LOS ANGELES (August 2, 2005) – It's a boxing rarity, putting a group of Olympic fighters who reached the pinnacle of amateur boxing together in the same ring as they attempt to reach world championship status in the pro ranks. In fact, its only been done three times in recent history, as members of the 1984, 1992 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Teams made their professional debuts shortly after their amateur finales.
But on Thursday, August 18, on a show to be telecast live on FSN's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, Goossen Tutor Promotions is excited to present five former Olympians who are currently making their way through the professional ranks, headed by local favorite and the sole 2004 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist, Andre Ward.
Simply stated, its the "Best Damn 'Night of Olympians' Period."
"This is only the fourth time in history that an event of this nature has taken place and I think its a great opportunity for boxing fans to see the future of what are sure to be some legendary careers in our industry," said Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions. "Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Mark Breland and Virgil Hill all emerged from the 1984 Night of Olympians as world champions, and the cards featuring members of the 1992, 1996 and 2000 teams has also produced world champions in Oscar De La Hoya (sole gold for U.S.), David Reid (sole gold for U.S.) and most recently Jermain Taylor, as well as other current world champions and top contenders to the title."
In fact, some of the most revered world champions in the history of boxing represented their country prior to forging prominent careers in the professional ranks; names like Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay), George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Joe Frazier and Sugar Ray Leonard all reached the gold medal stand before turning pro. Now it's up to the new kids on the block to carry the torch.
In the 10-round main event, unbeaten heavyweight sensation Audley "A-Force" Harrison (18-0, 13 KOs), the 2000 super heavyweight gold medalist from Great Britain, will look to continue on his road to pro glory when he faces a very dangerous Robert Wiggins (20-4-1, 12 KOs). "I told my team I was coming to America to fight one challenge after another, and next up is Wiggins, a very well respected and regarded heavyweight. I believe in my talent and after this fight, so will the heavyweight division," said Harrison.
"This is definitely the next step for Audley to catapult himself into the thick of things in the top echelon of the heavyweight division." stated Goossen. "I believe the ability he possesses, and his speed, size and strength, matches up to any of the current world champions today."
Co-featured on August 18 will be the Olympic reunion of the "Two Andres” – lightning-fisted middleweight Andre Ward (4-0, 2 KOs), and his silver medal-winning teammate, super middleweight Andre Dirrell (4-0, 3 KOs). Both will box in separate six and four round bouts, respectively.
For Ward this is his homecoming. A resident of Oakland, California (in the Bay Area), and fighting in San Jose's HP Pavilion, 25 minutes from Oakland, he couldn't be more ecstatic. "From day one I told my promoters Roy (Jones, Jr.) and Dan (Goossen) I need to consistently fight in my hometown; anywhere in the Bay Area including Oakland, San Franciso and San Jose," said Ward. "I've got very supportive and great fans that want to see me fight here and to do this with some of my teammates only makes it that much bigger for all of us."
Also on the card will be the captain of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, hard-hitting heavyweight Devin Vargas (3-0, 3 KOs), who will look to keep his unbeaten and knockout record intact in a scheduled six-rounder. But that's not the only Olympian action in store for fight fans; the well regarded and talented 2004 Mexican Olympic welterweight representative, Juan de Dios Navarro Ramirez from Torreon, Mexico, will make his professional debut in a four-round matchup.
Individual tickets to the "Best Damn 'Night of Olympians' Period" priced at $200, $125, $75, $45 and $30 go on sale Thursday, August 4, at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers located in Wherehouse Music stores, Tower Records and Ritmo Latino locations throughout the Bay Area, online at tickemaster.com, or charge by phone at (408) 998-TIXS, (415) 421-TIXS, or (510) 625-TIXS. For information about group discounts call (408) 999-5746.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV