Steele launches monthly series

Richard Steele is ready to branch out.

The Hall of Fame referee has announced a series of monthly professional fight cards that his company, Richard Steele Promotions, will stage at the Silver Nugget in North Las Vegas beginning Sept. 30.

“We need club fights,” Steele said. “We need fights where young fighters can showcase their talents, where guys can get their foot in the door and get a shot to show what they can do.”

Jeff Fine, who took over the Silver Nugget a year ago, agreed. He refurbished the property’s Events Center, and capacity will be 800, although it can be expanded to 1,200. Ticket prices for the fight cards will range between $20 and $30.

“We’ll have a card on the last Tuesday of each month,” Steele said. “We’ll have five bouts on each card, and they’ll be good, competitive fights that the fans will enjoy. You’ll be able to look at the program and not be able to know who’s going to win.”

For the first card’s main event, Ricco Rodriguez will face Yohan Banks in a six-round heavyweight bout. Rodriguez is a former mixed martial arts fighter who won the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title in 2002.

Steele’s cards will be televised on the Internet in conjunction with The fights will be streamed in high definition and will be available for free.

KAMBALA STEPS AWAY — Former UNLV basketball player Kaspars Kambala has ended his professional boxing career.

Kambala, 29, is going through a divorce and has to pay child support to his two children. He wasn’t making much money as a boxer, so he returned to his native Latvia, where he is working out with his country’s national basketball team in hopes of latching on with a team in Europe so he can meet his financial obligations.

Kambala was playing in Russia when he tested positive for steroids in December 2006 and has been under suspension ever since. He can apply for reinstatement in December. He took up boxing last year and turned pro in January.

Kambala had a 3-0-1 record. His last fight was July 8 at the Las Vegas Hilton when he knocked out Ronald Weaver in the first round.

DIAZ JOINS PACQUIAO — Veteran Las Vegas trainer Miguel Diaz has signed on to work Manny Pacquiao’s corner as a cutman for his fight against Oscar De La Hoya on Dec. 6 at the MGM Grand Garden.

Pacquiao arrives in Los Angeles today from the Philippines to meet with trainer Freddie Roach and work on their game plan. This is Pacquiao’s first fight at 147 pounds, the third weight class he will have competed at this year. He beat Juan Manuel Marquez at 130 pounds in March and then stopped David Diaz in June at 135 pounds to claim the WBC lightweight title.

ANDRADE GOES PRO — U.S. Olympic welterweight Demetrius Andrade has turned pro, signing with Star Boxing and Banner Promotions. Andrade, 20, who lost a controversial decision in the quarterfinals at last month’s Beijing Olympics, was a two-time national champion and a 2007 world amateur champ.

“He’s going to be something special,” Banner’s Art Pelullo said. “He has the talent to be a star like (Oscar) De La Hoya or (Floyd) Mayweather but with his own style. He has that confident swagger, and the more time I spend with him the more I like him.”

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