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Ringside lounges add flair to first Cosmo fight card; Lara is headliner

The Cosmopolitan is a new Strip hotel-casino, but it’s turning to boxing, an old Las Vegas standby, to lure customers.

The Cosmopolitan, open since December, will host its first fight card Friday, with unbeaten Cuban super welterweight Erislandy Lara in the main event.

Lara (15-0, 10 knockouts), will meet Carlos Molina (17-4-1, five KOs) in a 10-round bout to be nationally televised on ESPN2 as part of its Friday Night Fights series.

The card, promoted by Warriors Boxing of Florida, includes another 10-round super welterweight bout, with Cuban Yudel Jhonson (9-0, six KOs) facing veteran Richard Gutierrez (26-5-12, 16 KOs).

Rehan Chodhry, the Cosmo’s director of entertainment, said boxing should prove a good vehicle to drive traffic to the hotel-casino.

“From the very beginning, we were looking to bring either completely new entertainment or old entertainment with a modern twist to the Cosmopolitan,” Chodhry said. “Boxing kept coming to the forefront.

“But what we’re doing is making it more social and interactive. More lounges by ringside, more space in the general admission. It will feel more like a nightclub.”

Friday’s card will be inside the hotel’s 1,500-seat Chelsea Ballroom. The next Cosmopolitan card on April 29 will be outdoors on the deck of the Boulevard Pool, which overlooks the Strip.

Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing said the card is a good opportunity for the Cosmopolitan and his company.

“It’s a high-end property, and they should get great exposure on ESPN,” Margules said. “For us, it’s a chance to get some of our top fighters some national exposure, and we’re excited about Lara headlining the card. He’s a future world champion.”

Tickets for Friday are $50, $75 and $250, and the first bell is at 6 p.m.

■ DONAIRE’S MOVE — Another courtroom battle is brewing between promoters after WBO bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire announced he is leaving Top Rank for Golden Boy Promotions.

Donaire, 28, who won the belt by stopping Fernando Montiel in the second round Feb. 19 at Mandalay Bay, had been with Top Rank since 2008. He is 26-1 with 18 KOs.

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said he has a contract with Donaire that runs through 2012, but Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said Donaire is essentially a free agent. Arum said he will use any legal means to keep Donaire with Top Rank.

Top Rank and Golden Boy went to court over Manny Pacquiao in 2007. They eventually settled through an independent arbiter, with Top Rank promoting Pacquiao and Golden Boy getting 5 percent of his earnings in the ring.

■ COTTO-MAYORGA GATE — The Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga fight March 12 at the MGM Grand Garden attracted an official gate of $1,027,800 on 6,486 tickets sold, according to the Nevada Athletic Commission.

Cotto retained his WBA super welterweight title with a 12th-round TKO.

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

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