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Primm resort executive aims to fill local void

Michael Starr has a sense for history.

He remembers the boxing cards at the old Showboat Hotel that were highlighted by excellent fighters and exciting matches. As vice president and general manager of Primm Valley Resorts, Starr is looking to re-create that atmosphere.

He has a 6,208-seat venue for boxing at Primm’s Star of the Desert Arena. He’s making the facility affordable to promoters, who can pass on the savings to boxing fans with lower ticket prices. And he thinks he’s filling a void in the local fight scene.

“Between the megafights, which most locals can’t afford, and the club fights, which are fine, what else is there?” Starr said. “We’re bringing in quality fights with quality fighters with great promoters who can deliver great fights.

“We’ll keep things reasonably priced, whether it’s tickets, food, beer, even the rooms if people want to stay over. We want to make it affordable for everyone.”

Starr, who previously worked at Mandalay Bay, has convinced the top promoters in the sport that leaving Las Vegas for a 50-minute ride down Interstate 15 can work. First it was Gary Shaw. Then it was Golden Boy. Now, Top Rank is taking its boxing show on the road to the Nevada state line when Bob Arum’s company comes to the Star of the Desert Arena on Sept. 19.

It will be the fourth show this summer, and Starr said the plan is to make boxing a staple in Primm.

“This is exactly like ‘Boxing at the ‘Boat,’ ” he said, referencing cards at the old Showboat. “It’s a step up from the cards at the Silver Slipper, and we’ve gotten a good response.”

How affordable are the fights at Primm? How about free for some, including the gas spent driving to and from Primm.

“We give away 500 tickets to every event we do in the arena,” Starr said of classic rock concerts and family shows in addition to sporting events. “You pay a $3 handling fee, and that’s it.”

Yes, there is a catch. You have to log on to the property’s Web site — primmconcerts.com — and register. Once you’ve registered, you can claim up to four tickets for any boxing card, provided you’re among the first 500. The only cost is a $3 handling fee that is mandated by Ticketmaster, which works with Primm Valley Resorts.

As for the free gas, there’s a catch there, too. You have to sign up for the property’s slot club. Once you do, $25 is rebated back to help pay for gas.

“We need something different out here,” Starr said. “We need something exciting.”

A card on Friday, promoted by Shaw, saw Antonio DeMarco win a 10-round split decision over Jose Reyes in the main event before an enthusiastic crowd of about 2,500.

Top Rank’s card on Sept. 19, which will feature Kid Diamond and Vanes Martirosyan, figures to do better. The top ticket price is $35, with a low of $10, for those who can’t secure a free seat online.

“Because of our experience at Mandalay Bay, we know how to put on a show, and we plan to have one card a month next year,” Starr said.

FLOYD’S MISSING ICE — For a guy who reportedly had $7 million worth of jewelry stolen from him, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not letting it get the best of him.

Mayweather attended Friday’s card at Primm, where he had three fighters from his stable competing.

Leonard Ellerbe, who helps manage Mayweather, said the fighter is remaining mum for a reason.

“You don’t want to be discussing an active case,” Ellerbe said of the robbery, which occurred last month at one of Mayweather’s four Las Vegas homes. “The only thing I’ll say is the Las Vegas police department is one of the best in the world, and we’re confident they will find who did this and recover Floyd’s property.”

Ellerbe said the jewelry is insured and that he and Mayweather are in touch daily with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police department.

“Unfortunately, he got robbed,” Ellerbe said. “Thank God, no one got hurt.”

Mayweather didn’t want to talk about the case, but he said he’s doing fine and thinks the police will find his property.

“Someone will get that $100,000,” he said of the reward he has offered to whomever helps recover his jewelry.

CAMPOS OUT — Veteran middleweight Yory Boy Campos was scheduled to fight Julio Cesar Garcia on the undercard of Saturday’s Juan Manuel Marquez-Joel Casamayor fight at the MGM Grand Garden. But the Nevada Athletic Commission denied his application for a license on Thursday after concerns were raised over the 37-year-old’s competitiveness.

Campos, who began his professional career in 1987 and has a 92-12 record with 74 knockouts, has lost two of his last three fights and four of eight.

Commissioner Bill Brady pointed that out, and the commission elected not to license Campos, even though doctors had deemed him fit to fight.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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