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Boxing legends to pack Hall of Fame event

The Boulevard gets downright pugilistic this week:

HALL OF FAME: Whether you cheered for Marvelous Marvin Hagler or Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson or Lennox Lewis, there will be a champion for just about every fight fan at the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame gathering Saturday night at Caesars Palace.

The ticketed event, expected to draw 1,000 people, is a natural for fight-obsessed Las Vegas. The only surprise is that it didn’t take root decades ago. Hall President Rich Marotta can barely believe it himself.

“It’s basically only 3 years old,” Marotta says, ticking off the annual leaps in attendance. The Caesars venue is ideal, he adds.

When the inductee invitations went out the first year, for weeks all Marotta heard were crickets. There were thoughts of turning the gala into a luncheon just to save face. Organizers wisely stayed the course.

“The general feeling among our board members was, this is Las Vegas. This is Nevada. Nevada is the boxing capital of the world,” Marotta recalls. “We better come out swinging and try to go big from the start.”

They did. At the last minute, former champs arrived and the event was saved.

Former Reno boxing writer Steve Sneddon and longtime Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels are in the lineup of worthy inductees this year. They’ll be the champs at center ring for a change.

With its long history of playing host to big title fights, and the fact a marble statue of the great Joe Louis stands outside the sports book, perhaps Caesars officials will find space for what Marotta hopes will one day be a permanent home for a Las Vegas boxing museum.

Liberace rated one. You’d think Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes and the legion of other champs who burnished their names in Las Vegas neon would get one, too.

UNION FIGHT: This was overdue. Teamsters Local 986 and Culinary Union Local 226 are stepping into the ring in an attempt to organize the MMA fighters under contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

There’s politics in every corner of this battle, but it costs the unions little to antagonize the UFC’s bosses, who just happen to be part of the Station Casinos and named Fertitta — the very same family that for years has deflected attempts to unionize their gambling properties.

HALL OF LAME: And now for fight news no one has been waiting for: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Andre Berto on Sept. 12 at the MGM Grand Garden.

It’s only a rumor MGM stands for “Mayweather Grabs Money,” but it is true that fight fans would rather watch Andre the Giant than Andre Berto.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Lincoln Lee, a central figure in the failed $2.2 million loan from the Miracle Flights for Kids charity to a medical lien company, has declared bankruptcy. … U.S. Sen. Dean Heller showed a lot of class with his heartfelt remembrance of the late Review-Journal reporter Laura Myers. He was right when he said, “Her legacy of kindness, dedication, and true drive will echo on for years to come in Nevada journalism.”

BOULEVARD II: The plan to redesignate Baltimore Avenue next to the Stratosphere in honor of the late casino maverick Bob Stupak is picking up steam. Local attorney and poet Dayvid Figler thinks winding Joe W. Brown would be a better candidate. Comedian/magician Murray SawChuck calls Stupak a gaming pioneer. Given the casino man’s dogged determination, Victor Moss thinks it should be called “Stupak Drive.” … Remembering Stupak’s propensity for bending and breaking the rules, a few readers would like to see an alley named after him.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to jsmith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith

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