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Libonati throws hat in ring, joins promoter Pelullo

Daren Libonati has a longtime love of boxing, going back to his days as a football player at UNLV when he befriended pro fighter Greg Haugen in 1987.

Libonati’s Justice Entertainment Group is branching into the fight promotion, teaming with Art Pelullo of Banner Promotions to form JEG Boxing.

“I don’t see us as competition for Top Rank and Golden Boy,” said Libonati, who worked with both boxing powers when he was the director of the Thomas & Mack Center. “I see what we’re doing as a way to complement what they do. We’re not looking for a big piece of the pie, just a sliver. We’re not going to be a threat to what they do.”

Libonati has applied for a promoter’s license in Nevada and hopes to put on his first card in Las Vegas this fall. But he said JEG Boxing won’t be strictly local.

“We plan to do shows all over the country,” he said. “My contacts with arena operators will give us a chance to bring quality boxing cards to their cities. There are a lot of arenas that are looking for content.”

Libonati said he has had discussions with Indian casinos in California and Arizona about bringing cards to those properties. With Banner’s stable of fighters, led by junior middleweights Demetrius Andrade and Sergy Dzinziruk and WBO middleweight champ Dmitry Pirog, Libonati believes JEG Boxing will be able to stage quality cards.

“There’s a lot of good fighters who are flying under the radar and just need some exposure,” he said. “We want to sign and promote these guys.”

■ MAGDALENO’S NEW OPPONENT — Las Vegas super featherweight Diego Magdaleno will defend his NABF title against a new opponent Friday at the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Ariz.

Eduardo Lazcano (24-2, 11 knockouts) replaces Miguel Beltran in the main event against Magdaleno (21-0, seven KOs), which will be televised on Showtime (Cox 240). Beltran has not been medically cleared to fight after sustaining a cut above his left eye in December.

■ STILL WAITING — For now, the planned rematch between Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto is scheduled for June 30 in Las Vegas, but Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said the plan is to move the fight to June 23 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“We hope to have that finalized by next week,” he said. “I’ve been working on the move because there’s simply too many fights in Las Vegas, and you can’t expect the hotel’s high rollers to come to every fight.”

With Floyd Mayweather Jr. fighting Miguel Cotto on May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden, Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson squaring off May 19 at Mandalay Bay, and Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley meeting June 9 at the Grand Garden, the schedule simply became too crowded for Ortiz-Berto II.

“Feb. 11 was perfect,” Schaefer said of the original date, which was postponed after Berto hurt his arm two weeks before the fight. “But with all these other fights, it doesn’t make sense financially to stay in Las Vegas.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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