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A ‘Return to Greatness’

Don King brings ‘Fight Night’ back to Warren with two world championship title bouts on exciting card

Staff photo / Neel Madhavan Legendary boxing promoter Don King (center) poses with WBA heavyweight champion Trevor Bryan (left) and journeyman boxer Jonthan Guidry (right) on Wednesday at the Grand Resort ahead of their fight this weekend.

WARREN — “Fight Night” and world championship boxing return to Warren this weekend.

The co-main event features two world championship title bouts that will be held at W.D. Packard Music Hall Saturday night.

World Boxing Council cruiserweight champion Illunga Makabu (28-2, 25 KOs), of the Congo, will face WBC silver champion Thabiso Mchunu (23.5, 13 KOs), of South Africa. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has indicated that the winner of the fight would go on to fight world champion Canelo Alvarez sometime later this year, according to BoxingScene.com.

In the other main event fight, journeyman Jonthan Guidry (17-0-2), of Dulca, La., will get his shot to challenge World Boxing Association heavyweight champion Trevor Bryan (21-0, 15 KOs), of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“We want to make history,” legendary boxing promoter Don King said at a press conference Wednesday morning at The Grand Resort. “(The fans) are going to see a spectacular blockbuster. There’s going to be a real war, you can believe that. I call these fights an opportunity in the land of opportunity. It illustrates what America truly stands for and we have to make America live up to and fulfill that prophecy.”

Four other world title fights and an additional cruiserweight fight comprise the undercard for the evening.

“We’re doing it here in Warren, Ohio,” King said. “We have fighters from America, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. We have a show that’s unbelievable and it’s going to be unbeatable.”

King, 90, who also has a boxing training facility in nearby Orwell, has promoted fights for some of the most renowned names in boxing for decades — including names like Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Joe Frazier.

Northeast Ohio and the Mahoning Valley have a rich history of boxing. King said he hopes Saturday’s fights provide a revitalization of sorts for boxing throughout the area.

“We have a fight here now that’s a harbinger for the greatness of the future,” King said. “That’s why it’s called ‘Return to Greatness’ — to bring it back to what greatness used to be. It also gives us a moment of respite from (COVID) to have some fun again.”

During Wednesday’s final pre-fight press conference, Warren Mayor William D. Franklin issued a proclamation making Jan. 26, 22 “Don King Day” in the city of Warren.

“I’m so thankful to Mr. King for letting us be the host of this great event that will be seen by boxing fans worldwide,” Franklin said.

“Don King coined the phrase, ‘Only in America’ — he lives it, he breathes it and he believes it as part of his soul,” Franklin said as he read the proclamation. “King’s career as promoter spans four decades and includes more than 600 world championship fights, but it began as a humble plea to save a Cleveland hospital in 1972…and I’m asking all of the citizens of Warren to join me in this great celebration.”

Franklin added that more than 150 local first responders and healthcare workers were invited with their families to have a night out and attend the fight.

“Our communities have been hit hard with this COVID-19 virus and this is very needed in our community,” Franklin said. “They’ve been protecting us now for almost two years.”

Youngstown boxing legend Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini was also present at Wednesday’s press conference and will provide analysis and color commentary for Saturday’s fights.

Doors open at 6 p.m. with the first fight slated for 7 p.m.

On the undercard, Alonzo Butler (34-3-2, 25 KOs) (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Ahmed Hefny (13-1, 5 KOs) (Egypt via Queens, N.Y.) will fight for the North American Boxing Association gold heavyweight title, Johnnie Langston (9-3, 3 KOs) (Sarasota, Fla.) and Nick Kisner (22-5-1, 6 KOs) (Baltimore) will fight for the NABA cruiserweight title, Cody Wilson (10-3, 7 KOs) (West Virginia) and Tre’Sean Wiggins (12-5-3, 6 KOs) (Newburgh, N.Y.) will face off for the NABA welterweight title, Michael Moore (18-3, 8 KOs) (Cleveland) and Anthony Lenk (17-7, 7 KOs) (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) will clash for the NASA middleweight title and Jay’Won Woods and Shawn Miller will fight in a cruiserweight bout.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Saturday with the first fight slated for 7 p.m.

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster or via W.D. Packard Music Hall at 330-841-2619. The tickets will be priced at $550, $350, $250, $175 and $80. The fights will be available for pay-per-view on Donking.com, DKPBoxing.com or itube247.com for $49.99.

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