The Las Vegas Hilton, which has produced its share of pugilistic memories over the years, is getting back in the boxing business.
The Hilton, which last hosted boxing in February 2002, will be the site for a July 8 card promoted by Sterling McPherson that will feature Aaron Pryor Jr. and veteran Kevin Kelley. The six-bout card will be held in the Las Vegas Hilton Theater.
“I think there’s a void that needs to be filled,” McPherson said. “You’ve got the big megafights, and you’ve got the ballroom fights, but nothing in between. We’re going to be that in between.”
If all goes well, McPherson said the plan is to hold monthly cards at the Hilton beginning in September. Adding to the nostalgia-driven plan is the involvement in TVS, the nation’s fourth-oldest sports network, which will show the fights on the Internet as well as on free television, and Boxing Illustrated, which is financing the operation.
“The plan is to ultimately go pay per view,” said Tom Ficara, who along with Gene Greenberg is working with McPherson on the project. “We’re eating this one, and the future fights will go for $19.95. These will be Boxing Illustrated fights with quality fighters involved.”
Rick White, the Hilton’s vice president of brand marketing, said the timing was right to get back into the fight game.
“Back in December, we found some old footage of some video shot on the stage, and we found a photo of a boxing ring from a Don King card,” he said. “We’ve got a great venue with the theater. It seats 1,900, and the furthest seat is only 85 feet from the ring.
“We think we’re filling a niche, and we’re excited to be back doing boxing.”
McPherson has been a fighter (he was a welterweight from 1979 to 1987) and a trainer (he worked with Mike Tyson late in the ex-champ’s career) and recently was granted his promoter’s license by the Nevada Athletic Commission. He said this opportunity has re-energized him.
“Boxing has a tendency of getting under your skin, and after I had my first son, I said, ‘I’ve had enough,’ and I went away for four years,” McPherson said. “I took some time off to be with my son, and I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do.”
McPherson, 51, said with good fights and reasonable ticket prices, this venture has a good chance of succeeding. The highest-priced ticket is $75, with the cheapest seats going for $25 in the balcony.
“I know it’s not easy, but I’m an ex-fighter. I know you’ve got to start somewhere,” he said. “We’re going to put on upscale fights in a historic venue that the public will want to see.”
• DE LA HOYA BOOK — Although the last chapter of his boxing career has yet to be written, Oscar De La Hoya recently published his autobiography.
Written with longtime Los Angeles Times boxing writer Steve Springer, De La Hoya’s successful and sometimes controversial life story is laid out over 268 pages in “American Son.”
Among the topics addressed are his upbringing in East Los Angeles, his dealing with the death of his mother, Cecelia, from breast cancer, his estranged relationship with his father, Joel, his rise to fame as a boxer and the building of his Golden Boy Promotions empire.
De La Hoya, a 10-time world champion in six different weight classes, plans to retire after fighting once more this year.
“I’m very happy with the way (the autobiography) came out,” De La Hoya said Friday. “I was being honest, and it’s a book that I wanted to be real, uplifting and inspiring.”
De La Hoya said even though he’s still an active fighter — he’s scheduled to make his final appearance in the ring Dec. 6 at the MGM Grand Garden — the timing was right to publish the book now rather than wait until next year when he’s retired.
“I thought it was the perfect time to come out with it,” he said. “A lot of people are struggling, and I want the book to be an inspiration to those who have been knocked down.
“When people see me on television, they’re seeing the professional side of me, Oscar the fighter. Through this book, they can see me as a person. I can reach their souls.”
• PETERSONS TO FIGHT — Anthony and Lamont Peterson, undefeated brothers who recently signed promotional deals with Top Rank, will make their debuts for Bob Arum’s company in the next three weeks.
Anthony, 26-0 with 19 knockouts, will meet Fernando Trejo (30-13, 18 KOs) in a 12-round lightweight bout to headline the June 26 card at the Orleans Arena.
Lamont, a junior welterweight who is 24-0 with 11 KOs, will face Rogelio Castenada (24-13-3, eight KOs) in a 10-round bout on the undercard of the July 5 WBO super lightweight title fight between Ricardo Torres and Kendall Holt at Planet Hollywood.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.