh native, is set to oppose Dwayne Rosebury of Cleveland in the 147-pound co-main attraction.
“I want to prove that I am not the fighter I was the last two times I stepped into the ring. I’ve stepped my training up a notch and want to be prepared for anything that Mitchell throws my way,” Salinas said.
After his bout with Mitchell, Salinas will turn his attention to January’s USA Nationals in Colorado Springs and then in March, the National Golden Gloves Tourney.
He is expected to turn pro sometime this spring.
“Popo has had a storied amateur career, having gone 50-2 as a Junior Olympian,” Loew said. “He’s really a very young 18 years old, however, a broken right hand and jammed neck recently have kept him from some major fight opportunities. How he finishes his amateur career could spell the difference between a monthly salary from his management team or needing a part-time job in order to survive the rigors of a professional career.”
Carefully eyeing Salinas is Bob Arum’s Top Rank Boxing Promotions and DiBella Entertainment while former local lightweight champion, Ray Mancini, has also expressed an interest in guiding Salinas’ professional career.
“It’s like a football player on display and trying to make an impression at the NFL Combine. A solid showing by Popo in his last three amateur fights will increase his stock to a promoter,” Loew said. “Talent-wise he has the complete package. He can punch and has a huge chin, but he’ll need to finish strong if he expects to command perks afforded other members of a boxing team.”
Salinas dropped a decision to Jeremy Abram in his last appearance at the Saxon Club and then at the Cleveland Golden Gloves last March, won two of three rounds but lost again to Abram, this time on points.
It was the last time the Golden Gloves used the clicker system.
“Everyone had me on this pedestal and I let them down, including myself. In an individualized sport the pressure is always on so I must be ready.” Salinas said. “I won’t let that happen again.”
In addition to local boxers and a handful from Cleveland and Pittsburgh, boxers from Steubenville, Columbus and Akron will also be represented on Loew’s card.
“Conway lost to Popo for the title at the National PAL (Police Athletic League) Tourney in Toledo when both were in a lower weight class. I liken him to former local boxer Roland Cummings,” Loew said. “Rosebury, on the other hand, has a third the experience of Conway but is one of the most talented newcomers I have seen in quite some time.”
In related news, South Side Boxing Club’s Willie Nelson (21-1-1, 12 KO’s), the WBC’s third-ranked junior middleweight, will have surgery on Nov. 26 to repair torn cartilage in his elbow.
“The cartilage is floating around in Willie’s elbow and needs to be corrected. It really only hurts when he spars and Dr. [Thomas] Joseph will perform the surgery,” Loew said. “He will be down a minimum of eight weeks before he can get back into the gym and eight weeks after that, toward the end of March, we expect to be back in the ring fighting.”
Loew’s amateur card is sanctioned by USA Boxing. The cost is $15 at the door.
Tables of eight are $300 with the first bout hitting the bell at 7:30 p.m.
Doors open at 6 p.m. For more information, call 330-501-5713.