Muhammad Ali turned 70 on Tuesday. But when you’re “The Greatest,” you can celebrate your birthday on numerous occasions.
Bob Arum, who helped promote Ali during his Hall of Fame career, is planning a huge gala Feb. 18 at the MGM Grand Garden. Billed as the “Power of Love,” the night will feature dinner, a concert and a tribute to Ali. Ali and his wife, Lonnie, plan to attend.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable night,” Arum said. “When I told Ali what we wanted to do, he was 100 percent behind it.”
Gene Kilroy, Ali’s business manager for 12 years, said of the event: “In England, they have the coronation. In this country, we have inaugurations. This will be bigger than both. Everyone loves Ali all over the world.”
Most of the proceeds from the event will go to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. Ali has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years, and he visited the Ruvo Center over Thanksgiving and spent three hours touring the facility and meeting with the staff.
“Larry Ruvo deserves a lot of the credit for this,” Arum said. “It was his idea.
“It’s become a huge event. I’m getting calls all the time from people who want to be part of it.”
Several of Ali’s former foes, including Ken Norton, Leon Spinks, Ernie Shavers, Chuck Wepner and George Chuvalo, will attend. George Foreman is hoping to make it. Other boxing luminaries, including Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Ray Mancini, also are planning to attend.
Manny Pacquiao has told Arum he will try to make it from the Philippines, where he serves as a congressman. Arum said he also will extend an invitation to Floyd Mayweather Jr. to be part of the festivities.
The concert will feature a star-studded lineup that has John Legend, Lenny Kravitz, Kelly Rowland, Snoop Dogg, Cee Lo Green, Chris Cornell, LL Cool J and Slash of Guns N’ Roses confirmed. They will be joined by illusionist David Copperfield, actress Queen Latifah and entertainment mogul Sean Combs.
The event is open to the public. Tickets are priced from $1,500 to $7,500, and all seating will be on the Grand Garden floor. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.keepmemoryalive.org or call 702-263-9797.
■ ROACH REALITY SERIES — Freddie Roach has proven to be such a popular figure when HBO does its “24/7” series in run-ups to Pacquiao’s fights that the Hall of Fame trainer has his own show.
“On Freddie Roach” debuted Friday on HBO and is a candid look at Roach’s daily life, inside and outside the ring. Roach, 51, who is battling Parkinson’s disease, isn’t camera shy. He speaks his mind.
The next episode of the 30-minute show airs at 9:30 p.m. Friday. HBO is repeating the first episode at 10 a.m. today and 7:30 p.m. and 11 on Monday.
■ CROWN FIGHT CARD — Crown Boxing will try a new concept at a new venue when it hosts a boxing-mixed martial arts card Feb. 4 at the LVH Theater. Four boxing matches will be held, headlined by cruiserweights Victor Barragan (12-6, three knockouts) and Jonte Willis (8-2-1, three KOs), along with two MMA fights.
In the past, Crown has done strictly boxing. By bringing in MMA fights, it hopes to broaden its audience. Tickets are $25, with the first bell scheduled for 7 p.m.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.