Los Angeles, CA – Reno, Nevada may be known as ‘The Biggest Little City in the World,” but on Friday night, May 27, that mini-metropolis will receive national exposure and then some when Goossen Tutor Promotions presents a televised doubleheader of championship boxing billed as “Blame It On Reno, ESPN Style.” The world-class event will be at the classic 6,000-seat Reno Events Center operated by the Reno-Sparks Convention Visitors Authority and televised on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ET.
Reno has a long and illustrious boxing history dating back to July 4, 1910 with the Jeffries-Johnson World Championship bout and many great champions such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Hector Camacho, Alexis Arguello and James Toney all having displayed their talents in front of the knowledgeable and exuberant Reno fight fans.
It’s this rich history that ESPN and Goossen Tutor wanted to capture for their upcoming May 27 championship event, “Blame it on Reno, ESPN Style,” spearheaded and sponsored by the Silver Legacy Resort Casino, Circus Circus Reno, Harrah’s Hotel Casino and the world-famous Eldorado Hotel Casino, long the fighting home of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.
“We are happy to be back in Reno with the FNF series, it is a city that consistently draws energetic and enthusiastic fans,” said Doug Loughrey, Programming Director for ESPN.
The main event of the ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” telecast – presented in association with Thompson Boxing Promotions – hard-hitting Josesito Lopez (29-3, 17 KOs) will make the first championship defense of his NABF Light Welterweight Title against highly-skilled boxer-puncher “Showtime” Steve Upsher Chambers (23-1-1, 6 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout where the winner will look to follow in the footsteps of the greats that made or continued their reputation in Reno.
The co-feature – in association with Boxing 360 – is a scheduled 12-round IBF Heavyweight Championship Elimination bout matching former Heavyweight World Title challenger Tony “The Tiger” Thompson (35-2, 23 KOs) against newly crowned USBA Heavyweight Champion Maurice “Sugar Mo” Harris (24-14-2, 10 KOs).
The 26-year old Lopez will be making his second straight ESPN2 appearance as the Riverside, CA native displayed his talents in the January 28, 2011 co-feature on ESPN. In that bout, Lopez stopped then undefeated, and favored, Michael Dallas, Jr. in the seventh round to capture the NABF 140-pound belt.
“Becoming the champion is one thing, but staying the champion is another story,” Lopez said. “Chambers has an opportunity to come and make a name for himself but it’s up to me to beat him. I’m going to fight my heart out and, if the knockout presents itself; I’m going to take it.”
Coming off the biggest win of his career to date – a hard-fought split-decision win over highly regarded and previously unbeaten Bayan Jargal last November in Atlantic City, NJ – Chambers openly acknowledges the significance of his fight with Lopez.
“This is a dream come true for me; I have never had a belt in my life,” the Philadelphia southpaw revealed. And to win this one on national TV with ESPN will give me exposure and put me closer to becoming a world champion.”
Being a principal in his first televised main event and fighting west of Philadelphia for just the second time in his career doesn’t faze Chambers a bit.
“Really, it doesn’t matter where I fight,” insists the confident Chambers. “I like to perform for the fans, so being in Reno I’m going to make them proud to cheer for me. They can’t fight for us but they can cheer for us. We’re the ones in the ring and the only ones who can determine the winner – which will be me!”
Chambers got his nickname from a former NFL great and 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalist. “Curtis Martin is my cousin and he got me my first boxing outfit when I was 15 years old and he put ‘Showtime’ on it. This fight against Josesito Lopez on ESPN2 is my shot, and I won’t blow it. You best believe that!”
Glenn Carano, former Dallas Cowboy quarterback and an executive at the Silver Legacy, succinctly said, “We wanted this event in Reno and made sure we got it for our great fans. If the other cities are disappointed, I say ‘Blame it on Reno, ESPN style!'”
As for the co-feature, which catapults the winner into the IBF Heavyweight Title picture against #1 World contender Eddie Chambers, brother of Steve, it is a clash of veteran combatants who have a history – albeit from their early days as professionals.
“I actually fought Maurice Harris some years ago in the “Thunderbox Heavyweight Tournament,” Thompson, who hails from Washington, DC, recalls. “He beat me in a three-rounder that did not go against our record. Now it’s an opportunity for me to get revenge. And I can guarantee he won’t beat me this time. I’ll stop him in six rounds or under.”
Thompson has four straight TKO wins since his 11-round loss to IBF/WBO Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko in his world title challenge nearly three years ago in Germany. Included among those were stoppages of hot 26-1 prospect Chazz Witherspoon and former world title challenger Owen Beck. Thompson – now 39 – seems to get better with age.
Harris, a 35-year old native out of East Orange, NJ, who turned pro as a 16-year old back in 1992, has a four-fight winning streak of his own – most recently capturing the USBA Heavyweight crown last August. He also owns a significant win over Siarhei Liakhovich, who was 16-0 at the time. Liakhovich rebounded from that setback and eventually became WBO World Heavyweight Champion.
“I’ve believed all of the years that I would someday be fighting for the world heavyweight title,” Harris said. “It feels good to finally have my chance. It’s been a long road and I plan on reaching my dream with a victory. I’m more focused today. Age brings wisdom.”
“May 27 will be a night of competitive championship bouts with no clear cut winner in any of the bouts. This is sure to be a night of exciting and entertaining fights for our sport and the fans in Reno,” stated promoter Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions.
Doors open at 4 pm. First Bout at 5 pm. First ESPN televised bout at 6:00 pm PT/9 pm ET.
Tickets for the May 27, 2011 boxing card at the Reno Events Center are priced at $100, $59.50 and $29.50 (General Admission). Tickets may be purchased at Reno Events Center, Eldorado and Silver Legacy’s Ticket Offices, or by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and on line at www.ticketmaster.com.