HOLLYWOOD, Fla.—Don King returns to Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., on Saturday, Nov. 5 with a fight card headlined by a cruiserweight world championship pitting World Boxing Association titleholder Guillermo “El Felino” Jones (37-3-2, 29 KOs) against WBA No. 14-ranked cruiserweight Mike Marrone (20-3, 15 KOs), from Vero Beach, Fla.
King, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, has stacked the card with South Florida favorites including Miami’s Joey “Twinkle Fingers” Hernandez, the United States Boxing Organization junior middleweight champion, facing Elco “The Animal” Garcia (25-7, 12 KOs), from Guachochi, Mexico; undefeated Cuban prospect Angelo “La Cobra” Santana (11-0, 8 KOs)—now living in Miami—taking on southpaw Broderick Antone (11-11-1, 5 KOs), from Troy, N.Y.; and WBA No. 1-ranked cruiserweight (and mandatory challenger to the champion) Francisco “The Wizard” Palacios (20-1, 13 KOs), a Puerto Rican now living in Orlando, will face an opponent to be named.
“I promoted a big fight at Seminole Hard Rock back in 2007 and everyone had a great time,” King, a South Florida resident, said. “It’s been too long since I was there, so I’m happy to be bringing another world championship fight card back to this great entertainment venue.”
The WBA cruiserweight champion Jones is looking forward to defending his title in the main event.
“I was on Don King’s fight card at the Hard Rock in South Florida back in 2007 when Samuel Peter defeated James Toney,” Jones said. “It was the year before I won the world title. It will be an honor to defend my belt at Hard Rock Live.”
Jones has a great boxing backstory. He began his career at the 147-pound welterweight limit, but it took him adding an astonishing 53 pounds and fighting at the 200-pound cruiserweight limit before he won his first world championship, a 10th-round technical knockout over Firat Arslan in 2008. Jones is a gifted athlete who possesses an uncanny ability to find a way to win in almost every circumstance.
The Panamanian lost a disputed split decision in 2005 to future cruiserweight world champion Steve “USS” Cunningham, but he rebounded to defeat former world champions Kelvin “Concrete” Davis and Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite to earn the right to vie for a world title.
In his last appearance, Jones scored an 11th-round technical knockout over respected former interim WBA cruiserweight world champion Valery Brudov when the two met last year in Panama City, Panama.
His upcoming opponent, Mike Marrone, had a successful amateur career and reeled off 18 consecutive wins at heavyweight before being turned back earlier this year by seasoned professionals like New York State Champion Darrel “King David” Madison on Dec. 17 and former top-ranked heavyweight DaVarryl “Touch of Sleep” Williamson on April 23.
Feeling his power and quick hands might be more effective at cruiserweight, Marrone has taken the risky but opportune move of fighting for a world championship in his first match at the 200-pound limit.
Joey Hernandez has developed a strong South Florida fan base that resulted in back-to-back sellouts in 2009 and 2010 against fellow South Floridian Ed Parades. Hernandez scored the most important win of his career on April 25, defeating the respected Angel Hernandez in that fighter’s adopted hometown of Chicago.
Hernandez expects a tough challenge from Mexican Elco Garcia whose nickname is “The Animal.” The match is set for 12 rounds.
Francisco Palacios, born in New York but raised in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and now living and fighting out of Orlando, has fought many times in South Florida. His last match took place in Poland on April 2 and ended in controversy.
Palacios had earned the right to appear in his first world title match against WBC cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Wlodarzcyk, a Pole fighting in his home country. Palacios fell victim to what he and many others felt was a hometown split-decision loss. The WBC was concerned enough that they left Palacios as their No. 1-ranked cruiserweight and mandatory challenger to the champion, but they allowed Wlodarzczyk a voluntary defense. He will take on Danny Green on Nov. 30, a respected former light heavyweight champion, but the WBC has ordered the winner of Wlodarzcyk vs. Green to next face Palacios.
Another emerging local fighter appearing on the card has been creating a national buzz among sportswriters and boxing aficionados. He is undefeated WBA FEDCARIBE super lightweight regional champion Angelo Santana. He washed up on the shores of Miami in a makeshift boat in 2007. A heralded Cuban amateur, he has advanced to 11-0 as a professional.
Santana made a statement in his last match by defeating a previously undefeated Russian fighter, Ramzan Adaev, when they met in Las Vegas on Aug. 13. Santana raised admiring eyebrows at ringside after a flurry of combinations in the second round led referee Kenny Bayless to halt the match.
Santana will face a slick southpaw from Albany, N.Y., Broderick Antone, in a match scheduled for nine rounds.