Regional boxers ready for an Italian challenge
Mancini helps orchestrate 16-bout card with an international flavor
By Greg Gulas
Former WBA lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini yearns for the day when area boxing fans couldn’t wait for the Golden Gloves and other cards that promoted amateur pugilists.
Convinced that area fans want the opportunity to see how locals would fare against a team of International fighters, Mancini is hoping that their curiosity will be satisfied at Thursday’s “Youngs-town vs. Italy” card at the Covelli Centre.
The 16-bout card will feature the city’s Brian Simms and Pittsburgh’s C.C. Clark, each of whom will be fighting for the second time in five days. Simms scored a split decision Saturday at Lights Out Management’s “Housteau Nation, United We Stand” event.
“Thursday is the unofficial start of the weekend for many, it’s a great night for fights,” said Mancini who just returned from Europe. “If you recall, ESPN used to do Thursday night shows that went over really, really well.
“In addition to the fights, it’s also a cultural event that will showcase Youngstown to the entire world.”
Italian television is set to broadcast the card with Fox Sports also televising to its Seattle, Denver, Houston and Pittsburgh markets.
“Tickets are affordable and we are hoping for a big walk-up crowd as well,” Mancini said. “An event like this will provide an immediate injection of dollars into our community over a two-day period and I’m pushing hard because we are the ones who have to make it work.
“For the fighters, it’s an international experience that no one will forget any time soon.”
The boxers will square off again in Pittsburgh on Oct. 9. Mike Divin of Pittsburgh-based Hibernian Celtic Athletic Fund is the driving force who has successfully coordinated International shows against Ireland and Cuba.
After joining Divin for the Cuba show, it was Mancini who proposed that a show between Youngstown and Italy be explored.
“When Ray joined us in Cuba, he reached out to Title Boxing and through his efforts and the generosity of Title, we were able to deliver a multitude of gifts to our Cuban counterparts,” Divin said. “Those gifts included gloves, sweat suits, wraps and other gear that everyone absolutely loved.”
The team of Italian boxers (Gruppo Sportivo Fiamme Oro or the Golden Flames) will be coached by their country’s highly decorated Olympic champion Roberto Cammerelle, who joined Mancini and Devin at the Covelli Centre press conference back on August 18.
“I want to thank you very much for the opportunity because this will be a very exciting event,” Cammerelle said through an interpreter.
Four female bouts are on tap featuring Maria Antunez (118 pounds) of Ellwood City, Colleen Davis (132 pounds) of Cleveland and Pittsburgh’s Mary Casamassa (152 pounds) and Morelle McCane (150 pounds).
The other Youngstown boxer is Bryan Colon, who will be fighting in the 138-pound class.
Pittsburgh fighters include Steve Cunningham, Jr. (132 pounds), Sylvio Cercone (135 pounds), Jim Clair (152 pounds), Collen Davis (132 pounds), Charlie Clouston (141 pounds), Mike Manna (heavyweight) and Kiante Irving (175 pounds).
Sponsors packages may be obtained by calling Divin at 412-418-6691.